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Old 06-02-2017, 07:26 PM   #1
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What to do when you run into bad weather?

I was reading another thread about a shrimp boat that was lost when it possibly ran into a water spout. A water spout would definitely surprise me.

When we first bought our boat we were cruising to Key West and a huge red blob showed up on the radar that was coming right for us. We could see the lightening flashing in the distance. I remember texting someone on TF asking what to do, and they said turn around and avoid, so I reversed course and it pretty much passed us by.

So my question is, if you are offshore and you run into a big thunderstorm, waterspout, or whatever, what exactly are you supposed to do? What if it can't be avoided?
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:29 PM   #2
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Ignore it unless you can find a path of lesser evils....

Often, not likely.

But batten down, prepare for the worst, and hope a direct hit isnt in the cards.

The real trick is don't wind up in those conditions.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:34 PM   #3
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Agree. Running into a water spout has to be less likely than getting hit by lightning. True it would be horrible to have either happen, but the odds are it won't happen to you. Check the weather forcast and be prepared with a Plan B in case your Plan A doesn't work out.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:45 PM   #4
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On my friends lobster boat he would slow to about 10 kts on autopilot, light up a cigar and drive straight through a line of thunderstorms. You can only dodge them so much. Minimize the time in the worst part, which is usually the front end.
On Irish Lady, I want to be moored or anchored when the weather comes through.
Like PSN said, the priority is not to get there in the first place.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:54 PM   #5
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If you dont know what the stability index is when it comes to severe weather.....more homework will help immensely.
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:32 PM   #6
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aparently there are a number of different stability indices...who knew ?
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:37 PM   #7
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Watch the barometer.
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:41 PM   #8
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steer a course that's perpendicular to the course of he waterspout....but where there's one there could be more.... watch for the tell tale funnel clouds that precipitate them
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Old 06-02-2017, 09:59 PM   #9
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You have more options than your home in a tornadoes's path.
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:23 PM   #10
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Stay calm.
Be brave.
Wait for the signs...
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:31 PM   #11
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Open a bottle of wine, enjoy it.

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Old 06-02-2017, 10:33 PM   #12
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The worst conditions I have ever encountered came with very little warning.

It was a clear day with about 10 knots of wind from the north. Weather reported conditions to remain stable until the next day. Usual swell of 3-4 feet from the SW. I noticed huge whitecaps and frothy water to the west, and 30 seconds later was hit by 50+ knot westerly winds. They only lasted 5 -10 minutes and then died almost as quickly as the arrived. Possibly some sort of wind shear system??

Luckily i had only minor damage to sails and rigging, and no injuries. But it scared the crap out of me. It was incredibly LOUD. It has been the only time I was not appreciative of my steadying sails.

Be vigilant. Scan the horizon often. Watch the barometer.
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:34 PM   #13
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When you run into unexpected rough seas, is when you use your boat handling, and captains skills.

Look for lee sides of islands, tack back and forth, or just tough it out.

Batten down the hatches, clear the counters, latch the cupboards closed, and most of all be the confident captain that your passengers think you are.
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Old 06-02-2017, 10:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AusCan View Post
The worst conditions I have ever encountered came with very little warning.

It was a clear day with about 10 knots of wind from the north. Weather reported conditions to remain stable until the next day. Usual swell of 3-4 feet from the SW. I noticed huge whitecaps and frothy water to the west, and 30 seconds later was hit by 50+ knot westerly winds. They only lasted 5 -10 minutes and then died almost as quickly as the arrived. Possibly some sort of wind shear system??

Luckily i had only minor damage to sails and rigging, and no injuries. But it scared the crap out of me. It was incredibly LOUD. It has been the only time I was not appreciative of my steadying sails.

Be vigilant. Scan the horizon often. Watch the barometer.


See this is what I'm talking about. You check the weather, do your weather due diligence, and still get caught in unexpected weather.
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:10 PM   #15
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Agree. Do your preparation and do it the best you can and then life happens. You can get hit by a car when you are walking down the street. Everything in life is a risk. You have to manage the risk and mitigate as best as possible then proceed with your life otherwise just go sit on the porch and watch life pass you by.
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:17 PM   #16
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Yes you get caught in unforecast weather.

It happens to everyone. It's part of the experience. You can either dread it, or go for it.
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cardude01 View Post
See this is what I'm talking about. You check the weather, do your weather due diligence, and still get caught in unexpected weather.
Once you are caught in it, you just do what you have to do.
ksanders made a good point about playing the role of captain. I was singlehanded on this adventure so I didn't have to worry about looking panic stricken.

You do what you have to do. You are given a few choices and often they answer is obvious.

I was lucky that it was only extreme wind I had to deal with. The waves were quite minimal. Just lots of spray, so it was like getting hit by a pressure washer when going foreward on on the deck. (bad choice)

I briefly made an attempt to drop the sails, (bad choice) but quickly realised it was too dangerous, even with harness and tether. (good choice)

I chose running into the wind (or at least pointing into it while traveling backwards with the wind) as there was land about 5 km downwind, and I wasn't ready to deal with that. (another good choice)

Also - boat preparation.
I also have the habit of always storing my gear well in the boat. Counters are always clear. Heavy stuff is down low and secured well. (Good choice)

The boat was layed over at about 70 degrees when the wind first hit. You don't want to be dealing with tumbling frying pans and refrigerators at times like that. You just want to get your rudder in the water so you can get some control.
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Old 06-03-2017, 12:04 AM   #18
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Try to find an angle to the waves and a speed that minimizes the beating you are going to take. Hope it's just passing through and will diminish in a few minutes, and ride it out. It's been my experience that frontal activity lasts only a few minutes and then conditions drop back to something less stressful.

I am a coastal sailor, so there is usually somewhere I can navigate to out of the worst of it if it isn't just passing through.

I totally agree that things have to be put away ALL of the time. When it hits, it is too late to tie things down or put them away...
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Old 06-03-2017, 03:18 AM   #19
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Agree. Running into a water spout has to be less likely than getting hit by lightning. True it would be horrible to have either happen, but the odds are it won't happen to you.

I suppose it depends on where you live. I lived and sailed Tampa Bay and it was touted as the lightning capital of the world. Probably waterspout capital as well since we saw them all the time. I've been hit by them and cruised around them multiple times and just can't imagine that one could have sunk a shrimp boat. It must have been a freak in size.
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Old 06-03-2017, 05:53 AM   #20
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"The real trick is don't wind up in those conditions."

Agreed , this is the difference between the lakes, bays and inshore boat VS a true offshore cruiser.

Offshore it is not possible to avoid all bad weather , hence the 300% price difference between the ocean crossing boat and the inshore cruiser.

In our 90/90 we take down the mainsail and hoist the Swedish main , lower the forestaysail keep the staysail and operate with reduced canvas.OK till over 50K

With our lobster boat cruising alongshore,, pressing on or anchoring are the choices.

If at anchor we will set a second anchor underfoot.
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