Sunday weather fun (island report)

West Coast represent! Remember be vague on spots!

Sunday weather fun (island report)

Postby SBH2Oman » September 5th, 2017, 8:28 am

I just posted this to the SB Freediver's Facebook group so apologies to those of you that already saw it there...

My brother came down from San Francisco for the weekend and we went to the islands on Sunday. Weather report was nearly perfect, but with a sudden shift after midnight Sunday night, which piqued my attention but didn't worry me. We left SB Harbor at 5 am and arrived at the back side of ***capa as the sun was rising into a crimson pool of light - gorgeous. The crossing was as good as I've ever seen - absolutely glassy and calm. But... we found that the slight south swell had been enough to muck things up and there was a persistent surge everywhere we tried with poor viz. With all the GWS sightings lately, there was no way I was going to hang out in 70' of green water with 6' of viz off Cat Rock looking for yellowtail... :eek: Water temps were very warm - 68º or 69º in every spot we tried along the back side. The surge and viz got worse the further East we went.

After an hour or two we headed to yellow banks/pink ribbon (68º and maybe 8=10' of viz) didn't see anything, so we punted and swung around the front side to look for viz and maybe shoot calicos. We worked our way West from Chinese to Hazards (viz varied from 15 to a hazy ~20'. Temps varied from 63º to 67º). As our last stop we decided to snug into a cozy little cove (Grotto) with two other sailboats and drop the stern anchor, settling in for what we thought would be a relaxing couple of hours of just enjoying cold beer and the sandwiches we'd brought - maybe have a nap and then head home during sunset.

We were just getting ready to do a quick dive (my brother was already in the water) when the VHF radios started blowing up with weather alerts one after another. The first few didn't worry me (Small craft advisory after midnight, then one about flash flooding in Ojai). Then another one came in that really caught my attention:

"ATTENTION ALL MARINERS - THIS IS AN URGENT MARINE ADVISORY FOR ALL BOATERS IN THE EAST SANTA BARBARA CHANNEL BETWEEN POINT CONCEPTION AND ***CAPA ISLAND..." (oops, thats us...). Major storm cell coming from the north headed straight for the island from Goleta Point with 35 to 45 knot winds, thunder, lightning and hail. Water spouts expected. "ALL MARINERS ARE URGED TO FIND SAFE HARBOR" etc. Not what you want to hear after a long relaxing day of diving... Definitely needed to get out of the tiny cove where we were 40' away from a sheer rock wall on one side and a 65' sail boat on the other...

As we were pulling anchor and I was urgently texting my wife for a weather radar report (thank god AT&T has 1 bar of service on the front side!) the radio blew up again: another cell moving in from the East and making its way toward us.

Then I got this image on my phone:

Image

<gulp>

Knowing we couldn't stay in this cove and thinking that the big cell heading towards us might track more to the southwest, we hauled ass East to Prisoners. The problem was the dramatic change in the weather that was due to hit later that night appeared to be happening early - and it was scheduled to worsen through Wednesday or Thursday...,

We debated whether or not to hunker down at there and just "see what happens" (we had two beers and half a sandwich left...). I figured that in the worst case, the boat capsizes or blows ashore and we're in 20' of water with an easy swim to a sandy shore with a Ranger Station on the hill. But then I got a text from my wife saying that the radar showed the big cell changing track and moving westward instead of south. At that we decided to high-tail it home at WOT and hope to beat the cell moving in from the East. On the way over the radio kept blowing up with multiple weather alerts and events; in the middle of all the bad news there was one piece of good news - the BIG cell was indeed moving towards Pt. Conception (Alert to all mariners between Pt. Conception and Pt. Arguello). Whew. But we could see the darkening sky to the East bearing down on us as we made a bee-line at 0º compass heading. I'd never wished for a "Florida go-fast boat" with twin 300s until that moment...

It is amazing how suddenly lonely, small, and insignificant you feel when you're 20 miles offshore in a 23' foot boat in this situation... I told my brother to go down into the berth and pull out the Mustang suits I have stored down there, just in case. (the first time in 10+ years I've pulled out safety equipment).

About 6 miles out from SB Harbor, we could see a squall just beyond the rigs about 8-10 miles to our east, headed towards us. Looking North toward the harbor we could see scary dark clouds and wondered "WTF is that?". I put on the brakes and slowed down to assess the situation. (luckily) We rolled up to the 1 mile harbor buoy just after the "micro-burst" hit and it was crazy to see (and to experience just the fringe of it). The harbor was a scene of destruction with the water littered with umbrellas, shoes, flip-flops, hats, palm fronds, etc.. As we pulled into the slip, I noticed the water was the color of black coffee and both my slip neighbors' sails were shredded and flapping in the wind (the wind had been so strong it had unfurled the sails).

https://youtu.be/OObdnYqSFh0

This car was parked about 3 spots away from my truck

Image

Oh, and no, we didn't get any fish - I think we brought too much ice with us... The water was the flattest I've ever seen on the crossing but it was one of the most stressful rides home I've ever had...
------------------------------
Brent Christensen

Image
User avatar
SBH2Oman
spearo
 
Posts: 433
Joined: July 2013
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Re: Sunday weather fun (island report)

Postby Bill McIntyre » September 5th, 2017, 8:43 am

Damn, that's a hairy story Brent. Glad you made it OK.
email me at wsbhtr@cox.net
User avatar
Bill McIntyre
billie mac
 
Posts: 3359
Joined: July 2013
Location: San Clemente, CA

Re: Sunday weather fun (island report)

Postby SBH2Oman » September 5th, 2017, 1:20 pm

Bill McIntyre wrote:Damn, that's a hairy story Brent. Glad you made it OK.


One of those little reminders from Nature - "Yea, you think you are experienced and know what you're doing... Let me throw you a couple of curve balls just to keep you humble"

I tend to be a bit of a weather geek, and I've come home in some NASTY weather a few times (green waves breaking over the pilot house and filling up the back deck) but I've never been as stressed as Sunday!
------------------------------
Brent Christensen

Image
User avatar
SBH2Oman
spearo
 
Posts: 433
Joined: July 2013
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Re: Sunday weather fun (island report)

Postby Alex Ray » September 5th, 2017, 7:39 pm

Damn. I've made that crossing many a time with more than a few unexpected turns-for-the-worst with weather, but never quite like what you went through. Glad you made it back safely, the channel can sure get burly at the drop of a hat.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
On great days I shoot fish and on good days I spook fish
Alex Ray
prick
 
Posts: 936
Joined: July 2013
Location: Punta Dana / Crusty Mesa

Re: Sunday weather fun (island report)

Postby Bill Norton » September 6th, 2017, 9:16 am

Thrilling story! nice summer day then all hell breaks loose. Wow!
User avatar
Bill Norton
spearo
 
Posts: 78
Joined: June 2015

Re: Sunday weather fun (island report)

Postby no bananas » September 8th, 2017, 6:34 am

Wow. Thanks for a healthy reminder Brent. We need to be humble out there. Mother nature always wins.
Every breath is a gift
User avatar
no bananas
spearo
 
Posts: 260
Joined: May 2014

Re: Sunday weather fun (island report)

Postby chris oak » September 8th, 2017, 6:38 am

Whoa that's crazy Brent!!! I heard that SB got hit bad but man that's something else, I'm glad you were out of most of it when it hit. I've never been in anything that bad but one time we were mid channel and the weather report was wrong, I was in a 17' whaler and it was blowing probably 15-20 knots with short period wind swell and it was hairy.
User avatar
chris oak
Enforcer
 
Posts: 4504
Joined: June 2013

Re: Sunday weather fun (island report)

Postby Trace » September 8th, 2017, 8:13 am

Scarry Trip!!!!
User avatar
Trace
kook
 
Posts: 501
Joined: July 2013


Return to California & Baja

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot]

  • Supported by