A chubasco is a sudden, high-velocity wind that comes roaring down from the mountain tops in the summer in the Sea of Cortez. Winds are typically 35-50 knots but, fortunately, don’t usually last too long. Baja sailors are always a little at ease about chubascos as they are hard to predict but, if they do hit unexpectedly, can rip awnings off as well as blow all the crap we keep on deck off into the drink and cause boats to drag their anchors.
We had our first chubasco this morning.
And we missed it.
Yep, we weren’t even on the boat. Weren’t even close to it. Yesterday we hitch-hiked in to Loreto. Needed to get a few things, hit the ATM, and, maybe most importantly, partake of the free chocolate clams at Augie’s. We decided to splurge and spend the night in air-conditioned splendor at the Hacienda Inn.
This morning, I got up about 7:15 and then went out by the pool to get some wifi to check e-mail, etc. It was overcast and muggy but pretty much windless. I was back in the room by 8:00 and was sitting there looking out the window. I noticed that the palm trees were indicating a fair amount of wind had started blowing. It continued for a half hour or so and then eased off. Lulu said, “Do you think this is a chubasco?” I, in my infinite wisdom, said, “No, I think I read that chubascos are primarily nighttime phenomena. Probably just a little wind from the edge of tropical storm Greg down south of Cabo.”
We finished our errands and caught the 10:00 AM bus back to Puerto Escondido. When we got off the bus, it was very still. Not a breath of wind. As we were walking back to the marina, Dale from s/v Moxie stopped and asked us how we made out this morning. I said we were fine and by the way, did you guys get some wind here this morning? Dale, looking very surprised, said, “Yeah, we had some wind. We had a chubasco!” Apparently the anchorage had 35-45 knot winds for about 3/4 of an hour. A couple of boats drug anchor and some unsecured stuff was blown off some boats, but all in all, it sounds like things went pretty smoothly.
We ran into Jay and Judy (Wind Raven) on our way to get the dinghy. They had a bunch of life jackets and a cushion they had salvaged from the drink. The flotsam had all come from a catamaran that’s used for day charters. They also said that our shade awning was flapping wildly so they went over and secured it by tying it around the boom. We thanked them and headed out to the boat.
Considering how lax we were in leaving things secure before we left, we escaped pretty much unscathed. Yes, the awning had come loose but it suffered absolutely no damage. Thing is built like a brick storm sail. There were a few items we need to make sure are more secure next time: gas cans got blown over, an empty 5-gallon water jug laying on it’s side and close to going over the side, cushions down in the cockpit footwell, etc. The only loss we suffered was our external wifi antenna. It was tied to the shroud and was just blown of. The USB cable was still there, but no antenna. Guess I’ll have to take the dinghy ashore to check e-mail until I get a replacement.
So, we missed our first chubasco but we learned some valuable lessons.
OTOH, we slept like babies last night in out 68 degree air-conditioned room.