The west coast of North America is no stranger to crazy natural disasters — floods, wildfires, hurricanes and, of course, earthquakes, to name a few — but it’s not often home to waterspouts. So when one such spout touched down on Banderas Bay Friday morning, it definitely caught the attention of the local cruising community.
"At about 9:15, channel 22 crackled on: ‘There appears to be something like a water spout forming out here beyond the anchorage! Well, maybe not a water spout but something that looks like one,’” wrote Steven Lannen of the San Francisco-based Beneteau 40.5 First Full Quiver. "Five minutes later, another call came in: ‘There is a well defined water spout heading for the La Cruz anchorage and another one forming.’
"What an awesome sight for a California boy that has lived in earthquake country but never seen a tornado. The breakwater of La Cruz was packed with people watching as the waterspout — or culebra (‘snake’ in Spanish) — tore up the surface of the bay and headed for La Cruz. It lasted for about 15 minutes but dissipated long before threatening the boats in the anchorage or the marina."
Non-tornadic spouts — also known as ‘fair-weather spouts’ — are borne of dark, flat-bottomed cumulus clouds, dropping down from the cloud to the surface of the water. They are typically slow-moving and short-lived — about 20 minutes — but, even so, it’s wise to steer clear of their near-hurricane-force winds.
But waterspouts weren’t the only unusual weather Punta Mita saw last week. According to Jim Casey of the Jeanneau 43DS Tomatillo, "High tides and huge swells have been heavenly for surfers around Punta Mita. However, the channel at Paradise Village can be a challenge during these conditions."
The most common question after Saturday’s opening race of the ’10 Corinthian YC Midwinters was, "Did you finish?" A weak northerly meant that many of the classes that actually got started — and not all of them did — on the optimistic North Bay courses counted only a few finishers among them. In the end, less than a third of the roughly 130 entries actually made it to the finish line and racing was abandoned for all but one of the seven one design divisions.
Most carried breeze all the way up to the entrance to Raccoon Strait while on the way to a CYC Race Deck finish. That’s where the fun began as the breeze shut off — spare sheets were bent to anchor rodes and the strait became a populated roadstead as the boats tried not to get swept out toward the Gate in the ripping ebb.
Sunday’s results aren’t yet up, but we’ll have more on the regatta in the February issue of Latitude 38, and if you have any party or on-the-water photos you’d like to see in the magazine — the more scandalous the better — please send them here.
The Singlehanded Sailing Society is presenting one of the most important seminars for this summer’s Singlehanded TransPac: Communications and Electronic Navigation. Each year the race sees at least one entrant suffer communication problems, so if you’re planning to sail to Hawaii this summer, it’s worth your time to hit this talk. But the presentation isn’t just for Solo TransPac’ers — Pacific Cup racers and, well, just about anyone interested in the topic are welcome.
Doors to the Oakland YC in Alameda will open at 7 p.m. for a little socializing, with the presentation starting at 7:30 p.m. sharp. "We have a full evening," says race co-chair Bob Johnston, "so everyone should come early." On the bill for the evening are the complete construction of an SSB set-up by Brian Boschma, and three former racers demonstrating how to overlay GRIBs on different navigation software: Greg Nelsen with MacENC, Mark Deppe with MaxSea, and Rob MacFarlane with Coastal Explorer. Email Bob with any questions or drop in to the race’s online forum.
Could it be that too many snowboarders have been praying for snow? Or too many resouce managers have been whining about our three-year drought? Whatever the reason, meteorologists seem to be in full agreement that we are in for one helluva deluge during the next two weeks.
The obvious note to boaters: If you haven’t checked your boat for clogged cockpit drains, inoperable bilge pumps, poorly stowed roller-furlers, frayed docklines, and inadequate fenders, you’d better get on it without delay. And if you’ve been putting off the purchase of a new set of foulies, now would be an excellent time to make that investment.
A rare combination of meteorological factors has forecasters’ eyes bugging out with a sense of wonder not often seen since ‘the perfect storm’. An unattributed meteorological report has been cirulating widely in cyberspace which explains that a strong El Niño influence in the Pacific is beginning to affect regional weather — big time. "Multiple large and powerful storm systems are expected to slam into California from the west and northwest over the coming two weeks, all riding this extremely powerful jet stream directly into the state," the report states. The onslaught is expected to affect the entire state, from Oregon to the Mexican border. High winds and flooding in the Bay Area and beyond are also expected throughout the ordeal. In lowland areas, 5 to 10 inches of rain are anticipated with much higher precip in higher elevations.
So if you haven’t checked your boat lately, don’t wait for a lull in the weather to do so — there may not be one for days. Remember, you alone are responsible for the welfare of your boat. Marina operators cannot be expected to bail out cockpits and check for chafe on every boat they rent space to.