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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a novelist & could use some sailing expertise!

Disclaimer: I am not a sailor or boater of any type (so please be gentle . . . and clear in any replies)

Disclaimer #2: This is a novel, so the drama element might require suspension of belief on the question of how the characters landed up in this quandary.

Setting: Sailing on Lake Eufaula in Oklahoma. The characters have heaved-to (hope that's the right term) & had some lunch, drifted off to sleep under sunny skies. Wake up to find a giant supercell looming overhead (it's late June by the way). Too far to try and get to the nearest dock or marina. They are stuck & need to ride it out.

What would the sailor (the guy) do, if anything, to secure the boat before heading below deck? I've described heavy rain, lightning all around, dark skies, greenish hue to the sky, choppy heavy waves, howling wind - that all seems right. Assuming the actual tornado (or water spout) moved over the boat - what might happen? At the moment, I've described things sliding around in the cabinets inside the boat, the boat moving quite a bit.

My sense is that the NOVEL needs amped-up conflict/drama, even if the reality is that maybe that's all that might happen. Any thoughts on this? If wind blew out window(s) in the hatch, what then? Any likelihood of the hatch door being ripped off?

Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated -- thanks so much!
 

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El Chupa Nibre
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I live in the Midwest, and I'm familiar with that Lake. If that happened to me, I would drop both anchors. It's really shallow.
 

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S/V Calypso
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How about a man overboard situation caused by a loose boom as the wind comes up? Depending on the character, you can kill him/her off due to drowning or let them live. With a boom strike, there can be other drama related to head injuries and the need to get him/her to medical care. I'm not sure of the size or remoteness of the lake you are speaking of, but rescue by helicopter can always spice up the drama.

-Chris
 

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El Chupa Nibre
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is this a swing-keel boat? You could have it turtle and then the keel slams into the boat (because someone forgot to put in the lock-down bolt), making it impossible for the boat to right itself, and they're trapped in the boat, panicking, running out of breathable air. Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Boom strike --> head injury might be very good, because the heroine is a doctor (albeit a pediatrician). Would the hero necessarily be overboard in that scenario? I have only limited understanding of what's involved in a loose boom, but can google that I'm sure.

Uh, I understand turtle roughly means capsize, but again, I'm a West Texas girl with NO boating experience, so terms like keel mean nothing to me. Yikes. Sorry. If that scenario happened, how would they get out? Especially with a storm raging all around them?

Thanks for responses so far - keep em coming!
 

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Well at least you are safe from a sharknado, as it is fresh water! But it is not uncommon for water spouts to pick up fish, that could be fun to include, having a few fish thrown on deck.

By the way the act of stopping while sailing is called heaving to, then once you stop you are hove to. (not heaved to) Just so you get the terminology right. If a sailor were reading it that would really bug them!

First thing as they already said is lay anchor, then you would tie down or remove what might catch in the wind and blown away, then if a very small boat you might try to get the sails below, but if bigger and it has roller furled for sail, then likely make sure they are tied up best they can be. Once below you would stow as much as you can so it does not get tossed about. The most threatening and terrifying thing to me for these pop up storms is the lightning. You have a nice big aluminum pole sticking up and it makes a great lightning rod. By the way no suspense of belief for a storm to sneak up while napping, happens. And I am sure there is a fair maiden aboard, so there would likely be lots of consoling and holding each other tight.... Though for me it would be a better story for the sailor to be the female but that is just me, I like strong women/role reversals in the books I read. Guess that is why I raised my girls to not depend on anyone but themselves. Has worked out a bit too well for one though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
miatapaul - thanks for the terminology correction - duly noted!

I've had the hero explain to heroine that the boat has a bonding system that acts like a Faraday's cage (info which I obtained courtesy of google), thereby reducing likelihood of lightning issues. I hope!

Fair maiden is not up on sailing, but she is not a damsel in distress either. She is a doctor, so if the hero suffered a head injury as someone mentioned might occur, she can take care of him. :)

To clarify about the anchor(s) - if they are already hove to, they've dropped one anchor already, correct? So, he could drop a 2nd anchor and do some of the other precautionary things you mention as well, then go below.
 

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Catamarans are the best
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heaving to does not involve anchors.. it's a maneuver that puts the boat in a near stopped position, and settles the boat right down. In a tornado, winds coming from all directions.. may not quite work.
 

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Catamarans are the best
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you would only heave to if you were sailing already, not if you were anchored for the night.. anchored for the night would usually mean one anchor out unless you thought the weather was going to turn, then you might have two out already. They go out at 45 degrees to each other.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
They only hove to in order to eat lunch - it's definitely not at night.

So, I kind of like the idea of him getting hit in the head with the boom, though I might or might not have him end up overboard. Can anyone walk me through the mechanics of how that might play out? Again, they've woken up from a nap to find a supercell directly overhead. They are hove to. Hero will be moving quickly around the boat to try and take precautions (sounds like he would drop one or two anchors). Maybe he would send heroine below to secure anything down there that might move around and be dangerous. Would he be apt to be hit in the head with the boom THEN while he is still above and setting out anchors? Or could he go below for a period of time and then go up again to check on something and get hit then? I assume factors like size and type of boat and where he was standing when he was hit would determine if he went overboard or just landed in a heap on the boat, right?

Thanks again to all who are helping me create a realistic scenario - I appreciate it very much!
 

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you would only heave to if you were sailing already, not if you were anchored for the night.. anchored for the night would usually mean one anchor out unless you thought the weather was going to turn, then you might have two out already. They go out at 45 degrees to each other.
Well the op said they were hove to for lunch and dozed off and entirely possible situation.
 

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El Chupa Nibre
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Uh, I understand turtle roughly means capsize, but again, I'm a West Texas girl with NO boating experience, so terms like keel mean nothing to me. Yikes. Sorry. If that scenario happened, how would they get out? Especially with a storm raging all around them?
The lake you mention is a shallow inland lake, so it's reasonable to think that the boat they were on was trailered there, which means the keel (the thingy that protrudes from the bottom) would have to swing up rather than be fixed in order to get it on and off of a trailer. The keel provides ballast for stability, and they are very heavy and usually made of lead or cast iron. Once in the water the keel is lowered via a winch, and locked in place (usually with a bolt). In a knockdown, the keel (fixed in place the bolt) will right the boat. If not fixed in place it will fall back into the hull and the boat will remain upside down. It is possible to right the boat again, but would be very difficult.

Here is a fixed-keel boat: CATALINA 27 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com

and here is a swing-keel boat: CATALINA 22 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com

Also, in shallow lakes, a lot of people don't bother with locking down the keel as it's easy to run aground. I sail inland lakes and I never lock down my keel unless it's super windy and/or the water is really rough.
 

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I've sailed on an inland Texas lake and been in middle of what you generally describe...here's a post from the awesome "Heavy Weather Sailing" thread talking about it...

I agree with Ausp. In general I'd much rather be offshore in the stink - lots more room. This was a squall that briefly hammered us in the Gulf with 35 knot winds - but it was coming off the land so we had plenty of sea room (and the waves were steep but manageable due to the lack of fetch):



On the other hand, sailing inland lakes sometimes gives you a place to hide when a huge squall like this comes through with 40 knots and a tornado touching down...



We pulled in behind a cliff and waited it out.

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/710145-post2106.html

So each have their own excitement. We came through both just fine.
I would say this:

1. They likely wouldn't be hove-to in an inland lake - especially for lunch and a nap. Too much stuff around to drift into (other boats, rocks, etc.). They would anchor.

2. On a smaller boat like the one we used to have (a Catalina 27) they would likely have an outboard. Ours was woefully underpowered - so we could easily get into real trouble if the wind was strong...the motor couldn't keep up. So being blown onto the rocks was always a danger.

3. In our encounter above, we were lucky to duck in behind a cliff before that cell hit with 40 knots of wind. Had we been out in the open...and especially in the open with rocks to leeward, and a weak motor, we would have been screwed.

So, if you're characters are anchored in a bad spot (land to leeward and no room to run) and this thing blows in - all kinds of wonderfully bad things could happen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Okay, so anchored is sounding like the way to go.

The rocks scenario that you described smackdaddy is interesting. At the moment, the characters have had lunch in a section of Lake Eufaula that is in sight of the dam. They passed through what's called the Narrows.

Hopefully you can see it on this map (it's to the far right - there's a narrow channel and then it opens up just above the word Haskell. I assume my Hero wouldn't anchor or heave to all that close to the dam, but is there a chance to have them precariously close to the dam perhaps due to weather?

Lake Eufaula Map
 

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Yeah, that's very much like Lake Travis where we used to sail. If the storm is moving west-to-east, like ours do quite a bit, I could see where they might get "trapped" along that southeasterly shoreline (if they are near that cove south of the dam) or by the dam itself if they are trying to get out of the cove and get blown into the dam.

Any nasty water cascading through that dam? Undertows are always exciting. I also assume that the hero is drunk as a skunk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'm guessing any dam has a certain amount of danger if a sailboat got too close to it, right?

If he's anchored, how likely would it be though that even high winds could pull the boat toward rocks near the shore or the dam?

What happens (beyond damage to the boat obviously) if the boat runs into the rocks?

Hero is definitely not drunk. They had 1-2 beers, which led to the nap, but he's not drunk & perfectly capable of addressing the dangers (unless he gets whacked in the head by the boom - I'm guessing he'd be disoriented at the very least in that case).
 

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Bummer. I was hoping he was Travis McGee-level blasted, and just fresh from a drunken romp in the v-berth. My bad.

As for the anchor, he has a cheap Danforth. They drag all the time.

The dam wouldn't be that much of a problem if it was just a concrete wall and no water blasting over it where they could be precariously perched. And the sails wouldn't be up if they were drinking beer at anchor so the boom smack is out.

You either need to have them sailing (for the boom smack) - or the boat starts dragging toward the lee shore as they are knitting socks and drinking root beer in the v-berth before they discover their anchor rode has snapped and they are 10' from the rocks in 50 knots.

Of course, if even a small tornado hits them, virtually anything can happen, including having the boat crash through the picture windows of a golf course home depositing our hero into the spa-tub of a bald octogenarian villainette full of sharks with frickin' lasers. Complete creative license.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Love it! Look, he's going to be drunk and having a wild night LATER, but for now, assume he is strong, capable and self-confident. And sober. :)

Okay, see, again, not a boater. So, if they've anchored, no boom strike? Argh.

Yes, definitely a tornado mixed into this supercell that's hanging over the lake. Scenario as written now is that they wake up from beer-induced nap to find sunny skies have transformed into a supercell. Can't sail back through the narrows because it's tricky under good conditions (again according to googled blog of some race they have through the narrows on this lake every fall). They are in sight of the dam, which appears to me to be large & cascading with lots of water under normal conditions.

So, if they anchored before beer & nap, which you guys seem to believe would be more normal than being hove to . . . what might happen before or after he goes below deck with heroine to ride out the storm? Could the hatch door blow off? Berth windows shatter? They've got heroine's dog with them. Could the dog get sucked out and overboard? Or are winds high enough to move the anchoring, sending the boat off towards the dam?

Or should they be hove to since weather was fine before beer/nap, and then hero gets hit with the boom as he attempts to anchor them in place?
 
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