sailing in storms

Sailing Schooled Ep. 3 – Storms, Tests & Tacos

It’s day three of sailing school and mother nature decided to throw in some thunderstorm action for our learning hump day. It was just the right amount of crazy for us newbie sailors.

sailing the channels

Lightning is simultaneously wild, beautiful, exciting and scary…especially when you’re on a sailboat…and even more so when you’re in Florida.

There’s nothing like being out in a storm on a large body of water with a giant metal pole sticking 64 feet up in the air.  As if that isn’t enough, Florida is the state where you are most likely to get struck by lightning.  In fact, in the everglades just outside of Orangetree, FL there are more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the country.

So, when lightning strikes in Florida people pay attention and look around to see if or what it hit.  If lightning strikes while our friend Kent (Boat Broker & Service Guy) is in the room, he smiles and semi-jokingly says, “I love that sound, it’s the sound of money”.  He has replaced the electronics on a lot of boats that have been struck by lightning, Including ours when she was only a year old!  Yep, our boat was hit by lightning while sitting at a marina waiting for warranty service work.

Now that I have you on edge about lightning, you should watch this video about us sailing in a thunderstorm.  If you watch closely there’s always a big flinch from someone on the boat every time lightning strikes.  It’s a natural reaction when you’ve spent a lot of time in FL.

What We learned On Day Three

Tests:  I honestly can’t remember the last time I needed flashcards.  I don’t even think I used them in college and now I am glued to them like a preteen with an iphone.

This was the first of four different tests we have to pass in order to complete our A+ Cat Course.  The questions on this test were all from the ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing course.  We have two more days of sailing left and one final test day.  From here on out, we will take one test each day (and we’ll cram like crazy with a new set of flash cards for each course/test).

The good news is, at this point we’ve learned the introductory basics of sailing and we’re building on that knowledge and those skills from here on out.  The bad news is we have to learn all the flags, light combos, horn signals, right-of-way…and a whole lotta rules and regulations.

traveling cats

So far Cleo the cat is not impressed with our navigation skills. She says its a catastrophe.

learning to sail catamaran

Obviously, we had some firsthand storm training…which was excellent.  We practiced dropping the sails quickly, reefing and paid close attention to the clouds and wind to anticipate the storms. We learned the winds before and after small storms create their own mini-weather patterns so keeping an eye on the water ahead, behind and all around is ever so important for crew safety. Terry (Our volunteer camera guy) and Captain Jen both swapped stories of storms at sea, gave us tips on watching the water in the distance and shared huge insights on how to handle the boat when the unexpected happens. I know our little storm was calm compared to what we’ll face in the future, but still we feel a lot more prepared for the unknown.

sailing and living in a catamaran

sailing through storms

Sailboats and Lightning:  As for the lightning, there really isn’t a whole lot we can do to avoid it.  Our boat is in compliance with the safety grounding and lightning protection recommendations of the American Boat and Yacht Council.  However, from the studies and articles I have read, lightning doesn’t care how you prepare the boat.  It strikes at random and damages electronics regardless of groundings or dissipators.

The idea would be to avoid going out in storms but if we’re in the middle of a crossing, there is no escape.  What we can do is have as little contact with the mast as possible and stay clear of any metal and the electronics.  Our safest bet is to find a neutral zone under the hard top and wait it out…which is why it’s so important to have the sails ready way before the storm arrives.

All that said, we’re newbies and simply going off what we’ve learned from our research, our instructor and fellow sailors.  If you’ve got tips, or experiences you want to share in the comments below, we’ll take all the help we can get!

learning to live on a sailboat

The Crew, Sailing Courses and Certifications

If you want to know more about why we’re taking sailing classes or get to know Captain Jen or Volunteer Cameraman Terry a little more, check out: Sailing Schooled Ep. 1

We’re taking the A+ Cat Course: Bareboat Catamaran Skipper through Blue Water Sailing School.  (Side note, after our last video, BWSS offered all of our readers a 10% discount!  Just use the code word Curiosity when booking to get the discount. I guess they liked our videos!)

If we pass all the tests, at the end of the week we will be certified for bareboat chartering and big boat sailing. It’s a short, intensive, live-aboard cruising course that combines the Basic Sailing (ASA 101), Basic Coastal Cruising (ASA 103), Bareboat Chartering (ASA 104), and Cruising Catamaran (ASA 114) curriculum.

stormy sailing

Equipment used to film this video:

See all of our camera/editing equipment and how we use it here:

Also, if you want to begin the education you can find our sailing school books here:  and the flashcards we used to study here:

You can always find all of our favorite gear, products and toys here: 


Extras You May Have Noticed In The Kitchen (aka Galley):

sunsets and sailing

After the storms cleared, we had a fantastic sunset!

Sailing Report

Date: 6/21/2016
Weather: Showers and T-Storms
Wind:  East to Southeast 10-15 knots
Seas:  A mix of smooth and choppy
Route:  Sailed South through Key Biscayne to North Key Largo
Anchor Spot – North Key Largo GPS: 25.274704, -80.346587

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (44)

  • Jennifer Jones

    I need something from your kitchen or galley. The video flashed a scene of dicing some veggies with a knife that did not have a sharp point. I Googled them but didn’t see yours. Please share where we can find them because I am very accident prone and have to jump to avoid being poked by my own knives. Thanks and o love the videos.

  • john

    Been following you guys for a while RV’ing, the switch to sailing was a big step, but a interesting one i’m sure.
    Just to add to the comments about Man overboard…
    While i’m not a sailor something has really been bothering me, the man overboard scenario. The practice runs you guys did involved at least 3 people. But there will only be 2 of you most of the time. You should REALLY do some drills with just you 2. (hopefully record them) It’s easy to imagine situations where you would not even notice if a person had fallen overboard.

    It may be several minutes be you even realize they are missing. How could you maneuver the catamaran and manage a possibly injured person all at once?

    And… you are not wearing flotation devices or signaling devices?. So the situation could go from bad to worse in
    choppy seas or cold weather etc.. At least take to wearing personal EPIRB, or some such personal signaling device.

    Not trying to be a Debbie downer…but for some reason this has kept coming back to mind. Believe me I think it’s a great adventure. But the sea is very unforgiving.
    (Sorry, I added this elsewhere on the site by accident, fits better on this post!)

  • Scarlet

    Enjoying watching your videos! I have a question though, do you really like high teas or is it afternoon teas? A high tea is sometimes referred to as a “meat tea”, it is a meal, not delicate ladies with delicate tea and delicate pastries, that is an afternoon tea 🙂 Also where did you get your flash cards from?

      • Scarlet

        Great thanks, will check them out! I like both too 🙂 What us Americanised Brits really shake our heads about is “scones” though 😉

  • Two and a half

    Here is a challenge for you guys… have kids!!! I know it can be done while vagabonding (great stories sailing with children out there), lots of issues/problems to solve there, would love to see how other travelers/parents do it…

    P.S. We have done the bareboat charters and loved it, and would cross oceans at a whim, but that was when there were only two of us… 🙂

  • John Anderson

    I remember that bridge from when I did BWSS 10+ years ago. Low tide, and watch the antenna tap every beam as we went under. Good times.

  • Chris Celesnik

    Hendricks Gin, Great Choice and I love it! One of my favorite cocktails is a Hendricks Mule and it is simple and easy. I like Bundaberg Ginger Beer (best bang for the buck) or Fever Tree (much more expensive but yummy) and Hendricks Gin. A squeeze of 2 lime wedges, garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of cucumber. If you have frozen or chilled copper mugs to serve this in it makes even better. Enjoy and Cheers!

  • Dan

    You”ve been castigated enough about footwear, so I will just observe that Keen do a good line in sandals that are ventilated but offer some fairly robust foot protection. Not pushing the brand … but something with a similar design will serve you in warm conditions.

  • Best sailing video yet!

  • Ardail Smith

    Where can I get a set of those flash cards?

  • Wil

    Cruising Florida, the Caribbean and farther means an almost daily interaction with squalls. Kudos for learning the basics. While cruising cats are inherently more stable than a keel boat of the same size, if at all possible, get out into a heavy squall with bare poles and harnesses now while you have a captainaboard to point out deadly mistakes.

    Best of luck. Keep the green side Down.

  • This sounds exciting, rewarding, and incredibly intense! You’re going to need a mighty large celebratory beverage at the end of this. Good luck and enjoy!

  • Oh Man, doesn’t look fun at all. I loved your RV adventures. Wish you were still RVing. Don’t you miss RVing even just a little bit?

  • Robert Lighton

    You guys are looking more chill all the time…..not that you were too crazy before….

  • Meggiemoo

    I love your videos…my husband and I have had various boats over the years (Hobie Cat, Boston Whaler, very used sailboat, slightly less used sailboat). We definitely have our sights set on exploring on a bigger Cat one day. Until then, it’s SO much fun to live vicariously through you! Ignore the negative people out there–in fact, maybe just disable the YouTube comments altogether…those people are nutso. :o)

  • Nono

    Love your video; love your adventures.
    Just noticed you are barefoot when anchoring. Watch your toes; you should wear shoes at all time when you are sailing !
    Just my 2cents !
    Take care

  • Kiliki

    Looks like a good adventure! You guys are looking more like pros all the time.
    I checked out Blue Water Sailing School. Did you have to pay more or less to use your own boat?

    I am just digging these videos! Thanks for taking the time to make and edit them (and tell Terry we will forgive the vertical filming-this time..?). Please keep them coming!

  • TJ

    The best 8 years of my life were spent on a 76′ gaff-rigged schooner.

    There’s a learning curve. No doubt about it, especially when there’s just the two of you out there sailing alone. Things, both good and bad, are going to happen during the fantastic adventure you’re about to experience. However, no amount of instruction will prepare you for some of those things. So…for what it’s worth:

    Thunder storm…lots of rain….slippery deck, lines, gear, etc. = PFD’s!

    In worse weather = safety tether / harness

    When executing a successful “Man overboard!” maneuver, it’s easier to find / save the person (especially if they’re unconscious) if they have donned their PFD, knowing a squall is eminent. A floating conscious person wearing a PFD can even help in the rescue attempt. An unconscious (read – drowning) / no PFD person… well, you don’t want to be in that situation. Form fitting rain gear sans PFD will not help to save a life.

    I’m a little surprised the instructor didn’t insist on it. Just a little surprised though, because I know that experienced sailors can become somewhat jaded around the topic of safety. Been there / done that.

    Now an ‘armchair sailor,’ I look forward to following your adventures.

    Fair winds to the Wynns!

  • diane

    Seeing your adaption to sailing is fascinating ~ so much less space for indoor movement and so much intense movement is required outside the boat.

    Now fingers and toes~what happened to the idea of gloves and shoes? Stepping bare foot into an area with an active moving chain~in wet conditions, gave me a fright.

    I want to see more human outfitting ~ brands of sunscreen and application practices, those neon colors for safety, boat shoes, which sun and wind gear. How many different gloves have you tried~why are they not fun to wear? It seems the weather is so warm, you outfit to maintain temperature. Seeing what the sea life does to fiberglass, ropes, and metal parts~humans must need outfitting!


  • Lucille Hjort

    Congratulations on your rough weather sailing day. I think it is good to learn how to sail in the rain and with low visibility but for real cruises, I would try not to sail on these days, but I am a scardy cat and a coward.

  • Richard Cross

    Congrats guys! You two are really coming along with this whole “sailing” thing. And it looks like you are having fun doing it! Nikki tying knots and Jason… well… tying nots… a little storm sailing with rain, lightning and low visibility to get your feet, and Jason’s rear, wet. Your captain was considerate to leave the wind out in this first storm lesson, but had you properly prepared should it come up. The silver lining is everything, and everyone, had a nice salt rinsing, plus a great lead-in to cocktails afterwards.

    I’m so envious! and enjoying each and every step you take down this exciting path.

    Richard C.

    P.S. Nikki, after both you and Jason got the same 98 score, you better cover your answers next time. I’m sure he’s peaking.

  • Look at you guys!!! Navigating, dealing with weather, touching bridges with antennas, having fun and best of all having cocktails with a great view. Both of you guys got a 98% on the test, did you copied each other? 🙂 WOW if you guys need another camera guy just let me know, am in. By the way, for a square knot just do right over left then left over right. Great job and another great video.

  • Nancy Fernandez

    Another great video. Lightning is scary and pretty all at the same time. I can’t help myself wondering all the things you’ve done since this video is over a month ago already. Smooth sails as I await more to come 🙂

  • Terry Apple

    Florida, Florida. Boats. Lightening and frog stranglers. Been there, done that. You captured it eerily well….

  • John S.

    For Terry: Great camera work.

    Question: since you are talking about lightning and mention how well the boat is equipped, can you tell us if there are any special surge protection devices to protect all your electronics? For example: It would seem a good idea to have a direct lightening hit blow up a single inverter rather than all your radios/nav systems/ autopilot and coffee maker.

  • Charlotte

    I always enjoyed a good storm, within reason of course, they can be powerful, majestic, loud, or just a little wet. I knew our boat could handle more than we could. Arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can, prepare as far in advance of the storm as possible, be ready to ride it out & enjoy the journey!

  • John Lennie

    Lot’s of joy in this video. Cheers!

  • Thomas

    What was the weather app you showed on your phone?

  • Valerie

    You both are a hoot. You are so real. I appreciate that you show the good, the bad, and the not so wonderful. I admire your spirits and attitudes. Your videos are consistently stellar! I am so glad I found you on You Tube.Thanks for sharing your journey. Keep smiling, Valerie

  • CC

    Y’all need some dedicated boat/sailing shoes! They’re grippier than bare feet and you’re less likely to slip or break a toe running around on deck. Often they have drain holes in the soles so if it’s raining, you don’t get water logged feet. Once you have them, never wear them on the dock or on land (just the boat) as they will lose their sole grip. Adidas Climacools are good ones.

    PS – You’re doing awesome!

  • Amber Baldwin

    As always, love the vids. After school is complete, where will your first, sail on your own, destination be?

  • Jason Heinz

    So what kind of cocktail did you make Nikki? And can you share the recipe?

  • Simon

    Someone once told me, “If you cant’t to tie a knot, tie a lot!”


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