Technology is very useful when it comes to weather forecasting….until it isn’t… Well, last night we were reminded the hard way that unsettled weather is just that…and when the barometer drops we best be on high alert for weather from ANY direction. Well, the GFS model was calling for the “eye” of the TD to pass just to the south of us, so we anchored on the north side of the bay and prepared for wind out of the NW. Well, late last night and without a change in forecast the “eye” passed just north of us and with it brought very strong winds from the SE!! Around 0300 we found ourselves on a lee shore with 3-4 miles of fetch built up and tossing us around like a bucking bronco! The wind was only about 30 knots sustained but it was the exposed position that was our problem. Our friend Jessie laughed at us for having deployed 150 feet of chain in only 10 feet of water but let me tell you how glad we were to have all the gear out in the middle of that dark torrential storm! Although we were both kept awake by the motion, Ellie didn’t move her position at all and kept her ground. It was a long nervous wait for daylight. Once the sun came up we could see how big the wind waves had gotten and they were about 4-5 feet, which is very large for wind-driven waves in a protected bay. For those of you on SF Bay just imagine anchoring in the middle of the bay in the summer. Ya – not ideal! Well, the resilient Mermaid make quick work of getting both anchors up and we motored slowly to windward bashing into the 25 knots that remained. By mid-morning we were anchored in the lee of palm-tree covered Lekumbi Point and finally out of the worst of the wind waves. We are still dancing around in 25 knots sustained wind but without the huge wind waves which makes all the difference in comfort level.
We feel we keep a healthy respect for the capabilities of weather and sea conditions but perhaps this time we leaned too much on weather forecasting. Our takeaway is that next time we will not rely on the GFS model/Windy.ty to tell us which direction the wind will come from in a passing revolving storm. Instead we will prepare for wind from all directions and either go up a river or head to a cyclone hole. Low pressure systems can and do change direction and intensity quickly and outside of best forecasts.
Well, now that the system has passed we can expect clearing weather and some much needed sunshine! We hope the inability for this system to intensify into a named storm is signifying the end of cyclone season. We’re ready for settled weather, sunshine and a cooler breeze!
Here are some pics of the storm as it passed over us and a few more of what we do to keep sane while hunkered down waiting for crappy weather to pass. Cheers!
17 April 2016
Lekumbi Point, Bua Bay, Vanua Levu, Fiji