An Eventful Squall

It seems as if we are constantly contending with wind and weather fronts. The most recent predicted winds to shift from southeast to north, with a chance of squalls (thunderstorms, why does everything nautical have to have it’s own language?), and blow at in the low 30 knot range for a day or so. This was far from the worst we’ve seen, but it definitely proved to be dramatic.

We saw the skies change, felt the winds picks up, and prepared for the squall that was most likely coming our way. It didn’t take long for the thunder and lightening to kick in, and then the winds hit with a bang. An abrupt, 180 degree shift sent 40 knot winds whipping through the anchorage.

There have been several new arrivals here over the last week, as people start to make their way toward various spring and summer destinations. Some are waiting for weather to head for Cuba and Florida. Others, like us, plan to make their way south, toward Honduras, Guatemala and Panama. These boats haven’t been through a big blow here, and are unaware that the bottom here in on the softer side. Strong, sudden shifts in the wind can jar an anchor loose without warning.

So back to the squall. As soon as the winds shifted, some of our new neighbors started to drag anchor. Unfortunately, one of them headed right for our bow. Scott immediately turned our motor on and put us in reverse, moving back as far as he could without having to re-anchor. The boat continued to come at us. It had no name on the transom, so we were unable to hail them on the vhf. This is a huge pet peeve for Scott, as it makes situations like this more difficult and dangerous. He went out on the bow and shouted at them to start their motor, and avoid a collision. The couple on board just stared at him blankly. Scott’s reaction…@!#%!!

The squall passed, and the boat finally started their motor, but only to stop just ahead of us. Their anchor wasn’t set, and they drifted back toward us again, again just missing our bow. Scott assumed they may have been thinking the squall was all that was expected, and that things would settle. He went back out onto the bow, and shouted to them that the front was still coming, and that strong winds would blow for another 24-30 hours. The man looked at Scott and said, “Well that ain’t good!”

After almost drifting into us again, and with some “persuasion” by Scott, they finally started to raise anchor, still drifting just off of our bow. After what seemed like hours, they slowly started to moved away, but veered in the direction of where our chain laid below. The boat’s anchor was still down in the water as they moved along. Scott was terrified that it would snag our chain as they passed over it, drag it with them and dislodge the Hulk. Thankfully, they missed our chain, and moved off toward the other side of the anchorage. Crisis averted.

In the meantime, our friends on Skylark dealt with their dragging anchor immediately, starting the motor and keeping the boat into the wind as they found better holding. Ed then put a second anchor out for additional strength. It’s a shame that the boat we dealt with wasn’t as quick to act.

Here’s a video of our encounter with them. We cut the 20 minute footage down to about three, so you can get the idea. You can see them come toward us, by the grace of God pass of of our bow, completely turn around and come back at us before finally moving away.


Once again, I’m singing praises for the Hulk! It held fast through the squall without a blip. This is getting to be old hat for the beast!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

2 thoughts on “An Eventful Squall

  1. Wow. Even scarier on the video. It’s hard to believe cruisers can be so oblivious.

    I’m not sure what I’d do. I don’t have much experience anchoring with other boats nearby.

    That’ll change in 2 years I suppose.

  2. Wow — that is a fantastic (and terrifying) video. With your description, I sadly felt that I was right there. 🙂

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