Weird Weather

This year we have witnessed all too frequent lightning storms and there has been little relief in sight.  These fireworks usually occur at night and severely disrupt any semblance of the sleeping patterns that we humans need to maintain our pleasant dispositions.  Sometimes the lightning is so bright and constant that it seems enough to read by.  During one of these storms, friends on Domino were the latest unlucky victims of a recent strike here in the "Pool".  

The weather is localized in the San Blas, being situated in a basin of the southern Caribbean sea in a semi-permanent low pressure region.  This means that weather can be sucked into these islands from the mountains, barrel over the isthmus from the Pacific, or reach down to give us a taste of the tropical waves marching across us to the North.  At least in the daytime we can usually see it coming, at times closing in from both sides.  The rain, we'll take to filter into our water tank.

High winds have accompanied many of the storms this year with at least four instances of steady winds hovering around 40 kts (46 mph), plus or minus.  In this situation, cruisers rush to bring their sun shades down to spare the canvas and boat from a beating. 

 Thanks to visual cues and/or calls on the VHF radio from other cruisers warning us that winds were on their way, we were successful in the rapid execution of fire-drills to bring our canvas in... 

...all but that one time we got hit at midnight and were caught with nothing to do but wait it out.  Our shades were violently bashing and shaking the boat with the force of the wind so that it was impossible to safely go on deck and not get whipped (or struck by lightning).  Relief came only when the canvas ripped, but at least it was at the seam and can be repaired.

Lightning and high winds, you'd think we'd get used to it (since our lightning strike, we don't).  But wait, that's not all!  What can we  say about water spouts?!  Well, let's see... two of them have passed through the same zone right behind Reach at anchor.  The first time Michele heard something sounding like rain and saw a disturbed spot on the water heading our way.  It would have been a curious focal rain storm, except now it became apparent that the water was spinning.  Grabbing a camera, a few pictures can barely do justice to the progress of this spout that looked like a tasmanian devil was whipping between Reach & Kaija's Song in the span of a minute.  After a few whooaahs and ahhhs, it was over. 


Until it happened again!  On this day, Reach started moving in an about-face 180* swing at anchor and Mark ran outside to check things when he saw another water spout.  He saw it lift a few times as it approached, stronger this time and resembling the tornado-on-water that it is.  As fast as we could recognize it, it swung between several boats at anchor and pushed them over on severe heels.  Right about then, Michele witnessed Judy's dinghy on Quest rise up like it was a light piece of paper, hit the end of its painter, flip over and land upside down in the water.  Steve on Better Days was also close to the vortex and his canvas bimini popped right off of its frame.  Who knows how much wind was packed into that devil?  We were just glad that no one was hurt & Judy's dinghy was quickly righted with engine intact and fixable after a dunking.

© M&M 2019