First summer storm of the season
Our regular forecast app indicated winds of 25 knots for the afternoon and intense thunderstorms while the European Weather Bureau painted a much darker picture. Their forecast was of severe weather conditions with storm cells of intense lightning, giant hail, potential tornado strength winds and water spouts...
We had chosen this anchorage the day before with the forecasted winds in our mind, open to West only but with a few islets giving some protection from that quadrant and one of the very few anchorages with mud seabed that we could find on the charts and pilot books and apps.
We waited patiently the entire day for the moment the storm would hit us but throughout the day the winds blew to a pleasant 10 knots, the skies were blue and the clouds on the horizon, although looked like dense candy cotton, kept a distance. The winds didn’t pick at the time we were expecting and all in all, it felt like a great summer day.
By the end of the afternoon, dark heavy clouds started rolling in, the wind died off. We knew the storm was coming, it was just a matter of how much time we had in hands to prepare. Very quickly we got the dinghy on deck with covers and straps on, curtains to protect the cockpit from the elements were returned to their position, Ella called to the cockpit to be tethered in, and because the last day trippers had already left or were leaving we increased our chain scope to 1:5.
The first front rolled in, some heavy but sparse raindrops fell while the wind disappeared, sucked by the weather front. The second front brought a bit more rain but nothing special. Lightning and thunder everywhere in distance.
It was so calm we were enjoying to watch the seagulls bathing in the wavelets formed and we saw the biggest rat ever in the little island behind us, it was so big we thought it could be a Quokka. Google it to see how big it was!
Despite the calm, we knew we were going to be hit strongly, it was only a matter of which front would bring the punch.
It was the fourth front that brought all the nastiness, in a matter of seconds the wind went from 3 knots blowing from South to 36 knots then blowing from West.
The change was so sudden that The Dream instead of swinging as normal to adjust to new the wind direction, it got caught sideways and until the chain stretched in the new direction we were dragged on a heel of a few degrees, giving us a disconcerting feeling that we may have run aground when we saw the water all around us turn brown and the depth sounder go crazy giving us impossible readings.
Hadn’t we known that the depths of around six meters extended from our position a good bit behind us it would have been a moment of panic, but we knew that the cause for the strange readings was the water turbulence lifting mud from the seabed, our neighbour took longer to get to that conclusion and we witnessed his moment of panic running to the bow only to see his boat swing violently once the chain stretched.
By now it was pouring rain, thunder and lightning much closer, but in less than one-hour things returned to a calmer state even when a couple of other weather fronts passed us by after the intense one.
As for the Mantus, as usual, it did its job keeping us in place despite the violent and sudden change of wind direction.
Best money spent.
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.