Sunday, July 5, 2015

Preparing for the hurricane

While Katya and the children from Pesto and Coastal Drifter were having fun swimming in the exceedingly warm water of the almost land locked bay of Puerto Escondido Jude and I prepared the boat for the oncoming of Hurricane Blanca which had been graded as a cat 4 hurricane with winds exceeding 100mph. Its course was still not exactly certain but it had a good chance of coming straight up the Baja peninsula and whatever happens will give us strong winds and hopefully some rain (to wash the boat). We just don’t know how strong the winds will be.

As I said earlier the bay is almost land locked so even if the winds are high the waves will not be too bad and the waves, or swell, can often be the most likely element that causes damage to the boat as they put huge stresses on ground tackle as the boat rises and falls with the wave. We set about clearing the decks and strapping down items that might get blown away such as the kayaks on the cabin top although we did not deflate the dinghy but left in on the arch. I tied three lines to the mooring; one from each cleat on the bow and a third that went directly to the mooring chain and back through the bow roller and lead to the mid cleats which is a precaution in case either the mooring line broke or the primary bow lines chaffed through. We had been told that the mooring itself was new and that it was designed for boats over 100 feet in length. I had inspected as much of the mooring as I could and it looked in very good condition. The backup system if the mooring failed were our two large anchors and 450 feet of chain and 300 feet of 3 strand nylon rode. Let’s hope we don’t need those.

We still had a couple of days before the storm would arrive as it was making its way up the coast of Baja so we shared a taxi with some fellow cruisers and went into Loreto to do some sight-seeing and get some provisions.

Loreto is a pretty little town which dates back to 1697 when a Jesuit group established a mission which still stands. The town has cobbled streets, a nice clean waterfront and some good restaurants and shops. We spent the day meandering around town and Katya and I each had a long overdue haircut. Not only was it nice to have our hair cut but sitting in an air conditioned room was a treat.

Loreto Mission

We stopped off at the local supermarket for our provisioning before collecting our cruiser friends who had made a trip to the dentist – ouch.

Hurricane Blanca closed in on us and was downgraded to a tropical storm with winds predicted to be in excess of 50 knots where we were. The skies darkened, the humidity rose and we waited and waited. Slowly the winds picked up and were a steady 30 knots at 10pm with gusts over 45 knots. We sailed around the mooring and we watched other boats heal over in the gusts that streaked across the anchorage. Strangely enough there was not much chatter on the VHF. I did call the boat nearest to us, Mary T, and asked if they were OK as the skipper was on the bow of his boat setting a kellet. I watched as a gust carrying a wall of water raced towards our boats, he looked up, saw it coming and ducked just in time as the 50 knot gust hit him.
During the storm

The winds continued through the night and the next day slowly receding below 20 knots and then it went calm and the sun came out. We did have some rain during the storm but not as much as we expected but enough to clean the decks and wash off all the salt. All in all the hurricane passed without too much ado. One small boat dragged and ended up in the mangroves and another boat lost its dinghy (He found it the next morning with its motor and fuel tank missing, with the steel securing chain having been cut – some enterprising local out in the storm).

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