Seeking wisdom from Old Salts. What follows is a scenario that could easily happen. I start the story and you finish it.
I'm returning from an enjoyable night onboard my mid-70's 21 foot trailer sailer. Sailing back to the boat ramp eight miles away. Yesterday's forecast called for great weather: light clouds, 5-10kt. winds, high of 80. (We'll say it's early September on the Chesapeake, warm water)
I'm enjoying single-handing the boat, heading North on a reach at 5 knots. I was too distracted avoiding crab pots to notice the sky darken to the West, but now I see some weather is coming my way. I chastise myself for being so careless as to not check the radar on my smart phone, never mind actually looking at the sky now and then. I won't do that again!
But now what? The smartphone radar indicates a strong, fast-moving line of storms - a thin band of orange and yellow on the radar. Followed by an hour of rain. After that - more sunny skies. Looks to be here in 10 or 15 minutes.
I'm in 20 feet of water and as far as I know the entire Chesapeake is thick black mud which is great for anchoring overnight in a cove. I'm now a mile north of the Thomas Point light, 200 yards off the western edge of the shipping channel that runs up the middle of the bay. Other than a tug with a small crane barge that just passed me, the channel is empty. The tide is running 1kt with 2-3' choppy waves. With the swing keel down and plenty of sail up the waves are well within my comfort level. Occasionally one will hit at an off angle and send some splash onto the deck.
Do I anchor? Do I motor? I have two Danforth anchors, both a little larger than suggested for a boat of this size. Both have about 8' of chain and another 50' of rode. (One cheap polypropylene, the other an old Dacron halyard. I have 3 more 50-60' lines below deck. I think if I head toward shore I can be in 8 feet of water and drop anchor just before the squall line hits. But the sails are still up! I can start the motor, set the tiller lock to take me dead upwind (toward shore/shallow water) and I can drop sail while I motor. I can bring the genoa in completely, and I have enough bungees to lash the main to the boom pretty tightly - I think. I've never been in my boat for a storm. Will my two anchors hold well enough I can ride it out down below? Do I need two anchors? Can I keep enough of a lookout through the two small side windows to see if I'm holding or if other boats are drifting toward me?
Or should I drop sail and motor? The outboard is small, but on a calm day I can do hull speed (6kt) at a little over half throttle. It's very reliable and has enough gas in the built-in tank to do full throttle for a couple of hours, and I have another gallon gas can to refill it. I have a good raincoat and a change of clothes in the cabin. Do I ride it out at the tiller? Head right into the wind? Do I want to be in the deeper channel? Or the shallow part with all the crab traps? What if a crab buoy line gets wrapped around the prop?
Shoot- what if there is lightning? What do I do then? I don't see any on the horizon but the trees on the shore block some of my view. These storms almost always have some lightning...
I go below for a moment to lock the foredeck hatch, grab a lifevest and I make sure my waterproof handheld VHF and whistle are in the cockpit with me. I put the companionway cover in place and slide the hatch closed. One final check of the smartphone radar - yup. I got about ten minutes. I put on the lifevest and...
your thoughts are welcome here. The story above is my equipment, boat, and thought process. I really haven't been in this scenario (yet) and I really don't know what I'd do.