What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake - Page 5 - SailNet Community
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post #41 of 45 Old 12-31-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

one thing i think is most important is frame of mind. know your boat, know yourself, and do your best to know the waters where you sail. unfamiliar waters require extra caution. but, no matter what happens, you must always remain calm and deliberate. panick and fear will kill you in a crisis. also, no matter how many blows and storms you have faced, never get the attitude that you've been there and done that...the i've been through worse mentality. every situation is unique and should be faced with that in mind...otherwise you risk the fate of the Bounty. she needlessly went down because of a been through worse attitude. a watchul eye and good judgement are your best tools.

The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can't do.---Captain Jack Sparrow


1971 Cal 27

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post #42 of 45 Old 12-31-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

I got caught by a microburst heading south just as I approached the bay bridge, it came from the west out of nowhere (the radar showed it pop up over USNA and hit me in about 10 min). I had a Catalina 34 at the time and 2 inexperienced crew. Decide and act fast is key, battened everything down, engine on, sails down, PFD's and other safety gear as Sabre lays out. We had traffic nearby and the only things I would add was to have an air horn and a sea anchor or drogue ready if necessary. Since I was so close to the bridge, I had to turn north away from it and thankfully the wind direction was west/NW. The cell came so quick that the boys didn't have time to get foulie pants on. Wind clocked up to over 40kts and visibility was zero. Blew the horn every two minutes, got tossed around for about 10 keeping eyes on my chartplotter and having crew keep an eye out. it was extremely hairy. My son was filming the approaching storm, put the camera down in the helm drinkholder (camera was still on) and I now have video of us getting hit by lightning. (Search 'lightening.wmv' on youtube) This (thankfully) only knocked out my anemometer and not the engine/alternator or chartplotter. When the cell passed, the catamaran that was easily .5nm sw of us was now 100 yds approaching my stbd quarter from the north at speed. I also highly recommend having your swim goggles handy, especially if you wear contacts. Heavy rain can make it difficult to see.

Top of my mast looked like someone pointed an arc welder at it for about 20 minutes according to my rigger that fixed it. The VHF antenna wiring was melted inside of the mast. This thing bounced off the top of the mast and hit the water ahead of the bow just like Faraday's Cage is supposed to work I guess...I got a few new gray hairs after that one!

Bob C
S/V Liberty
2012 Jeanneau SO 50DS
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post #43 of 45 Old 12-31-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

been caught in storms. lower sail and sail thru it...sometimes using only a neo natal diaper sized rag on bow.....with this ketch it is easier to sail thru sudden winds as i use only mizzen and jib and have been caught in a 60 plus kt chubasco off mexico just north of cabo san lucas... what a ride...we hit 8.4 kts boat speed..almost as fast as fastest leaky teaky reported ever...lol it was a kick!!!!


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post #44 of 45 Old 12-31-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

I'm really enjoying this excellent discussion. I'm sure lots of novice lurkers are too. I do have a lazarrette latch meant for a pad lock, but as my boat lives in my garage, I don't have a lock on it. I do put a small brass clip on it (the same one that holds my boom to the back stay as a topping lift). With sails down I'd need a second one. Hadn't thought about that.

My boat is advertised as having positive flotation, but after thirty years I wouldn't count on it.

Keep the expenses low and the good times high.

S/V Waitara
Venture 21
PA Freshwater / Chesapeake
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post #45 of 45 Old 12-31-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

Ive sailed the Ches. for most of my long adult life. Thunderstorms there typically will behave in 2 distinct patterns.
Storms without 'cold fronts' will usually travel in a direction paralleling Interstate 95, going from SW to NE even with their outflow winds ultimately coming from the W or NW. This Interstate 95 type of T'storm will usually increase winds first from the S or SW and then veer finally to the W/NW ... and you can use the initial southerly winds to 'haul ass' to the western shore (or port) to safely anchor in the shadow of a cliff or next to high trees. "Radar Weather" app (smart phone or ipad) is a good one to SEE which direction these storms are actually moving ... and are 'just starting' to form. With such 'apps' connected to cell service .... there really should be 'no surprises'.

T'storms imbedded in 'fronts' can easily be tracked by 'apps', even clear air fronts (white squalls).

A significant advantage to these 'apps' is that you can SEE advancing 'bow echos' (the domain of the strongest winds of thunderstorms) .... looks like the leading edge of circle or disc advancing in your direction. When you see one of these 'bow echos' you can make your decision to 'sail away' to a moderatly safer location, or make the decision to button-up and take your chances.

My technique on the Chesapeake if time permits, is to sail to the western shore and either anchor in the lee of a cliff or high trees, etc. or run into a creek/river on the western shore looking for the same protective terrain if possible. The benefit of these 'weather apps' is that you have increased time to make your 'decisions'.
A VHF radio with a 'weather alert' function is also a 'must'.

Why fly blind in the age of 'cyberspace' and 'gizmos'?
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