Wed 16 May 2018 19:10
The Squals are thick and fast. First you see them scroll in on the radar 4 miles to windward. The radar flecks start small and random, building into a giant swathe of thick color that can cover half the display. At about two miles out you see the rain - at one mile you batten down the hatches. By then the wind has stepped from 15-30 knots, the windward horizon closed to a solid thick rain wall, and rain mist comes at you quickly. When the rain arrives, it's heavy. The sea remains jagged and boisterous, but has a totally flat sheen, ironed by the downward torrent. The color changes from dark gray to light gray. Then like a train that slowed but didn't stop at the station, it lingers momentarily, then accelerates away. Total time - 10-15 minutes. From being in the thickest of the rain, to blue skies - 3 minutes. Gone - until next time.
If you have the full mainsail up, you need to be on the ball, ready to get soaked, swinging to the wind, and drop the mainsail if necessary. If you only have the gib up, they are rather fun. There are no time patterns, other than that they can come in groups - at any time of the day or night.
This morning at 06:00 I could see one of the Tuamotu reef islands. Just palm trees above sea level, about 5 miles off in the gray distance. To enter via its one of two reef breaks, you need clear skies and sun above or behind, and be in the very tight time windows for the inbound and outbound floods - caused by tide and wind. The tide floods are reasonably predictable, but if the wind has been pushing waves over the reef to windward for days (filling the lagoon), perceived knowledge deceives. The 'passes' are therefore dangerous, with fast currents and standing waves in all but the slack of tide, and even then, these puny boat engines will not save the headstrong fool. As I am with cloudy days, no crew, the wind has been blowing steadily for weeks, and I have no clue of the state of tide - so I continue onward, keeping the 'dangerous archipelago' at binocular length.
All's well on x86, with nice washed solar panels.
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