Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's with this weather!

So, I have been meaning to write a blog about the weather we've been experiencing but between repairing a head (boat toilet), replacing the filters on our water maker and making water, recharging our batteries and a continuous flow of guests, its been somewhat hard to find the time.

Banderas Bay, where we have been since December 24th, has been experiencing some bizarre weather the last few weeks. When my in-laws were here, you should have seen the storm. No, not a storm about having them here, but rather a water spout (otherwise known as a tornado over water). Fortunately, because my in-laws were arriving, Barb and I decided to move the boat from the anchorage to the La Cruz marina to make it easier to get off and on. The day after they arrived, the morning cruisers' net was talking about the weird weather that we were experiencing and the distant squalls in the bay. I decided to take the kids over to the break water to see the weather and the distant squalls. While returning to get Barb and my in-laws, I saw a "finger" growing down from the sky. I quickly headed back to the kids as what we were watching grow was a tornado coming down from the sky and making its way to the marina. It felt like Danielle and Harrison were Dorothy and Toto! Barb quickly snugged up our lines in the event that the tornado hit the marina. Thankfully, it changed direction, lost its force and dissipated.

About a week and half later, my mother came to visit. Again, we started out at a marina (this time Paradise Village) and decided to make our way to Yelapa (see Barb's post on this very cool town which is only accessible by boat or horse (no roads)). Again, we had weird weather. We got to Yelapa and it started to rain. Understand, last year, there was no rain from November until April! We've had more rainy days than I'd care to count! Anyhow, after hanging around Yelapa, hoping the weather would clear so that we could do a hike up to a spectacular waterfall (we came back and did it with our friends the Saal-Dalmas) we decided to head back to Paradise Village Marina. With a break in the weather, we powered to the marina and luckily got a spot at the dock even though it was the most exposed to the weather and the bay. We had a spectacular seared tuna dinner on the boat and, after getting the kids to bed and getting ready for bed ourselves, all hell broke loose. With no prior warning, the sky lit up with lightning like the Fourth of July and the wind went from 0 to over 50 knots (or a Force 10 on the Beaufort Scale) which is considered Storm or "Whole Gale" force winds and lasted for about 45 minutes. Our boat felt like it had been lifted out of the water and shaken violently by the wind. The lightening was like out of a scary movie. Believe it or not, our kids slept through the whole thing. The weather folks here in Banderas Bay called it a "weather bomb" -- a most appropriate name!

We feel very fortunate to have headed to Paradise Village marina. We could have just as easily headed to the anchorage off of La Cruz. They were hit with hurricane force winds of over 88 knots (Force 12 on the Beaufort Scale), while some claimed over 100 knots (to convert to miles per hour multiply by 1.15), and nearly all of the 30 plus boats in the anchorage dragged their anchors. Many were hit by other boats and one even ended up on the beach but a big wave brought them back into deeper water. The following link gives that boat's experience that night. Another boat's blog gives an excellent first hand perspective of what it was like in the pitch black, yet lightening filled, night with huricane force winds. You can read about it in their February 4 posting. All we lost was a bowl and a pair of flip flops.

Last week there was a threat of another "weather incident" coincidentally while our next set of guests were arriving. We moved into the marina (with substantially all the other boats that were at anchor) and went through a hurricane preparation drill. We took off all our canvas, lashed down our main sail, put extra straps on our solar panels to make sure they would not blow away, used every spare line we had to tie the boat to the dock and made other preparations. Fortunately, the storm did not materialize and we only experienced about 30 knots of wind for just a few minutes.

So, what gives with all this weather? People that live here year round have said they have never seen anything like this during the winter season. Waterspouts and hurricane force winds this time of year? Is this what global warming is causing or is it just because it is an El Nino year?

Oh, by the way, its been raining all day today!



  1. wow, unbelievable photos (and interesting blog)! Pretty scary, glad you guys are safe. Happy Anniversary!!
    xox Deb

  2. Guess we should stay home!
    Have a great anniversary!

  3. Great blog, Michael - with interesting descriptions (many of which we recall) and lots of humour (Canadian spelling!). We were looking forward to hearing from you for awhile.
    Having been there with you guys gives us an appreciation of all that's involved...and we sure remember the "oncoming" cyclone...great picture on the post!
    I hope you'll all soon be on your own, able to sail wherever your please...
    Keep on writing...we miss you all and love seeing the to you all...x x x

  4. Hi to all of the Mitgang/Gottesman family,

    I just read each one of your recent blogs. Great writing to all -- it feels like I am there when reading about your experiences.

    I am so glad you have survived the crazy weather and have been so kind to turtles. Barb - you know you are "always" the best dressed in a crowd - even in your shorts and flats!

    The time sure is passing for you all - mid-Feb already and tomorrow is Harrison's Birthday!! Happy Birthday Harrison. 9 years old - and I remember when he was literally 19 mos. old at CBJ in Preschool. Also, Happy Anniversay to both Michael and Barb - what a great 14th year Anniversary that you will look back on...(especially if Michael remembers flowers again!)

    Danielle and Harrison - your concern about protecting the environment and animal life is quite impressive - thanks for sharing.

    Life is great here - miss seeing you guys and hope to hear from you soon!

    Take care. All our love,

    Matthew, Sharon and Rebecca