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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #11  
Old 06-07-2009
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I've been caught out in storms, been in the cockpit when the mast was struck by lightening, and am fortunate that my captain was solid through it all. I'd like to add that when visibility drops it's Very Handy to have your wave points charted on your GPS so that you're still able to navigate if necessary.
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Old 06-07-2009
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Thanks everyone for the great advice. I felt better prepared for it. The wet seemed to be passing north of us (love that iphone for weather radar), so we just headed straight out and stayed there most of the day. Nothing stormy came up, and we had a great day sailing.

We experienced our first serious wind shift - all the way from SW to straight N. Took a while to settle down, and it sure is hard to trim sails when the wind is so confused. That north wind is cold too!
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Old 06-07-2009
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Hi Roger, Glad to hear you had a fun time. I just walked in the door an hour ago and it sounds like we had the same conditions on the other side of the lake.
We started out with nice South Winds and good boat speed. A couple of hours later it was just less than a 180 degree shift to North west. I rode that for a while until we were about 3 miles from turning into the pier heads when it shifted again, almost due East. With the last shift it died almost completely and I was only able to maintain about 2 knots so I gave up.
Of course it was threatening to rain all day and the foulies were always at the ready. Although the skies were dark and it threatened to rain, I never felt like it was going to bring storm. Good day on the water, one in which a lot of boaters got scared off because of the possibility of rain. Some times its best to go with your own gut feeling.
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  #14  
Old 06-08-2009
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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.
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Old 06-14-2011
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Do you have any tips for visually judging the speed at which a storm is approaching?
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Old 06-15-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andorsky View Post
Do you have any tips for visually judging the speed at which a storm is approaching?
Yeah, get a radar.

We got a new boat in December. It was about 150nm away in Warwick RI and during the relocation trip we had two squals come over us while we were in Buzzard's Bay. On the radar, I could see them coming from about 12-18 nm away. The best part is that we could also see that they were going to be short lived.

Another item you could get is a thunder detector. One of the guys at the dock has one and it can tell him if a thunder storm is coming, from what direction and how fast. I am not sold on the one he got as it was 75% less then the ones I have seen online but if it seems to work after this season I may pick one up. You can do similar with the old AM radio trick.

As for visual observations, if you are on open water, judging distance can be extremely difficult (at least for me). Otherwise I try to use landmarks on the shore to help judge the distance.
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  #17  
Old 06-15-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andorsky View Post
Do you have any tips for visually judging the speed at which a storm is approaching?
If you count the sec. between the lightning flash and the thounder will tell you how far away the lightning storm is, every 5 sec between is a mile.
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Old 06-15-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JKCatalina310 View Post
Yeah, get a radar.

We got a new boat in December. It was about 150nm away in Warwick RI and during the relocation trip we had two squals come over us while we were in Buzzard's Bay. On the radar, I could see them coming from about 12-18 nm away. The best part is that we could also see that they were going to be short lived.

Another item you could get is a thunder detector. One of the guys at the dock has one and it can tell him if a thunder storm is coming, from what direction and how fast. I am not sold on the one he got as it was 75% less then the ones I have seen online but if it seems to work after this season I may pick one up. You can do similar with the old AM radio trick.

As for visual observations, if you are on open water, judging distance can be extremely difficult (at least for me). Otherwise I try to use landmarks on the shore to help judge the distance.

I have to ask; what is a thunder detector? Did you mean a lightning strike detector such as a stormscope?
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  #19  
Old 06-15-2011
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Similar to a storm scope

but not as expensive or likely as reliable.

Here is what the guy on my dock has.

Under $400. If it works I will likely get one.
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  #20  
Old 06-15-2011
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Timing lightning will tell you where the hit was, but it can hit 30 miles laterally from the storm center.

Rough way to figure, if teh wind is at 15 knots, the storm front is moving at 15 knots. If you can guess how far away it is the rest if easy math, you know how fast it is moving.

With a little more experience you can eyeball the distance to a squall line or cloud line, and you'll feel the temperature drop and wind change as the front approaches you.

And if you have to ask "Is it close enough to worry? Should I put on my foulies or reef yet?" the answer is always, you should have already done that, do it quickly now.
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