There are two FPB 64s cruising in New Zealand at present, and both made comments to us about a weather “bomb” a few days ago. Mike Parker (Avatar) sent in a link to a New Zealand Met Service post on the genesis of this weather feature, and Carol Parker sent in the photos taken at Cape Reinga. Pete Rossin (Iron Lady) discussed the bomb on his blog. We’ll add links to both at the end of this post. Now for a few comments.
There are various weather scenarios which can create bombs, or rapidly intensifying weather events. The key to unlocking risk factors lies in understanding the 500mb level weather models, which is why we urge everyone to learn how to read these (not that big of a deal). And while you might be tempted to let the professionals call the risks for you, they sometimes miss, or don’t call them early enough for you to be aware of the risk profile before heading off on a long passage.
Beyond this there are several points to keep in mind. Although rare, bombs do occur, so we think the thing to do in terms of the boat is simply assume the worst, and have the right tools on-hand in case we are caught. This starts with massive anchoring gear relative to the boat’s windage. It includes a design oriented towards heavy weather events, with steering control and stability profile appropriate thereto. And it means a periodic look at the 500mb charts to see what might be developing. Finally, this is one of those areas where boat speed pays dividends by reducing exposure time to weather.
We should also add that, although we have investigated a number of weather bombs over the years, we have never been caught out in one ourselves.