Unusual marine hazards
South Pacific Familyadventure 2008
Mon 14 Nov 2022 06:05
On their securitè messages there were repeatedly warnings of severe thunderstorms and soon enough we approached a dark wall of clouds with lightning.
Switching on the radar it was still difficult to estimate the movement of the thunderstorm and ahead of us we saw a phenomenon none of us ever saw before.
Allthough rare it was obvious that what we saw was sea tornadoes (or waterspouts). Not knowing what impact these could have on Dora Mac and it`s crew we prepaired for heavy winds as well as lightning and allthough difficult to predict the paths of the tornadoes we did our best to avoid them. After hours trying to avoid impact we were still in the center of the thunderstorm and then decided to "take the bull by it`s horns" and go right thru.
To cross the whole system took a couple of hours and except for lightning we never came real close to any tornado. Later we learned that these waterspouts (connected with thunderstorms) normally don`t have winds exceeding 60kts and that reports of serious accidents at sea are reasonably rare. Still warnings are allways issued when they occur and the advise is to do anything possible to stay away from impact.
Sea tornadoes are most common in tropical waters but from history in the Mediterranean the first waterspout known is the Maltatornado occuring 1555. It went riot in Grand Harbour of Valetta causing hundreds of casualties and many sunken gallies.
Another ravaged the south coast of Sicily in the mid 19th century.
Slightly before midnight we passed through the narrow Fornelli passage and the thunderstorm finally disappeared south. Early morning still in darkness we made landfall in La Maddalena doing a Mediterranean mooring in Cala Cavetta jumping to bed drop dead tired but happy.