Monday, June 06, 2005

Caught in a storm!

During the transport from Grosse Pointe Yacht Club to North Cape (after the
NOODS), TIME MACHINE was caught in the thunderstorm that rolled through
Maumee Bay on Sunday evening. Skipper and his trusted crew (Bob) are fine,
if a bit shaken.

The transport had been smooth and fairly en-eventful. We even got to put up
the new #3 and check it out as the wind was on the beam in the Northern
portions of Lake Erie. At about 6:45pm a special marine warning was issued
for Maumee Bay and the wind shifted about 40 degrees. We packed up the #3
and got the boat into "storm mode". Skies were threatening, but we could
not see any evidence of a thunderhead, just a big dark cloud.

I lost track of the time, but as we were abeam of the Monroe Power plant, we
watched as the wind picked up a huge cloud of coal dust, sending it almost
as high as the stacks themselves. The Grassely's (SHO-WA-CAE-METTE) were
about half a mile closer to shore and we decided to press on. Bob and I did
consider running to the North, but when I saw the wind line coming, there
was no option but to head into it.

Within 3 minutes the wind went from 12-15 knots to 62 knots. I know this
from the stip chart running on the PC. It held there for about 2 minutes,
at which point the wand at the masthead broke off and we lost input from the
wind instruments. The 60-65 knots blasts continued for another 5 minutes,
followed by about 20 minutes of 40-45 knots steady wind. With the engine at
3000RPM we were making 2 knots of boat-speed and quartering the waves which
reached about 4 feet. Fortunately we were close enough to the weather shore
that the seas were not breaking yet. Had we been 1 or 2 miles further out,
they would have been rollers.

The toughest part of the storm was seeing. The rain and spray felt like
needles on my face. I had no choice but to face into the wind. The big
gust was strong enough that it buried the leeward rail and had I not been
hanging on to the stern pulpit, I could easily have been blown across the

I need to get to the top of the mast and determine the extent of the damage.
I know the wand and the sensors are gone, the windex actually fell on the
deck and is trash. I suspect that the windex light is toast and the
masthead cable for the wind instruments is toast. I have contacted BoatUS
and the insurance will cover the damage (minus the deductible).

When we got into the slip, I went below to get changed. Everything was dry
and cozy. You couldn't tell that there had been 'survival conditions'