Can I add my twopennce.
many years ago, I wanted to build seamiles for my YachtMaster exam. But I also wanted to push the envelope. So I signed up as delivery crew. Deliveres tend to take place out of season, therefore in poorer weather and most delivery skippers have lots of experience. It also gets you to experience lots of different types of boats.
I have done lots of trips like this around teh atlantic , across Biscay , around the Uk etc in bad weather.
Couple of things
if you own a boat then absolutly get out in "bad" weather, Whats Bad weather , well anything that scares you a bit. You'll find that the boat is stronger then you are and if you practice close to home that always gives you some mental resassurances. Where I live we get some of the worst sailing conditions close in shore. One of the most interesting experiences I had many years ago was a MOB training excercise, usually instructors do these in calm or modest weather, This particular sadist brought us out in a F8 near a headland in partially breaking overfalls, and we couldnt go back in until all 6 crew had execeuted a successfull MOB recover under sail ( fender and bucket). Boy did it teach us about boats and sailing. ( and being cold and it getting dark and the last dork that took about 20 goes to get the boat near the fender).
The moral here is you have to push yourself outside your comfort zone in a controlled manner.
(b)Sure read everything, the problem with reading is to know what weighting to put on the different and often conflicting advice given in books.
My specific experience is ( two mid atlantic F10's , three knockdowns in Biscay, 2 F8-F9 in the North sea, and a bastard of a gale in the med
1. A bad storm is whatever scares you. that could be an F6 or a hurricane.
2. Mental state is key, panic or too much self doubt can kill you ( literially).
3. Deep deep water is your friend if in doubt get off the continental shelf.! ohh and avoid seamounts bad bad things happen in storms around seamounts , I know.
4. Wind in itself is not the problem, Breaking waves are the problem, You can cope in almost anything outside of a hurricane as long as the waves dont break, thats why (3) is good.
5. Everything goes fine until it doesnt, the event cascade usually starts from something small. Watch for event cascades.
6. All the techniques in the books work, but they tend to work for that particular skipper in that particular boat. Your mileage WILL differ.
7. ON a modern flat bottom fin kneel, only active techniques really work IMHO. , that is running off, with the option of towing wraps/drouges, I did this in two atlantic storms and it worked well.I have never used parachute sea anchors , but I really dont see what use thay have in modern boats, The pardys were fans, but look at the boat they had. ( very few have these now) The loads on cleats and chaff etc and the necessity to do foredeck work IMHO means these are not for me.
8. modern boats tend to be lousy at heaving too , they tend to either sit almost beam on, inadvertently tack or generally get unsettled. These techniques work in moderate gales ( ie in ones that you could sale through). but they are not survival techniques IN THESE types of boats. You shoudl feel and hear the crack when the jib comes over in these situations, from inside it feels like the mast came down. oh and lying ahull, in a modern boat , yes if you want to turn it into a motorboat and the inside resembles a washing machine after a spin cycle. If at all possible keep sailing using active survival techniques, yes I know your tired but...
9. Active running away downwind seems to me to be the only way, try and sailing downwind diagonally out of the storm or you tend to prolong the miserly. But it requires a crew. If you shorthanded or incapacitated then you have real problems. You could be forced to heave to. ( see 8)
10. Remember in a storm , the key thing is to sail the boat in any direction thats keeps her happy ( and you have searoom). Forget about destinations, settle the boat
11. Modern boats can also "jog" or Dodge to winward under engine and tripple reefed main quite nicely, motion is fairly severe and the prop comes out of the water a lot, but I've gone through a night in the F9-F10 Atlantic storm thats way, easy on the crew too, the autopilot handled it.
12. Knockdowns often occur almost without your realising it, the thing i see with novices is they dont realise when they are getting into trouble and react way too late.
13. High levels of ship traffic and big winds and waves are really really really bad.....
14 Do not be suckered into running for home see (3), land is your enemy in these conditions. dont listen to inexperienced crew ( your wife will always seek land)
15 Some seas can be worse then major oceans the worst trip I had was a four say sail down the coast of mediterrian Spain, the short sharp seas were terrible and the motion was very severe, yet I had a recent trip across the atlantic a 42 foot HR with upto 50 knots and it was a doddle.
16. Night time in a storm requires good mental control. banish your demons, better still just be blindly optimistic or completely fatallistic. I find fatalistic to be good, and the only time i dont dream is in storms, I sleep like a log.
17 Day Time in a storm, marvel at nature, look at those huge waves with awe you are witnessing something very few people ever will. and remember the sea is not to out to get you ,it dont care about you.
18. Dolphins always turn up AFTER you realise you in the brown stuff. face it their having a laugh.!! ( once was in a storm where I was looking over the speaders to see them in the wave front)
19. Buy a cheap satphone on ebay, nothing scares the wife and kids back home when you are four days overdue in November on a mid atlantic delivery to the Canary islands. ( we had to run westward for days).
20. Use everybit of info you can get, on where the weather systems are and try and actively track them, adjust your destination according, dont just keep blindly sailing on.
21. While the arguments re furling systems and hank ons will rage on, I've gone through storms in roller furled head sails , in mast mains etc, no problems. The key is too not try and do things that the gear wont do. SO you have a massive baggy foller reefed headsail dont expect it to go to windward safely, crank up the engine and put away the headsail. or else turn downwind, throw out a wrap and now the baginess doesnt matter, remember rule 10.
22. A lot of advice has to be weighted against what is the background of the provider. A person with a heavy long kneeled boat may advise you to do all the wrong things. Be very careful about voices of authority, Harbour masters, etc, they may have no idea about small boat sailing.
23. whatever you do in a storm stay thethered to the boat. going over is final.
24 A lot of people go on about eating and staying dry etc. Well ...... I find that everyone needs liquids, but people can go for days on small amounts of food. If your in the cockpit you will be wet. ( we once had to turn in a F10 in the trough and as we came around a massive wave broke over us from the bow, The whole boat went under, my face was just above the foam, it was like a U-boat coming up ( I remember my brain saying cool...)( all the crew below asked me why it went very dark below). Dont worry if the crew dont want to eat, you can live on chocolate bars.
25 afterwards, and remember there is always an afterwards, you will be wrecked,tired like never before and so elated like never before . Master of the universe feelings etc, however just remember rules 5 & rule 17 ( i could be wrong and it is out to get you) , ohh and the Dolphins will clear off, giving that your still afloat and arnt the damm fool they thought theyd come and watch.
Last edited by goboatingnow; 12-06-2008 at 10:20 PM.