Monday, April 12, 2010

Full Gale!

This morning the wind started up early, about 10:30 am local time... 3 hours too soon. And it didn't really die until around 4 am, 7 hours too long.

At 10 am I took the dinghy into Barra and got my paperwork done with the Port Captain (5 minutes, no hassles), walked to Beer Bob's Book Exchange and dropped off my novels and picked up some new ones, said goodbye to the folks I know in Cabo Blanco (it's near the PC and BBs) and headed back to the boat. The wind in the lagoon was blowing about 30 knots when I hauled up anchor and made my way down the channel. I was looking forward to a nice calm night in the peaceful waters of Tenecatita Bay, one of my favorite places in all of Mexico.

When I got to the mouth of the estuary (the "Bar" in Barra) the sea was churning with whitecaps, foam blowing around the place and a washing machine for Bahia de Barra. A 65 foot ketch was barreling into the narrow channel. He took the left marker, I took the right. Suddenly my forward motion dropped to about 2 knots and all the power in BLISS' diesel was being used to mount the waves that hit us. I cranked up the rpms for more power and noticed the temperature gauge was on its red-line. I slowed the motor down, turned 180 degrees and back into the lagoon.

I dropped the anchor near the fuel dock and shut the diesel down after checking for water leaks in the cooling system. The fan belt that drives the alternator and heat exchange pump was stretched out and not doing its job. I let the motor cool down, retightened the belt and got the diesel functioning properly again, but I knew I was spending another night in the lagoon. The sea was too dangerous for me and a boat this size, (and for  65 foot ketches, too).

I found a space in about 8 feet of water behind Dog Island and ran out 100 feet of chain. The wind is still strong enough to shake the cockpit awning to pieces, so I took it down and have the dinghy in the wind shadow behind BLISS.

There's a small ketch near me whose owners have left her parked there and the roller furling jib is starting to get pulled out by the wind. It sounds like a motorboat as it pops and collapses. The wind is easily gusting up past 50 knots and I don't know if I would be able to do anything about their sail. The loose end is now 20 feet off the deck and I can't reach that far. If the whole thing comes out it will either destroy the mast or pull the boat off its anchor and send it crashing downwind... or it may do both.

Anyway, being stuck here in this blow for an indefinite period of time encouraged me to sign up for the local internet service. I get 24 hours of service for $7.00 but I can sign off and on to stretch the total period out over a couple of days if that's what it takes to get out of here. I'll be using it mostly to search the weather sites for some information.


1st Mate said...

Yikes, I hope that ketch doesn't pull off its anchor and come crashing into you! Hope the wind dies down at night (as it often does in Barra) so you can get some sleep without worrying about loose canons in the bay. Guess the Barra anchorage is just not a tenable place to go off and leave a boat in April.

Chrissy y Keith said...

It is super windy here in Scottsdale too. I am glad you turned back.

MxSailor said...

!st Mate: I think you meant to say loose cannon. (Piece of artillery, rather than a part of the Roman Catholic mass (no RC priests banging around the anchorage that I can see)). The boat is gone this morning, taken away by its owners. Maybe somebody was praying for them, since it was still in one piece.

Jim and Heather on Meerkat said...

Love Barra, hate the wind there. But we had 40-50 kts here yesterday and last night, so I guess we are even, but you are warmer, so you still win!