Wednesday, March 23, 2011

rain, rain, go away (at least for day sails)

I got my four mile walk in this evening before the thunderstorms reached us.  A few light sprinkles on my last lap of the neighborhood, now I'm hearing thunder. This will be the first severe thunderstorm of the very young spring.  The seasons are battling it out.  Thunderstorms tonight, rain likely tomorrow, clear friday and a good chance of rain saturday and sunday.

I do not like day sailing in the rain - notice I said "day sailing".  I don't like rigging the boat in the rain, I don't like unrigging the boat in the rain.  I don't like to put my sail covers on wet sails, I worry about mildew.  And it is a pain to dry the sails.  If I'm lucky the rain stops towards the end of the day sail and the sails dry themselves off.  One time the rain ended as I got to the ramp.  I hauled the boat out, pointed the trailer into the wind and raised the sails in the parking lot to let them dry for almost an hour.  Other times I have had to spread the sails out in the garage to dry them off with two or three fans.  

But on cruises rain is a whole different story.  There is Bruce above on day two of the Skeeterbeater.  That was probably our rainiest trip.  We got caught leaving Wyesocking Bay in storm.    A lot of rain, some pretty nice wind.  Later that day we sailed between three small storms, great wind all the way.  By day five we had come to enjoy those storms.  Hey, more wind!  With good foul weather gear, rain is not a problem.  I wear Third Reef gear from West Marine, Bruce has a set of foulies from Cabela's.  We see the storms coming, slip the gear on, maybe take in a reef and keep on going.

Thunderstorms are another story.  I don't mind the thunder but I can do without the lightning.  Above you'll see some lighting glowing in the distance south of Caffee Bay.  Those cells are pretty common on Pamlico Sound in the summer.  I like to see them, but only from a distance.  Last June on Core Sound I  did get a little buzz from a storm overhead just before the lightning crackled above.  I still don't know what to think of that.

The driest cruise I have had was last fall on Chesapeake Bay - eight days and virtually no rain.  By day five Spartina was crusted with salt from the spray.  No rain to clean it all off.  I never realized until then how sponging out the fresh water from rainstorms kept the boat nice and clean.

Rain, while no fun for day sailing, is no problem for cruising.  Enjoy it, enjoy the wind, dry out and keep on sailing.



EyeInHand said...

Sounds like you got lucky with that lightning. That buzz/tingle you felt as the charged cloud passed over was the opposite charge pulse building up in the earth underneath it, just before a strike. I've had the hair on my whole body stand on end like in Tesla Coil science demo, just before lightning struck the tallest tree nearby. One of those time-to-change-your-shorts moments.

Bill said...

Several years ago I saw a really neat documentary on TV - might have been Nova on PBS - about a guy doing lightning research showing that the way lightning works is that as the powerful electric charge passes over and flows down out of the cloud, objects on the earth start sending up "positive streamers" in response to the powerful electric charge.

Pretty much anything will grow these positive streamers as a pre-lightning "step leader" reaches down - bushes, trees, fence posts - and people. When a step leader encounters a positive streamer, it completes the circuit, you get an instantaneous massive flow of current, and the air explodes from the sudden burst of heat from the lightning.

What you were feeling probably was the positive streamer flowing from you and up the rigging.

I've always heard that if you feel that sensation, the thing to do is immediately get down and make yourself as low as possible - you don't want your individual positive streamer to be the first one to complete the circuit!

I remember in that documentary, the researcher accidentally caught a picture of a positive streamer coming off his own head, of which he was totally unaware, mere seconds before lightning hit a bush only a few feet away from where he had just been standing.

Scary stuff.