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Thread: Storm Experiences

  1. #1

    Default Storm Experiences

    This thread was started by request.

    This was about my first experience out to see on my new Leopard 46 Cat. 6 Days from Hong Kong to Okinawa.

    Our departure was done in a rush. I was there for the experience as I have never sailed a Cat before and needed the 6 days experience so jumped on for the last leg of the Journey. They just opened a Moorings dealer in Hong Kong so they are just getting set up. The Captain is a well regarded sailor with a long history. The day we are planning to leave we prepped the entire boat. I mean from going to Ikea and buying sheets pillow cases, cookware, food, medical supplies, safety gear like lifejackets, Jacklines, Even the Chip for our Navi. and satellite phone. We arrive at the boat with the final supplies around 7 pm, and we need gas, but the gas delivery boat already left, so we had to call some guys friend who had a car and 9 25 litre fuel cans. We went to the gas station 3 times filling up. At midnight July 15th we leave. On the 16th the Typhoon shows up off the south tip of Taiwan. The only way to get weather reports was by calling his friend via satellite phone. He figured we would go around it but it turned right for us. We hit it at around 11 PM on the 17th. My shift was up and winds went from 32 knots to 38 knots within 40 minutes. Water temp is 35 degree Celsius and never imagined it getting cold. I have no foul weather gear and start freezing. The Captain had everything for foul weather. So he ended up piloting the boat for 28 hours straight! I have never seen a man so tuff. I mean he was taking a pounding by the waves over the boat non stop for hours. Luckily he had swimming goggles on.

    Looking back at it now, I think it was a good experience for ME, as I really needed to see how rough it can get out there and how much preparation is so important. Also I will also have a plan if a storm shows up. In that case I would have turned around and went back to Hong Kong as soon as I saw it. Never think you can guess where the Typhoon is going.

    For the Captain I think it wasn't that scary for him, but for me and my friend we were seriously thinking we would probably die. We said we have been close to death before, but not for 22 hours straight.

    Okinawacat

  2. #2

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Never want to see the uglier after that Typhoon. It was a shocker for me as it was the first time to go through a Typhoon by boat lots of stress. Looking back at it I think it was good to go though such a thing. I learned a lot about myself.
    The big question when going through such a storm is "will it get uglier?" really freaky, as we still had sail up. 3 reefs and a bit of JIB. Sailing up to 17 knots in those waves is fast! We had both hulls out of the water a couple of times. Crazy ass stuff. After he said 3 reefs and some Jib and he said it could handle 50 knots!

    Okinawacat

  3. #3

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    It is what it is and the way I feel is you can look at it as negative but I would like to look at it as an experience of a lifetime. The boat is suppose to be a pleasure so I will always think positively about all things good or bad scary or relaxed as times that I would never had the experience unless I had the boat. I promised myself before purchasing that I would look at each obstacle as a challenge. I have gotten too soft over the years and need a good kick in the ass to get me back into reality. Getting the crap scared out of me is one way.

    Okinawacat

  4. #4

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Another point when the boat is being pounded by waves is the inside of the Cat is like being inside a drum. The large volume of air inside and when the wave hits and the hull flexes the air is forced out like a drum and the sound is like being in a drum. It is very nerve racking as you think the boat is being torn apart. The pounding under the hull also sounds not like a sledge hammer hitting it,more like a wrecking ball hitting it. Sounded like the wave would come through the bottom and break the boat in 1/2. BUT there was no damage what so ever to the hull. Very amazing. So if you ever get into a storm and it sounds like the boat is coming apart, it's normal. Have confidence in the boat's structure. Avoid a wave from coming through the back doors and not falling overboard is priority.

    Okinawacat

  5. #5

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Another point we found out the hard way was shorten you life lines if you have any risk of falling down from the helm. We had both the skipper and first mate fall overboard when a large breaking wave turned us up on a 70 degree angle. They both flew off the helm and down onto the stanchion and through the opening and over the boat. First mate fractured two ribs and couldn't move and had troubles breathing. We were 10 hours away from Taiwan and I was worried if he punctured a lung.
    Also be careful where you attach the lifelines as one of them attached it to the support bar for the bimini and it just broke when they fell over. He was just hanging on.
    Loop the lifeline around the strongest point you can find near the helm and clip both onto your harness to shorten it by 1/2. Also have goggles along with your full foul weather gear. I would also have every possible communication device on me possible. Radio for sure to communicate GPS co-ordinates back to the boat if you fell over along with all the lights etc. I think even the light would be very little help in that kind of storm as the waves are so big and confused plus moving so quickly If you fell overboard the radio with GPS would be best. Must be tied to you to prevent loosing it if you fall over.

    For preparation of the boat if you think you are going into a storm. Take any object that is higher than your thigh and move them lower. Anything that weighs more than 1 pound stick under the beds. Tie or take all cabinets closed. same as doors and shower doors. Of course dingy has to be removed. Place cushions on the floor in the salon for resting. also quick food and water, caffeine, towels close by.

    I need to recheck this but if it's a Typhoon or Hurricane It is wise to understand how they work. One turns the opposite way than the other. Typhoons counter clockwise. If you put your back to the wind and point to the 10 o'clock position that is where the eye of the storm is. Hurricanes move the opposite way so it would be the 2 o'clock position. Once you know where the eye is you can head away from the storm.

    Okinawacat

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    All very interesting stuff.

    Seems that the Leopard is a tough boat and the experience must have instilled confidence of the boat in you?

    What broke on the boat?

    Why did the skipper continue and not turn back?

    What weather reporting system do you plan to have on board?

    Do you have SSB?

    What would you now choose to have on board that you did not have on board?

    Sorry for all the questions but I always like to learn as much as i can from the such experiences.

    Overall it seems like proof of how well built the Leopard really is.
    Safe Sailing
    Paul
    Blog: www.suliere.com

  7. #7

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Not much broke.
    Winch on mast, spinlock cleat broke by the jib sheet ripping them off. Stanchions bent where the guy hit is ribs. On the inside front shower plexiglas cracked, a roof liner cracked, cabinet door came off, lots of the plastic locks on the cabinets broke. That's about it. If the boat was prepared for rough weather then most of the inside damage could have been prevented

    Okinawacat

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Thats a small list for such a storm.

    How long was it before the broken ribs could be seen to?

    Did that mean that there were just two of you left to crew?
    Safe Sailing
    Paul
    Blog: www.suliere.com

  9. #9

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    As for why the Captain didn't turn back I really don't know. He made the decision to move forward and well we hit the storm. I was not part of the decision process. I promised before leaving that I would listen to the Captain and that is exactly what I did as I have zero experience in offshore sailing.

    Regarding tools for weather, that is what I need to learn about from now. I will be day sailing only and learning over the next year in local waters. I'll only be an hour and a half away from land most of the time and sailing with several friends who are experienced sailors. There is so much in my own back yard that I could enjoy the boat for years and not have to go more than a few hours away. Having saying that I would like to get on it. Okinawa has a lot of Typhoons from July to Oct. Seems like prepping the boat at the dock seems like the biggest problem here. My marina was hit with a 120 kt winds before and my friend's mono boat's mast was blowing over onto the concrete wall non stop. Everyone at my marina has been giving me advice on how to prep the boat. They say 22 lines minimum attached to the boat.

    I would love to hear on how to best tie up your boat during a storm as I hear many different things. Maybe we could upload some diagrams.

    Also good ways to accurately see weather and when you see a low pressure system moving in what to do and which direction to head.

    Okinawacat

  10. #10

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    After 10 hours we arrived at Taiwan and had the Coast Guard greet us. We went into port and they had an ambulance waiting. The Captain called back to HK to have someone arrange it. Only one person capable of sailing after the guy was injured. Really the only person who could sail in those conditions was the captain. If someone could help then the Captain could take a 5 minute rest.
    My friend could fit on the injured guys jacket and helped on the last 8 hours. I was freaked out shaking worried about the injured person. I had a lot on my mind, people falling overboard, injured person, boat getting beaten up, If the Captain fell over how will we pilot the boat back to get him, Captain hasn't slept in day and piloting non stop. Felt bad and sad I couldn't help as I was freaked out and not confident enough plus no clothes.

    Okinawacat

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Okinawacat
    You said a large breaking wave turned the boat at a 70 degree angle can you explain this more, ie do you mean 70 degrees fore and aft or on the side

    You also say that goggles are an essential item when storm sailing, I remember reading Dave Abbot of "Maxing Out" suggesting that he always carries a surf helmet with visor asn they are light weight, good ventilation and give all round head and face protection, a good idea I think.

    Personally I think your skipper was verging on insane and irresponsible based on the experience of those on board and the amount of sailo he was carrying in those conditions.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    We got hit on the Port side. I was laying on the saloon floor and I flew across the floor and I was standing on the cabinets for a second. If you take a look at the Leopard 46 design the helm is starboard and then just got washed over. Will put a rope there next time if we head anywhere off shore. It would have prevented anyone falling over.

    Insane?? Maybe. Haha Seems like the real hard nosed sailors out there have to have a screw loose to do what they are doing. Some people like living on the edge I guess. All I was thinking about was will I see my wife again. Haha. I guess I am too soft for hardcore sailing. I think I would be better next time though. And we were going through 5 meter plus steep seas two days later and it was nothing for the boat and we were all relaxed having drinks ETC. The boat can handle a lot more than one thinks.

    Okinawacat.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Quote Originally Posted by OkinawaCat View Post
    I need to recheck this but if it's a Typhoon or Hurricane It is wise to understand how they work. One turns the opposite way than the other. Typhoons counter clockwise. If you put your back to the wind and point to the 10 o'clock position that is where the eye of the storm is. Hurricanes move the opposite way so it would be the 2 o'clock position. Once you know where the eye is you can head away from the storm.Okinawacat
    Circulation of storms/cyclones/hurricanes/typhoons is dependent not on their name, but on whether it is in the southern or northern hemisphere . This not only decides what the circulation is, but also the which sector is the safest, as not only the circulation reverses but also the sector designation (i.e. mirror image)

    In the southern hemisphere this looks like:


    The way to work out where you are relative to the eye is by use of Buys Ballot's law.

    Buys Ballot's law may be expressed as follows: In the Northern Hemisphere, stand with your back to the wind; the low pressure area will be on your left. This is because wind travels counterclockwise around low pressure zones in the Northern Hemisphere. It is approximately true in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, and is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, but the angle between the pressure gradient force and wind is not a right angle in low latitudes.

    I have attached a couple of other weather resources that may be of use. Remember, you always have to check whether information is written for the northern or southern hemisphere.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results

  14. #14

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Thanks Talbot.

    Just need to reverse what is said in the PDFs to do for a Hurricane. I remember learning the left side of the Typhoon was safer maybe wrong. I want to learn more about Typhoon behaviour. It's interesting stuff. Also reading cloud formation and understanding changes in pressure. Seems fairly easy to understand, but gathering the right info is what I am worried about. May have misunderstood a point and it gets me into trouble.

    Okinawacat

  15. #15

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    I need to recheck this but if it's a Typhoon or Hurricane It is wise to understand how they work. One turns the opposite way than the other. Typhoons counter clockwise. If you put your back to the wind and point to the 10 o'clock position that is where the eye of the storm is. Hurricanes move the opposite way so it would be the 2 o'clock position. Once you know where the eye is you can head away from the storm.
    You got this all wrong. Typhoon is the NW Pacific name used for Tropical Cyclones, elsewhere also called Hurricanes. Same thing - different names. The all circulate clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counter clock-wise in the Northern Hemisphere.

    I think that you are a very lucky man, you were very close to a disaster when you heeled over 70 degrees. Doing 17 knots in those conditions is very dangerous. You must know when to slow down and use a drogue or a sea-anchor.

    You say you had an experienced delivery captain. What is his experience of multihulls?

    When you left there was a tropical depression alert east of the Philippines. It had been there a few days previously but disappeared for a day or so, and reemerged the 15:th.
    I have also done deliveries during hurricane seasons. Insanity? Perhaps
    It is imperative that you catch every forecast/warnings and don't leave harbor with an active system without a thorough evaluation.
    Check this:
    Date: 15-19 JUL 2009
    Typhoon-1 MOLAVE
    ADV LAT LON TIME WIND PR STAT
    1 14.60 127.70 07/15/06Z 25 - TROPICAL DEPRESSION
    2 15.20 127.50 07/15/12Z 25 - TROPICAL DEPRESSION
    3 15.70 126.60 07/15/18Z 35 - TROPICAL STORM
    4 16.50 125.90 07/16/00Z 35 - TROPICAL STORM
    5 17.00 125.10 07/16/06Z 35 - TROPICAL STORM
    6 17.50 124.50 07/16/12Z 35 - TROPICAL STORM
    7 18.50 124.20 07/16/18Z 35 - TROPICAL STORM
    8 18.50 123.30 07/17/00Z 45 - TROPICAL STORM
    9 19.50 122.50 07/17/06Z 45 - TROPICAL STORM
    10 20.60 121.20 07/17/12Z 60 - TROPICAL STORM
    11 21.00 119.20 07/17/18Z 60 - TROPICAL STORM
    12 21.30 118.30 07/18/00Z 60 - TROPICAL STORM
    13 21.70 117.20 07/18/06Z 55 - TROPICAL STORM
    14 22.30 115.90 07/18/12Z 65 - TYPHOON-1
    15 22.50 114.00 07/18/18Z 60 - TROPICAL STORM
    16 23.00 112.40 07/19/00Z 40 - TROPICAL STORM
    This is the track for Typhoon "Molave"


    You have been through a system of a life-time. Learn from this and there are good chances that you will never see anything like it again.

    PS I see that this becomes a bit of a double-posting with Talbot. I'm to slow

    Thomas

  16. #16

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Thank you Thomas.

    Yes lucky I feel. I think once the repairs are done I can really appreciate all I went through more. My friend and I were joking, as so many things happened over one week, from seeing dolphins, to having beer with the Taiwan coast guard, to catching a Marlin, went through a Typhoon and much more, that if I sold my boat the day I arrived in Okinawa, I could say "Once I owned a boat, ya caught marlin on it...Once went through a Typhoon and almost flipped it...Had a great time in Taiwan once". Then the person would ask how long did you have the boat for? Ahhh a week. I'll never forget it. I have a personal attachment to the boat now and a deep appreciation for it.

    Okinawacat

  17. #17

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    We were right where the 16 was on the map when we got hit.

    BTW sorry for the confusion Typhoons are in my area. I meant Cyclones for people south who have the same kind of problem spinning the opposite direction.

    Okinawacat

  18. #18

    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    This is the route we took.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Might have been a bit clearer if I had displayed the circulation for the Northern hemisphere, but the only one I have is rather scribbled on, so I used the best I had,

    So I have re-done it for the Northern Hemisphere and attach it here:



    I hope that helps
    Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Storm Experiences

    Quote Originally Posted by OkinawaCat View Post
    This is the route we took.
    Given the weather forecasts available for that area, and the number of days that the storm had already been known, I consider that the skipper was totally irresponsible to set out, especially with only two experienced sailors.

    This is reinforced by his failure to reduce the speed of the vessel.

    Speed in such conditions is a killer, and probably was the reason for your 70 deg experience. You are VERY lucky to survive.

    One of the biggest causes of boating acidents is setting out in bad conditions due to the perceived need to keep to a schedule. If nothing else, learn these two lessons.
    Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results

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