Survival Conditions - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 27 Old 03-22-2020 Thread Starter
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Survival Conditions

When was the last time you were in marginal conditions?

Last week I was kayak sailing across Pine Island sound and encountered very heavy weather for about 2 hours.

Wind was East approaching gale force against a 2-3 knot current resultting in very steep breaking waves around 5-6 feet. Really pretty rough for my 23 inch beam sailing kayak.

Waves were on the beam, I was sailing reasonably fast for conditions at about 4 knots, trying to get across the reach before conditions deterioated or before I played out.

Held it together, but prefer not to repeat.

Whatwas your last rough ride
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post #2 of 27 Old 03-22-2020
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Re: Survival Conditions

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When was the last time you were in marginal conditions?
Guess you would need agreed definition of "marginal". I find that for myself the definition changes a lot based on the lead up to the "event".

A couple of months ago I spent 3 days/nights in the Gulf of Mexico in near gale conditions and that was "marginal". It also goes down as a poor judgement event and an example of how a "schedule" type of item leads you down the wrong path.
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post #3 of 27 Old 03-22-2020 Thread Starter
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Re: Survival Conditions

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Guess you would need agreed definition of "marginal". I find that for myself the definition changes a lot based on the lead up to the "event".
Totally agree Don, definition of heavy weather will change significantly based on a lot of different factors. Boat, fatigue, level of preparednes, injuries etc. Plus features like currents, lee shores, shoals and bars can aggravate otherwise manageable conditions.
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post #4 of 27 Old 03-22-2020
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Re: Survival Conditions

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Originally Posted by Don L View Post
Guess you would need agreed definition of "marginal". I find that for myself the definition changes a lot based on the lead up to the "event".

A couple of months ago I spent 3 days/nights in the Gulf of Mexico in near gale conditions and that was "marginal". It also goes down as a poor judgement event and an example of how a "schedule" type of item leads you down the wrong path.
Yup, we feel that one of the most dangerous items aboard a vessel is a calendar!
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post #5 of 27 Old 03-22-2020
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Re: Survival Conditions

Hmmm, interesting question. I've been caught a couple of times over the last few years in conditions which were... challenging. I'm not sure I'd call them "survival conditions," but they could have become so should additional events happened. It's rarely one thing. It's a cascade of events which leads to disaster.

The most prominent in my mind was when we got caught while crossing the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Third day into the crossing, within sight of Newfoundland, we got caught in a fast moving front that had sped up. In short order conditions went from calm to "Holy Crap!"

This past season, coming around the northern peninsula of NF, we again got into a situation where forecast and reality diverged rather abruptly. Once again, it wasn't "survival", but it was very challenging. And had something else major gone wrong, it could have become "survival."
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post #6 of 27 Old 03-22-2020
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Re: Survival Conditions

I've been out in a lot of snot, but I can't say any of it has itself made me feel like it was threatening crew survival. Some pretty uncomfortable, for sure. There was a storm, when I was a young kid, we were trying to out run back to Montauk and didn't make it. I can still see the waves in front of the boat. They seemed as tall as apartment buildings, but who knows how tall they really were. It's the only time I really thought I wasn't going to make it, but too young to know either way.

I bet at least a couple of times per season, I'm in conditions which I realize would present survival issues, if anything serious broke in the moment. Otherwise, hold on for the ride and get it over with.
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post #7 of 27 Old 03-22-2020 Thread Starter
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Re: Survival Conditions

Mike, the Gulf of St Lawrence can get tidal currents in the 8 knot range with huge fetch. It can get rough really fast.

Northern Newfoundland has the Labrador current.

Would not be surprised if current played a role in the two examples you describe.
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post #8 of 27 Old 03-22-2020
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Re: Survival Conditions

I tried to outrun a front into a NJ inlet I’ve been in and out of over 50 times. The conditions were certainly passable when I started the last leg into the inlet. I had plenty of time.

HOWEVER.....

I was hit by a gust front. Many miles before the darkened clouds of the front line. Wind against current in a very confined space. Shallows and shoals on both sides leading to two substantial rock jetties. Shoal making i/2 of the inlet unpassable. Waves building from flat on the ocean to 8-10 ft in the channel in.

Gust front literally stopped the boat as it came at me head on. Boat started going backwards . Waves breaking all around. Engine stopped. ( most who know me know I go in inlets with my main up) I tried to gain control. Got the boat turned around and headed out to the safety of the deeper ocean.

Later after things settled down my wife asked ....how dangerous was that scale 1-10. I told her 9.5.
I should have waited. I knew better. I learned my lesson.😃
Even though I knew the danger lies in coming in I still did it.


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post #9 of 27 Old 03-22-2020
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Re: Survival Conditions

Survival seems like the boat is over the edge and crew is fighting to save a sinking or similar.

For me I never felt the boat was being overwhelmed. Boat seemed fine! Crew not so. This as a full gale in the Gulf Stream in the Marion Bermuda race in '91. Several boats got beat up... on guy took a header from a boom... We lost a crew to a green water over the bow. But she was tethered and we hauled he back in. Another crew messed up his hand/finger and had to go to the hospital in Hamilton when we arrived... not life threatening. Waves were huge and menacing.. and confused. Essentially everyone was seasick except one of the 6 crew. Very very difficult conditions to say the least. And haven't seen anything close to this in the last 29 yrs. YUCK

We survived.

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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post #10 of 27 Old 03-22-2020
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Re: Survival Conditions

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Mike, the Gulf of St Lawrence can get tidal currents in the 8 knot range with huge fetch. It can get rough really fast.

Northern Newfoundland has the Labrador current.

Would not be surprised if current played a role in the two examples you describe.
You're so right. I've learned tons about managing these huge tidal currents. And you're right, that's what happened in the first instance ... partially anyway. It was a combination of tidal currents, katabatic winds, and a nasty cold front that roared in 12 hours ahead of the forecast.

Why go fast, when you can go slow.
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