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post #1 of 14 Old 07-24-2016 Thread Starter
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A pissant squall

Some of you may be aware that I'm kinda a conservative sailor. I don't like breaking gear, nor paying for a replacement, never mind the work involved in replacing broken gear. It's a rare day when we don't begin a sail with a deeply reefed main and see what develops.
Saturday was one of those rare days. We set a full main (with our ever present Yankee jib) for our sail from St. George's anchorage to Tyrrel Bay. 39 miles. Over a sometimes active volcano.
East a touch south the winds topping out at 14 knots and a bit of a kick from the current after the lee with dips to 8 knots once in a while. Then it settled in to a steady 11 knots. It was really pleasant, with a few clouds momentarily varying the wind speed and direction, just to keep us from falling asleep.
"Want me to get the rain gear?" my wife asks as she shrugs at the squall pictured below. I wave my hand dismissively, "Naw."
I mean look at it. It's about as threatening as a cotton ball!
First and foremost; I can see under it, heck, I can see THROUGH it!
There's no white water under it. None at all. The cloud isn't black and threatening, but light and airy. And it seems tiny, maybe 200 feet across.
Then about a hundred feet from the boat a tiny bit of that smooth water that indicates heavy rain peeks out under the rain. White caps begin to appear in front of the smooth patch and we get hit with somewhere around 40 knots. With full main and Yankee. We are barreling along at better than 9 knots in seconds as I ease the main sheet and Nikki eases the jib and I fall off. 20 minutes or so of cold rain and wind. Sucker punched by a pissant squall? LOL Go figure.
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Last edited by capta; 07-24-2016 at 07:16 PM.
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post #2 of 14 Old 07-24-2016
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Re: A pissant squall

...and then, usually followed by the ubiquitous 'water spouts'.
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post #3 of 14 Old 07-24-2016
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Re: A pissant squall

Yippee. You now have clean decks

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post #4 of 14 Old 07-24-2016
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Re: A pissant squall

Originally Posted by RichH View Post
...and then, usually followed by the ubiquitous 'water spouts'.
Ah, yes.. the mobile 'drive-thru car wash' for boats. Suds are extra.
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post #5 of 14 Old 07-25-2016
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Re: A pissant squall

True that. I spent years in the ITCZ. The squalls you can see under and around, the young ones, can be the worst. But 40 knots sounds like fun downwind with white sails ... In a ULDB cruiser. But at 9 knots ... Ugh.

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post #6 of 14 Old 07-25-2016
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Re: A pissant squall

It's the downdraft that gets ya!

Currently: Heading to warm waters over the winter on a variety of boats.

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post #7 of 14 Old 07-25-2016
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Re: A pissant squall

Wow. Someone who knows weather, explain that one. Doesn't even look like enough cloud to produce rain.

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post #8 of 14 Old 07-25-2016
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Re: A pissant squall

It's a small microburst. I got nailed by one about a year ago that looked just like it, and struck about 100 yards after I rounded a racing mark. They're very localized and their highest winds are at the leading edge and usually pass by fairly quickly unless you're foolish enough to sail in the same direction that they're moving. Because some of them can be quite small, they don't look very threatening, but they can knock down a small boat and have been known to knock a jetliner out of the sky when trying to land through one. Here's some general info: Microbursts: downburst less than 2.5 miles in diameter
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post #9 of 14 Old 07-25-2016
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Re: A pissant squall

Believe it or not, in Arizona we get microbursts, some major and as destructive as a hurricane. Minutes later, they're gone!
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post #10 of 14 Old 07-25-2016
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Re: A pissant squall

They're all pissants until they drive your top rail under.
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