Monday, July 18, 2011

Glorious Weather to Tropical Storm Bret

Indeed, being on a boat, the weather dictates all. The one constant in cruising and boating is that Mother Nature rules: schedules, plans, and hoped-for activities are subject to immediate revision and change. Numerous times. Multiple times. The only constant guessed it...change! 

All activities must align with the current weather and resulting sea-state -- it’s no fun to get tossed about on rough seas during a passage or even tossed about in the dinghy in an attempt to get out to the reef to dive. We take it to heart, for safety is paramount. Our boat can handle rough weather far better than its crew, and frankly, we have no desire to get beat up! So yes, weather means there is always change in the air -- and we're very conscious of it aboard. 
When we have friends visiting, they're usually quite eager to share in our adventures and want to enjoy their limited time aboard to the fullest. The hope is for calm seas and glorious skies, with time spent out fishing, diving or just on a gorgeous Bahamian beach under bright and warm sunshine. 

Ron, Paul and Muriel on the beach

Well…sometimes the weather cooperates! We've enjoyed it thoroughly with Paul and Muriel, our long-time friends, who are aboard for the next 10 days. Happily, we’ve had a couple of days of hot sunshine and relatively good weather. We've snorkeled and gone diving from Tingum, enjoyed the sun and its warmth on the beautiful shores of Matt Lowe's Cay, and even celebrated the full moon (at Cracker P's monthly Full Moon Party). 

The moon rising over Elbow Cay to the east of Lubber's Quarters
as seen from the deck at Cracker P's
However, their hopes for a sun-drenched, laid-back vacation had to be revised...Mother Nature sure is fickle! In a matter of a single day, in moved the the gray clouds, drenching rains and gusty winds of Tropical Storm Bret. 

Tropical Storm Bret, hovering over the Abacos
With the poor weather keeping us pinned down in the harbor, any hopes to enjoy the beaches of Abaco farther north are on hold. It's much better to be safe in a secure anchorage, than sorry to have insisted upon any intended plans to move. 

Our Sirius weather overlay showing the tropical storm winds of 50 kts
of TS Bret. Equinox is the small black boat icon beneath it, among the
green bands of rain.
So, the weather is definitely making its presence known this trip. (Welcome to our world!) Last night we were awakened with the tail edge of the storm moving sharply through, bringing wind gusts up to 45 knots and jolting all the boats in the harbor. Most were securely anchored, but there was the inevitable unattended sailboat that was dragging anchor – it went sliding towards our friends' boat Evrik in the winds, before it continued careening through the anchorage. Erik had been watching it on radar moving steadily closer, and managed to fend off the marauding boat with Evrik’s heavy fenders, protecting Evrik from damage. Dicey times in Marsh Harbour!

After the initial onslaught of the winds, the VHF radio was suddenly crackling with voices, alive with concern about anchors having trouble holding in the winds, worry over the the safety and position of boats nearby, news that power was lost on island, and how boats were faring at the marinas. In the torrential rains and high winds, it was hard to see anything outside the boat beyond the rain whipping past the windows and the sea spray flying (this in a protected harbor!); we used our radar, chart plotter, anchor alarm radius and compass to confirm that Equinox's anchor was still securely holding despite the winds, with plenty of water under her hull. (There are sections of Marsh Harbour that are shallower than others; just earlier in the day, knowing the winds were coming, we’d had to readjust our position and re-anchor to ensure we wouldn’t swing over areas that would be too shallow at low tide.) At midnight with the storm roaring through at its worst, we were grateful indeed that we had done so, and sat back, marveling at the light show in the skies. The power of nature is up front and personal on a boat! 

"What is the good of your stars and your trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?"  
                                                                                     - E.M. Forster

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