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Old 05-17-2011, 04:46 PM   #1
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Hey Folks,

A new question of the day for those of you in warmer climes. I recently ordered a copy of Adlard Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing but I had a question I hoped someone might be able to field it for me. I was chatting with some lads in the office (again). For those of the viewing audience just joining us, most of the guys I work with are commercial ship’s masters with a sprinkling of chief engineers and naval architects. I was asking a couple of the Salts what the drill was for trying to cope with a hurricane. They all kind of looked at me and said, "I dunno for something as small as a sailboat". As you may imagine, we don’t usually get a lot of hurricanes in Ottawa, being so far inland. So this is not something that I really have had to deal with. If we get so-called heavy weather, or what we would call heavy weather for this region, tying down is usually enough. Is there any particular drill for riding out a hurricane? I am assuming that you can’t always run fast enough to get out of the way. So what do you do? Is hauling out too extreme or can you just tuck in and ride it out?



Kevin
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Old 05-18-2011, 12:14 AM   #2
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Here are links to lots of discussions of hurricanes/cyclones/dreadful weather.

First, a rather histrionic babbling written by me when I was on land and Peter was on SV Watermelon during Hurricane Hugo (1989). HURRICANE HUGO

A Cruiser Log discussion: IN A MARINA DURING A HURRICANE

Now, this one was so very sad, and I was outraged about the stupidity of it all: Setting Sail Into Horror

This one was discussing the cyclone that devastated Queensland, Australia earlier this year, and I felt that information about STORM SURGE was appropriate.

You can't outrun a hurricane. Hurricanes travel at about 15 knots. Tough for a small boat to outrun it. And the huge seas pushed before the storm make for rough going.

The solutions are various. The best is, of course, to not be where tropical cyclones occur during cyclone/hurricane season. Second best is to be in a good hurricane hole, with great ground tackle, and aware of where the storm is, when it is expected to hit, and be fully prepared.

Do not stay in a marina.

I don't believe that going up a river is a good idea.

You'd really like to be far from debris, junk fields, loose stuff that could become lethal projectiles.

Getting hauled is a good idea, but not if the boat is being supported on jack stands. You want the boat to be tied down, as should all the boats around yours. The mast is a lot of windage, so ideally it would be taken off.

We and/or our boat, have been through 4 hurricanes (one of which we weren't on the boat), 3 cyclones, and a bunch of nasty storms. And some worrisome near misses. Better to not be in them, or near them.
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Old 05-18-2011, 03:03 PM   #3
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Thanks JeanneP,



I was pretty much terrified of the idea of being caught in open water in a Hurricane before, these only reinforces that tendency. When I said that I assumed that you could not always run away, I was thinking more along the lines of having enough notice (like a week) – I really never contemplated setting out on the cusp of a storm. That just seems like idiocy. Hence my query about what is normally done if you find yourself with one coming at you and not enough time to get out of the way. I guess you would want to use all the anchors you have (hopefully more than three?) with lots of space around you? Would it be advantageous to step the mast down even if you can’t haul the boat out? That kind of seems like common sense but it is not something that I had thought of right away. Of course, by the same token, I guess you would want to strip as much stuff of the boat as well? Sails and whatever stuff is stored on deck? Any other thoughts? Any particular pattern for laying out the anchors?

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Old 05-18-2011, 04:16 PM   #4
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Also, in your (really interesting) blog, I notice mention of a lot of folks slipping their anchor. I don't know why I am so preoccupied with anchors - just seems kind of important but I don't hear a lot of folks talking about it.

Reading your blog on slipping anchor now...

By the way JeanneP, love the photos of the Watermelon!!!
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Old 05-18-2011, 06:24 PM   #5
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In no particular order.

If the boat is in the water, do not remove the mast. The motion mastless is HORRIBLE.

Notice of a storm. This varies wildly. We were anchored in Grenada, the Carenage, when we heard that a hurricane was almost there. Good thing it was a protected anchorage, because all we could do was secure our anchors and insure that chafe protection was in place. We were at a dock in Beaufort, NC when, very late in the afternoon, a hurricane formed off the coast of SC just a few hours from us. We couldn't leave because we had no way to go inland - drawbridges are not opened when a hurricane is bearing down - to guarantee the drawbridge won't get stuck open, and to allow as many people to drive away as possible. That one, fortunately, was a Category 1, lots of rain but no severe wind gusts. We were very, very lucky that the storm hit at low tide. Storm surge + high tide would have been very difficult.

Most places in the US one has plenty of notice, since the lows that form the core of a tropical cyclone usually form off the west coast of Africa. or in the center of the Caribbean.

What one finds is that the storm, long before it reaches land, has sucked all the wind out of an area, making it even more difficult to try to run away from the storm. The other issue is the storm surge - some places in the Caribbean there was extremely destructive storm surge-driven waves and swells, but nary a breath of wind. Storm surge plus monster winds is a scary situation, which is one reason that a place like Simpson Bay Lagoon in St. Martin was long considered the perfect hurricane hole. (Hurricane LUIS in 1995 demonstrated that a bad enough hurricane put the lie to "perfect hurricane hole", as had Hurricane HUGO did in 1989). Read about some of the nastiest hurricanes of the Atlantic basin HERE

Yes, absolutely take off EVERYTHING on deck. Remove Biminis, sails, tape down instrument covers, secure all sheets and lines. Anything that can fail will during the high winds. Before our first hurricane, in 1985, we went out to the mooring that our boat was on and secured the mooring with a second mooring line, just in case the original line broke. It did, and the new line held. Whew! Anyway, we stripped everything off the boat, removing all the sails, etc. Almost all the boats at that marina were hauled out - the owner and his crew working through the night to get them all in. The hurricane hit the next day, and we went down to the boat a day or so later to see how she had fared. This after seeing all the boats driven off their anchors or moorings in into the marsh where the receding waters left them, high and dry. Watermelon survived very well, but looking her over, we realized that we had overlooked the binnacle cover, which was blown away by the hurricane.

I assume that when you say "slipping" the anchor, you mean what I call "dragging" anchor. In other words, the anchor has lost purchse and the boat is adrift with its anchor down. Did you read one of the threads on this forum about anchoring, and dragging anchor? Even in moderate conditions there's usually one or two boats that drag anchor in an anchorage, even when they have been very careful. And of course the careless and clueless drag anchor even more often. Lots of reasons for dragging anchor. Another boat drags anchor and slams into your boat. The winds are so high and the seas so rough that the shock loads on the nylon rode cause it to fail catastrophically. The bouncing of the boat in the wind and storms dislodges the anchor - perhaps the bottom is rocky, hard mud, thin sand over rock or coral, etc., etc.

After sitting out a week of high winds in the mangrove swamps of the Everglades this past winter, I can understand why many cruisers swear by tying up in the mangroves. The density of the foliage slows the wind, and the dense root system dampens the seas. We couldn't go into the passes in the dinghy because the wind was howling, yet where we were anchored there was just a pleasant breeze.

Wow, I do go on. Sorry, time for you to catch your breath.

Oh. In the new Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing, is Warren Brown's sailing through a hurricane recounted? It was memorable for his dinghy, secured on the foredeck, getting loose. Some sensible tactics used by him - I hope it remained in this new edition. I swore by this book. I think I'll have to find the new edition to see how much the tactics and advice have changed.

Fair winds,

Jeanne
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MV WATERMELON (New) | Cruiser's Dictionary, free ebook

= Cruiser's Dictionary, North America,
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Old 05-27-2011, 05:14 PM   #6
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Hi Jeanne,

Sorry for the delay in responding but I wanted to get a little bit into the book before replying. I have looked for Mr. Brown's recount but so far, I have not come across it. He is not in the table of contents nor the index. It may still be there in a chapter not naming him as the author. I am about half way and I will keep a look out for it!

Kevin

And don't worry about "going on" - I really like the stories!!!
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