Boating, Travel Books

Handling Storms at Sea
By Hal Roth
Adlard Coles Nautical
Hardcover, 269 pages

The topic of storm tactics has been debated for years. What is the best thing to do when the wind and the waves pick up: Heave-to, run off, lie-a-hull or drop a sea anchor from the bow or drogue from the stern? Now, author, cruiser and sailboat racer Hal Roth, a three-time circumnavigator (twice in the BOC Challenges in 1986-87 and 1990-91 and with his wife Margaret from 1982-85) has weighed in with his own suggestions. Roth has some experience with rough weather, having crossed the Pacific five times, the Atlantic 11 times and rounded Cape Horn three times, but says after 40 years of sailing and more than 200,000 miles, he has never seen prolonged winds of hurricane strength or a violent storm of Force 11 on the Beaufort Scale (with wind speeds of between 56-63 knots and wave heights of between 38-53 ft.).

He says most people caught in storms exaggerate the conditions, for dramatic effect in their story-telling, or because they can’t properly judge the conditions. He suggests that when caught in bad conditions, to progressively work through a list of things to do to lessen the effects of the storm: Reef the main and shorten the headsail; Heave-to; Lie-a-hull: Run-off; and finally deploy a parachute sea anchor from the bow or a drogue or some other drag device from the stern. There is a discussion on rogue or super waves, and how to avoid storms with proper planning, weather forecasting and simply playing it safe. This book gets the adrenaline going.

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