September 18, 2012
The wind howled and the wind howled, and the wind howled some more. First thing in the morning you could already hear the wind blowing through the rigging. By evening, we could barely walk on deck without almost being blown off balance. This was a southerly blow not to be reckoned with. This was our reason for getting to Port Washington a day early. We hunkered down and waited out the weather.
The weather was forecasted for the wind to be out of the southwest at 20 to 25 knots with gusts up to 35 knots. The wind would remain this way until a low pressure moved through with a strong line of thunderstorms and potentially stronger winds.
During the morning hours, the wind was blowing up to 20 knots, so it wasn’t anything we weren’t used to. Wil and a friend from another boat braved the elements and dinghied ashore to do some shopping. The women stayed with the boats and schooled the children.
While Wil was gone, and as the wind began to increase, I started thinking more about the mooring ball we were shackled to. Our estimated 40,000 pounds of boat is a lot of weight pulling on lines when the wind is dragging her backwards. In case we broke free, I began developing an emergency plan. Step one, get the engines running and into forward gear. Steps two and three, get Justine to the helm, and myself to the bow. Step four, drop the anchor. Step five, hope the anchor digs in and holds before we hit any other boats.
As the day progressed, the wind grew stronger. Even our steady catamaran was rocking as though we were underway on a choppy bay. All day long we bounced around on the mooring ball. Many of the monohulls looked like they were bouncing around in the ocean! We, as well as many other cruisers, would periodically go out on deck to check bow and mooring lines for chafe. Sometimes adjustments were necessary.
By the afternoon, we were on edge and our ears were tired of hearing the ever persistent wind. There was a constant worry whether our lines to the mooring ball would hold. We tried to brainstorm a way to double our bridle lines, but with the force of the wind, there was no easy way. Quick action and dropping the anchor in the event of a breakage was our only choice.
Click here to see & hear the wind blow!
Our wind anemometer display has been broken, so ever since we’ve owned the boat, we’ve been guessing at wind speed. However on this day, we finally remembered a small handheld anemometer that was tucked away in the nav table. Our anemometer read 30 to 35 miles per hour. Later, we had confirmation that the wind blew 30 to 35 knots, with a top wind gust of 47 knots (that’s 54 mph!). According to the Beaufort Scale we were experiencing gale force winds and stronger.
As night approached, we were under a severe thunderstorm warning and tornado watch until 11:00 p.m. We nervously watched the radar as the severe weather approached. Even though it was already dark, the sky grew darker and the wind gave us one last tremendous blast. As suddenly as the thunder, lightning and rain came, the wind disappeared. And then, all was quiet. Our nerves settled and we slept like babies.
Read Anything Goes account of the blow on their site. Wendy does a great job of describing the sights and sounds of the day!