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  #11  
Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
Well I'll be the voice in the wilderness here. I keep sailing. Reef down heavily and keep going. I like the stability of having sail up. If the wind shifts and stays shifted I adjust sail accordingly. If it keeps moving around as it sometimes does I'm likely to heave to and wait.
Dave, so everyone knows, you're an experienced offshore guy. The OP was about being in the Bay and if I remember from the chat we had, he's fairly new to sailing. I might be wrong about him being a novice but I wouldn't want anyone without experience trying to sail through a Bay storm with canvas up.

(Do I hear the scurrying feet of novices running to their Chapman to look up "heave to"?)
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  #12  
Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

The circumstances vary too much to give a blanket, definitive answer.

Even if you're not offshore, and in the Bay, if you're near to a safe cove, putting the hook down and securing your canvas may be the best answer, especially depending on what your sailing experience is, and how your boat is rigged.

However, the Bay is easily vast enough that you can be caught too far away from a hidey-hole and have no choice but to keep on truckin'. If you have a main with deep reefs and roller furling, you can change to a heavy-weather configuration in moments.

I have a single, deep reef, and I have a storm jib, but my headsails are hank-on, so I need to "look further down the road" and make my decisions earlier because my actions will take a little longer to implement.
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  #13  
Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

For T'storms not associated with 'fronts' -
The problem with T-storms on the Chesapeake is that many 'form' and stay stationary as they form along the western shore before moving off, usually towards the NE.

Some 'hints':
if caught out, go 'south' or SE and avoid the typical NE track.
If the wind is actively rising into (strong updraft) or out of (strong downdraft) a visible growing Tstorm along the W. Shore .... either get to port, anchor close to and in the lee of the W shore, or 'run away'. When a T-storm is downdrafting (with strong 'outflow') ... expect the 'worst' conditions.
Anytime you are out on the bay, and there are quickly forming black clouds on the W. shore ... and the wind is 'rising', get into port as soon as possible is the most 'defensive' / safest tactic.
If possible stay ~3mi. from the 'darkest' part of the T'storm cloud, even if 'blue' overhead, to avoid the occasional 'bolt from the blue'.

Fronts, including 'white squalls':
With approaching fronts with imbedded Tstorms, favor the Western shore, get to a lee port (less fetch) ... or anchor in the lee close to shore if necessary .... avoid passing through 'inlets' or river entrances, unless you definitely can 'make it'. (example entrances to Magothy R., Rappahannock, Patapsco, Patuxent, etc. ) during or near the max. wind as the land effects will 'funnel' the wind through the 'passes'.

Keeping 'moving' seems to be good tactic as for some unknown reason moving boats seem to get 'hit' with lightning less than anchored or docked boats ... Ive been 'hit' three times ... always when not moving. (Good thing is most insurance policies dont apply penalty when hit by lightning).

Same applies to Tstorms developing over the Delaware shore of the Delaware Bay.

;-)
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  #14  
Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRFerron View Post
Dave, so everyone knows, you're an experienced offshore guy. The OP was about being in the Bay and if I remember from the chat we had, he's fairly new to sailing. I might be wrong about him being a novice but I wouldn't want anyone without experience trying to sail through a Bay storm with canvas up.
Point taken.

However, while I was getting pounded offshore last week I did a quick look around the boat (twice a day) and found at one point that the dinghy painter (lashed on the foredeck) and the tail of one of my running backstays were BOTH in the water. No one should start the engine without checking ALL the way around the boat for lines in the water. A line wrapped around the prop in a thunderstorm you aren't prepared to sail through or heave to in would be very bad. Very very bad.

That's why so many MOB scenarios go wrong - someone starts the engine and wraps a line.
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  #15  
Old 04-10-2012
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So true when things get crazy. Wrapping the prop eliminates one good option and can be a nightmare - especially if one feels compelled to clear it in a seaway. Good item to add to the checklist!
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  #16  
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

SV's offshore experience raises good point for those of us that only have to deal with the short lived TS on the Chesapeake and that relates to preparing BEFORE the gust front hits.

The art is doing it at the right time, but the right time allows you to check for things like lines in the water or loose gear lashings, before the 40 knot winds hit and the boat is on its ear.

Bubbles, the fender idea is also a good one if you feel someone of questionable skill has anchored upwind of you even in the absense of a storm. Better to leave your anchor to be retrived later and let them drag on by than get tangled up.
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  #17  
Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
For T'storms not associated with 'fronts' -
The problem with T-storms on the Chesapeake is that many 'form' and stay stationary as they form along the western shore before moving off, usually towards the NE.

Some 'hints':
if caught out, go 'south' or SE and avoid the typical NE track.

If the wind is actively rising into (strong updraft) or out of (strong downdraft) a visible growing Tstorm along the W. Shore .... either get to port, anchor close to and in the lee of the W shore, or 'run away'. When a T-storm is downdrafting (with strong 'outflow') ... expect the 'worst' conditions.
Anytime you are out on the bay, and there are quickly forming black clouds on the W. shore ... and the wind is 'rising', get into port as soon as possible is the most 'defensive' / safest tactic.
If possible stay ~3mi. from the 'darkest' part of the T'storm cloud, even if 'blue' overhead, to avoid the occasional 'bolt from the blue'.

Fronts, including 'white squalls':
With approaching fronts with imbedded Tstorms, favor the Western shore, get to a lee port (less fetch) ... or anchor in the lee close to shore if necessary .... avoid passing through 'inlets' or river entrances, unless you definitely can 'make it'. (example entrances to Magothy R., Rappahannock, Patapsco, Patuxent, etc. ) during or near the max. wind as the land effects will 'funnel' the wind through the 'passes'.

Keeping 'moving' seems to be good tactic as for some unknown reason moving boats seem to get 'hit' with lightning less than anchored or docked boats ... Ive been 'hit' three times ... always when not moving. (Good thing is most insurance policies dont apply penalty when hit by lightning).

Same applies to Tstorms developing over the Delaware shore of the Delaware Bay.

;-)

Yeah, but... July 2010 there was a rapidly moving, fast developing storm that passed through N. Va and the Bay catching even the NWS off guard.
It had been a delightful day of sailing s/ newbies; sunny, warm, 10-12 knots and we were southeast of CHESAPEAKE BCH.
I saw the darkness and ASSUMED it would move across the bay. By the time I figured out that it was getting darker and not moving left to right as I expected it was bearing down on us.
I heard a panicked MAYDAY and incoherent screaming and Herrington something on the radio, went below to tell them to speak slower and more clearly. That wasn't much good. Came up and was going to get some sail down and that fast we had wind/whitecaps on us and it was blowing 30+ Waves built to 4-5' in no time.

Boat slewed over sideways as I had all sail still up. Starting the engine helped but I couldn't take onto port (towards the center of the bay) Finally got some jib rolled in, dropped the main enough to use the one reef. Things settled down and then we rode out the storm. Tore the old and about to be replaced main half way up.
Afterwards I heard from two separate boats that they registered 52 knots.
NWS radar guesstimated 70 knots in places.

Keep SOME sail up to steady the boat and to have steerage if your engine craps out. Keep an eye on the weather; late afternoon Tstorms are to be expected in summer on the Bay!
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  #18  
Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

For those that consider themselves "just a Bay sailor" or "just a Great Lakes sailor" the weather is can get every bit as bad as offshore and the shallow water can make the seas really unpleasant. The only real difference is how long you may have to put up with the mess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by midlifesailor View Post
The art is doing it at the right time, but the right time allows you to check for things like lines in the water or loose gear lashings, before the 40 knot winds hit and the boat is on its ear.
Another challenge offshore is that no matter how prepared you are when you leave the dock the longer you are at sea the more likely things are to drift from being "ready." Especially if you are short-handed and tired you are likely to talk yourself into cutting corners and not comply with your own standard operating procedures. I still can't believe I talked myself into dropping the main without putting the lazy jacks up. *sigh* That was a mess. Stupid. We all have our moments.
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  #19  
Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

Good stuff!

DR I have been sailing a long time, almost all of it off the coast of Maine. Offshore I would "heave to", in the bays I would take the sails down and motor into the wind. Lots of deep water and room.

Not much experience in the Chesapeake, and there is some very good advice on this thread. My concern was the shallow water and not much room to maneuver.

From the thread here is what I would do:

1. Start the motor take down the sails. Wind shifts and speed are to unpredictable.
2. Life Vests and hatches
3. Ride out the storm

Interest comments about fronts and forming storms. I will have to get better about identifying these and becoming familiar with Chesapeake weather.
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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH View Post
For T'storms not associated with 'fronts' -
The problem with T-storms on the Chesapeake is that many 'form' and stay stationary as they form along the western shore before moving off, usually towards the NE.

Some 'hints':
if caught out, go 'south' or SE and avoid the typical NE track.
If the wind is actively rising into (strong updraft) or out of (strong downdraft) a visible growing Tstorm along the W. Shore .... either get to port, anchor close to and in the lee of the W shore, or 'run away'. When a T-storm is downdrafting (with strong 'outflow') ... expect the 'worst' conditions.
Anytime you are out on the bay, and there are quickly forming black clouds on the W. shore ... and the wind is 'rising', get into port as soon as possible is the most 'defensive' / safest tactic.
If possible stay ~3mi. from the 'darkest' part of the T'storm cloud, even if 'blue' overhead, to avoid the occasional 'bolt from the blue'.

Fronts, including 'white squalls':
With approaching fronts with imbedded Tstorms, favor the Western shore, get to a lee port (less fetch) ... or anchor in the lee close to shore if necessary .... avoid passing through 'inlets' or river entrances, unless you definitely can 'make it'. (example entrances to Magothy R., Rappahannock, Patapsco, Patuxent, etc. ) during or near the max. wind as the land effects will 'funnel' the wind through the 'passes'.

Keeping 'moving' seems to be good tactic as for some unknown reason moving boats seem to get 'hit' with lightning less than anchored or docked boats ... Ive been 'hit' three times ... always when not moving. (Good thing is most insurance policies dont apply penalty when hit by lightning).

Same applies to Tstorms developing over the Delaware shore of the Delaware Bay.

;-)
RichH Can you elaborate on "updraft" and "downdraft"? I assume updraft is wind blowing towards the storm and down draft vice versa?
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