Winds 24kts Gusting to Waterspouts

Thread starter #1
I put these pics and the story to go with them on Book of Faces for family and friends but I figured I’d share them here as well. This winter and spring have been ridiculously windy and there’ve been plenty of 15 gusting to 20, 25 gusting to 30+ days this boat has survived. These pics were taken in 24 gusting to ‘waterspouts’!

The US Sailing Multihull Championship was in our backyard (literally) and they cancelled racing this day because of the sporty weather and some folks filmed one of the larger spouts that blew through. These links have the video and story:

My family was down from Michigan enjoying the sunshine and they brought a professional photographer friend so we figured some big wind sailing would make some fun photos and we were right. He saddled up on the dock and I blew by a few times until the gusts got absurd. I made it back as the first tornado warnings were issued and the waterspout in the video ran up the north/south road parallel to our street a half mile to the west. Great timing indeed.

The fellow who restored and sold the boat to me said I’ve voided the warranty by planing in big wind a couple dozen too many times (actually he’s pretty proud the boat has hung in there and he enjoys sharing the pics and stories). Tornadoes and waterspouts probably double void any warranty…

Thankfully the Chesapeake racing experience has paid off with zero flips this season while I’m paying attention and only one from sliding sideways down a wave on a broad reach out in the bay while I was trying to take pictures (no surprise).

Love this Sunfish and the wind this year has been nothing but wild fun!

***Bonus tip- surprisingly having the boom as high as it is has not caused nearly as much bad heeling behavior as I was worried about. He sails flat and neutral helmed in big wind as long as I cinch down on the vang. The super bonus is that tacking is very comfortable compared to the racing rigged boats I'm used to where I've gotten my life jacket snagged in the boom hardware too many times to remember. I'm sharing that in case anyone out there is a 'big dude' that struggles with ducking the boom on tacks and is considering raising the boom but has been discouraged by stories of easy tipping or snapped masts. If you're big and getting stuck just raise it up!

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Well-Known Member
While stationed at Pensacola in the Navy, a waterspout came ashore at FWB, and sandblasted everyone there—including me!

I own one, don't care for them particularly, but a "Type II" PFD might help clear the lower spar easier. After a capsize, they're not helpful to get back into the boat, but they're also less than $6 at Wal-Mart. :cool:

Several years ago, I could see a "big wind" approaching, and headed for home. Another thirty seconds would have put me in the lee of a dock. :confused: That wind was trying to pull my Sunfish from my grip as I stood in two feet of water. :eek: There was never a mention of a "cell" in the news or local forum. (Which this "wind-event" undoubtedly was).

The sail shredded along the foot, then the mast folded over and the whole rig fell below the hull. At that point, I abandoned the boat to bang against the dock and got myself out of the weather. The waves were so heavy, that the hull couldn't reach the dock to hit it!

Accordingly, no damage was noted to the hull. (I should have lowered the rig before landing). :mad:

I've previously sailed with the sail completely down, using only the mast as a sail to get the mile from a lee shore to home base. :)

I straightened the (now) two pieces of mast as much as possible, and pop-riveted a 18" section of new pipe inside, connecting the two pieces of mast. While the scrap was free—and a perfect fit—from Meineke Muffler, I should have asked for a stainless steel pipe scrap. :oops: I taped (and zig-zag-stitched) the shredded racing sail back together, and sold it with my "bargain-sale" Porpoise II clonefish.

"...The US Sailing Multihull Championship was in our backyard (literally)..."
Where was it supposed to be? ;)

great photos! I'm in Michigan and it's been a horrible April - extremely cold w/ snow/rain/etc constantly. hope to sail soon, though!
Thread starter #4
If you look me up one on Capri 14.2 side you'll see one of the boats I grew up sailing in Lake Michigan 20+ years ago that was refurbished and floats proudly in much warmer Florida now.

Great FWB waterspout and survival!


Upside down?
Staff member
Thanks for sharing; that was really impressive!
I have seen water spouts as well, but in relatively lighter winds; nothing like the one above.

Ghost Rider

Planing into eternity...
For awhile, my 12' Minifish had a black sail with a huge white skull on each side, white crossed cutlasses below each skull, and the boat must have been photographed and filmed a million times back there in Dago... San Diego Bay for those who've never been there. I'd sail close inshore and practically scrape my spars on bayside restaurant windows, sail along parallel to boardwalks, fly past cattleboats loaded with tourists, the whole nine yards. The boat even made the shipboard PA systems: "AND HERE WE HAVE OUR PIRATE SHIP..." Thankfully, I was incognito in a wide-brimmed straw hat, shades, baggy white long-sleeved T-shirt and baggy Cabela's field pants, nautical footgear, gloves, etc.---me own dear departed mum wouldn't have recognized me. Folks would line the rails and snap pics or take videos, it was crazy... never seen the like, and I'm no attention seeker, though I've been known to ham it up and (anonymously) grandstand before a crowd, steering with my feet while drinking beer, or grabbing the boom with one hand, tiller extension in the other, and sailing the boat while standing like a windsurfer---not so easy in a good breeze with surface chop and all. :confused:

Those pics you posted remind me of an incident which occurred off Pt. Loma when the wind was howling... on such days, the wind rushes down those canyons on the Point in fearful gusts, and once you clear the tip it really kicks up, heller surface chop and spray making for some wet sailing as you thrash to windward. Well, I got into that slop off the Point and proceeded to get soaked, so I figured I'd make it easier on myself by heading back up the channel into calmer waters. In an opportune moment I whipped a sharp tack... actually, my shorts and the smooth deck of "The Fish" were both soaking wet, so the boat whipped a sharp tack as my shorts & I maintained our original course, LOL. Backslid right overboard faster than ever, almost like I was propelled by a cannon. Swam to my boat, clambered aboard and got things back under control, and in retrospect the incident was comical, but it sure was a fast slide overboard, probably would've made the Guinness World Record Book... like a scene from a stunt film. Nobody around to witness the comical event, except maybe a few folks high up on the Point, visitors to Cabrillo National Monument who couldn't possibly see who I was, LOL. :rolleyes:

These little boats can sure get lively in a stiff breeze and a seaway... once the breeze hits small craft warning, they can REALLY get lively, LOL. Helps to be bigger then, live ballast trim is important under such conditions. Don't know what you weigh, by your photos I'm guessing around 250 or thereabouts... I'm not exactly small at 200 lbs., but there were times when it was difficult to keep the boat flat, and I'm talking hiking out hard and working every angle for maximum boat speed, aye? When I launched "The Fish" from NSYC (North Shore Yacht Club) during Salton Expedition II (sailing the length of the Salton Sea), the wind was gusting well over 20 knots... in fact, I was a bit concerned about marine safety, the previous day it had gusted over 50 knots and I didn't want to get out there only to have a repeat occurrence. Finally I just said to heck with it, I didn't come all that way and rig the boat just to crawl back home with my tail between my legs, so to speak. Went screamin' outta that basin like a banshee on a broad reach, the boat kicking out a wake like a powerboat with throttles on the dash, LOL. :eek:

Anyway, it looks like you had a good time (and good timing) aboard your boat, don't often see bigger dudes aboard such tender craft... and I know whatcha mean about getting hung up, when I wore my hat I'd have to duck low to keep it from getting knocked off, like a scene from a Sergio Leone spaghetti western with bullet holes and all, LOL. That was a fun boat though, that Minifish... I'll always consider myself to be a diehard Laser man, as I sailed Laser #2069 for decades, but "The Fish" earned a place in my heart for pulling the two Salton Expeditions. Awesome sailing venue, the Salton, most folks never get past the foul-smelling muck and shoals of rotting fishbones which line the shore. The lake lies in a shallow desert pan, so there's heller surface chop when wind kicks up, but that's all part of the Salton experience... I reckon you'd like it once ya got out there with your Sunfish, the long views of desert & mountains can't be beat, and there's NOBODY else around to spoil those views, I'm talking ZERO MARINE TRAFFIC, LOL. Largest lake in the Socialist Republik of KaliMexiFornia and you have it entirely to yourself, go figure... largest lake in terms of surface area, Tahoe probably has it beat in terms of volume. :D