13 April 2018

Fri., Apr. 13, 2018 - Storm Preparation

Bay of Marsaxlokk 

Sailing lore says never to begin a passage on a Friday and Friday the 13th seems to be courting trouble.  However, we got up early to motor to a large fishing harbour, Bay of Marsaxlokk, protected from the expected east to just north of east winds expected early tomorrow morning and into the day to avoid trouble. And dolphins spotted on the bow on our way seemed to bode only good things.

Force 9 on the Beaufort scale are forecasted, categorized as a severe gale and described as “High waves (7 meter forecast). Dense streaks of foam are blown along the direction of the wind.  Crests of waves begin to topple, tumble and roll over.  Spray may affect visibility.”  Toppling and tumbling waves sound rather playful but we are very happy to not be seeing them at sea.  Their is an advisory that those with susceptible lungs will have difficulty breathing.  We can see the Sahara dust in the air.  To blame is a cold front from Russia meeting a strong heat low pressure system over North Africa.  Huge temperature contrasts may produce thunderstorms and “a dry microburst with devastating wind gusts is not excluded.”  Devastating is not a nice word.
Milly, secure at anchor.

We are anchored in an open but protected fishing harbour with two of our cruising boat buddies.  All day the harbour has been filling with small wooden fishing craft and some larger industrial type.  We went for a hike on the hills along the coast, knowing that tomorrow we would be boat bound.

Poppies and yellow daisies.  Couldn't resist.

The forecast predicts mounting wind speed topping out tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. gusting 48 knots.  All day, fishermen have been warning us of the upcoming east wind. I asked with great confidence, “It’s a good place to anchor?  Should be fine here?”  One guy said rather reluctantly, I thought, that it was ok, wagging his hand back and forth in that so-so manner and making a face that suggested unpleasantness.  We told him that we had come from Sliema Creek and he emphatically agreed that it would be much better here.  We were once again glad we had been kicked off our mooring buoy.

Our storm prep included: 
  • putting out a second anchor at about 30 degrees (very approximate) to our first.
  • taking down and storing our screecher sail.  Sister ship had had their sail come loose during an unexpected and fierce storm.  We did not want a repeat!  Nothing worse than wrestling with a wild sail in the wind.
  • putting a few extra furls on our genoa so it is secure
  • ensuring that all lines, sail cover are secure and unlikely to flap or whip about.
  • furling our Canadian flag
  • securing the dinghy with some extra lines
  • removing all extra stuff on deck.
  • securing our cockpit enclosure
  • pay extra vigilance to the weather forecast
  • have a glass of wine/beer and watch a movie.
Everybody going about their business.  
Already the winds are not as strong as forecast.  Hopefully, the scientists are predicting the worst.  But if not we are prepared and ready!  Will keep you posted.

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