June 25, 2008

Heavy Weather, Part Two

It happened again Sunday morning. Lying in the forward v-berth reading (the ultimate Sunday morning luxury), I became vaguely aware of a darkening sky.

Sure enough, creeping in from somewhere west of the Kennedy, was this cloud bank:

So, up and at 'em for the same routine: pull everything down from topsides, clamp down the hatches, stow anything loose into something tight, and get ready to roll. The difference this time was that dear friend Mariah was aboard. We had hosted a little dinner party the night before (a blogworthy subject in and of itself). It worked to Mariah's advantage to spend the night with us before driving back to her home behind the Cheddar Curtain. She helped me prepare for the blow, and was understandably curious about what was going to happen when the storm wall was overhead. I reassured her that I really couldn't say for certain, and we braced ourselves for the show.

We talked a bit about lightning. When you're sitting in a vessel that features a metal stick rising 40 feet into the sky, and an electrical storm is advancing on you, talk has a tendency to turn to lightning.

I wish I could find the sailing textbook -- maybe it's on the boat -- that describes this sort of natural cone of protection that hovers over a sailboat in the event of a storm and repels lightening. I know it sounds ridiculous and somewhat Get Smart-y, but I know I'm not hallucinating, Dave remembers it, too. In my mind, I can see the illustration of the concept, I just can't recall the physics of it enough to offer a plausible explanation. But I suppose the empirical evidence is that not many sailboats get struck by lightning. Not in Monroe Harbor, anyway. When you consider how many sailboats float there, and how many storms pass over, and how many lightning strikes they contain, you have to figure the cone of protection is fact, not myth. We rarely hear of a boat taking a hit.

Yeah, I know. Mariah wasn't buying it, either.

But we waited, and we watched. This time I had the presence of mind to grab the Rebel and shoot a few pix. The cloud formations started to get really crazy. Check this out:

Neat, huh?

So then the talk turned to tornados, because of the rather distinct circularity of this cloud. By last Sunday I had done my waterspout research, though I was disappointed in what I found online. Just some language like, "waterspouts occur primarily in the coastal regions of the southeastern United States and the Caribbean, and if you see one you should move out of its way." Duh, right?

But I didn't think this was really a vortex forming, just a remarkable cloud:

Have you ever seen anything like that?

Note the rain is going hell-for-leather to the north, but after all this show, where we were, nothing. Spat on us a bit. No significant lightning, no notable wind. Kind of anti-climatic. It's like, we went to all this trouble to batten down the hatches, Mama Nature, the least you could do is make it worth our while. No doubt I'll regret those words ...

Later that day we were visiting our harbor neighbors Deb and Steve aboard MV Bella (I'll introduce them soon), when another little squall moved through. As an au revoir, when it was finished with us, it tossed us a double rainbow coda. Nice. One thing's for sure, if you want to get in touch with meteorological forces of nature, sailing is the way to do it.

1 comment:

Merlin's Mom said...

Doesn't anyone ever talk to you? VERY COOL pix. I think you should send in one of those cloud pictures to the weather guys at one of those TV stations Dave works for. At the very least, it would be a sgreat picture for your wall!

Have a great day!