Thunderstorm sailing

Here in Lake Pontchartrain we get a lot of thunderstorms that blow thru here. Some of the winds can be very scary. the last time I sailed was in 1994 and even then I knew my sailing skills were lacking and without any training..
Today I was sailing my flying Scot for the first time and one of those thunderstorms started to roll-in. I really wasn't sure what I should do. but this is what I did not knowing if it was the right thing or not...I chose to sail away from the land and away from the
long bridge that crosses Lake Pontchartrain. As the winds started to build up I took the sail down and wrapped as much as I could on it
the boom with just a few feet of sail still in the mask... the boat was still moving. I took a plastic bucket and tied a rope to it and thru it overboard acting like a sea anchor slowing the boat down.. None of this was easy with the wind and waves beating me up... But I managed. Was this the right thing to do or not. can you
tell me what should I do the next thunderstorm blows thru?

A thunderstorm on your first outing. Yikes.

Well, sailing away from the bridge and lee shore was a great start. In articles on the subject in "Highlights of Scots'n Water," it's recommended (by no less than Sandy Douglas) that you head up, drop the main, disconnect the boom gooseneck and stow the sail and boom as far forward under the deck as you can ... that eliminates a lot of windage. You can sail slowly and more safely under the jib. If the conditions warrant dropping the jib and setting anchor, drop the sail while running downwind ... upwind, it will have a tendency to raise itself. Tie it down, drop the centerboard halfway and anchor from the stern.

I'm quoting here from old articles, but assume the tips are still valid. Thankfully, I've never had to put them to the test.

Recommend that you get yourself a copy of "Highlights" from the class association ... lots of great tips in safety, performance, etc.


Thunderstorm in my vocabulary means a possibility for lightning. I would try to get off the lake and off the boat as quickly as possible. I had more experience than I wanted with the lighting rod called sailboat. I would have tried beaching if possible.

Claus FS5074 Ames, IA

In another sailboat in my past which did not have grounding protection, I made aluminum plates rigged where I could attach one to each shroud and toss overboard. They attached to the shroud by a heavy duty jumper cable clamp. I still have them so could store them in the Scot on a possible stormy day. I rode through a terrific thunderstorm once on purpose in my keelboat fitted with nice grounding straps attached from sidestays to the lead fixed keel....wife got inside and closed the hatches. I was under motor power with sails doused and secured. I will never do that again because the powerful winds and lightning were more frightening than I imagined but a great learning experience. I like the idea of moving the boom to the cockpit floor. Oh, and stay clear of any metal....shock hazards. And if you go ashore, do not hide under a tree. Good topic.