I'd rather be sailing
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: The state of s/v/ Pelican
Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Rep Power: 11
Lightning will go where it wants. If you're 2 miles out in deep water, anchoring is not viable, but there are several viable options: 1) Dropping sail and either turning your stern to the storm or your bow to the storm and lightly (or heavily as needed) motoring to keep your boat orientated correctly or, 2) Substantially lessening sail and heaving to. As people said, keep an eye on your compass and have a handheld GPS (preferably) ready to go in case your primary electronics are hit by an electrical discharge. We had lightning hit 20 feet off our beam a few days ago and it shut down all of our electronics. Fortunately, we were able to shut the power to everything off and turn it back on and everything turned back on again. The wind picked up to over 40kts during the squall and visibility was so bad in the rain I couldn't see my furled genoa from the cockpit. Lightning was landing all around us. We had a 58ft metal lightning rod (our mast) sticking straight up from the water, but the lightning hit the water around us as opposed to our boat - fortunately. We had our computers and hard drives in the oven as a pseudo farraday cage just in case. Anyway, the point is - when you're not near land, keep sailing. If you're very near a lee shore I would definitely anchor to minimize the possibility of running aground in poor visibility. MOST violent squalls (i.e. 30-50kt winds) will only last 15-30 minutes unless they are part of a much larger system.
BTW - we ended up aborting our trip from Spanish Wells to Nassau and ducking into a safe harbor (Royal Island) as soon as the visibility started returning. It wasn't a fun day at all, and now we're very nervous about going out with any threat of squalls. The problem is that we've entered rainy season, so I don't think a day will go by without the threat. I'm sure the feeling will pass after a few good trips. We had the same issue after hitting 40kt winds and 12ft seas off of Frying Pan Shoals while rounding Cape Fear, NC.
s/v "Pelican" Passport 40 #076- Finished Cruising - for the moment -
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"Don't dream your life, live your dream" - Bob Bitchin'
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