Avalon Harbormasters were sending boats home yesterday, as they expected Armageddon! They've been there, done that. If that's the case,then I would guess that the outside waters are even more dangerous! Good weekend to put up X-mas lights, or stay close to the barn!!
Mike, you're pretty good at weather reading, maybe you could conduct a discussion this winter to help some of the rest of us learn what to make of some of the data available online. There's a lot of info out there, but I am not sure that I am good at using some of the wind analysis models. We all know picking weather windows is key for the longer runs, but I sure wish I was better at doing it.
Roger, I'll be more specific, they were strongly reccomending that people either head back before the weather picks up, or go around to Cat Harbor. They would assign a mooring if that boat insisted, however, they were in the defensive mode, and rightly so. Too many boats have been smashed, sunk, ect because of Santa Ana's. You have to understand, that when a SA rolls in.....it rolls directly into Avalon Harbor, and the waves roll back and double up after they hit the breakwall. Ever been to the Casino Dock Cafe? Notice how high that dock/porch is? About 7 years ago, a storm ripped it apart! For some reason those winds also kick up at 2-3 in the morning when everybody is asleep, and the staff's are low. Never fails!
No joke, Avalon harbor is exposed and dangerous in these winds, definitely not a refuge. Weather reports were describing high winds making Avalon 'Hazardous', and as Bill pointed out, the nature of the harbor is the wind funnels these waves into the harbor and the waves bounce around instead of being absorbed until it's like a Caldron.
Waking up to 5' sets at 2am in the morning while tied fore and aft is no laughing matter.
On a side note, here's a useful link in interpreting the NOAA weather reports.
Actually, it's drag moorings around, collide into nieghboring boats, break loose from one end or both and the favorite... find 4-6 foot swells crashing over a bow that isn't completely free to move and reflected waves from shore coming over the stern.
Sunk and broken boats in Avalon during these winds is a reality, which is why the NOAA forecasts will specifically list Avalon harbor conditions as 'Hazardous' in conditions like this.
Here's a good Avalon washing machine pic...
And a pic of whats left from a 48' dive boat that was lost a week later in the Dec 9th, 2004 storm.
For reference, here's an article from the log regarding the winds two years ago.
Avalon Harbor Sustains Damage During Storm
Monday, November 29, 2004
By Sherri Walker
SAFE AND SECURED - Avalon Harbor Patrol officers secure the commercial vessel Shamrock II after it sustained a crack in its bow during the Nov. 21 surprise wind storm.
Photo by: Sherri
DAMAGED DINGHIES - City of Avalon Public Works crews used heavy equipment to remove dinghies damaged in the dramatic and brutal Nov. 21 wind storm.
Photo by: Sherri Walker
Avalon Harbor took a direct hit from a brutal wind storm Nov. 21 as sustained winds of 30 knots and swells of more than 6 feet caused damage to boats, floats, and the Avalon Pleasure Pier.
Although the harbor was not full, it was at about 70 percent capacity, according to Harbormaster Brian Bray.
Those boaters were attracted by what had been mild weather and reassuring forecasts from the National Weather Service.
At 9 p.m. the night before the storm, NWS forecasts were calling for variable winds of 10 knots.
By 3 a.m., just about half an hour before the storm hit, the forecast called for 10 to 20 knot winds out of the northeast.
The reality was much grimmer. By 3:50 a.m., cold northeast winds were screaming into the harbor at 30 knots, driving 2- to 5-foot swells across a high tide.
Additional patrol officers were immediately called from home to assist the two officers that work the graveyard shift.
Before dawn, 13 more officers were on duty, and the Avalon Harbor Patrol was working side by side with Baywatch Avalon and their rescue vessel.
The immediate priority for both the Harbor Patrol and Baywatch was the boaters who were trapped on their vessels.
Dozens of boats broke free of their moorings and had to be towed to safer locations. Shortly after, patrol officers were able to remove the floats from the pier and secure them to moorings, but four of the five pier floats sustained significant damage.
â??The floats were left in at the pier because the Harbor Patrol was tending to vessels that had broken free with people on board,â?? Bray said. â??Life always comes before property.â??
Although there were no significant injuries, two patrol officers received minor injuries while removing Float C, and two others were hurt when their tow line snapped. Another patrol officer was tossed into the water while securing a vessel.
The harbormaster said he was very impressed with the response and professionalism of both the Harbor Patrol and Baywatch Avalon. â??Our crew went above and beyond the call of duty,â?? Bray said. â??They did a fantastic job.â??
In addition to damage to the floats, the 6-foot swells breaking over the pier broke both fresh- and salt-water lines, damaged ramps, and dislodged a pier piling.
A variety of boats was damaged, including the Shamrock II, which split its bow, and a sailboat that snapped its anchor line in Pebbly Beach and went on the rocks.
Most of the damage to vessels was restricted to dinghies, with about a dozen small boats going aground, including a new 14-foot Nautica that was valued at between $20,000 to $25,000.
Most of the damaged dinghies ended up under the pier, where some of them were removed using heavy equipment operated by the City of Avalon Public Works Department.
The after-storm cleanup continued for days, with two floats sent to the mainland for repairs. Connolly Pacific was checking seaside businesses for structural damage.
â??If your not part of the solution... you're part of the problem"
Ok, this is purely hypothetical for my learning purposes since I'm not planning a trip like this but what would you guys think of a late fall Cortez or Tanner run in the next day or two?
With this wind so to me it seemed like a suicide mission at first glance. Then I checked the buoys and it looks decent out at the Tanner
and Pt Conception is even off of it's normal 10-20kt North Westerly pattern which from what I understand is critical.
Looks like there have been some instances over the past day where the wind extended way off shore but even then it looks decent the further south you get.
If NOAA's right (yeah I know ) the Santa Anas are even expected to lessen over the next two days returning to more normal weather on Tues.
So I'm thinking the upside is 5-8knts on the Cortez and big late fall YT, while the downside would be the possibility of those Santa Ana's kicking up and having 25-30 knts or worse out in no-man's-land.
I would have definitely considered this past weekend a weather window for the Cortez.
I am not just saying that, I was looking at the forecasts Thursday night and almost did an unplanned trip to Miguel just to capitalize on the weather window. Santa anas are not a big offshore threat when they are not predicted to last more than a day which was the case this past weekend. I like it when the forecast shows soft changes in wind direction from NW to N to NE to SW etc. That usually produces a light wind situation. I also watch for any unusual large swell which could mess your trip if wind prediction is miscalculated but then again this past weekend no such large swell existed or predicted.
Also remember that running to that Cortez from long beach you have both sides of Catalina and SC islands to hide should the weather not cooperate.
BTW I was also looking at the weather for a Guadalupe window and this also qualified for that
Ditto Ofers observation. Much flow from the north or northwest (even northeast) and the banks are no place to be. That said some of the best conditions for the run to Cortez happen during the second or third day of a good eastery flow. It knocks down the prevailing north chop. Usually earlier in the fall is better. This time of year too many lows are moving in from the Gulf of Alaska and the highs that follow bring the outside up big.
I haven't looked at the weather the last couple of days but I did spend most of the last 2 weeks looking at central coast conditions worse than the forecast. Conception was about 5 kts higher than the forecasted 15-20 and even south of the channel islands was up pretty good. We took a beating from orange county to Santa Barbara early last week and this is in a good size vessel.
One of the best ways to learn about what the weather may do is by looking at the whole west coast daily watching at the movement of high and low pressure systems (and their strength) and look at all the California bouys and see the effects. The NOAA site has most of the data and links needed to do that. By doing it on an ongoing basis you start to get a feel for the cause and effect for the conditions we see in SoCal and it helps you make those go/no go decisions. Just my $.02
BTW the weather service has really stepped up the warnings for Avalon when the SA winds are coming likely due to what has happened there the last few years. Saw and heard ALOT of warnings last week. They were very hard to miss unless you paid NO attention to the weather at all and nobody is that silly right?
Great response Kerry, When those prevailing NW winds start turning 180 degrees in a matter of hours, you know trouble is brewing, NOAA forecast or not! Find cover, cause it's coming!! Avalon is no place to be if SA's are predicted, that's a fact. Yes, there are people that have been there that have said it's better than summer, and flat calm. However, too many times, it turns on you, and it's always at 2-3am! Case in point, a mooring owner friend of mine, told me the story of last year, when this very situation arose, and as Bill indicated, 5-6' confused swells in the harbor, they went to get off the mooring. Imagine, doing this with zero visability, a storm, coordinating the drop of the mooring lines at precisely the same moment, so there is no sideswipe. Well they wrapped the stern line, and he had a decision to make, hit the $800K boat next to him, or push the throttle to the pins and cut the line....that's what he did, and it worked, they did have a few bangs and scratches, but overall, it worked out, and they chugged up to Cat harbor, arriving at 7am. Be careful and watch the weather!
>> One of the best ways to learn about what the weather may do
>is by looking at the whole west coast daily watching at the
>movement of high and low pressure systems (and their strength)
>and look at all the California bouys and see the effects. The
>NOAA site has most of the data and links needed to do that. By
>doing it on an ongoing basis you start to get a feel for the
>cause and effect for the conditions we see in SoCal and it
>helps you make those go/no go decisions. Just my $.02
I also make it a point to check all buoys in the area I boated after returning from a trip this way I can better understand predictions, buoy readings vs reality.
Very good advice Reddog. The waning days of a significant Santa Ana event are generally the best shot at calm seas. This time of year, the 'clearing wind' is the other significant event that will catch boaters offguard. After the passing of a minor low pressure front, the winds behind it can be very dangerous. And for some reason our marine forcast has a tendency to fail to accurately predict a clearing wind. Be careful of low presure events this time of year.
I'm always looking for the right window to take the good skiff back out to the bank. I miss a few perfect windows each year due to work, but i have managed to get out there 31 times and have spent 29 nights anchored on that incredible bank since '93. I've been out there when the seas built to 20+kts overnight and it was like picking cotton with my teeth all the way back. i have spent other nights out there when there was a full moon and the water was so flat, the boat never even rocked for two nights and days in a row... All you could hear all night long was the was the hissing as the gentle swell rolled over the wreck sending churning water up to the surface.
On one pitch black night i will never forget, i heard a huge breath in the distance so i shined my light in that direction... for the next five minutes, heard the huge breath getting closer and closer until it was breathing right next to the skiff! I turned on my flood light and with one huge splash/bump it was gone! Never did see it. I assume it was an Elephant Seal...?
Another time i was freediving with my camera at sun up on a beautiful clear morning and when i came up for a breath, there was a Navy Hilo hovering overhead with a guy standing in the door motioning for me to leave--HUGE BUMMER!
One more thing to be aware of are rogue swells. There are no islands to attenuate the open ocean swells out there so they do roll through once in a while. They are particularily dangerous when you are on the 40ft plane. Years ago i was anchored in 70ft and a big set came through. It was about 10PM and i had two bare feet over the side when a big swell pegged my anchor and sheered some green water off both sided of the good skiff...
This Monday or Tuesday would have been the day to go, the last 3 nights would have been perfect, i'm darn sorry i missed this one~