Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016 - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 4 Weeks Ago Thread Starter
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Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

HI All:

Few questions for you sailors out there...

On Wednesday this week (1/6/16), in Ventura Harbor, CA, we had either a waterspout/tornado or what they were calling a "microburst" blow through and I actually watched it rip open my genoa from its roller furling from the top third, to my horror. My questions are this:

(1) How does that even happen?

(2) Does it mean that there may be damage to the furling device?

(3) Has anyone ever experienced this and have you had your marine insurance (I have Boat US) given you trouble about getting damage covered?

I was in my slip at the time, and I happen to have my work office on shore within view of my boat. I heard the roar come through, looked outside and watched my boat which was when this happened. The whole event lasted about 20 minutes. I had a neighbor go and lash it as best as he could, and later that night, in the rain, I fixed it back to how it was originally, seemingly tight, furling line securely on a cleat in the cockpit. The next day, I even went down to check it around lunch, because it was just blowing normal-hard (25+ knots), and it came partially open again! This time, refurled it extremely tight, undid all the sheets and used the extra line to furl around the sail for extra reinforcement, but I am totally puzzled. I have had my boat 4+ years, had it out in all sorts of serious wind, furled, and in the slip in full gales and nothing ever happened.

Any suggestions are very welcome!

Tania Davidson
S/V "Asherah" O'Day 32'
Ventura Harbor, Ventura, CA


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post #2 of 22 Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Re: Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

this el nino 2016 began in may 2015.
it succeeded(followed) el nino 2015, which started in may 2014. got it yet??
this is only th e winter folowing the storms of summer, which were the major attraction of el nino, 2015-16.
yes, they begin may and fend june following year.
2014-2015 el nino made ace score in pacific, epac basin, extremely high and drought conditions here in sw coast mexico.
2015-2016 gave us patricia, a celebration of life, and impending west coastal doom weather. super el nino, labelled last may , at its inception.
the current this winter has been compared to and with that of 1997, previously the strongest el nino in history--side by side, this one makes that one look like normal pattern of weather.
watch patterns and learn.
this pattern of weather has intrigued me since i was aware of it, 1973.

as sailing is difficult in winter in west coast, i recommend removing your headsail or wrapping many more wraps via extra line to prevent wind grabbing and wrecking it. same prep as with furycames in summer down here in cane land.


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Last edited by zeehag; 3 Weeks Ago at 01:50 PM.
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post #3 of 22 Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Re: Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

I'd agree with removing the headsail in the 'off season'. Even if you decide to go out on a nice Saturday afternoon it's only a few minutes' work to bend the sail on, and to remove it at the end of the day (just like we all used to do with hanked on sails) Your sail will thank you for it too.

Another way to secure a furled sail for conditions like you describe is to take a spare/spinnaker halyard and spiral it around the furled sail and pulling it tight (winding in the opposite direction of the furler rotation), or using a spare halyard to hoist a sock/tube that encloses the entire sail (in which case you can remove the UV cover on the sail if you want to use the sock all the time - but those socks can wear through exposed stitching over time)

Ron

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Re: Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

My marina has seen about 3 hurricanes and about 3-4 tropical storms in the years that I have been there, and the only significant damage to boats that I recall has been from jibs unfurling and flapping themselves to shreds. I believe most cases are caused by a carelessly furled sail, or an improperly cleated furling line, or old, rotten sails or lines that break or rip under stress.

I see many lines that are tied incorrectly on cleats, even by sailors with long experience. Learn the correct way to cleat a line.

I try to remove all the canvas from my boat prior to a major storm, but, if I can't, I'll wrap a halyard around the furled jib in the manner that Faster described. If I can't remove the mainsail prior to a severe storm, I'll also wrap a spare line around it in the same manner.
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post #5 of 22 Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Re: Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

Funny how your mind goes blank for that second when one of those appear, and when its coming there isn't much time. It was on us in less than 10 min came right down the hill crossed our bow and was gone just disappeared. As it past it started to suck us toward it and then just spun us in a circle and very very wet. Honestly the wind wasn't all that strong just all over the place.
I don't know about insurance but my boats have survived a few hurricanes never lost a sail. How I have prepared for big storms is rap the main with line using a chain type stitch wrapping it twice at every loop. I have seen spirals just unravel. The roller furler I take the spinnaker halyard and spiraled in down the sail in the opposite direction of the sail's wrap and clip the halyard to the anchor.

If your asking why took the time to take that picture, it was the other way around. I was taking pictures of the squall coming up the channel to the left. I think thats Peters or might be Tortola it's coming down I really don't remember where I was going pretty sure it was the BVI.
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Re: Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

Please be aware that your extreme weather event is a total fiction made up by East-Coast liberals, and has nothing to do with climate change. (Sorry if your jib got damaged. I always cleat ours off to avoid problems with flogging if anything is blown loose.) Wrapping spare halyards around the furled jib would be one way to help make the furl more secure.
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Last edited by paulk; 3 Weeks Ago at 10:03 PM.
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post #7 of 22 Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Re: Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

I like to get 3 - 4 extra wraps of the sheets around my head sail when furled. Then I cleat the sheets off with some tension in the cockpit.
Been lucky so far but have also taken off all canvas for h'canes and some tropical storms.

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post #8 of 22 Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Re: Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

Here in Coastal Northern California, Tornados are rare, but not unknown.
When we first moved here, we settled at the end of a long dirt and gravel road. That first Summer, I saw something rather amazing to those young City Eyes- Dust Devils. Due to Geography, and the Prevailing Westerlies, they danced along the road right in front of our home, on hot Summer afternoons. They weren't very big, maybe fifteen feet tall, and they didn't last very long; one whipped up, lasted for a few seconds, and then collapsed, just as another one formed behind it.
We loved them. My Sisters and I would run on the gravel, chasing them, hoping for something Oz-like.

That Summer, once the House and Shetland Ponies were sorted out, I got my Boat. An El Toro. At first I sailed the front lawn, and slept in it at night. My Parents had no problem with this, just as they had no problems a few years later when I would disappear into the Hills for a couple of days, with a sleeping bag, a telescope, and a couple of tins of Dinty Moore. My Parents, by Modern Standards, might be considered to have been a bit Loony.
One June afternoon, I was tacking on the Deep Green Sea, heading for the Bunny Cage, (Sisters,...), when a Dust Devil took a detour, spun the El Toro completely around, and tore the gooseneck out of the mast, leaving an ugly and obvious to Parental Eyes, mast crack. So within a few days, I was on Water, instead of on Lawn.
(Years later, heading for Catalina, I was hit by a Whipperwill just off Point Sur. The Gybe Preventer did its job, and the Boom Gooseneck tore off the mast, taking about five feet of mast track with it.)


That's all gone now. The Dirt Road is now Asphalt, and the little grungy "Ranchettes" are now Million Dollar Homes with three car garages, and the little Shetland Ponies that were something of a fad back then, in their little backyard barns, for little girls, have long died off.
No Dust Devils there now, and anyway, the Climate has changed, in more ways then one. That first Winter five decades ago, we had snow on the hills, that due to peculiarities of Geography and Weather patterns, haven't seen snow now in more than two decades. Occasionally, we get short fast winds and heavy hail instead. Usually in May.


Once, in 1987, I was sailing West under the old Carquinez Bridge with some old friends and family, and we spotted, well, something, not far off, in the North Bay. So we dropped sail and chased it, courtesy of Mr. Volvo.
A Cone of water would rise a few feet, and then collapse, and then form again.
And finally, it rose- a Waterspout that must have been two hundred feet high... ok, maybe a hundred feet. It was magnificent, for as long as it lasted.

I expect that these may now become more common.

¬Erindipity
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post #9 of 22 Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Re: Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

Quote:
Originally Posted by tadavidson View Post
...
(3) Has anyone ever experienced this and have you had your marine insurance (I have Boat US) given you trouble about getting damage covered?

...

Any suggestions are very welcome!

Tania Davidson
S/V "Asherah" O'Day 32'
Ventura Harbor, Ventura, CA
I can't help you with whatever weather event may have occurred, but I have BoatUS and regardless of my insurance I am careful what I submit as a claim. Actually, I've never made a claim, not even for hauling during named storms for which they pay half (our marina doesn't charge a lot). I don't want to run the risk of having my premium raised when I'm comfortable paying a repair bill. I'm saving the insurance for true catastrophic events. I guess my feeling is that if I can't afford to pay an emergency repair under a certain amount out of pocket, then I can't afford this boat.

As others mentioned, take some extra turns on your furling line from now on. Prepare for what may occur, don't be complacent because it didn't happen in the past.

Best of luck with your furler. If it survives the tension put on it during a sail, it might be fine but best to have someone who is knowledgeable check it out.
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post #10 of 22 Old 3 Weeks Ago
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Re: Microburst or Tornado? El Nino 2016

For all of you that have never had the luck to be captured on your boat in the mooring field in a 50kt breeze let me explain what happens to a furled jib. If you look at your jib rolled the top has fewer wraps. When the wind kicks up these top wraps start getting wind under them they fill like a ballon then start shredding. Wrapping the sheets does help from unwinding and does save the bottom third but it's the top that needs to be held in. Thats why when you have forecasted winds above 45 wrap in the OPPOSITE direction with your spin halyard to prevent that top from filling. Don't have a spin halyard? Now you have one more excuse to get that spinnaker...
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