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Post: "Heavy Weather Tactics On W32"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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- Archived Message from Inactive Forum -

Looks like I may have a dog in this hunt. I have no real storm at sea experience but I may get some. Just know what I've read, and that a lot depends on the boat.

Ray Leonard had Satori lie ahull as long as he could (his passengers insisted he take some action, hence the storms'l) in the Halloween storm of 1991/Perfect. She apparently did get knocked down but no damage. Some say lying ahull may be less likely to cause damage in a knockdown because the boat is already adjusted to and moving with the seas.

Lying ahull has been the classic storm management tactic since way back. Recently, following Fastnet '79, new philosophies have arisen, especially about the series drogue. But that is based almost exclusively on wave machine model studies. I have heard reports of utter failure of the series drogues, to the point of being removed from the gear on the boat. This is experimental gear as far as I am concerned, compared to historical survivals at sea. More on that . . ..

Lying ahull has been especially effective in Colin Archer double end aka Westsail designs, according to some authorities. "Singledhanded Sailing" by Richard Henderson. Henderson reports that numerous practitioners of hulling (lying ahull) are Marin-Marie with Winneibelle, John Gau with Atom, John Guzzwell with Trekka, Francis Chichester with the Gypsy Moths I-V, Chris Loehr, Alex Rose, Chay Blyth and Clare Francis. We should add Ray Leonard, too. :-).

Ray may not have won any ocean races or established circumnavigation records, but he built an envious record sailing Satori tens of thousands of miles, especially along the East coast from Nova Scotia to Venezuela and back, including the Antilles.

Jimmy Cornell, the great marine author, did a survey called "Ocean Cruising Survey", and wrote "Everyone of the skippers (common denominator ... experienced skippers... some over 50,000 sea miles). . . who had weathered extreme conditions by dropping all sail, lying ahull, battening down, and leaving the boat to look after itself, stressed the wisdom of such an action and found this tactic more satisfactory than trying to battle with the elements."

By the way Ray was a smart guy, President of a college and I believe earned a PhD in forestry.

As to the storms, it seems to me we have very limited data bases here. Fastnet 79 was the milestone of yachts in storms studies, but it was only one storm. I was able to watch rescues from Naval Helicopters on TV for two days. It looked like a giant, slow moving, low windspeed, tornado. It never dawned on me till recently, reading the Coles book again (one skipper said he could see the wind a few hundred yards away moving from stbd. to port, while the wind on the deck was from port), that that could have been exactly what it was. In my estimation, they don't get many tornadoes in Ireland. So, this was quite a new experience, if my theory is correct. Anyway, odd as it was, Fastnet was one storm.

We Westsailors seem to have a significant advantage in the storm data/management department in that we have detailed, documented information of Satori and her experience October 30 to about November 4, 1991. This was a three storm event. Yes, three, not two as commonly understood. At least if you believe National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

About October 30, the day Satori was evacuated, as I understand matters after quite a bit of research, and I stand to be corrected, there was a horrendous Noreaster fresh off the Canadian plains, only it was retrograde, that is, moving from East to West, opposite the typical storm of that genesis.

Second, Hurricane Grace was working her way North off the Eastern Seaboard. Sounds like the movie so far, right? Grace was essentially knocked out by the the Nor'Easter, but her energy and moisture were absorbed into that system, increasing the energy of that system. The Noreaster moved Southwards offshore.

Third, a second hurricane that was not named formed from the remnants of the Nor'easter, according to NOAA. It was something like the fifth unnamed hurricane of the century. Apparently, the in NOAA's view, the local populace was confused enough over the existing state of weather affairs that it did not wish to add more confusion to the situation. The unnamed hurricane was expected to pass harmlessly to sea, which it did. The marine interests new about it and avoided it. I suspect it was this unnamed hurricane that finally drove Satori to the beach.

The USCG videos and photos may not give accurate information about Satori's handling, as the voyage was declared untenable and essentially commandered by the Coast Guard by the time the helicopters arrived, I presume. So, Ray was running under their orders, even running the engine, when he would not have done so otherwise.

If one wishes to trail warps, a drogue is not the only way to do it, dragging tires, 2x4s, hawsers, anchors, all kinds of stuff has worked.

Ray did not get any of his story told in the first edition hardcover version of the book, "The Perfect Storm", nor in the movie that followed. He did get a footnote about page 207 in the second edition paperback of the book that told his story and the fact that he was right as evidenced by the survival of his boat. So, you have to go there to ge the straight skinny from Junger's mouth. Junger claimed Ray was not available for interview early on. That may be true as Ray and Satori headed straight for Florida after the storm.

Finally, I believe it was crewmember Karen Stimpson who made the mayday call from Satori. I have it from good authority that Karen Stimpson has purchased a sailboat. Guess what kind?
A Westail, of course.

Sub-finally, despite the rewritten facts of the movie, neither Satori, nor any Westsail, had anyting to do with the ditching of the helicopter or the demise of any rescue jumper. Satori's crew was safely evacuated to the Tamoroa and then to land by helicopter. During the debriefing ashore, another rescue unit was called out to rescue a Japanese sailor 200 miles offshore. A second helicopter rescue crew departed, leaving Satori's crew behind, and it was their helicopter that ditched. So, Tamoroa had to do tremendous double duty and again put to sea from a safe port for the rescue effort. Tamoroa has a strong following of admirers who are desparately trying to save her after she was taken out of commission. She was highly decorated in WWII-- the story I like is her intentional beaching at Iwo Jima to provide cover for the ammunition laden LST to get ammo ashore. It's real naval history and, for awhile, it looks like Satori will be remembered in the telling of the Tamoroa story, as well.

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