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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is for grins and giggles, but I thought it might be fun to see the responses. I have been stuck in a bunch of junk before, but nothing in the ballpark of this:

NDBC - Station 44141

So, what heavy weather tactics would you use on your boat? Honestly, i am not sure that kind of storm is survivable by most recreational vessels, and even those that did survive would be as much luck as skill, but I still thought it might be a fun discussion.

What would I do? I would try running a trysail. The mast on my boat is far forward as it is with most sloops which gives me moderate weather helm and a good feel on the wheel. Benefit of this tactic is I have some control over the boat and where she goes (trying to steer around crests and breakers). It also gives me the ability to try and get out of the storm as quickly as possible. Negative is the windage and potential for what assuredly a knockdown (or many) in which I would be in the cockpit. I could see a higher chance of drowning there. Also, come nightfall, all bets are off. I would have to douse or cut away the trysail, drop a sea anchor, go below and pray.

Ok, what would you do?
 

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Those big waves are because of the shoaling onto the Georges banks. The key would have been staying in the deep Atlantic waters until the storm passed.

We did the Bermuda to Halifax trip 6 yrs ago and staying in deep water was part of our contingency plans should a storm develop. However, it is not a place I would sail this early in the year, we did the trip end of May.

I do not think a static storm tactic would work, all you could do is run down wave using a drogue if necessary. But survival might not be possible.

The UK weather service refers to waves that big as 'phenomenal' as opposed to 'very high'

Sea state

Smooth
Wave height less than 0.5 m
Slight
Wave height of 0.5 to 1.25 m
Moderate
Wave height of 1.25 to 2.5 m
Rough
Wave height of 2.5 to 4.0 m
Very rough
Wave height of 4.0 to 6.0 m
High
Wave height of 6.0 to 9.0 m
Very high
Wave height of 9.0 to 14.0 m
Phenomenal
Wave height more than 14.0 m
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Those big waves are because of the shoaling onto the Georges banks. The key would have been staying in the deep Atlantic waters until the storm passed.

We did the Bermuda to Halifax trip 6 yrs ago and staying in deep water was part of our contingency plans should a storm develop. However, it is not a place I would sail this early in the year, we did the trip end of May.

I do not think a static storm tactic would work, all you could do is run down wave using a drogue if necessary. But survival might not be possible.

The UK weather service refers to waves that big as 'phenomenal' as opposed to 'very high'

Sea state

Smooth
Wave height less than 0.5 m
Slight
Wave height of 0.5 to 1.25 m
Moderate
Wave height of 1.25 to 2.5 m
Rough
Wave height of 2.5 to 4.0 m
Very rough
Wave height of 4.0 to 6.0 m
High
Wave height of 6.0 to 9.0 m
Very high
Wave height of 9.0 to 14.0 m
Phenomenal
Wave height more than 14.0 m
Phenomenal. I would call it that too.

So you would use a drogue and go below?
 

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There have been many books written which give very detailed accounts of being in these types of conditions in the North Atlantic. Perfect Storm, of course, but Michael Tougias has a number of lesser known ones which really re-construct those conditions for the reader from first-hand accounts of being there. I love reading the books, but that's about as close to those conditions as I ever want to be.

This is an excellent one.
Amazon.com: A Storm Too Soon: A True Story of Disaster, Survival and an Incredib eBook: Michael J. Tougias: [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/[email protected]@[email protected]@51zaoKgW0tL


(FYI -- on April 1, Michael Tougias's new book detailing the Bounty rescue will be released.)

Amazon.com: Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy eBook: Michael J. Tougias, Douglas A. Campbell: Kindle [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/[email protected]@[email protected]@51ODVfp8qfL
 

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54' waves. Good gravy.

Trail a drogue. Button up as tight as you can. Go below. And pray.
 

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In those conditions I would just pucker up put my head between my legs and ...well you know thw rest.
 

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Impossible to say until you're actually in the stuff, there are so many variables in such situations at play. Wave heights alone don't necessarily tell us much, seas half that size in the Gulf Stream, for instance, might be more dangerous to a small yacht... But whatever your initial 'plan', chances are good it will require considerable modification as the winds clock around, but the direction of the wave train lags behind... And, you're most certainly right about one thing - making it through such weather on the sort of boats most of us sail would likely entail a very high degree of Luck, no matter how exemplary the seaworthiness of the boat, or the seamanship of the crew...

that would certainly not have been a nice place to be. So much would depend upon your crew, if you had a boatload of highly capable helmsmen aboard who would not become incapacitated by seasickness or exhaustion, the sort of more 'active' tactics you describe might be viable... But, for the sort of crews most of us go cruising with, a more passive approach would likely have to be resorted to at some point, particularly after nightfall... For me, that would likely involve running to a Series Drogue, I think for most boats that would represent the best option...

However, you'd better have a bombproof companionway, possible with additional storm shutters fitted... Many of today's boats would be woefully vulnerable to damage and downflooding after a large breaking wave strike from astern...

From the location of that buoy, however, running off or to a drogue may not have been a good option for much of that storm, when the winds were from the E thru S and SW... Running off would have brought you closer to the vicinity of Sable Island, one of the LAST places in the entire Atlantic you'd want to be remotely close to in such a storm, it's been swallowing up boats and ships for centuries...

Literally... :)


 

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Staying in the cockpit for hours and hours when the windchill is in the teens and buckets of cold water get poured on your head every few minutes, does not sound like a good survival tactic to me.
 

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If you were out there the good news would be that the swell period is 17 seconds.

One of the best analysis IMHO on surviving this sort of storm conditions was written by Bernard Moitessier who was in something similar down in the Southern ocean. He started by trailing warps and junk tied on to them like car tires and anchors so it behaved like a small drogue. He eventually cut them all away and ran downwind under bare poles. [I think]. He said he had much better control. He did have an inside steering position.
 

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If you were out there the good news would be that the swell period is 17 seconds.

One of the best analysis IMHO on surviving this sort of storm conditions was written by Bernard Moitessier who was in something similar down in the Southern ocean. He started by trailing warps and junk tied on to them like car tires and anchors so it behaved like a small drogue. He eventually cut them all away and ran downwind under bare poles. [I think]. He said he had much better control. He did have an inside steering position.
motossier is king to me...he hated drogues for all the same reasons people seem to love them....

you must remember it took him a steady stream of knockdwons on joshua for him to find the perfect angle to run bare boles to the waves

he found that if he left the stern perpendicular to the waves he would broach to eiother side badly as the wave effort was too much and his rudder would lose control to quickly as he would skid...surf and bang to either side.

he learned that by giving either quarter to the breaking waves preferrebly the windward quarter that the rumbling breaking waves would slide under his boat much better and that by giving either cheek if you will the whipping effect of the hit of the wave if you will was less and more controllable...

he also had that awesome inside helm station(I crewed on a boat, a steel jovelt nivelt) that had the same little wheel setup at the nav station.

again this is why its so important to be one with your boat and learn what your boat likes

discussing storm tactics on a forum is about as futile a topic as I can imagine...

yes you can ask about drogues or not, bare poles or not but specifics forget about it...

like you say its important to notice the time between waves...17 seconds is a lot....if it were every 5 or less I think it would be safe to consider it deadly.

in any case man Id hate to be there

man you guys have it rough in the north atlantic

geeze:eek:
 

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The link is dynamic so the weathe ris changing depending when you look at it. But the OP posted 3 hours ago.

Now its
Wind Direction (WDIR): W ( 270 deg true )
Wind Speed (WSPD): 33.0 kts
Wind Gust (GST): 42.7 kts
Wave Height (WVHT): 39.7 ft
Dominant Wave Period (DPD): 13 sec
Atmospheric Pressure (PRES): 29.65 in
Pressure Tendency (PTDY): +0.20 in ( Rising Rapidly )
Air Temperature (ATMP): 34.3 °F
Water Temperature (WTMP): 42.3 °F
Wind Chill (CHILL):
The interesting things are the wind speed, wave height and period and temperature.

For a start I would not be in that place as its the wrong season to sail there.

At 33 knots gusting 42 its fine to hove to and go below.
The waves are high but the period is longish (well its quite long for small er waves!)

The important thing to know here, and this refers back to the other thread where I am saying DO NOT WORK ON DECK unless you absolutely have to. In these conditions of cold you would be suffering hypothermia before any reasonable amount of deck work would be done. Yes, even including putting a storm jib up an inner forestay.

Your chances of death are too great from just one freezing wave and then that wind chill.

Just furl the genoa from the cockpit to whatever level hoves to best, heave the bugger to, and go below and get a warm coffee.

If the wind was much higher And I was forced to use my parachute sea anchor I would be able to deploy it from the cockpit. Again, furl the genny from the cockpit, dump the main from the cockpit, chuck out the parachute sea anchor from the cockpit and go below and warm up.

But the stats say the pressure is going up rapidly, so I would hang onto the hove to position instead of putting out a parachute sea anchor.
 
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Sailing out of the Seychelles for the Red Sea, we encountered what I was told (on the ham radio) was a hurricane which actually (again according to those on the radio) chased us across the equator. I argued that this wasn't possible, but they were adamant.
Winds were 35 to 50 knots for ten days and we reefed down to a tiny main (old fashioned boom furling) and stay sail and beat. It wasn't pleasant, but we made the voyage without damage, passing between Socotra and the horn of Africa as conditions abated. We even managed warm meals each night; I love my pressure cooker!
Understanding the weather systems you encounter when voyaging, determines the actions necessary to survive. Had we run, drogue or not, we would have gotten deeper into the storm and heaving to or using a sea anchor would have allowed the storm to overtake us. The only realistic choice when faced with a cyclonic storm is to bite the bullet and BEAT! If you can't (or don't want to) beat for at least several days, in 40 plus knots of wind, then you'd best not venture too far from home.
 

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Yikes... That looks unpleasant.

What would I do? I don't think I could accurately answer that until the debrief, which hopefully would take place at Cafe Sport in the Azores, not at the Coast Guard base, or at St. Peter's desk.

I have been in one storm, a couple gales, and nothing at all like these conditions. In the storm, and in other oh S**t situations I had a bag of tricks in my head that I had created from reading the accounts of others and from places like sailnet. Each time I started going through the bag and seeing what worked.

My strategy would be to stay off the deck, and take passive measures. We likely wouldn't have many crew aboard and we don't have the skill and experience to try and do it like Motessier.

I'd opt for the Jordan Series Drogue, go below, and drink some rum.

MedSailor
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
motossier is king to me...he hated drogues for all the same reasons people seem to love them....

you must remember it took him a steady stream of knockdwons on joshua for him to find the perfect angle to run bare boles to the waves

he found that if he left the stern perpendicular to the waves he would broach to eiother side badly as the wave effort was too much and his rudder would lose control to quickly as he would skid...surf and bang to either side.

he learned that by giving either quarter to the breaking waves preferrebly the windward quarter that the rumbling breaking waves would slide under his boat much better and that by giving either cheek if you will the whipping effect of the hit of the wave if you will was less and more controllable...

he also had that awesome inside helm station(I crewed on a boat, a steel jovelt nivelt) that had the same little wheel setup at the nav station.

again this is why its so important to be one with your boat and learn what your boat likes

discussing storm tactics on a forum is about as futile a topic as I can imagine...

yes you can ask about drogues or not, bare poles or not but specifics forget about it...

like you say its important to notice the time between waves...17 seconds is a lot....if it were every 5 or less I think it would be safe to consider it deadly.

in any case man Id hate to be there

man you guys have it rough in the north atlantic

geeze:eek:
As I said on the Storm Jib thread, it all depends on the boat. Completely agree. But I think it is a healthy discussion to sit and talk about the different tactics that have worked for others or what they would do in this imaginary scenario. There certainly isn't a right answer and most of us agree it would be pure survival... but still gets a person thinking.

BTW, have any of you read Dashew's 'Surviving the Storm'? It is filled with real life accounts of storms and crews that survived (and those that did not) and what they did right an wrong in recompense. I won't lie, that book gave me the shivers and nightmares!! I ended up giving it away in St Pete a couple of years ago where it was quickly scooped up by another sailor... whom I suspect now has the same nightmares I had! Crazy good book and info though... as is all their stuff.

Brian
 

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The important thing to know here, and this refers back to the other thread where I am saying DO NOT WORK ON DECK unless you absolutely have to. In these conditions of cold you would be suffering hypothermia before any reasonable amount of deck work would be done. Yes, even including putting a storm jib up an inner forestay.

Your chances of death are too great from just one freezing wave and then that wind chill.
I don't know, with proper clothing/gear, I think that whole 'instantaneous hypothermia' thing might be just a BIT of an overstatement... :)


If the wind was much higher And I was forced to use my parachute sea anchor I would be able to deploy it from the cockpit. Again, furl the genny from the cockpit, dump the main from the cockpit, chuck out the parachute sea anchor from the cockpit and go below and warm up.
Are you saying that you would actually lie stern-to, to a sea anchor? Or, do you mean to stream it from the bow, but simply to deploy it from the cockpit, rather than the foredeck?
 
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