Once again I find myself awaiting the arrival of bad weather, this time it’s tropical storm Octave and Priscilla, both of which are off the Baha peninsula and heading this way. I have taken refuge in Puerto Escondido, a virtually landlocked harbor with mooring buoys and anchorage areas. The first concern is whether Octave will turn into a Hurricane as it looks likely it will hit land close by. Fortunately it stays as a Tropical Storm, only winds up to 55knots, about 70 miles an hour. Unfortunately it’s predicted track is directly at us and this doesn’t change as it gets closer to shore. I have 175 feet of chain out and am anchored in 25 feet of water on a sandy bottom so I should be OK.
The leading edge arrives around 10.00am and it starts to rain, the winds are in the 10-15 range. Then it rains some more and some more. The skies are completely overcast but there is no fetch. The water remains calm. As the day progresses the rain increases and the winds built, by lunchtime its blowing 15-18 and the rain is coming down in buckets. Everything appears to be holding, no one is dragging and people are getting settled in for the duration. Bill and Julie on Voyager are anchored near by and invite me over for a game of Baha rummy as long as I don’t mind getting wet on the trip over. I don my waterproof Musto’s, put my computer in a waterproof bag as I want to copy the remaining series of WEEDS and just as I am about to step into the dingy, the rain fall changes, it is now raining swimming pools. I get completely soaked on the short 250 feet journey.
The card games goes well until around 4.00pm when the wind is now blowing 18-24, it is time to get back to Entre Nous. I ask Bill to keep an eye on me until I get back to my boat as my dingy has a tendency to try and take off in winds around the 20 knot mark. It thinks it’s a sea plane. He says, “no point cuz I ain’t coming out to rescue you in this weather is anything goes wrong”. I don the Musto’s and say goodbye, fire up the outboard and start back. The wind is coming off my forward port quarter so I move to that side of the dingy to keep the edge from lifting, all is going well and I am halfway home and the engine dies. I quickly try and restart to no avail, checking the internal petrol tank I see it is very low on gasoline. I grab the petrol can and fill the tank as quickly as I can no bothered about the petrol spilled during the refilling. I try and start the engine but it becomes apparent no petrol isn’t the only issue. Shit………….OK plan B…………………..make for the Nordhavn to my stern and grab their anchor line, then work back to their stern and secure a line, this will allow me to work on the outboard in the middle of a tropical storm. Great plan and what a great situation to be in. I think see Bill on Voyager in his shorts and tee shirt, jumping in his dingy and racing over to me………..What a hero I toss him a line and he tows me back to Entre Nous, a quick thanks and he’s away, soaking wet. The next morning I tell him, there was nothing wrong with the engine, I faked it to get him wet. His response was, thats OK…….I got back to my boat and my wet teeshirt absolutely did it with Julie, her hero had returned. Funny I always thought wet tee shirts were supposed to be on the woman.
As I was soaking wet I decided to prepare the boat for the worst, tied down sail covers, raised the dingy and pulled the drain plug to stop it filling with rainwater. Previously I had fitted the enclosed cockpit covers but had to attend to some areas which leaked. Dogged down all the hatches, checked the snubber and anchor, checked the depth and the other boats positions. Decided on a route if I dragged anchor and needed to re anchor somewhere else. Checked my ditch bag. By now it is starting to get dark and the rain is getting really heavy, the noise of the wind and rain makes everything sound worse than it was. Gusts are now reaching 25 and the boat is being buffeted around, as is everyone else. I spent the next hour checking the depths on the various swing arcs of the boat and making a note of them. This will help me if I think I am dragging the anchor later. Its now completely black outside, except for the jetty lights and the anchor lights of the nearby boats. Mike from Tortu gives updates on the VHF every few hours. Around 9.00pm I think we are at the peak of the storm, its blowing 22-28, with some people reporting gusts of 32.
Everyone is holding, no one has moved except for a trawler called Odyssey, they dragged much earlier on and re anchored before dark. The latest report suggests the winds may drop back as the storm front passes over us. Not sure when thats going to be but a glimmer of light. I try and watch a film but with every big gust I am up in the cockpit going through the same routine, have I moved, has anyone else moved, have the swing depths changed. Satisfied it is back down below to continue the film. After another few hours, it appears the winds may be abating, slowly but surely they drop, the gusts shatter the illusion things are getting calmer but over the next hour the winds settle in around 20 knots. It’s time to get some sleep. I crash out still in my shorts and tee shirt and awaken the next morning to sunshine and dead flat seas. The storm went over the top of us and was now heading towards the mainland. After coffee and a general tidy I put the boat back into it’s normal set up, boom out to keep shadows off the solar panels, dingy in the water and hatches open.
Despite raising the dingy and pulling the plug I still have to bail out gallons of water. In the 24 hour period we had 7 inches of rain.
Time to find out why the outboard let me down. It still won’t start and something is not right. I check all the normal stuff then decide to drain the carb as it may be flooded. I notice the mixture as it drains out does not spread like petrol should on the water. There appears to be water in it. Obviously some of the torrential downfall has gotten into the tank. I check the filler and find it is cracked around the tank, damn, rainwater would have flooded in. I empty the tank, blow out all the hoses, give everything a spray with engine start, pull the spark plug and give the cylinder a spray. Put it back together as Bill turns up and give the engine a pull………..nothing, try again…….nothing, one more time and I get a splutter, pop and a bang. A bit of choke and she fires up. I reckon the petrol tank half filled with water whilst I was playing cards, no way was it going to restart last night.
This what Escondido looks like on a normal day………………….