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Marine Engine Parts Experts Will Get You and Your Boat Through Those Summer Squalls

Darrell Nicholson

Your Marine Engine Parts Analysts Share the Best Advice for Enduring Summer Squalls

Stainless Marine your marine engine parts professionals would like to share with you these topics we thought would be of interest to you this month regarding getting you and your boat through those summer squalls.

Waterspouts often accompany squalls. This one was moving to the left of the frame. The usual advice is to take bearings and sail or motor 90-degrees to the direction it is moving.

The danger in running before the squall (or tacking downwind, a tactic sometimes employed by Transpac racers) is the inevitable wind shift that can cause an accidental jibe. Since squalls are usually short lived, with the strongest winds lasting less than 20 minutes, simply reducing sail to a safe configuration and motoring through is a less taxing approach.

The ideal sail plan for dealing with squalls will vary by boat, visibility, sea conditions, and intensity of the squalls. Ideally, the helm is still relatively well-balanced and responsive for whatever point of sail you choose.

At night, when squalls can sneak up on you with little warning, the most conservative approach makes sense. Our gaff-rigged ketch reefed down with a double- or triple-reefed main and staysail could handle about anything and still keep moving on squally night, but our main was easy to scandalize (dip the gaff) if the gusts were particularly intense.

When reaching or sailing further downwind, a common approach here in Florida is to motorsail with only a reefed. roller-furling headsail (preferably a staysail) which is kept up mainly to steady the boat when there’s a sea running. (The headsail be balanced with a reefed mizzen on a ketch.)

On a short-handed boat, dropping all sail and motoring is the most conservative approach, and makes sense when a particularly nasty squall line threatens.

Your marine engine parts specialists know that while every squall is different, there are a few rules of thumb that can help guide your decision-making process. The following bits are culled from my own experience and a couple of weather books I’ve found helpful over the years, Bill Biewenga’s “Weather for Sailors,” and David Burch’s “Modern Marine Weather.”

Go to http://www.stainlessmarine.com/ and see how you can find more information as well as get assistance on marine engine parts and on getting you and your boat through those summer squalls.

The strongest wind gusts will be at the leading edge of the squall line, with the highest increased winds often arriving before the rain.

Squall Tips

Keep in mind, there are plenty of exceptions to these rules of thumb—but as Burch puts it, you have to start somewhere.

1. Taller clouds generally bring more wind.

2. Flat tops or “boiling” tops can bring brisk wind speeds and sudden wind shifts.

3. Slanted rain generally indicates there is wind. Squalls often move in the direction of (or sideways to) the slant, so don’t assume that the cloud is “dragging” the rain behind it, as it might appear.

4. Track cloud/storm movement by taking bearings on the center of the storm (not the edges).

5. Watch for whitecaps below the clouds, indicating strong gusts.

Click here and see how Stainless Marine always has more information on marine engine parts and on getting you and your boat through those summer squalls.

via Summer Squall Sailing Tactics

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