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Tropical Storm Chantal Arrives

By Paul Shard

Whoa... big winds from the NE-E this morning (July 9) with Tropical Storm Chantal approaching but we are snuggled behind our mangrove!
chantal storm5
First thing this morning we took down the big genoa and folded it up but then the wind got up and we didn’t have a chance to take down the smaller jib. Not a worry I think since the forecast is for 50 knots gusting 60 knots. Not full hurricane strength. But I have tied off the furling drum. Normally the furling system relies on the furling line to keep the sail furled but I think it's a good idea to tie the drum directly so it definitely can’t come undone. (We saw the danger of this when we went through Hurricane Bertha in New Bern, North Carolina, a few years back which we documented in the Cruising with the Shards DVD.)

Otherwise all is secured.

0930 - Wind starts gusting from the NE and that’s over the hill for us so we see almost no wind on deck. The small boat next to us is completely in the wind shadow. Our mangroves seem to be holding well.

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1000-1030 - Wind is from the ESE and the fortress FX37 is holding the stern up into the wind. These gusts are 50 knots. Some higher I think. In the strongest gusts our neighbours disappear in the driven spray.

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The wind seems stronger at the far end of the bay where the 5 sailboats are anchored.

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Here is a closeup view. In these gusts the catamaran here later drags anchor and hits the monohull to the right of the picture.

chantal storm canon3
1100 - The cat has hit the monohull and the closer cat has dragged into the mangroves.

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Another close-up shot through the driving rain. The far cat has dragged on top of the mono and after I took this shot they both drag on top of a larger catamaran...

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Finally the wind comes from the South and seems about as strong as before. Now almost all the strain is on our anchors, with the Fortress to the SE taking the brunt of it. As far as I can tell we do not drag at all. To set the Fortress before the storm we motored forward at 2000 RPM with the bow coming to a meter away from the mangrove. Now with the full wind blowing up over 50 knots we do not budge and the bow stays clear of the mangrove.

Around 1130 the winds suddenly drop to 10-12 kts and it is over. Then clean-up begins...

Hurricane Blog Entries
Part 1 Hurricanes - Watching the Weather
Part 2 Tropical Storm Likely
Part 3 Tropical Storm Chantal is Coming
Part 4 Securing in a Mangrove
Part 5 Tropical Storm Chantal Arrives
Part 6 Tropical Storm Moves Off

Check out the whole Tropical Storm Adventure plus lots more sailing on Season 9 Distant Shores on Vimeo in Hi-Def Download
DS-Season-9-CoverVIM-lores
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Securing in a Mangrove

By Paul Shard

"Secure your boat in a mangrove!" Most Caribbean experts agree the mangrove is the safest place for a boat to be in a tropical storm. But actual details on the process are scarce. So, with Tropical Storm Chantal approaching, here is the first time we have tied up in a mangrove and how we did it.

Our goal was to have the boat bow-in to the mangrove so rudders and prop would be protected if anything slipped and we were pushed further in. Also it gets quite shallow close to the mangrove so most boats couldn’t get very close if they went stern-to.

We wanted to use our main 33KG Rocna anchor so we chose a spot where we could lay out 40-50 meters of chain. Then we dropped it and backed up toward the mangrove, setting the anchor with 2000RPM in reverse. Then we spun the boat around, dropping out enough chain so it would stay slack and hang under the boat as we turned. My plan was to pick up the chain later with our chain-hook snubber so we could secure the anchor to the stern, and leave a slack loop up to the bow. We have 80 meters of chain so this worked fine.
IMG_8706 bows-to
With the bow toward the mangrove we drove the bow right up to it to gently rest at the edge of the mangrove. I ran a line quickly ashore so we wouldn’t drift off again using a convenient root in the mangrove, but we would re-install these more carefully later.

Next I went up to the bow in the dinghy, lifted up a loop of the slack anchor chain, and handed along it until I was back at the stern. Then I connected our anchor snubber and a line to attach it to a stern cleat. The plan was to tighten this up later when everything else was installed.

Then off we went into the mangroves to attach lines to big secure mangrove growth...
chantal mangroves5
Note the small mangrove roots and the bigger central "trunks". I tied a dockline to a big strong mangrove using a couple of loops to spread the load along the trunk and reduce chafe.
chantal mangroves3
But I wanted to spread the load further. So I connected 2 additional lines from the first big one, on to other mangroves so the strain would be spread out to 3 different mangrove trunks. I tried to organize these so they would continue in more-or-less the same direction.
chantal mangroves6
We now have 8 lines attaching to the mangrove, coming back to three heavy docklines and back to the bow. These are planned to take into account the main winds being from the NE-E-SE-S and finally SSW as the storm passes away. Our bow is oriented to the NE so we will hang on the mangroves as the storm approaches, then have it side-on as the wind builds and the strongest winds from the SE-S as the storm passes. This would be from our stern quarter and we would be hanging mainly on our anchors. If we do drag we will go up into the mangrove with the bow.
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Next we set out the 2 additional stern anchors - both Fortress aluminum anchors.
IMG_8678 anchors
We carry a Fortress FX23 and a bigger FX37.
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chantal mangroves8
I wanted the FX37 to be the main one so we set that toward the SE and brought the line back to the stern cleat. (note the nice anchor line bag - always kept neatly stowed with the line flaked carefully. The line will always run out smoothly with no tangles so I can just back up letting it out as I back up to the boat.

To eliminate chafe I wanted to cleat it off. To get it tight I used a line with rolling hitch to winch it up tight, then take in the anchor line.

Next we set the 3rd anchor, our Fortress FX23, and finally, tightened and adjusted all the lines so we would be ready. All told this took more than 4 hours and it was getting on to dusk... storm Chantal due the next morning with winds building by 0900...

This is a Google Earth snapshot where I have put us in our position in the mangrove. You can see no swell should ever penetrate here.
DSmangroveaerial
Note we are not to scale - we are much smaller in reality - see below with the other boats here.

There are also boats all along the right side of the mangrove, one astern of us stern-to the mangrove and 5 have anchored in the lower channel and middle. No room for anyone to anchor where we are and it is all full of everyone’s anchors. Most people have put floats on their anchors. Here is a rough plan of the mangrove.
Mangrove-plan5

The wind forecast is to build from the NE then E and SE as it arrives. Forecast strength is 50 with gusts of 60 knots. The strongest winds are forecast to come from the SE-South which we will take on the beam-quarter.

Hurricane Blog Entries
Part 1 Hurricanes - Watching the Weather
Part 2 Tropical Storm Likely
Part 3 Tropical Storm Chantal is Coming
Part 4 Securing in a Mangrove
Part 5 Tropical Storm Chantal Arrives
Part 6 Tropical Storm Moves Off

We filmed all this for an episode in Season 9 - Martinique Tropical Storm here on Vimeo

Check out the whole Tropical Storm Adventure plus lots more sailing on Season 9 Distant Shores on Vimeo in Hi-Def Download
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