Wind Damage <ugh>
It had to happen sooner or later. I was sitting by the lake with my friend when she said "What's that noise?". We looked up at the lake and saw a wall of water and heavy winds heading our way from about a mile away. There was just enough time for me to get into my Hennessy Hammock and she in the tent. The Hennessy hex tarp was guyed out with some hiking poles on the water side to afford me with a view, and boy, what a view I had, until the wind picked up the tarp and ripped out the side attachment rings on the windward side. Earlier, expecting some wind, I had tied plastic bags with a small (5#?) rock in each bag to the corners to hold the sides down and keep flapping to a minimum. Now, with the tarp free and the bags of rocks still attached to the corners, I hightailed it out of there to the tent and watched from the tent, as the hammock filled with water. I guess you could say I was lucky not to have been konked in the head with a bags of flying rocks. The tent did a bit better and keep most of our stuff dry, but not well enough to consider staying through the night for which more severe weather was forecast.
How often do you all encounter severe wind? What do you do to stay safe and dry in these conditions? Should I have lowered my tarp and hammock so the tarp was touching the ground on the windward side? It was sloping ground and it would have been hard to accomplish that without the hammock being on the ground. Maybe I should have lowered the tarp and tired to raise the hammock off the ground with the snake skins and sat under it all. I would have gotten soaked in the process, but may have saved my tarp from being damaged and my hammock and contents from getting soaked. Before the tarp let loose, the rain was blowing in the end of the tarp and soaking the hammock at the foot end. These were the only two trees I had a choice of in that area. It all happened so fast that I didn't do anything to help myself other than making a dash to what I though might be a decent shelter. It was a disaster. I estimate the winds to have been in the 30-40 mph range. Oh, yeah, thunder and lightning and bolts dropping into the water all around us made for an interesting 1/2 hour!
BTW, the Hennessy Hammock can hold a lot of water!
seems like if you had pitched the tarp down steeper, no matter if it actually touched the ground or not, it would have kept the wind from getting under it. when the wind gets under it like that, the tarp catches the air instead of sheding it.
as far as the water coming in from the end, sounds like you were not directly perpendicular to the wind/rain. you could have possibly slid the tarp farther to the foot end if you were at an angle to the wind.
Hmm... what if you had unstaked the tarp on the windward side, and pulled it up under your hammock and staked it down under you and as much on the leeward side as possible (basically wrapping the hammock in it on that one side.) ??? Don't know if that would have helped or not, just thinking "out loud".
Sounds like there wasn't enough time to do much though. Glad you're ok.
Those are both good ideas. Since I had the tent available, undoing the windward side and moving it under the tent would have been good. Next time, I will not leave the windward side up like I did. It was a stupid mistake, all for the sake of trying to keep myself dry and not realizing how bad the wind would be. Instead, everything got wet. I had also rigged my tarp in a way that I could have adjusted it more over the foot end of the hammock. Everything would have been difficult in that wind, but I probably could have done either of the things you suggested. Thank you.
Well, I'm not sure I would have known what to do at that precise moment except batten down the hatches... I have the luxury of thinking of this while I'm safe and dry, and not being blasted with wind, thunder, lightning and rain. Glad you're safe and sound. :)
Lower edges are better in winds as is lower all around... I'm new to hammocking but not tarps and camping.
My last trip I had a day of 60-90 km/h (40-55mph) gusts. The tarp and tent withstood it for several hour before finally collapsing. (Tie outs tore free on the tarp and a tent pole split.)
Keep everything tight, bags of rocks etc are asking to get beaten, tie outs are best..... To large immovable objects.... Use elastic in the lines where possible (see some of the ingenious methods discussed as tensioners) to protect the tarp from over loading.
Low, low, low.... Even put the tarp edges against the ground if possible. Put the most gradual slope into the wind. Adjust the tarp set if possible, even doing so while out in the stormy weather. It often makes the difference from being able to retreat after adjustments and get dried out etc, vs having to salvage damaged gear or give up on a trip.
Often the fast moving squalls are very intense, but also quite short. If possible pack up the hammock/tent/tarp and wait it out in your rain gear then re-pitch afterwards so you can dry out and warm up.
like it says in ed's book, if you camp on the leeward side of a hill/mountain, even just a few dozen yards down from the top, the hill will block much of the wind. if you've got to find a nice flat level spot for your partner as well, this might not be possible though.
also, camping deeper in the forest might help block wind too. for example, if you camp right near the edge of a lake or steep dropoff, there anen't as many trees in front of you to block the wind.
you can also set your tarp up so that the side that faces into the wind actually comes down farther than the other side. i.e. the ridgeline/centerline of the tarp sits farther to one side of the hammock rather than right down the center of the hammock. if your tarp is wide enough this may not be necessary.
but like rapt said. if there is heavy wind, you want the windward edge as low as possible. this requires lowering the tarp's ridgeline as much as possible too and then pulling the corners down.
Thank you all for additional suggestions. Unfortunately, the only two trees that were far enough apart were right at the water's edge with a slope down to the water which made it impossible to get the windward side of the tarp really low. If anything like this ever happens again, I will take measures to make the setup better by doing things you all mentioned, even if it means getting soaked in the process. My tarp is repairable. BTW, I did have it staked out, and only used the rocks in the bags to keep the flapping to a minimum in the light winds we were having prior to the storm. Leaving the tarp raised up on the windward side was really dumb. Thinking more about it, I could have unstaked the tarp and wrapped it around the hammock and tied it on with the guy lines, then jumped into the tent with my friend. I would have been soaked, but I ended up soaked anyway. Live and learn....
A similar thing happened to me a month ago while kayaking. A micro burst came out of nowhere with 50+ winds. I had just missed a roll while attempting to show off my newly acquired skill to a bunch of people picnicking on a beach. I was attempting to empty my boat and had gotten most of the water out when a gust picked up my boat and threw it (a 16' fiberglass kayak) over my head. It hit the water on its side and began to fill up with water, keeping it from blowing away. Then the rain, thunder and lightning came as I swam to shore with boat in tow. People on the beach were really worried and offering to help, but I was fine, being in the water I was not as exposed to the wind as they were. I was actually laughing pretty hard. All turned out fine. This has been the summer of interesting experiences in unexpected wind.
yep, when you 1st see something coming up like that, the best thing to do is get started re-securing that tarp, looking at how you think the wind is going to probably hit hardest.
grab your rain jacket & have it ready to put on if the rain starts before you finish.
also look around for any thing else that might blow away or get wet.
i've used good size logs (or rocks), laid on top of the tarp lines on the wind ward side, or even looped the tarp line around the log forming a clove line hitch before continuing on to the stake, tree, limb, root, rock, or what ever looks best for holding down the fort.
if the wind can move the log or rock that's on the line, the weighted object provides a little more forgiveness on the line & tarp corners. ...tim