The ‘slide pool’ . . . high winds, horizontal rain, and slime . . . anchors away!
Late, last week, we had a small weather event. On an apparently quiet evening–around midnight with no forecast of any significant winds–we were wakened by the boom tents attempting to take flight.
Now, just for information, our boom tents are (based on experience) absolutely stable from any direction up to about 35 knots of wind. If we have winds predicted above 30, we sometimes drop/furl them to prevent any damage. That evening, in the dark, we discussed it and decided–even as the boat was pitching at the docks–to leave them up, even though we were pretty sure the wind was above 30 knots. The reason? Because the rain was blowing sideways so hard that we barely got the cockpit enclosure (where we sleep) closed off to rain before the bedding got soaked. We ended up closing the butterfly hatch under the boom-tent for the first time all summer because of sideways rain.
The wind was atypical for Barra. First a brief blow, 15 minutes or so from the north side of the boat … that is from Melaque/Barra de Navidad. Then, perhaps a five-minute lull of no wind at all and rain falling straight down. Then, ‘wham!’, the boat listed to the opposite side … the masts moaned in the wind … with a sound I have only heard before when multiple masts were nearby. Now, the wind was blowing with equal intensity from the opposite side of the boat, the south. Spiritus listed about 8 degrees to each side before straightening out. 8 degrees is a lot for Spiritus because she is a heavy keeled boat with about 10,000 pounds of lead low in a full keel. I repeat, 8 degrees is a lot at the dock!
Again, in excess of 30 knots. Within perhaps 15 minutes more, the winds dropped off, the rain steadied at a drizzle, the moaning stopped and we opened up the cockpit. Temperatures were 5 degrees lower, so a nice night s sleep was had by all.
Remember, Spiritus was at the dock.
The ‘lagoon’ at Barra is famous for the difficulties of anchoring there. It has a sand bottom with a layer of slime-like deposits of black sand and organic stuff that is almost like clay. This can, on occasion of high or shifting winds, mean boats go ‘walkabout’.
The lagoon is frequently referred to–with no small humor–as the ‘slide pool’ by people familiar it as an anchorage. Most boats leave the anchorage for the summer months, the hurricane season, and rent a slip.
Most, but, not all.
The other alternative is to anchor Mediterranean style with the boat’s stern against the mangroves on a small island in the northwest part of the lagoon. This summer, there is/was one boat at anchor and five tied up against the island mangroves.
The water on that side of the island is around 9-12 feel deep depending on exactly how close you are to the mangroves.
The boat at anchor broke free and wound up ashore on the south side of the small island. Where it lay on its side for three days. The boat’s name is Phoenix.
Dur the early morning three days later, the panga fishermen went out and dragged it off the sandy beach back into deeper water. Then, they tied it to the mangroves on the north end of the island. Only apparent damage … the bowsprit was partially torn away, probably when the anchor dragged from the look of the damage. And, the port side stanchions and life lines were carried away.
This boat has been there all summer and is, I believe, not lived aboard.
Lessons: multiple anchors, set the anchor well, do not leave a boat unattended for long periods, be aware that weather is not easy to predict in this part of the world. The satellite photos did show the small storm and showed a fair amount of intensity, the airport weather station predicted no rain or winds of any significance. The only early warning was a sudden lightening storm close by just before the front hit.
The new NOAA experimental offshore waters for cast for Mexico’s Coast did not predict the intense small storm either. But, we are not ‘at sea’.
A follow up note: Evidently what we experienced was a small ‘chubasco’ wind event … for more info go here : The July 28, 2014 issue of ‘Lectronic Latitude’ at Latitude 38