S/V INTREPID II - Cape Dory Intrepid 40

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Intrepid II is a Cape Dory Intrepid 40 sailboat, hull #2, designed by Chuck Paine and discovered by the Captain in Blue Hill Maine in 2006. The crew are Kelly (Captain) and Carol (Admiral and Blogger). In 2009 INTREPID II embarked on her West Coast journey from Victoria to San Francisco, the Baja Sur Peninsula and into the Sea of Cortez. In 2010/2011, we sailed ifrom Guaymas, south to Bahia Banderas and back. In 2011/2012 she left Guaymas, headed south to La Paz, spent three weeks at anchor on our northward journey and rested on the hard in San Carlos. Her 4th, 5th and 6th seasons were Boat Projects related. Optimistic that there will be more cruising on the horizon!

April 9, 2011

Weather - all is not calm

Calm seas, light winds....for now
Often it is difficult to get good radio reception at a dock, due to masts and building interference with signals.  This morning we managed to catch the end of Geary's WX on the Sonrisa ham net (3968.0 lsb) and Don Anderson's WX on the Amigo ssb net (8122.0 usb).

Due to all the usual coming together of high pressure and low pressure systems north of us, there will be strong pressure gradients and therefore very strong winds once again by dawn Sunday, tomorrow, less than 24 hours away.  On the outside (west) of the Baja California peninsula, where many boats are doing the 'Baja Bash' northward, they will experience NW winds of 25 - 30 knots (46 - 5 kms).  Inside the Sea, from San Felipe south, almost 'all at once', there will likely be NNW winds in the same range.  Another 'big blow'.

We are keeping our fingers crossed for all our cruising friends who are making their way 'home'. Some have still to cross from the mainland to the Baja peninsula side, others are moving northward on the peninsula as we did, looking for safe, secure north wind protected anchorages.  Our original timeline for crossing and arriving here in Guaymas was to be leaving today and arriving Sunday.  We are thankful we moved up our crossing journey.  It is still feasible for boats to cross if they are in the Santa Rosalia area.  That trip takes about 12 - 14 hours of crossing time. Most folks will have to hunker down and wait until the wind and the seas ease up.

These are 'typical' April weather patterns, according to Don Anderson. We did experience similar conditions last year, which is why we took advantage of the infrequent south, south east winds last weekend to 'go for it' from San Juanico.  We have found that these northers are still as frequent, as strong and as long-lasting (3 - 5 days usually) as last season and knew there was a strong chance we'd have to consider crossing in adverse conditions if we delayed.

Another point of interest: when INTREPID II was crossing from Mazatlan towards Isla San Francisco, (north east of La Paz) we were hit with very strong WNW winds in the 20 knot plus range and the seas built quickly as a result.  That caused us to assess the situation, turn south for a run down to Los Muertos, some 30 nm away in order to put the seas on our beam and starboard quarter and have a broad reach as we headed south.

This morning two boats came on the net reporting they had been hit with very similar situations; strong winds gusting up to 30 knots, steep, choppy seas in the La Paz area. What was our weather guru's forecast saying about these conditions?  Don Anderson came back to advise that he could offer no such forecast as these were very localized conditions.  These incidents were "katabatic" winds caused by thermal gradients.  In other words 'land and sea breezes' caused by the cooling and heating of land masses in relation to sea temperatures.

In fact, we all likely experienced extremely strong Corumuel winds which extended much further eastward into the Sea than most cruisers might expect.  These winds are unique to an area around La Paz and tend to start up rapidly in the late evening and blow all through the night.  Various references indicate that these winds arise when cool marine air on the Pacific side of the Baja California peninsula is drawn to the warmer Sea of Cortez waters over the desert valley leading to La Paz, a region which has no mountains to block the flow.

Having names for these conditions isn't too comforting when you are in the midst of them, but Don's information confirms that it is difficult to anticipate weather down to the last detail.  Both these boats have made the same decision as we did, to run down towards Los Muertos, then wait for a window to once again make their respective passages northward. Fair winds to you!

Here are a few links to definitions of the various winds cruisers can encounter:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katabatic_wind

http://www.weather.solmatesantiago.com/weathernotes.html

http://www.solent-graphics.co.uk/wind.html

Guaymas is forecast to receive over 20 knots of wind (37 kms).  Here in the marina/anchorage we will get a funnel effect and feel stronger gusts.  We will focus on projects inside the boat as we continue to clean, sort, organize and wonder what to do with all our 'stuff'.

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