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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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  #11  
Old 07-29-2008
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You've had some excellent advice about a storm. Your question, however, encompasses squalls, fronts, and storms. That's a very big topic. All the answers depend on where the nearest land is, what the wind direction is in relation to the land, and how long the severe weather will last.

If you sail in deep water, then you have to sail, or heave-to (which is still sailing, it's just easier on the helmsman), or run off if you have searoom.

In a short squall, don't overlook just anchoring and riding it out, if your water isn't too deep. I sail on a lake these days, with shallow water, and that would be my choice if I ran out of searoom and couldn't make progress to windward with sail, motor (and yes outboards may cavitate and be less useful), or both. Drop sail, anchor, and ride it out.

This should work on a shallow-sloping shore. It may not work on a steep or rocky shore.

Each situation is unique. Heaving-to may work in deep water if you're exhausted and just have to sleep, and you're making at least minimal forward progress.

But there's no simple answer to what was a pretty broad question. You have to figure out what fits the boat, you, your searoom, your guess as to the weather severity and duration, and hope you figured right.
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Old 07-29-2008
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Again, lying ahull isn't a good tactic unless you have the searoom to do so safely.

If you're only two-to-three miles from shore, as the OP states, and the wind is blowing towards the land, lying ahull will probably get you killed.
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  #13  
Old 07-30-2008
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I'm not going to make reference to lee shores - let's assume that we all know the perils of those.

Lying a-hull will almost certainly have you beam on to the wind and unless it's shifting around you will probably be beam-on to the seas as well. If the waves aren't breaking this may be OK. We tried this in a 60knt+ storm with big seas that were occasionally breaking. Sods Law says one will get you. One did, smashed all the cabinetry off the inside of the boat and stuck the mast in the water. I won't do that in a hurry again.

Running off the wind in a strong blow with a large following sea also has a habit of getting your boat surfing - way more exciting than I need!! Character-building stuff indeed. And especially at night when it's real hard to judge the size of the seas or where they will break next.

So what other choices do you have? Well, my choice is to motor into the seas at an angle to enable you to ride over them in some comfort and (if you can see them) drive around the ones likely to break. This of course on a little boat with an outboard may be very challenging indeed.

Squalls should be run ahead of ideally under a furled jib. The seas are not likely to be an issue because most squalls, even tropical line squalls come and go in a short enough time window to not generate enough fetch to build the seas.

But I agree with Chuck - heaving to in 60kn with anything but the toughest storm sails is a quick way to reduce your sail inventory and you'll soon enough be back at one of the other choices.

And like I said in an earlier thread, maybe the choice you make takes you temporarily away from your chosen destination, it's better than head for the nearest solid ground which is directly under your keel.

Andre
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  #14  
Old 07-30-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwaltersmi View Post
I've been debating the merits of heaving-to versus taking all the sails down and going bare poles in extremely heavy weather. What's your opinion of which is better in the scenario below?

Scenario: You're daysailing in smallish (25'-30') outboard-powered sloop about 2 or 3 miles offshore and nasty squall/front/storm rolls in with the potential for 50mph+ winds. What would you do?

My inexperienced thoughts tell me that the boat would heave-to in those conditions, or that something would break if you tried it. However, I've read stories of vessels on bluewater passages riding out storms for days at time while hove-to. Perhaps heaving-to is better suited for taking a break from sailing or stopping the boat in an emergency rather than waiting out heavy weather?? Or perhaps you should heave-to in heavy weather when it's too dangerous to be in the cockpit and you need to stay below and know that the boat isn't going to wander too much??

The problem I see with taking all the sails down in a small outboard-powered sailboat is that you'll have no control over the boat because the wave height will likely render the outboard useless.
My previous boat was a 25ft trailer sailer with an 8HP. The one time I got caught out on the ocean in a strong wind (+30 knots) I furled the jib and beat up into the breeze with the main & running the outboard at about half throttle. The main helped steady the boat and keep the outboard in the water (it was a long shaft which also helped) and the combination of outboard and sail allowed me to beat up to shelter. One tack was definitely better as the outboard was offset & so was a lot deeper in the water most of the time. Admittedly this was early in the strong winds so the waves hadn't had much chance to build up. I was off a lee shore so staying put was'nt an option plus shelter was only a couple of miles upwind so it made sense to keep going.

Prior to that I used to crew on a 25ft keel boat and one time we got hit by a line squall that reached 60 knots. We saw it coming and quickly reefed the main and when it hit the skipper feathered the boat into the wind with the jib sheeted in hard and the main eased to balance the boat (ie sailing close hauled). It only lasted 5-10 minutes and it soon dropped to 30-40 knots and half an hour later we were sailing in 20 knots in sunny conditions.

In the circumstances you described it really depends on the situation, ie what's around you, how experienced your crew are, how long will the strong winds last, etc. In my first example I was sailing with my family and as soon as the sea breeze hit they all headed for the shelter of the cabin and I was essentially single handed. Then it made sense to motor sail. In the second example I was racing with an experienced crew and we never stopped racing.

Ilenart
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  #15  
Old 07-30-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seabreeze_97 View Post
The account of Satori in the 1991 "Perfect Storm" might help illustrate lying ahull in heavy weather, at least a bit.
SATORI @ Ed's web site
As bad as the conditions were, Satori was in about a Force 8 or 9 storm (Quote from the article: From the Coast Guard incident reports: "Seas 30 Ft., Winds 015/40 [knots] with gusts to 55 kts. [knots]". There were no 50 or 60 foot waves during the evacuation.) Having been in two Force 10 storms (and lots of heavy weather less than that), I can tell you that heaving to will never cross your mind in 30 foot seas and if you are in anything less than a XXX-ton Westsail 32 or Alajuela 38 you aren't going to lie ahull either - you are very likely to broach in those conditions - even if you aren't in danger of a knockdown, when you look up at those seas, you'll believe that turning across the storm is impossible. If you have sea room, your first and best inkling will be to run before the storm. If you are near a lee shore in an offshore storm you are going to try to claw away from the lee shore, trying to motor at an angle (maybe with postage stamp size storm headsail) into the storm - not a pleasant thought. This kind of heavy weather is hard on you and your boat - I did about $3,500 in repairs to Paloma after the March storm.
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Last edited by johnshasteen; 07-30-2008 at 03:07 PM.
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  #16  
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Omatako,

I'm really interested in what happened to you. The esteemed Mr Jordan (as in series drogues) states categorically that yachts don't sustain damage from beaking waves falling onto them. Rather it's the forces generated when boat falls off a really steep wave and slams into the trough that does the damage. Is that what happened to you?

Graham
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The JSD is designed to keep the boat from being damaged by breaking waves. It allows the boat to move a bit, but doesn't hold it in place like a sea anchor does, which makes the boat a big target.

From the JSD website:

Quote:
Contest 40, 250 mi. N. W. of Bermuda. "

Gusts were furious now. The seas were 25 ft with faces at 45 degrees and breaking crests. Deployed drogue. Slowing effect was phenomenal. Deploying the drogue was like jumping off a 30 ft. wave with a 40 ft. yacht. The feeling of being elastically tied to the sea itself is hard to imagine. We slowed to 1.5 knots with the stern pointed aggressively into the sea. It was as though we had entered a calm harbor of refuge. With the reduction in the yachts motion our situation seemed to be not too bad. We were exhausted and took the opportunity to get some sleep".

Many skippers have commented on the bungee type feel to the boats motion with the drogue deployed. This important characteristic was developed from model testing in the U.S. Coast Guards flow channel, which has glass walls so the underwater motion of drogue models could be observed. In a major storm, a yacht moves forward as it passes over the crest and backward in the trough for a distance of 50 ft. or more. The length of the drogue and the weight at the end is designed so that the drogue normally assumes a hook shape with the weighted end hanging almost vertical. When the boat is passing over the crest the drogue tends to straighten out and more of the cones take up the load thus checking the boat. In the trough, the weight sinks, taking up the unwanted slack in the towline. Thus the drogue is always aligned to respond to a dangerous breaking wave strike. The cones are attached at both ends so they cannot turn inside out if moving backward.


Model tests clearly show that the behavior of a parachute or cone drag device is unacceptable. As the device is pulled forward, it forms a wake behind it. When the towline goes slack the water in the wake continues to move forward and turns the chute or cone inside out, often causing it to tumble or foul the shroud lines. In the Coast Guard full scale tests in breaking waves on the Columbia River bar, the series drogue performed flawlessly and was retrieved with no damage, while a cone type drogue was destroyed.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
The JSD is designed to keep the boat from being damaged by breaking waves. It allows the boat to move a bit, but doesn't hold it in place like a sea anchor does, which makes the boat a big target.
Spot on SailingDog!! If you get hit solidly by a breaking wave onto the top of your boat - think in terms of around 500 or so gallons of seawater at about 8 pounds per gallon, it's like dropping a Buick onto your cabin trunk.
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Yeah, I realise that, but Omatako says he was lying ahull when he got smashed so I was interested to know if Jordan's claim is right. (I've no reason to suppose it isn't).

If Jordan is correct, then Omatako would have sustained damage not from the weight of water dropping onto him from the breaking wave, but from falling off the wave itself. In which case, to my mind, the the best course of action in such conditions (given the searoom) would be to sling out a series drogue.
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Jordan may be right, I have no idea. I have only run before storms. In the March 08 gale, it was a cold front coming all the way down from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The front itself was moving at 35 miles per hour packing winds of 50-60 and gusting higher. Running before storms like that (and the last full gale that Paloma was in as well) and not getting pooped or nose-diving down into the wave trough, entails adjusting speed to accomodate the wave train - that means no drogues, no trailing lines, it means rocking and rolling - at times, in March, we were making 10mph on the GPS - that exceeds the hull speed of Paloma and yes the following seas often swoosh underneath you no matter what speed you are making. On the other hand, I suppose you could drogue yourself down to a snails pace and hope that the waves swoosh under you and that the waves that land on you don't cave in your cabin trunk - I have a large parachute drouge and by vote of all onboard, we never considered deploying it.

BTW, those of you who enjoy reading heavy weather documentaries - not heavy weather text books, read John Rousmariene's "Fastnet, Force 10: the Deadliest Storm in the History of Modern Sailing"
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Last edited by johnshasteen; 07-30-2008 at 06:53 PM.
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