Thursday January 7th, 2016
This will be short today as I am going out in the dinghy to help a friend and later others put their boats back together or get them floating again. There was an asterisk in yesterday’s forecast. Possibility of squalls with winds to 50 and thunderstorms. I was still in the hurricane hole and that might have been a good place to stay had I known what was coming.
We anchored near the middle of Elizabeth Harbour expecting 10 to 15 from the west and northwest. That seemed to be what we were having. Then a huge cloud mass was to our south. It was spectacular as they can be when the sun lights them up at sunset. This squall slid by without any effect then after dark just as I was in the dinghy starting to secure it for the night I heard the freight train sound of the wind from a squall coming. I jumped on deck and got to the forward hatch which was open and the wind scoop was up to get ventilation. We managed to get the scoop down before the wind hit completely. I saw ML’s face down in the hatch she had on her nurse face…professional concern but ok with it. She is great crew and doesn’t panic.
There was rain but not heavy just soaking. In the cockpit I managed to get the front window zipped down, started the engine and fired up the instruments. The wind was likely 40 kts at this point and gusting. I put Fracas in gear and watching the GPS added throttle to take some pressure off the anchor. The radar seems to take forever soon it was up and I began to track the boats near me. If your tackle holds you have to worry about those around you smashing into you. Once the radar was up and running I could plot the boats against the chart and monitor their movement. That gives you a bit of time to prepare for the boat coming at you and perhaps if you have enough rode out you can boot the boat out of the way of the impending hit.
The internet never worked better or faster here than during the storm last night. I watched the weather and cruised Facebook while the other boats were trying to save themselves. The radio traffic during this event was chaos. People forget their radio etiquette when their boats and lives are at risk. It was tough to keep up with all the events bouncing around the channels and creeping the VHF.
The weather event we experienced was perhaps a Derecho. Click the link for a good overview about a Derecho and what we experienced.
The outcome of the storm: Several boats were washed up on the beach. Lots of stuff off boats was washed away. We collected a fuel tank or two today. Several boats were hit by slipping boats and a couple may have been destroyed. The most lucky part of the day…no one was physically hurt. When crew try to fend off 10 ton to 25 ton boats from ‘mating’ when the wind is 50 plus kts they get hurt. Luckily not here not our Derecho.
DD and I went out in our dinghy this morning at about 7am to search for missing bits and pieces of boats. We did not find what we were looking for but did manage to find a fuel tank high and dry on Elizabeth island. The tank was full of fuel and with the help of our cruiser net controller Sue we reunited the tank with the owner late this afternoon.