If you get caught in a bad storm while in transit on a HB (with ski boats),

thladek

Member
what is the best decision to make? This one keeps me up at night and I hope I never have to face it. But I would love to know what you have found to be the best solution:


option 1: get to shore immediately and try to anchor the HB and ski boats

option 2: ride out the storm in open water (tips for doing this with both a HB and ski boats?)

option 3: find a cove to ride out the storm in (if so, what kind of cove am I looking for?)

option 4: head towards the nearest marina and pray you can get there

or some other idea????
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
Tough question. The best answer depends on where you are on the lake, and whether you know the terrain around you in advance. Do not guess. Do not say, "I think I know a good spot from a couple of years ago that we might get to." It also depends on how experienced your crew is, and whether you've got three people who can handle boats (assuming two ski boats). Minimize the variables and moving parts as much as you can when the chaos is going on. If the storm (mostly the wind) isn't horrible, and the whitecaps are manageable, it may be best to head right into the wind, and ride it out. At least that way you won't hit anything. And won't lose anything. Take your valuables off the tables in the houseboat, store things away safely. Make sure things on the roof are tied down, or taken inside.

The problem with heading to a beach (assuming you know there's one nearby) is that you have three boats to manage, and the wind makes any landing very difficult, if not dangerous. The last thing you want to do is guess and hope there's a landing somewhere, untie your ski boats, watch one drift away in 40 MPH winds, have someone try to swim after it, and then you're in really big trouble. Or maybe you do manage the boats, but an engine dies on the houseboat in all those waves, or you run aground and need help. Or 50 other bad scenarios. For an account of what this might look like, read here:


You are unlikely to be near a marina when a storm comes out of nowhere, but if you are, that's a lucky possibility of course. Almost as good is simply to find a sheltered cove or wide mouth of a canyon, and stay away from the walls. Waves and wind effects are likely less severe in those places, but of course there are no guarantees. Whatever you do, don't panic, because the storm isn't likely to last at maximum intensity for very long. As I say, rain is not a big deal, it's the wind.

But bottom line is if you have a manageable situation, and things are tied down, you've got everyone aboard, and your ski boats are not posing a threat to the houseboat, keep it simple, stay out of the middle of large bays, head into the wind, keep it slow, and you'll get through it.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
Tough question. The best answer depends on where you are on the lake, and whether you know the terrain around you in advance. Do not guess. Do not say, "I think I know a good spot from a couple of years ago that we might get to." It also depends on how experienced your crew is, and whether you've got three people who can handle boats (assuming two ski boats). Minimize the variables and moving parts as much as you can when the chaos is going on. If the storm (mostly the wind) isn't horrible, and the whitecaps are manageable, it may be best to head right into the wind, and ride it out. At least that way you won't hit anything. And won't lose anything. Take your valuables off the tables in the houseboat, store things away safely. Make sure things on the roof are tied down, or taken inside.

The problem with heading to a beach (assuming you know there's one nearby) is that you have three boats to manage, and the wind makes any landing very difficult, if not dangerous. The last thing you want to do is guess and hope there's a landing somewhere, untie your ski boats, watch one drift away in 40 MPH winds, have someone try to swim after it, and then you're in really big trouble. Or maybe you do manage the boats, but an engine dies on the houseboat in all those waves, or you run aground and need help. Or 50 other bad scenarios. For an account of what this might look like, read here:


You are unlikely to be near a marina when a storm comes out of nowhere, but if you are, that's a lucky possibility of course. Almost as good is simply to find a sheltered cove or wide mouth of a canyon, and stay away from the walls. Waves and wind effects are likely less severe in those places, but of course there are no guarantees. Whatever you do, don't panic, because the storm isn't likely to last at maximum intensity for very long. As I say, rain is not a big deal, it's the wind.

But bottom line is if you have a manageable situation, and things are tied down, you've got everyone aboard, and your ski boats are not posing a threat to the houseboat, keep it simple, stay out of the middle of large bays, head into the wind, keep it slow, and you'll get through it.
Also, the leeward side of any protection helps alot. I was in a bad wind storm in Padre Bay and got behind Padre Butte. What a difference.
 

Rivergoer

Well-Known Member
Heading up lake a few years ago winds out of the west picked up into the 20’s around Gunsight gusting to 30’s. Thought we’d be ok with the wind at our back...wrong.

The rollers were so high RPMs would redline as the outboard repeatedly broke the surface. Steering became erratic, the fear was losing control or worse losing the engine leaving us broadside to the waves.

We were in the middle of the channel and 15 minutes or more through a crosswind to any shelter. Fortunately dead ahead was a small, 15 foot high, rocky island mid-channel. We passed the island, turned back on the leeward side and pinned the boat in the rocks. It was too gnarly to attempt mooring so we idled the engine for quite awhile to wait things out.

After about an hour, the wind was still blowing hard but had subsided just enough to leave our relative shelter and shoot another 1/2 mile or so around the corner toward Padre where waters were much more calm.

Lessons learned...

1) never houseboat in the main channel with wind forecast at 20 mph or greater.
2) houseboats don’t move fast but wind conditions can change in a heartbeat. Always try to maintain 5 minute distance to shelter while in transit.
3) don’t risk losing an engine or capsizing trying to ride it out in open water. Seek the nearest shelter on the leeward side of anything available and wait for safer conditions.
 

fisheye

Well-Known Member
Wind ? Getting caught out in the lake during a storm ? These are just a couple of reasons to have one of your best safety tools, a marine radio . If you listen to weather forecast before heading out you can plan for most eventualities and not get caught trying to transit back to the marina during high winds. It is much wiser to stay in a safe spot off the main channel for however long it takes to become safe, rather than risk going out in dangerous conditions to meet a planned return time. What scares me are those micro-burst wind storms that come out of no where, and can't be forecast. Keep the bow into the wind and try and get off the main channel into a side canyon. keep that radio on channel 16 , the park service will issue severe weather warnings when they arise. Use your best judgement before heading out into it!
 

wayne gustaveson

Moderator
Staff member
For instance: Lake Powell in Wahweap Bay is calm at this moment. By 1 PM this afternoon the wind will pick up to 17 mph. Read the weather reports before heading out so you know what to expect and be prepared for bad wind and shelter before the wind hits you.
The link to Weatherunderground on this site provides good knowledge of what to expect for upcoming wind events. The events are predicted 10 days in advance.
 

Cliff

Well-Known Member
In addition to what Wayne has said above some of the worst events are caused by massive thunderstorms that we get all over the lake, They don't last TOO long (maybe an hour or two) but they can be catastrophic if caught out in open water. I've seen 6 foot swells pop up in 20 mins in the middle of large bays. There will be green water over the bow of any houseboat. Winds can be generated up to 40 mph plus in just a few minutes from the downwash out of the storms. ALWAYS keep an eye on the developing weather minute by minute Look around all day long every few minutes especially during monsoon season (July though August).
If you know or can learn how to read Terminal Area Forecasts (TAFs) for pilots they give a very good outlook for 30 hrs and are revised every 6 hrs.
Always remember- we kill 6 or 8 people every year on Lake Powell- mostly to drownings (2 already this year)-if things look bad WEAR A LIFE JACKET!
I KNOW- ONE SAVED MY LIFE MANY DECADES AGO ON THIS LAKE AND A VERY GOOD FRIEND DROWNED BECAUSE HE DIDN'T HAVE ONE WHEN HE NEEDED IT!!!!
 

Ryan

Well-Known Member
I guess I might take a slightly different approach, depending on your definition of a “ski” boat.

My old Crownline sterndrive sat pretty bow high. Unlikely a wave would come over the bow. My Malibu sits a little lower. When towed behind the houseboat, I’ve had a couple close calls when large cruisers go by and their wave can at least get my attention of taking a wave over the bow.

My buddies Nautique, or even my Ranger are different stories. If we were towing out in the main channel with either of those boats, we would need to take action as there is a real risk of waves coming over the bow if running into the wind or over the stern if running against the wind.
My plan if I had either of those would be to send a competent boat operator to untie the boat and head to a cove for shelter.
My houseboat is 75’ long. I can’t imagine trying to maneuver it onto shore or into the slip to moor it in a windstorm. My plan for the houseboat would be to try to hang on the leeward side of some shelter, or just idle bow into the wind and wait for the wind to die down.
 

thladek

Member
Many thanks for the experience and advice. Very helpful!

I get what you are saying about watching the weather and winds closely ahead of time. So is it safe to say that every major windstorm and/or microburst at Lake Powell in the summer seasons was forecast and known to some degree ahead of time? I have read many people describe Lake Powell windstorms as "coming out of nowhere". Were these people ill-prepared and uninformed or do some of these bad storms really come out of nowhere and not show up in wind/storm forecasts?
 

JFRCalifornia

Well-Known Member
I think it’s fair to say that a good forecast will tell you if storms or high winds are likely on a given day. And in general, what part of the day to expect them, often accurate to the hour. But those microbursts are pretty localized, so while the forecast might tell you that something might happen, it’s not always possible to know exactly where. It’s entirely possible that on a threatening afternoon you may experience a strong breeze and nothing else, but just 5 miles away it’s a deluge with 45 MPH winds. And then 5 miles from that it’s sunny. Hard to predict exact location.

When someone says “it came from nowhere”, it’s quite true that sunny and calm can change to stormy and windy quite quickly, but if you’re watching the sky, mindful of the prevailing wind direction, aware of the forecast for the day, aware of where you are, and ready with a plan, you shouldn’t be taken by surprise...

Call it an adventure...
 

dank80

Well-Known Member
This very situation happened to us on Saturday June 6th a couple weeks ago. We went with option 1. We knew conditions were going to be bad. We also needed to get the houseboat back. We decided to make a run for it. When we pulled the anchors at camp, we left the ropes tied to the cleats with the anchors still attached. We felt that pulling over and anchoring on short notice would be a possibility. We were towing one motor boat and two wave runners.

The lake got ugly and one of the houseboat motors cut out. Getting back to the marina wasn’t an option. There was a beach nearby and we headed straight into the wind onto the beach and had a crew jump on the ropes to get them secured. Having them already in place and ready to go made all the difference. We were facing into the wind so the towed boat and wave runners were just fine as they just kind of dangled in the wind while we secured the houseboat.

We had an extra day of food and just kinda waited it out and got a bonus day on the lake. Everyone’s nerves were rattled but we were all safe and learned some good lessons.
 

davew

Well-Known Member
I have been house boating on lake Powell for over 20 years. My rule is NEVER be on the lake traveling in the houseboat after noon. Most storm / wind events happen after noon on the lake.-- those that happen earlier are ones that are in the forecast that morning. For me that means leaving the slip or camp site early in the morning-- over the years I have gotten some grumbling from the crew-- o well-- deal with it-- it's a easy way to keep me and them safe.
 

thladek

Member
I may have a real-world chance to test this out and get caught in a windstorm on Monday (29th)....will we be ok if we leave APM at 6am Monday and head to Rock Creek with this forecast? 22 mph winds too much? Would you launch?
 

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KYKevin

Well-Known Member
What motor's are powering this boat? If you are experienced and have the power to control the boat, go for it, if not wait for the calmer weather if you have the time. Just my 2 cent's.
 

cfulton

Well-Known Member
If the wind is south or southwest ( prevailing direction this time of year) Rock Creek main bay can be as rough as the main channel. There are some small bays well into Rock Creek that can help reduce exposure but the lake is very busy right now and they may all be taken. Dry Rock has some bays on the right and one on the left that have reduced exposure to SW winds but last week they were all occupied. Near the back of Dry Rock there is a bay on the left (going in, near the back) that is nicely sheltered from any wind and room for about two houseboats. Chuck
 

Aprice

Member
We are in the same situation. Leaving out of Whaweap with the Nomad houseboat. check-in time is 10:30 for us and we will also have two ski boats. Would you go? Or stay?
 
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