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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am very thorough about checking all the weather resources I have available to me before going sailing in my 15 footer. However, we all know the weather can do some very unpredictable or unexpected things...

If I am out sailing in Long Island Sound it can take me easily an hour to get back to a harbor or dock. If I get caught by an unexpected quickly forming thunderstorm, what is the best course of action. I would have to say that the first thing I would do is crank up my motor and drop sails. But aside from motoring back to safe harbor, what else should be done?

I obviously try to avoid this situation with forecasts but I never assume anything is foolproof. Better to ask now than later.
 

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I too am interested in hearing the responses to your post.

I guess the first answer is don't get caught out. Easier said than done! In the NE this is a tough call because most summer days there is the probability of at least isolated thunder storms. I sail a Hobie 16 and many days leaving the beach the sky looks fine. Hours later possibly 10 or 15 miles from home a dark smudge appears on the western horizon and it's game on! A race for cover.

The good thing about a cat is it's fast. So i can run for cover or at least try. I don't kid myself about this ability or the danger i'm in. I try for the closest shore or island. I've beached on sedge islands. When i've done this I get the sails down and flip the boat to get the lightning rod down. If caught out on the water, usually the gust front takes care of flipping the boat for me. If not I'll flip it myself because my biggest fear is the lightning, not the wind, rain,waves etc. While the Hobie rigging is supposed to create a cone of protection I'm not looking to test that theory.

The good thing, weather wise, is these days the progression of technology has really made those types of events fewer and further between. I can check weather radar with my Iphone before i leave the beach and even chk it underway to keep an eye on weather beyond the horizon. I haven't been caught out in a long long time.
 

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If you are caught out, the best thing to do is anchor until the storm passes. I was once caught in a nasty thuderstorm in a Penguin (12 foot wooden boat) with no anchor. I dropped the board full down, lowered the sail, removed the rudder, and sat in the stern wrapped up in the sail. The boat sat into the wind and drifted backwards until the storm past.
 

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It is hard to avoid running into one of these storms sooner or later. When I get caught out in the open, I reef early (no motor on my 14 ft Holder) and head home trying to stay close to the shore (better chance avoiding lightning).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Not much room between passengers and the mast on these kinds of boats... lightning strike is what scares me... I'm just not in an area where I could quickly land and get away from the boat.

I can be sails down and motoring quickly, but getting to safety - not so much.
 

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If you're caught out in it, I'd get my life jacket on, start the engine, reduce sail and keep the bow into the wind wherever it's coming from. I'd forget where port is at that point. If it's a typical fast moving summer storm it's likely to be over in 20 minutes. Anchoring might be an option if you're in that close and have enough scope.
 

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Pray..;-) There's not much you can do about lightning once you're in it. just keep the boat upright and you in it. keep your weight low and centered. The winds will likely clock so you'll be busy keeping her head to. Goggles help if there's a driving rain.
 

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BTDT and it was no joy ride...well..sorta ;)

Reef as muchas possible and run like he!!. My only trouble was reefing the jib entirely made it soooo hard to steer all but a couple degrees...wx helm?...on a beam reach that I needed to really stay on top of it, literally. Riding the rail and keeping helm hard on while making a lotta knots was a real Nantucket sleigh ride sorta thang. Fun ta have the water coming in over the rail to the seating and back out again. Beat a Hobie 16 with a guy on the trapeze back to the dock, too! ;)
Round bottom dagger board mini-sloops (see avatar) can be fun. 5 knots ta sail 'em....6 ta knock 'em down! LOL
 
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