I'm looking for a little advise about weathering out a storm in open water.  This weekend we were sailing in open water and a sudden large storm came up on us (50 mph winds, gusts to 70).  To weather it out we brought in all the sails and turn on our 14 hp diesel.  It was a pretty wild ride but we made it through.  When we got in, another sailor told me about using a sea anchor to weather storms.  What do you think?....sea anchor or engine?



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It depends on whether the storm is going to be 10 minutes or 10 hours.....



s/v Veranda

This storm lasted about 20 -30 minutes.  Quite the ride!


Have you used a sea anchor?  If so, how hard is it to deploy?

For a 30 min summer storm, I'd have used the engine. Must have been an exciting half hour.


It was the most exciting 30 minutes of my life!

We ran into a gale off South Carolina a few years ago.  I don't recommend it.  We had 30 knots apparent while we surfed huge waves at between 8 and 13 knots for most of a moonless night.  It was a truly horrible experience.  We had a tiny slice of jib up with a double reefed mainsail.


Even though the weather was so crappy we didn't consider a sea anchor.  We had plenty of sea room so we just rode with it.  We were flying along but still in control of the boat.  I think a sea anchor would be a choice for survival conditions and while what we had was uncomfortable the boat was still performing.  I did consider trailing a warp line but the seas were so big I was afraid of slowing the boat too much and being pooped by a 15 footer. 



s/v Veranda

Bill, thats' just crazy and I'm sure it was truely blind faith out there. Visibility had to be zero. Better you than me.


In March of '08 we got caught in our second Force Ten storm (first was a few years earlier), in the Gulf of Mexico - a Norther that blew all the was down from Canada. We turned and ran before the storm with no engine (a line had gone overboard and tangled in the prop) and no sails. It was a wild ride and we were making 10 knots, by the GPS, while skiding down the face of 28-30 foot seas. In the first storm, we had all systems working and we still ran before the storm. If you have searoom, that works better than trying to lie ahull or plow into seas that may twist you sideways and swamp you.
If you have enough sea room, I would prefer to heave too.
Wow, lots of different techniques.  Its good to know all the options.  Thanks everyone for replying.

i keep going. i sail a ketch, heavy and good for it.  jib, reefed, and mizzen, reefed, in 60+ kts of wind north of cabo san lucas got me 8+ kts boat speed.  awesome fast~!!!!!

my boat is a formosa, and they are built to sail that.  

i have done  same in a sloop in gulf of mexico  during my sailing there-- we got  thun der storms off florida  every day or so- was a lot of work.  we continued thru   using reefed roller furling jib and no main.  we didnt need engine-- boat was sailing well.  

why turn on engine if boat is sailing and sails are reefed. the squall will go away.  

you will never outrun a storm.


you can see squalls coming in the air, sky,  and  in the water, if you pay close attention.  there are changes visible to the  eye of a sailor.   these are learned over time.


zeehag, how far in did you reef your roller furling?


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