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  #11  
Old 07-11-2011
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The most important instrument of them all. the "MKII EYEBALL"!
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  #12  
Old 07-11-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aeventyr60 View Post
The most important instrument of them all. the "MKII EYEBALL"!
YUP I was just about to post the same advice. Connect the eyeball to brain and watch what is happening upwind of you esp. any unusual cloud formations. Get into practice for sailing in places where you do not have CG warnings or weather channels.

A black wall of cloud reaching sea level is telling you that it is going to get wet and windy!
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  #13  
Old 07-11-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryL View Post
Hi,

Just a question / nit pick. Wouldn't you want at least some of the main sail up (maybe with a reef or two)? What if the wind / waves / bouncing / etc cause the engine to suck up some dirt and stall?

I've only been hit by sudden storms twice and both times I left my main up and engine on and kept the boat feathered into the wind.

Barry
That's fine in a mild squal.

Thunderstorms can also pack microbursts of over 100 MPH and I've expereinced horizontal hail that was reported 1-mile away at over 90 knots. That's enough to shred a "feathered" sail. It was enough to cartwheel a group of beach cats off a near by beach that had no sail up.

The problem with squalls is you don't know, and unlike a stormy day with sustained high winds, there's little point in pretending to sail through it.

It's certainly good to be prepared to get some sail up. It is also smart to have the anchor ready; it's always surprising how many forget that simple tool.


I learned by sailing small boats on the Chesapeake.
* Squals are not surprises; if it's humid and it's summer, expect it.
* We never needed instruments. Weather sense worked fine. Fear the big black things to the west (MKII Eyeball). Don't sail with your eyes on the intruments; sail with them turned off, most of the time. Watch the water under the clouds (high wind whips up spray). Get your head out of the cockpit.
* Down bursts spread when they hit the water; the wind can come from any dirrection and change dirrection and speed VERY quickly. You may not be able to turn and feather fast enough.
* Sailboats can't outrun anything, in part because the wind dies in front of the squal. Storms change quickly. You get what you get.
* The only thing that really helps with lightening is a harbor with a lot of trees and masts.
* Like the Old Man and the Sea, we all need to be destroyed by a storm one time. We learn respect.


I'll sail in thunderstorm weather; I don't like it, I sail early so I can reach shelter early, and I keep my head on a swivle. If they are morning storms, I'll wait.
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Last edited by pdqaltair; 07-11-2011 at 01:21 PM.
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  #14  
Old 07-11-2011
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We get these really nasty thunderstorms/lightning/deluges around the Equator in SE Asia, instead of being a stoic, we drop sail and wait it out, sure is a lot easier on my gear, my nerves and lessens the pucker factor. The wind before the storm is really fun.....whee, we are flying along, the it's reef, reef, drop the sails and hold on. Rain so thick you can't see your hand in front of your face.....cleans up the boat quite nicely, good time for our shower as well.....
Cheers,
matt-72 hrs before returingn to the boat-yippeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
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  #15  
Old 07-11-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
One more thing, screw the electronic toys...your survival depends on what you DO or don't do...the ipad or plotter doesn't float and if you take a lightning hit, you better know how to navigate your area, or heave to, or make minimal headway in to the cell...
The way BR used them in this situation - and knowing that he has got a hell of a lot of miles under his keel - I think his statement about them being good survival tools is right on.

As always, it's a combination of everything that works the best (electronic, manual, and otherwise)...with a good, level-headed, observant, forward-thinking skipper at the helm being the most important part of that combo.

The anti-"toy" thing is a little over the top.
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  #16  
Old 07-11-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
Guys,

I love gadgets too, and I am not discounting their usefulness, just that they are a tool...and in the XM/Sirius...the reports and such are at LEAST 5 minutes delayed if not more towards 15 minutes...and they are a birds eye view of the weather you may or may not be in.

Again in the Chesapeake, many of our squalls don't even appear on XM, as the intensity and duration allows them to fit between "sweeps"...of what is actually re-broadcast later

My suggestion is that the original poster...should not have been surprised at the first clap of thunder, and should not delay, to check XM, needed action that he can SEE with his own two eyes and hear with his Ears..regardless of what XM was telling him, good or bad, light or severe.

The OP is the one in the cockpit, and to ignore situational awareness, tools or not, is to ignore Mother Nature and a swift bitch she can be, whether your tool is prepared or not. Let alone to have the tool disagree with her.

I wasn't there either, but learned long ago to trust in what I can see, hear and feel as goes the sailboat; instruments/tools/toys can be, and are often wrong/late/misread/rebooting...and you don't need additional loading at these critical times.

Enjoy!
I agree with most of your points including latency of Sirius/XM sattelite weather. However, in 4 years of using XM in the cockpit of my airplane and on the boat, I have never once seen a cell that formed in front me before I saw it on XM and I don't even have the package that displays lightning which would signal convection, before there was any precip for radar to pick up. It could happen, but it would be rare, and you'd have to ignore the towering cumulus cloud that was right over your head to get suprised by such an occurence.

XM is a stategic tool not a tactical one due to the latency prevously mentioned but it can give you HOURS of advanced warning to plan your course of action. I once decided to pull anchor and head for the slip when I saw a line of severe storms (a magenta monster) west of Richmond VA doing a quick check of XM right after dinner. Watching the animiation I as able to determine the worst part of the storms were headed towards my anchorage on Carter Creek and I was able to motor home and be in the slip at midnight about 45 minutes before the storm arrived. As you mentioned there is nearly always a threat of afternoon/evening convective activity during the Chesapeake sailing season but the intensity of these cells convinced me I didn't want to experience them at anchor.

Being in the middle of a TS is the only time I've ever truly been scared on my boat. I've been caught in them twice while underway and several times at anchor. When caught underway, I'll drop the sails, get things secured and look for the biggest open water I can find. I don't want to get caught in a creek or cove where you'll be aground in minutes if you lost the engine. At anchor I just watch the anchor alarm and shoreline (if you can see it) and stand ready to get underway if we drag or someone is dragging down on us. I've taken to tossing a fender in the anchor locker if I need to get off the anchor in a hurry. Summer squalls are short duration events so you can come back for the anchor later. The scariest aspect for me is not running aground or damaging the boat but of someone being hurt by a lightning strike.

It sounds to me like BR used the tools appropriately, but was trying to relate exactly how fast these summer storms can form, pass and dissapate.
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Last edited by PalmettoSailor; 07-11-2011 at 02:40 PM.
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  #17  
Old 07-11-2011
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I would say the electronics are more of an advantage at night, especially on a cloudy or moonless night, when you can't see what's coming up on you. Although, I've never really thought about squalls at night per se...Maybe I should?

In the daytime someone should always have eyes out of the boat, especially in mixed weather. Squalls are kinda big and nasty, it's hard for one to sneak up on you as long as someone is keeping a proper watch. Since the speed of advance can be the speed of the squall winds...at 40+ knots, sure, they can get to you quickly. But that usually just means once you've seen it--you have to expect it "now".
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Old 07-11-2011
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Good discussion, shipmates! That's what I had hoped for. It's summer. TS's happen and they aren't to be toyed with. All those who advocate "heads up and out of the cockpit" -- Right on! But the toys help -- they give you warning.

My wife flew home from Chicago today. She was delayed several hours by wx at O'Hare. If she'd called me before she left our daughter's house, I could have told her she'd be delayed -- I was sitting at anchor in Cape Cod, but I could see the line of red pixels crossing over the southern end of Lake Michigan. Say what you will, but you gotta love the new technology!

Be safe out there!
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Old 07-11-2011
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It all depends

Quote:
Originally Posted by BarryL View Post
Hi,

Just a question / nit pick. Wouldn't you want at least some of the main sail up (maybe with a reef or two)? What if the wind / waves / bouncing / etc cause the engine to suck up some dirt and stall?

I've only been hit by sudden storms twice and both times I left my main up and engine on and kept the boat feathered into the wind.

Barry
If you have the time, and space, it is safer to take sails down. We got hit once at the North end of Lake Michigan with a thundersquall we saw coming for about 40 minutes. First it deposited a half inch of hail on deck. Then the wind blew the hail off the deck, and flattened the water as we took off at 8 knots with no sails and 50 knots on the anemometer. Since we were racing, we didn't start the motor. Any sail hoisted would have been ripped to shreds pretty quickly. The additional luffing and shaking might also damage fittings and cause the mast to fall: not fun. Another time we were cruising shorthanded downwind in about 18-20 knots with the full main and genoa up. Nice rolling seas with the occasional whitecap. Suddenly the wind went to 45 - whitecaps and spray everywhere, and us ridiculously overpowered near the harbor entrance we'd been heading to. We started the engine and dropped the sails as quickly as we could. Reefing would
have left us bouncing in the wet, flying around at possibly 8 or more knots into a narrow channel we weren't familiar with. We've gone out, purposely, in 40 knots of wind with a double reefed main, (Laguardia airport was closed that day...) and hit 12.5 knots on the speedo. Sometimes, diesel is the way to go, and save your sails for later.
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  #20  
Old 07-12-2011
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Magellan, Columbus, and today Cayard all go out with the latest of tools. Tools are meant to help, and I have my fair share. I wish I could afford more! When we night sail the most important thing I tell people on watch. If you feel a cool breeze wake me immediately. We are about to get weather, and it could be nasty.

Rounding the east end of Jamaica last year. I could plainly see a squall coming. We reduced sail, but not by enough. It hit, and blew the bows down. I turned down wind to roll with it. Got everything under control. Turned up wiind to put in yet another reef. Then we sailed on. I recently read the flatter the top of the cloud formation. The stronger the wind will be. I never heard that before, but will take notice from now on. We never stop learning, and that's what makes these discussions great!............i2f
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