The Lunacy Report

STORM PORN: Casco Bay Thunder Squall

Thunder squall

CLARE AND I FINISHED BRINGING LUNACY back to Portland this weekend and spent the last night of our mini-cruise on a mooring at Cliff Island in Casco Bay on Friday night. Soon after we settled in a massive thunderstorm started zooming in from the southwest. The photo up top depicts its initial approach.

There was also quite a bit of lightning in the distance, but I was never lucky enough to catch a bolt of it with my camera lens. Here you see the line of wind as it approached us:

Thunder squall

At first the wind was moderate, about 15 knots, and from the west, and we had very little rain as the heart of the first wave of the squall passed just north of us. Here you see a little Hunter (on the right) scuttling into the anchorage just as things started looking truly bleak:

Thunder squall

In the end all went black and things got quiet for a bit. Then came the second wave of the squall, which passed right over us, bringing torrential rain and massive gusts of southwest wind that spiked (according to Lunacy's masthead wind sensor) as high as 68 knots.

Thunder squall

And I guess the reason I'm sharing this is because I've never seen numbers that high (!!!) on a windspeed display. Too bad I didn't think to snap a pic. I heard later from my mate, Phil Cavanaugh, who wasn't that far away on his boat at Falmouth Foreside when the squall came through, that he saw many lightning bolts hitting the water all around him.

You may have heard about a 9-year-old boy in Minnesota who was actually killed in a thunderstorm over the weekend while sailing with his family on a lake. He was one of eight aboard a 26-foot centerboard boat. As the storm approached the crew drove the boat on to a beach and started wading ashore. The boy was killed and others were injured when lightning hit the water right near the boat.

Moral of the story: Stay in the fricking boat!

MORE SELF-STEERING DEVELOPMENTS: Having bragged recently about Lunacy's three-tiered autopilot/self-steering system(s), I should note we had yet another failure while we were out cruising last week.

Steering vane rod (broken)

One end of the connecting rod between the vane bracket and the main servo gear on the Aries windvane broke apart, which left us with just one self-steering system, our big electronic tiller-pilot. This is only useful when motoring or when sailing in light to very moderate wind, and as a result we had our hands full sailing across Muscongus Bay on Thursday in 20-plus knots of wind.

Steering vane rod (jury-rigged)

For a quick fix I patched the end of the rod together again in true bubble-gum-and-rubber-band fashion. First I lashed it up with stainless steel rigging wire, then applied multiple wraps of silicone sealing tape. I don't expect this will hold very long, so this week I'll be searching for a replacement part.

Aries windvane parts

I need Part No. 295. Theoretically, they are still available via Helen Franklin in the UK.

Meanwhile, I've been working on repairing the pin end of the little tillor-pilot we normally use in conjunction with the windvane. After literally days of drilling and many broken and worn-out 5/64" cobalt drill bits, I finally succeeded on Sunday in clearing out the little hole in the end of the stainless steel mounting pin.

Tillerpilot repair

Next I need to find a very skinny stainless-steel bolt or machine screw to reunite the pin with the tiller ram.

Tillerpilot repair

So far the only thing I've found that fits is a paper clip, which I fear will be much too light for offshore work.

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