Tropical Storm Earl Photographs

While Earl was a pretty minor storm by hurricane standards by the time it reached us, we still saw steady winds of over 50 knots with gusts well into the 60s—a lot of wind by any standard.

Everything held up fine on Morgan’s Cloud, including a new and better way to attach the boat to our storm mooring, which we will be posting about later.

In the mean time, here are some pictures that I took from the boat during the worst of it.

Slideshow requires a reasonably up to date copy of the Adobe Flash plug-in or iPhone/iPad or Android and that java script be enabled.

{ 16 comments… add one }

  • Victor Raymond September 5, 2010, 3:36 pm

    At least it came during daylight when bad situations can be dealt with more clearly.

    • Phyllis September 8, 2010, 10:00 am

      Hi, Victor; I couldn’t agree more! Daylight definitely reduces the anxiety. The other mitigating factor is that the storm was moving very quickly, so that the worst winds lasted only about 2 hours (instead of 24 to 36 like can happen further south). So lines didn’t have to resist chafe for that long (though two boats did go ashore in the next mooring field to ours) and the wear and tear on my nerves was also reduced, since the time spent listening to the wind howl in the rigging was shorter!

  • Matt September 6, 2010, 7:23 am

    It looks tremendously exciting!

  • richard September 6, 2010, 2:42 pm

    Impressive…what would this look like if Earl had stayed at cat 4 ?? I echo Vic’s comment re better in daylight than at night when so much seems to become fuzzy, elusive, more dangerous and exhausting…the good news is that at night we often miss perceiving what might otherwise scare our britches right off!!!

  • Nick Kats September 6, 2010, 3:40 pm

    These pictures show some pretty serious sailing at anchor. Higher winds will greatly compound this. Sailing at anchor multiplies MANY x the strain on the anchor or mooring, and chafe is severely aggravated.
    It is essential to prevent sailing at anchor. There are a number of ways to do this. These include: riding sail; 2 or 3 anchors on separate rodes of different lengths at different angles; double bridle port & starboard coming in from the mooring, or owning a full keel heavy displacement sailboat.
    Nick Kats

    • John September 6, 2010, 6:21 pm

      Hi Nick,

      You are right, sailing at anchor is a big issue that dramatically increases the loads.

      Unfortunately, at least in my experience, some sailing at anchor seems to be inevitable since in storm force conditions the wind tends to shift at least 30-50 degrees in the gusts. This is particularly true in the sheltered anchorages we all try to seek out when a storm is coming. Therefore it is important that the tackle can take the loads and chafe that sailing will impose. We will have more on that in a future post.

      I have never found that additional anchors stop sailing much either. The problem is that it is very difficult to get both rodes evenly loaded and even if you do, in a storm they won’t stay that way long as the wind shifts.

      Ditto, at least in my experience, with bridles off a mooring.

      I have heard of really good results from riding sails, but have never tried one myself.

      Also, I’m not really sure that long keel boats are intrinsically any less susceptible to the problem than fin keelers. I think the issue may be more in the distribution of windage. For example, MC sails noticeably less at anchor since we added a hard Bimini top over the cockpit some years ago–strange but true.

      One thing I do know. As several others have commented, the roller furling sails should come off any time that you are expecting more than gale force at the anchor.

  • Andy Fennymore-White September 6, 2010, 4:16 pm

    I am surprised by just how many yachts still have all their sails on the mast and their canopies up. Everyone has had plenty of time to come down to their boat to reduce the windage and strain on the mooring, even if they are not live aboards. It’s not just their own vessel but the vessels they then damage when the mooring breaks. Just plain lucky I guess or lack of interest. At least Morgans Cloud was ok but 50 knots is nothing special anyhow, hardly a big deal for you.

    • John September 6, 2010, 6:27 pm

      Hi Andy,

      I agree with you about roller furlers 100%. I have to admit that we leave our dodger up to protect the cockpit. But it is a massively built affair with a hard top. The way we look at it is if we had a hard dodger it would stay, so our near-hard-dodger does too.

    • Rick September 7, 2010, 3:00 pm

      The owners of those boats with the sails left on the sticks (or worse, the roller furlers) are simply negligent… And don’t even get me started on the boat with the Bimini up….

  • Nick Kats September 8, 2010, 6:35 am

    Hi John

    25 yrs ago I set 2 anchors to ride out a hurricane. Was 10 miles up the Connecticut River, on an open stretch of river. The hurricane tapered to a gale by the time it passed me. As you say the winds will change direction, in this case 180 degrees in a few hours. I went on deck regularly to keep the rodes tensioned & to check the rode. This worked great.

    When there are 2 tensioned rodes off the bow and at different angles, this should check any tendency to sail. My last boat sailed horribly in high winds on one anchor. It was ghastly. I found that using 2 anchors made an absolutely dramatic difference on this boat.

    This method requires staying on the boat & regularly checking the rodes for equal tension.

    My present boat has a full keel, is heavy displacement, and there is more boat underwater than above (modern design has far more boat above the water than below). In Force 8 on one anchor, my boat shows no tendency whatsoever to sail at anchor. Traditional designs should minimize or eliminate this problem.

    One consequence of stability at anchor is that it dramatically eases the anchor’s job of holding fast.

    There are multiple strategies for sailing at anchor. Any owner of a boat that sails at anchor HAS to understand, know & be able to use some of these strategies. I have never seen this basic rule emphasized in sailing books or magazines.


    Nick Kats
    ‘Teddy’, a Colin Archer

    • John September 8, 2010, 7:40 am

      Hi Nick,

      How was the Connecticut River as a hurricane refuge? I have looked at it on the chart for this purpose a couple of times, but never been up the river to look.

      I’m a great believer, as you would seem to be, in getting as far inland as possible. Even another 10 miles away from the shoreline (and in this case you had Long Island as a barrier) can make a big difference to hurricane intensity, I think.

      • Nick Kats September 9, 2010, 7:22 am

        Ct River is beautiful!!
        Quite a lot of nooks & crannies & creeks to squeeze into for hurricanes.
        But I anchored in the open, north of Eustasia Island, south of Gilbert Castle. 12′ deep, firm mud I think. Limited fetch, safe banks all around, felt OK about my personal safety.
        A sailboat can run upriver all the way to Hartford.
        I’ve never been in hurricane force winds.

  • John September 8, 2010, 7:35 am

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for the real-world experience. Always the best. As you say, the key is not a particular way of doing things, but rather that owners have to come up with a solution that works for their boat and circumstances.

    I’m still not sure that traditional designs are a cure-all here since I have seen some that sail at anchor horribly. Having said that, you make a good point that a boat with more out of the water than in will, it would seem, be more of a problem.

  • Doug & Dale Bruce September 8, 2010, 10:20 am

    Our boat, a Tayana 55, sails terribly at anchor in anything over 15 knots. We have tried two rodes in a V, but that does not cure the problem, and as you say it does not help at all if the wind keeps shifting or changes direction completely. A riding sail does not help much either. We have been tempted to drop a second (or third) heavy anchor over the bow on short scope; do you think that might help? Have also been told that the best method for increasing holding power is to have two anchors in tandem, but have worried about how to set and retrieve two anchors on one rode. Our strategy, as you know, has been to go with a much heavier spade-type Rocna anchor (125 lbs) and lots of heavy (1/2-inch) chain. We had only 25 knots max for Earl and our anchor had virtually no mud on it when hauled; it was the chain that did all the work! Any comments?

    • John September 8, 2010, 11:14 am

      Hi D&D,

      Wow, I think there is another post lurking in your comment, thanks.

      Look for it over the next few weeks.

      • Andy Fennymore-White September 8, 2010, 4:00 pm

        John I think another post indeed. Our previous boat was a semi long keel Vancouver and in Greenland we had a gale of 70 knots lasting 24 hours, we were lucky that we had shelter from the land but that in turn created huge williwaws as the wind fell off the 2500 feet of steep mountain. We shared the anchorage with another vessel of similar size and construction. We had two anchors from the bow at 40 degrees apart and spent the time rock solid, the Finnish yacht sailed around her single anchor the whole time even dipping her rails under! We only had a single windlass as you have using a mixed rode on the second anchor. We simply unloaded the windlass putting the rodes on individual cleats, to free the windlass up to be able to bring in either rode if required. Lots of anti chafe pipe and a routine inspection every hour. Our new boat has twin windlasses and all chain, with chain stoppers.


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