Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our First Severe Storm

  Rain was forecasted all day today with severe thunderstorms predicted for the P.M. hours. A dreary day brightened up about mid-afternoon so we played around in the water some and took a dinghy ride, but as the afternoon wore on, the clouds thickened and I checked the weather radar and forecast again to find three pending weather alerts for this area. We hung the dinghy on the davits and secured the boat. We'd been sitting on a hook with 85 feet of rode out in 12-14 feet of water and it had been holding well in a decent breeze since yesterday morning, however, had I known of the magnitude of the wind that we were about to get, I would have put out more ground tackle.

  Rosie and I were sitting in the cockpit watching the gathering clouds and a couple of sailboats came into the cove we were in, then a couple more, until eight boats filed in and all but one made their way to the back of the cove we were anchored in. One boat stayed to the west of us, or upwind. A pontoon boat joined them all and I figured them to be a youth outing of some sort. The wind was picking up as they assembled and I wondered if they would get their anchors down in time.

  The wind and rain came and we lost sight of the other boats. The wind generators were absolutely howling in protest and starting braking, which they do when the wind velocity reaches over 60 M.P.H. Rosie switched off the power to them to prevent them from damage and I fired up both engines, the chartplotter on the iPad, and the radar. Swing Set was bucking like a bronco with the wind racing right down the cove from the west. I wasn't sure the anchor was going to hold, so I was prepared to drive through it. I watched the storm pass on our weather radar and could feel the wind start to subside after about 15 minutes.

  When we got a visual on the other boats, we could see five of them in the shallow water in the back of the cove heeled over. One boat that managed to stay at anchor had their sail become unfurled and it was in shreds. Stuff from the boat in front of us was floating by which we couldn't retrieve but we figured the back of the cove would be full of stuff for everyone to salvage later.
My suspicion about the youth outing was confirmed when the bravado war whoops started as the danger passed. I might have whooped too if I didn't consider what any of the damage was going to cost.
  For our part, nothing seemed to be wrong until I tried to catch the news on the T.V. The GFI receptacle feeding one side of the salon kept tripping. I don't know if there is a short from the lightening, or the GFI got a jolt and is now weak. I'm going to change it out with another one in the morning when I have some better light and see if the new one trips too. I have a couple other ideas but I'll do one thing at a time to determine the problem.
  The sky started to clear up and it looked like the other boats were staying the night, whether they wanted to or not. We had a nice dinner and I started in on this blog.
  Photos were taking way too long to load up so I went up to the salon to kill some time when I saw another front coming in. Rosie and I put on rain gear and went to the flybridge and plugged in the chartplotter again and turned on the radar. The weather radar showed a very small cell and it passed quickly but I was a bit nervous about a very big aluminum houseboat that had anchored upwind of us during the lull. I hailed him on the radio to suggest that he put the bow up on a nearby beach but it's rare that anyone renting a houseboat cares about listening to the VHF.

  Some of the more experienced persons reading this may laugh at my description of this storm as being severe, but I can't recall many worse ones that I've been out in other than this one. Other than the electrical issue, we did suffer a casualty. Our three year old AGLCA burgee has bit the dust.
  One thing that has been odd is that all three storms we have been in since we left St. Louis have all been on Mondays. What do you say we just avoid Mondays altogether?


  1. sounds like a heck of a ride. A lesser boat than Swing Set could have had a different outcome. I guess its the payback for all the beautiful days you get to enjoy, fortunately you get many more of the nice days!

  2. Sounds like it could have been a lot worse. Glad you faired well. How did the wind generators hold up? JD

  3. Wind generators are fine. Note that I had Rosie turn them off.