Friday, February 8, 2019

Feather Canyons Everywhere: A Menace to Mariners

Bows and flows of angel hair. Ice cream castles in the air. Yes, clouds can be beautiful. Dreamy. Such as this hint of whimsy over Stocking Island, on a January day in the Bahamas, and a slightly more serious gathering as we sailed onward.
Farther north, a feathery whiff of white accompanied my stroll along the beach at Staniel Cay.
Of course, clouds can double, or triple, the pleasure of sunsets over the water. We saw plenty of those in the Exuma islands.
When clouds begin to gather, and multiply, we naturally take notice. It's a biological instinct, I guess. We squint at the sky, judging their thickness, wondering if we should have brought an umbrella.

By the time they fill the sky, we begin wishing for a raincoat. They might look like a convention of woolly sheep to the uninitiated. To a boater, however, a sky full of clouds can be a warning. When those clouds darken, it's time to batten down the hatches, secure items on deck, and consider furling sails or even heading for an anchorage.
A front is the most menacing of all: in this case, a solid bank of advancing dark clouds over Staniel Cay, accompanied by sustained strong winds.

Fortunately, we had heard the weather report earlier in the day on our VHF radio. Our sailing vessel, Sea Horse, was already tucked into a protected cove between Thunderball Grotto and Big Majors Island. We returned from a shore excursion via dinghy and had just boarded the mother ship when the clouds let loose with a torrent of rain.

That whole night, we tossed and rolled in our bunks. Not for the faint of stomach!

The next morning dawned bright and blue. But not cloudless. We stayed put in our safe haven, because the morning wind blew cold. And we knew the night's weather was only a preview--a mini-squall preceding the real deal, a serious blow expected the following day.

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