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I am posting this here in hopes of getting some feedback and instruction for when it happens again. I was sailing into Salem Harbor, Salem MA yesterday. A storm just blew over us and we had missed the rain. I was heading into the harbor close reached when suddenly we were hit on our beam by a squall with 30-40kt consistent winds.

The boat got knocked over and we took water over the rails. My crew was not very experienced so just held on. The boat came back up after several seconds, and I managed to get the boat turned into the wind. The boat was a Cal33 so the main sheet is foward of the wheel in a self locking winch.

I finally got my crew to release the main. Steering with my knee I was able to pull in the genoa. I then took the main sheet and maintained just enough power in the sail to keep steerage and we road out the storm squall for about five minutes.

We suffered through the blow, but I don't think it was very pretty. No injuries and no damage. I sort of remember reading that squalls often follow storms. I will research this for next time, because ideally I would have had the jib in and the sail reefed by the time I was hit. Any thoughts or suggestions. During this, I saw a beautiful 45 footer behind me on its side for a good minute.
 

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It sounds like you did fine... the strength these types of sudden squalls are difficult to gauge before they hit you, and can often come up very quickly, as you noticed. Whether you'd ever have the time to pre-prepare for one is debatable.
 

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Slayer - dude! Nice! I was wondering what you were up to. Good to see you around again...and good to see you battling the elements!

I've seen a couple other people talking about that same blow. Sounds like you handled pretty well. Did you emit a "yeehaw" during said events?
 

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Slayer - dude! Nice! I was wondering what you were up to. Good to see you around again...and good to see you battling the elements!

I've seen a couple other people talking about that same blow. Sounds like you handled pretty well. Did you emit a "yeehaw" during said events?
The "yeehaws" came just after. It was pretty f-ing exhilirating. Good seeing you too. I've been around, just not posting much.
 

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You shouldn't sweat this at all. Squalls can hit you with only a few seconds' notice, and trying to reef during the squall can be more hazardous than just heading up and feathering enough to keep steerageway, which you did.

Sounds like you did fine, getting hit by a really sudden squall isn't going to be pretty no matter what. You handled it "pretty" enough under the circumstances.

I've been in New Orleans 30 years, but Marblehead and Salem is where I grew up and learned to sail. Glad you're enjoying the lovely North Shore.

Tom
 

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I saw a similar sight last season when I went sailing on what started on a nice night but turned into a really gusty one. The launch driver brought my gf and I and another young couple out to our boats and the whole time we had to listen to the A-hole guy in the other couple brag about how he was upset it wasn't windy enough and bragging to his prob new gf at how much he loved the "high winds" sailing and how tonight would be "lame".

So they dropped him off at his 80's area Hunter Legend in the 33ft range and us at our boat which he kept like sh*t. Half an hour later we were the 2 only boats having a nice sail out in the Sound. Soon the winds rapidly picked up but luckily I was able to reef the main, then drop the main all the way and then rolled in half the jib in enough time.

Our bragging friend in the Hunter (who didn't seem to know what he was doing in the 1st place) didn't seem to have enough time as we right after saw his boat knocked down with the spreaders touching the water for a good 15 seconds. We continue to have a nice a spirited sail now with just a slab of jib out and we see him motoring in with the main ripped half off the mast and the genny in shreads.....I felt bad he ruined his sails but at the same time couldn't help laugh just because the guy was such an A-hole and wouldn't stop bragging back when we were on the tender.

With that said I don't think you (original Poster) could have done much of anything at that point as it seems the squall came in much quicker in your situation than it did in ours. It sounds like you guys did a great job and knew exactly what to do. It is scary though when you get caught out in something like that.
 

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When I have people with me that are new. I always warn them of a quick temperature change. When the temp changes very quickly. The wind is a coming, and like a freight train. This cooler wind is usually from a different direction, and it's time to look. The surface of the water will tell you a lot. Just be thankful the boat righted herself, and no one was hurt. Just another lesson of many to come. We have all been there......i2f
 

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When you're sailing in stormy weather like that, don't cleat the sheets. :) Cleating the sheets almost guarantees you get knocked down.
 

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I saw a similar sight last season when I went sailing on what started on a nice night but turned into a really gusty one. The launch driver brought my gf and I and another young couple out to our boats and the whole time we had to listen to the A-hole guy in the other couple brag about how he was upset it wasn't windy enough and bragging to his prob new gf at how much he loved the "high winds" sailing and how tonight would be "lame".

So they dropped him off at his 80's area Hunter Legend in the 33ft range and us at our boat which he kept like sh*t. Half an hour later we were the 2 only boats having a nice sail out in the Sound. Soon the winds rapidly picked up but luckily I was able to reef the main, then drop the main all the way and then rolled in half the jib in enough time.

Our bragging friend in the Hunter (who didn't seem to know what he was doing in the 1st place) didn't seem to have enough time as we right after saw his boat knocked down with the spreaders touching the water for a good 15 seconds. We continue to have a nice a spirited sail now with just a slab of jib out and we see him motoring in with the main ripped half off the mast and the genny in shreads.....I felt bad he ruined his sails but at the same time couldn't help laugh just because the guy was such an A-hole and wouldn't stop bragging back when we were on the tender.

With that said I don't think you (original Poster) could have done much of anything at that point as it seems the squall came in much quicker in your situation than it did in ours. It sounds like you guys did a great job and knew exactly what to do. It is scary though when you get caught out in something like that.
Just for the record...in this particular instance...the aforementioned a-hole was NOT me.
 

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The fact that you had to clarify this point speaks volumes about you... :D
Just for the record...in this particular instance...the aforementioned a-hole was NOT me.
 

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Hey,

Last year my family and I went out for day sail. The weather FORECAST was for nice weather, no chance of rain. On the way to the boat my wife pointed out some dark clouds and asked me if we should go or not. I assured her that there was no rain, no storms, or anything else to worry about. I checked the weather radar on my mobile phone, no storms.

On the boat, my wife again pointed out some dark clouds, again I reassured her there was nothing to worry about. We raised sail and enjoyed the day. An hour or so later she pointed out dark clouds north of us. I checked the weather radar on my phone, and this time there were storms, but they were north of us and moving further north.

So we were sailing alone, my three kids were playing, I was steering, my wife was lounging in the cockpit. Then I saw it. Then I heard it. To me, it looked like a solid wall of water was approaching us, and it was roaring like a freight train. I looked at my wife and had time to say 'oh sh*t' before the squall hit. I sent my kids below and asked my wife to take the wheel. As we headed downwind, I rolled up the headsail, then sent my wife below. The wind was over 30 kt's, but with just the main up I was able to head upwind and feather the boat. We weren't heeling too bad and five minutes later it was all over.

I now pay a lot more attention to the weather AROUND ME, and I also pay more attention to my wife.

Barry
 

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One thing to remember about these squalls, often the first blasts are very vertical and so simply heading up into the wind will not always right the boat. You must release the sheets. As a general strategy, if you see this coming with enough warning, reducing sail is critical. Also closing any open hatches and making sure locker lids can't open becomes critical as well, since the only real threat of a decent condition keelboat sinking in these downbursts comes from downflooding.

The cold air mentioned above is often a clue that you are about to be hit by a downburst, which is air that was heated during the day and rose to a high altitude where it cooled. Cool air is denser than warmer air and so will start to fall through the atmosphere at a very fast rate of speed. When this falling air colides with the water it fans out so the winds will be pointing in different directions around the perrimeter of the downdraft. These are very hard wind conditions to sail through with dignity. It sounds like Slayer did about as good as anyone could have....

Jeff
 

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Last year my family and I went out for day sail ...
my wife pointed out some dark clouds and asked me if we should go or not ... my wife again pointed out some dark clouds ...
later she pointed out dark clouds north of us ...
I looked at my wife and had time to say 'oh sh*t' before the squall hit ...

Barry
Barry,

How many decades do you think you'll be hearing about that one!?! :D :D

BTW, did you have fun cleaning out the flower garden (as penance) yesterday? ;)
 
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