We had just settled in to watch an episode of The Voice on the iPad because we had an unusually good wifi signal when we noticed a lot of heat lightning all around us in the hills. There was no thunder so we just took note and went back to the show. Suddenly I felt drops on my arm and we both jumped up and performed our well-rehearsed ballet of hatch and porthole closing and clearing the cockpit of anything that shouldn’t get wet. Suddenly strong wind blew into the anchorage from the west, an unfamiliar direction, and swung us completely around. Jack went to the helm and checked his bearings to be sure we didn’t drag while I switched on the instruments and VHF radio. I also set a track on the iPad to keep account of our position.
The heavens opened up and dumped an enormous amount of rain. The sky was strobing with lightning. Jack monitored our position and our relationship to the boats around us while I checked that we were buttoned up and not leaking anywhere. It’s funny how your whole evening changes when a storm blows through.
The VHF weather said we were in for a lot of rain but never mentioned the wind. It blew 20-25 with 35 kt gusts for about an hour, shifting first to the north, and finally settling back to the usual east again.
At the height of the storm we heard someone hail the Coast Guard to report a large catamaran “drifting through the anchorage endangering other boats.” We recognized the name of the vessel; they had just arrived this afternoon and disappeared into the crush of other boats close to the marina just east of us. A few minutes after the call we saw a ketch come flying out of the inner anchorage, round up and drop anchor almost at the harbor entrance. We figured it was the boat that made the call, getting away from the drifting catamaran, which we couldn’t see from our vantage point.
Meanwhile we heard the Coast Guard respond to another distress call, a sailboat on the rocks at the Baths in Virgin Gorda. We winced to hear that, because our friend Alan lost his boat on the rocks in Puerto Rico not long ago.
Band after band of rain and wind came through. Just when we thought it was moving off another band would hit. The rain finally abated but the wind didn’t. We swung this way and that and we both kept checking the positions of the three boats closest to us.
Three times a tender zoomed across the anchorage at high speed and disappeared behind the boats in front of the marina. We guessed it was the Coasties checking on the drifter, and we heard them hail the boat but didn’t hear a response. Everyone else seems to have held firm.
Eventually the wind disappeared and strangely the rolling and pitching we’ve experienced all day is gone and EV is sitting quietly under a gentle rain. The clock just struck eleven. The Voice can wait for another day.