Santa Anna winds
27 November 2010 | Mag Bay
It's amazing how fast a nice relaxing sail can turn into your worst nightmare. About 7 hours after leaving Asuncion, we were sailing on a beam reach out of the East (which should have been our first clue) and at midnight we noticed the winds picking up. We had heard that there was a Santa Anna going to blow but the grib files showed that the winds at sea would be 15 knots as well as the Don Anderson report say that we should have a great sail south. By 1am we were 30 miles off shore and in gale force winds and the seas were building. We put a second reef in the main and half an hour later we put in the third reef. With the main reefed to it's 3rd reef and the staysail up, we were still doing over 6.5 knots. The seas got bigger and bigger and started breaking and foaming. The winds were screaming through the rigging and we knew it was a Gale! We don't have an anometer (or however you spell that, it's a wind speed reading instrument) (no Bob we didn't go out on deck and use the hand held one you gave it only went to 30 miles an hour). But based on the sea state with the breaking waves and foaming seas with the foam flying off in streaks, we looked at the Beaufort scale and it was a Gale 34 to 40 knots. Ian and Les were amazing as they stayed out in the cockpit spelling each other off while the other tried to doze and get some rest. Down below, I was seasick and my friend Pat was dressed in all of her foul weather gear and lifejacket an prepared for the worst while studying the abandon ship procedures. The boat was being hit by waves that sent us over several times not a knockdown, but pushed violently back and forth. But good ole Kasasa stood up to it and came back right up over and over. She proved her seaworthiness. At about 4:30am we were all very tired and Ian decided it was time to heave to (no not lose our cookies over the side, it means to arrange your sails in such a way that you turn into the waves and your boat just rides up and down without moving very much and it gives you a chance to rest). Pat and I were on the floor bracing ourselves inside the boat ready for the change of course taking us into the winds. Of course once Ian turned into the wind, the shackle on the staysail broke and the sheets came off and now the sail was useless to use to heave to. Les got the sail down, and Ian continued with heaving to but we were only able to lay ahull which was really comfortable none the less. So for 2 hours we stayed that way and finally the winds began to ease. By 7am the winds were down to 25 knots according to the handheld wind reading thingamiggy and we continued on our way, and by 10am the seas had started to calm down as well. Thank god that was over. But the good news is we got through it and the boat performed as she should. We can laugh about it now but at the time it was an intense situation. Our second night out was a non event with very light winds and no action what so ever. We made a quick stop in Baha Santa Maria where we met up with the boat that had our missing laundry items and we had their's. An exchange was made and we were on our way. But first a Mexican fishing boat came up to us and sold us some lobster. We arrived in Mag Bay around 4pm and are now happily anchored and having a great dinner of lobster and salad what more could we ask for...