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Whales and Chubascos

Posted on Tuesday Aug 30, 2005

Words (365)

Mitlan Island is a Mecca for a group of resident fin back whales which can grow to 75 feet long! They are biggies and at night they often circle our boats puffing about and looking for snacks. Most of the nights have been calm, but a couple of nights ago, the sounds of whales breathing was stamped out by a Chubasco.

A Chubasco is a squall that precedes a lightning cell of clouds. Sometimes the winds reach 60 knots. For us however, it was a mild attack. At about 4:30 am, I suddenly woke up. I felt the boat start to swing radically, but there weren?¢â??¬â??¢t any sounds of wind. I looked out the hatch to see in the moonlight a wall of approaching clouds and lightening. Chubasco! I shouted to Sherrell as I leapt out of the hatch!

The one night we left our full sun awnings up, the squall came after us. We quickly started removing covers. The wind went from 5 knots to about 20 knots in 2 minutes. As we started to finish getting the last cover off, the wind gusted to the mid 30?¢â??¬â??¢s perhaps in the 40?¢â??¬â??¢s. It lifted our hard dinghy off the deck, we had it tilted up to scoop air down into the boat with the halyard. There was a line tied to it to prevent it from going anywhere, but the wind hit it like giant fist and ripped the cleat right out of the dinghy and sent it flying across the deck.

I had to leave Sherrell to wrestle with the cover while I man-handled the dinghy back into it?¢â??¬â??¢s chocks and tied it down. We were about 3 minutes too slow in getting things secured, and the wind was howling. After getting the dinghy tied up, we managed to get the last cover down on the deck and tied down, then we let out some more chain to 210 feet giving us a scope of 6:1 and we held on.

Like in the movie, ?¢â??¬???Captain Ron?¢â??¬, ?¢â??¬???They come on fast and leave you fast, boss!?¢â??¬ About an hour later the wind calmed back down and we watched the sun come up then took a nap.

Sometimes Paradise is all work.