How dangerous is sailing

The real dangers of thunderstorms at sea

Storm cloud over Puerto de Pollenca, Mallorca / Spain.

Sailing in a thunderstorm - 40 experience reports

Hardly any other topic is discussed as intensely at the club counter as the right behavior when a thunderstorm is approaching. Thomas Käsbohrer, head of the still very young publishing house millemari, had asked sailors for experience reports in social media. The result is his book "GewitterSegeln: Seamanship and Borderline Experience. 40 Sailors Report". It is not one of the usual weather books, nor does it want to be. With the most varied descriptions from various areas it quickly becomes clear that it is not the lightning strike that dominates, but that wind and waves are extremely dangerous. Hurricane gusts often hit the ship and crew so suddenly and violently that serious dangers threaten - unless the prudent skipper has lashed in front of everything that could fly around. He also swore and prepared the crew for the impending disaster beforehand. Hopefully.

Of course, there are a few basic weather rules about thunderstorms at sea - from Thomas Käsbohrer himself. He is known to many sailors as a blogger: Under Mare Più he describes his life on the Dehler 31 “Levje”, with which he sails through the Mediterranean. So he knows what he is talking and writing about. There are also interviews with experienced skippers and an expert from the yacht insurer Pantaenius. Here, too, it becomes clear: Direct lightning strikes on yachts are rare, very rare. However, nearby discharges can also destroy sensitive electronics. Incidentally, the use of ski goggles is recommended several times by skippers.

Anyone looking for authors via social media will not always find the born writers. The report of the alpinists who drifted in Greek waters in a thunderstorm with their charter yacht at anchorage was simply not editable. But it remains the exception: all texts, because they are described from different perspectives, are exciting reading from the first to the last line. They all end with a "maneuver criticism": What could have been done better? What did we learn? There are also links to the authors' blogs and videos of thunderstorms.

The reading book, which is also available as an eBook, brings sailors more than, let's say, 40 evenings at the club counter. Recommendable!

From the introduction:

Thunderstorms: What are the Real Dangers? What is the probability of a lightning strike? What if lightning strikes? In fact, it turns out that very different factors than lightning are more dangerous in thunderstorms. GewitterSegeln is structured according to these dangers:

Wind and wave
Danger from gusts
Motor and electronics fail
Water ingress
Risk of collision due to poor visibility
Crew failure due to seasickness
Laying wall situations
Man overboard

Through the relentlessly authentic experience reports, GewitterSegeln provides a credible film against which every skipper can check: "What would I have done?"

A crew, who inevitably has a thunderstorm ahead of them on a sailing boat, faces a variety of challenges and dangers - no matter how big the ship may be. Even the sight of an approaching thunderstorm at sea is far more frightening than on land. Where the landscape, houses, hills, low mountain ranges hide large parts of a thunderstorm, the unrestricted view of the lake on a storm-covered horizon is worthy of respect. Wherever we stand with both feet on the ground, we perceive things there from the ups and downs of the waves. If lightning can be seen at a greater distance, thunder can be heard: the feeling of threat definitely increases. Questions in the crew are loud: "What happens in a thunderstorm?" - "What can happen?" - "What happens to a boat when lightning strikes?" Answers to these questions are so numerous, varied and contradicting even among sailors with traffic like the colors of the sea on a calm summer day. It starts with assessing the likelihood of being struck by lightning on a yacht in the open sea. How does that feel. What damage to a yacht occurs in such a case. And how to behave properly in a thunderstorm at sea. Opinions differ on this. Nautical miles. What the respective situation requires is up to the skipper. Extreme situations such as thunderstorms require a high degree of decision-making ability on the part of the agent. Correct behavior in thunderstorms is based, and so it is mostly in life, not on special training, special equipment, special know-how. But on the well-known application of well-known rules that every sailor knows. It's called: seamanship. That is why the attraction and the quality, for which we have to thank the authors of the stories, lies in the fact that they provide us with a film of the path people have taken in this extreme situation to master it. The stories are exciting in themselves. But every story becomes exciting when every sailor asks himself the question: "And what would I have done in this situation?"

Storm sailing: seamanship and borderline experience. 40 sailors report, Thomas Käsbohrer(Ed.) (Amazon link)

Print edition:

121 black and white photos, 272 pages.
Paperback format approx. 21 x 15 cm.
ISBN 978-3-946014-01-0

Order now

(c) Q-Visions Media Andrea Quaß


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