Being first year cruisers on a new boat, everything is a new adventure to Joe, Ethan and I. First time crossing the Gulf Stream, first time in the Bahamas, and weathering our first storm with our boat at anchor.
Obtaining daily weather information is critical to boaters, especially boats at anchor. A change in wind direction and intensity could turn your lovely, pleasant anchorage into a nightmare where you end up on the beach or rocks of a lee shore.
To follow the weather, we use an Iridium GO! with PredictWind (PW) set up to obtain multiple forecasting models. We then interpret the models to make a decision about where to anchor, and how much ground tackle (anchor and chain rode) to put out. We can obtain the PW info anywhere in the world, it is not dependent on internet.
We moved our boat to Soldier Cay in the Berry Islands because we knew a storm was headed our way. This little island would provide us protection from the north, northeast, east, and southeast, so we set our anchor and let out 100 feet of scope. For our non-sailing friends, scope is how much anchor chain and rode you let out. Too little scope, and you are more likely to drag your anchor. Too much scope and if the wind shifts, you might swing onto the shallows and ground your boat.
The storm arrived with an impressive display of lightning all around us, then the winds went into high gear. Looking at our wind gauge, we saw over 35 knots of wind, which exceeded what had been forecast. The rain came next, so there is the mad scramble to close any open hatch or portholes.
As the wind howled, Ethan slept nicely inside in his bunk, oblivious to the storm raging above. This boy sleeps through anything!
Joe and I sat inside the full enclosure, which surrounds the cockpit on our boat. We were very thankful for this enclosure, as you can watch the nasty weather while remaining dry. The cockpit is an extra living space on a sailboat.
Over the next 36-48 hours, Mahi rocked and rolled at anchor. It was not comfortable. During the worst, I dreamed about reclining in a soft zero gravity chair at home, with my favorite quilt to keep me warm.
Instead, reality dictated that we have an anchor watch for 2 nights to ensure we didn’t drag (which we didn’t), and that our anchor snubber chafe protection did not rock off the area we were protecting. This happened multiple times.
Finally, the wind lessened to below 20 knots, so we climbed into our dinghy to visit a nearby beach. In this picture below, life is calm again.