Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mac Practice Sail

Saturday was an ideal day for our Mac practice sail. I was worried about winds being too light with the forecast--south winds 6 knots becoming variable. Instead, we ended up with south winds in the teens, building to nearly 20, then some sustained 30 knot winds with gusts over 40 in a thunderstorm. Over the 6 hours on the water we experienced about everything the Mac offers except for dead calm.

Here you see part of my crew. From left to right: Jake, our newest crew, Mike, Megan, and Roxray. Brian joined us for the dock-side briefing but had family obligations in the afternoon. Danny is in Florida until 7/20.

We left under clear skies with cumulus clouds building. Several developed rain. We dodged several and only had a few minutes of showers, until we saw this. We watched the rainfall build from a few wisps of rain to the black downpour you see here, to a large black downpour that completely obscured the skyline. This picture was taken from about 10 miles east of Belmont harbor and about 20 minutes before we got rained on. There were as many as 3 storms around us. We could track their movement on the radar as the rain echos were very clear.

This is another storm. When the sun shines on them they're beautiful, certainly not as scary as the previous picture, but just as powerful.

The "funnel cloud" to the right is a closeup of the center of the picture to the left. We could see it twist, grow and shrink.

All of us were admiring the rainbow and clouds. A white haze began to form on the water maybe a mile away. I was thinking it was fog and joked that it could be a "white squall." The worst to that point had passed.
Jake yelled "Very strong wind in 10 seconds!" We were focusing on this view to port but didn't see the wind coming toward our bow. We'd previously taken the main down but were caught with our genoa flying. It took three of us to bring in the genoa. Jake saw 39 knots on the hand held wind meter.

It looks like a rainbow with some wispy white clouds. From our experience we learned that we were seeing the downdraft of the storm spread out. It was menacing and black until the sun shone through turning it white. We let our guard down because it was amazing to look at.
The winds were dangerously strong. In fact a small sailboat, it looked like a J-22, washed against the wall at Montrose harbor.

After it passed we were rewarded by a spectacular sunset!

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