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  #11  
Old 01-30-2008
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The rule that I live by is that the moment the thought of putting in a reef hits my mind, then that's the time to do it. No questions asked, like 'should I?' Because it may be to late or to dangerous by the time you answer that question. I personally am a real fan of trauma free sailing.
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  #12  
Old 01-30-2008
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bkw,
Yes, it all depends on the severity of the squall. Usually, so called squall 20-30 kts I consider just another stronger wind. It requires some standard reefing and other preparations motioned early in this thread (one should make a list of it, great lectur). The stronger the squall the worst it is to deal with, some may reach hurricane force winds, but experienced sailors can manage it. Inexperience sailors should consider taking down there sails as soon as they feel strange, and start the engine, and do not try to be famous as squall fighter – almost always it will damage your equipment. At sea you will notice that something around yourself and your boat is changing/wrong (temp, wind, pressure, clouds, etc) and then just dropping down sails is the fastest way to react.
The most famous area for totally crazy squalls is in deed Great Lakes – often in excess of 40-50 knots winds, and this is really dangerous. I think squalls like that in BVI are not seen often, but you should not rule it out.
Anyway, if you just take all the info in this thread and put it together on the piece of paper you probably will have very nice Manual “How to in squalls”
Here is what happened to me:
While in Mac Race, we noticed huge vertically fast moving clouds (chimney type) about 30-40 miles aft stern. It was really beautiful seen! I never encounter one like this (monster) in such a sunny day. After few minutes of watching it, and some lecture about how the “white squall” forms, we went back to racing, and ….. trust me, we did not have time to crap our pants. When we looked back it was already blowing 80+ kts (CBS report) and our speed was over 20-25 kts. It lasted about 10 minutes, then dropped to 30-40 kts wind and after another 20 minutes was blowing only 20 kts. About 1-2 feet above the lake level was formed another layer of water. All within seconds and with full Main and #1 Genoa! We have seen boats around diving bow first, spinnakers flying ahead of the boats, flip over etc. We actually rescue crew of the racing cat which did “mushroom”. All went thru that squall and there were no fatalities, just lots of hardware damaged and one of a kind expierience.
The only way to survive it was to hold course as much downwind as possible and drop sails on the deck. Surprisingly I did not have difficulties with holding the course, accept, the force of the wind was really pushing me hard against the wheel, and this was real fight. Crew was unbelievably brave by taking down Genoa that weights about 350 pounds. It was very exhausting for them. After wind come down to 30kts we turn upwind and dropped Main (about 500 lbs) and went back to the boats behind us. Number of the racing boats where traveling at over 15 kts just on bare poles.
Here is what is important in stronger squalls.
1. They are predictable; the only guess is when they will blow with full force.
2. Observe the weather reports even if sunny day.
3. Sails down and engine slow forward on, are the best ways of waiting them to pass by.
4. Secure your crew (tethering) and mandatory lifejackets, close all hatches.
5. Make quick notes where you are and were you sailing to.
6. Always have your VHF on (many send warning of the approaching squall).
7. Make sure all loose objects are secured and remember about your kids and pets.
8. In unlikely case of boat turning over never let your boat go. Hold to it as long as the boat is surfaced – most likely it will right back.
9. Don’t panic it will last only short time, just make sure you are not sailing towards reefs or shore.
10. Fill free to add anything else that you think is important and let your crew to know all of this.

I hope this will help a bit.
Ahoy,
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  #13  
Old 01-30-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6string View Post
I'm curious why you would run or reach when the squall hits. I would think you would want to beat into it so as to get past the heavy stuff on the leading edge quickly. You also present less area to the wind that way. Less tipping force.
Jeff
If you're beating into it, have the sails sheeted in hard, and you get a squirrelly puff of strong wind across the beam, you can take a knock-down. You might get headed up in a puff while reaching, but a knock-down is unlikely.

Also, you're moving perpendicular to the axis of movement of the squall when reaching, so you're going to get out of it pretty quickly.

Have one of your crew keep a sharp watch for other boats and obstructions--the rain in some squalls is so dense you can hardly see the bow of the boat.
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  #14  
Old 01-30-2008
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The parallel for squalls here in the PNW are the outflow/katabatic winds that start high in the mountain snow fields and glaciers and roar out the inlets along the coast. The cold air can be moving very fast. The are dealt with like any wind, they just require you to do it more quickly. The great fear is one finding you in the dark because then you can't see them coming. Fortunately, the weather guys know the conditions that create them and are pretty good at forecasting them.

Gaz
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  #15  
Old 02-01-2008
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I've been in a number of squalls on smaller lakes, the Great Lakes, and Pamlico Sound on a Catalina 22 swing keel. Winds up to the 40's and gusts in the 50's on the small lakes and wind up to the 30's with gusts to the 40's on the bigger waters. My first tactic is to shorten sail, next is to reach, then heave to. I've never been in anything that warranted further actions, but I could also run under bare poles, or in places like Lake Erie or Pamlico Sound drop the hook (20-30' deep, little traffic, no land for miles).

Great information from everyone else, except I question the reference to sail under headsail only. I have never done this and have seen several discussions regarding unusual stresses placed upon the mast which could result in damage, perhaps even dismasting. Also, I have seen references to poor handling with headsail only. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Thanks to all, Michael
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  #16  
Old 02-01-2008
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As long as your mast is properly stayed I don't think sailing under a headsail alone is a problem. Of course I'm not saying keep a 150% genoa up in 50 knots with the main down. Appropriate sails for the weather must be used. I might be concerned in a Bergstrom & Ridder rigged boat with no backstay.

My boat is fine with a small sail on the inner stay in wild weather.

Gaz
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  #17  
Old 03-04-2008
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Exclamation Know your surrounding area-Don't rely on radar

Don't rely on your radar in a storm/squall. Often the radar will pick up "returns" and the storm will look like a large island. This scared the heck out of me the first time it happened. It blanked out my forward route, and blocked the returns of the small islands around me. Fortunately, I knew the area and where to run, but felt really uncomfortable until I got a proper return and visuals again.
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  #18  
Old 03-05-2008
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Squalls in Multihulls

I have only been multihull for a year, but aside from Sailingdog, all the squall advice seem to be monohull-oriented. My weather experience to date does not justify lashing down everything, and preparing to abandon ship. Securing hatches, clearing the deck, and reducing sail seem appropriate, as does running or reaching. What about heaving to or just hauling everything down and waiting in the salon? I would love to hear something from a multihull owner with squall expertise.
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  #19  
Old 03-05-2008
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Part of the problem is that the wind direction from a squall can change rather quickly and drastically, so heaving-to can be a bit difficult. Reducing windage, and taking down all of the sail, is really key, especially on a multihull, which won't heel with the brutal winds you'll experience in a squall.

Moving off on a broad reach is probably a good idea, if you can keep the boat down to a safe speed, since it will help get you out of the storm's path. You'd be amazed at how fast a multihull with bare poles can get moving in a squall.

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Originally Posted by TOMINDC2 View Post
I have only been multihull for a year, but aside from Sailingdog, all the squall advice seem to be monohull-oriented. My weather experience to date does not justify lashing down everything, and preparing to abandon ship. Securing hatches, clearing the deck, and reducing sail seem appropriate, as does running or reaching. What about heaving to or just hauling everything down and waiting in the salon? I would love to hear something from a multihull owner with squall expertise.
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  #20  
Old 03-05-2008
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If I was a multihull guy, I would put a VHF radio in my pocket too. Then when it does flip you can call for help.
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There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar IV, iii, 217
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