Waiting Out The Storm

As I write this, it is our third night at the dock in Comox. Tomorrow we’ll be on our way, and it’s been a fun visit. We managed to connect with a couple of friends from Vancouver – one who had moved here recently, and another who (by chance) was passing through. The reason we showed up on Saturday and knew we were going to spend three nights was the weather, and it’s not the first time in the last month or two that we’ve chosen to seek a safe harbour to wait out a storm.

This time of year in BC sees the transition from the sunny, dry(er) summer to the winter weather the “wet” coast is known for, and we’ve seen a few strong storms roll through. Heading to Comox, the forecast predicted 30+ knot SE winds for a couple of days. 20 knots is an awesome sail, 30 knots is pretty uncomfortable and slow going if we were to try and fight our way into the wind. At 40 knots (75 km/h) we get into risky sailing (risk of breaking things especially). It’s important to remember that the force on of the wind is proportional to the wind velocity squared… 40 knots is 4X the force on the sails and rigging that you have at 20 knots. Topping it all off was the 5-7 cm of rain on tap. Better to find a sheltered port and hunker down, waiting for the next weather window.

It’s not the first time we’ve had to do this recently. Just a couple of weeks ago we spent two nights in Lagoon Cove to wait out another 30 knot windstorm and a downpour that didn’t let up for 24 hours. It’s a reality of sailing life and a bit of a lesson in patience. When you’re cruising, bad things happen when you force the weather to meet your own schedule. And even if you think you need to be somewhere, as one of the locals who had spent his life on boats said to us in Alert Bay… “Always remember: YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO.” Wise words.

Sunday here in Comox the wind was up steadily over 35 knots, with the boat straining to pull free of its dock lines and heeling up to 5 degrees from the wind against the mast and cockpit enclosure. It was a bit anxiety-inducing with the howling sounds, and I satisfied my nerves by adding an extra bow line, and then another one, and doubling up the other dock lines. Overkill, I’m sure, but I slept well.

As I look at the forecast… 35 knots again on Wednesday, so we’ll make sure we find ourselves tucked away safely at the end of tomorrow so we can ride the storm on Wednesday.