Thursday, January 21, 2016

CUBAR 2016 weather again at Los Cabos November 22-25 2015

We traveled from Mag Bay to Los Cabos without incident.  Weather was fair and seas were very comfortable.  The CUBAR fleet was mostly ahead of us but we caught up with several boats in the fleet as we rounded Cabo Falso.   Our timing for this trip was scheduled to be 30 hours and we wanted to pass the southern tip of Baja just at sun up.   Departing at 7 AM we caught the sunrise at Cabo and continued on to Los Cabos arriving at noon.   (30 hours/153 gallons)


Fishing was slow but we did manage to land something for the freezer.

The next destination for the CUBAR fleet was a day trip to Muertos  and then on to La Paz.  Again the weather conspired to make it a difficult.  Hurricane Sandra was headed our way.  Again we were faced with running before a known storm with the fleet or charting our own course.  Without the pressure to remain part of CUBAR we would have departed without question to avoid the hurricane track.  In fact we NEVER planned to be near a hurricane.

Insurance coverage requires us to be well out of the hurricane zones.  Here are some facts about Sandra that help explain how we ended up in her path.

Rarities and Records

  • On Thursday morning, Nov. 26, Sandra became the latest Category 4 hurricane of record in either the eastern Pacific or Atlantic basins.
  • The previous latest Category 4+ tropical cyclone in either the eastern Pacific or Atlantic basins was Hurricane Kenneth on Nov. 22, 2011.
  • Sandra also became the strongest hurricane so late in the season.
  • Only three other eastern Pacific storms have formed later in the calendar than Sandra in records dating to 1949.
  • Hurricane Sandra became the second-latest-forming hurricane on record, behind Hurricane Winnie in 1983.
  • Sandra failed to break the record for latest landfalling Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone on record. According to hurricane specialist Michael Lowry, the latest eastern Pacific landfall on record was (and remains) Tara on Nov. 12, 1961.
  • The previous latest major hurricane in either the central-eastern Pacific or Atlantic was an unnamed storm in 1934 that remained a major hurricane into Nov. 23.
  • Sandra became the 30th Category 3+ tropical cyclone of 2015 in the Northern Hemisphere, far exceeding the previous record of 23 such storms in 1997 and 2004.

Crew meetings with CUBAR leadership failed to reassure us as the potential for Sandra to follow us up the coast was real.  Staying put placed us in the path so we decided to make a run for Puerto Vallarta.  Well south of the projected path and we could dodge north to Mazatlan if Sandra took a sharp turn to the east.    Unfortunately we left the CUBAR fleet and ventured out on our own, again.   Some of the fleet ran direct to LaPaz, some went to Muertos and then LaPaz.  A few boats went to Puerto Vallarta on the same plan as us.   It was a shame to see all problems the CUBAR team leadership suffered due to the weather but it confirms the saying that every cruiser should have mounted in the pilot house-"THE MOST DANGEROUS THING ON BOARD IS A SCHEDULE"

A few of the CUBAR fleet at Los Cabos

 Rare sighting-2 Nordhavn 50's of 3 on the trip.  We saw both boats in the PNW this year.  

48 hours ahead of the Sandra we departed Los Cabos at 4:45PM for a 35 hour crossing to Purerto Vallarta.  Weather was calm, light winds from the NW and long period swells.  Kept thinking "the calm before the storm" but the crossing was uneventful.  We were able to check the progress of the storm using our satellite phone and OCENS weather software.  Neil backed up my weather with his own sources.  Normally would only check the weather once a day but with Sandra in the area we checked every 8 hours of so.   The track moved south but we landed in Puerto Vallarta well in advance of the storm.  Sandra hit Mazatlan as a tropical storm after breaking down in the middle of the Sea of Cortez.   Our decision to head for Puerto Vallarta was a good one.  We would have been fine in Los Cabos as they only had heavy rain and 25-30 kt winds.   Puerto Vallarta had a day of clouds......

The welcoming harbor at Paradise Village Marina

This crossing thing is tough duty

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