Friday, July 02, 2010

It's a twista!

I mean to post about this a while ago, but better late than never!
This was a Wednesday night club trip (read mixed ability) starting at the Sandbar boat launch, at the base of the road causway to South Hero island.

We headed S to Malletts Bay.  At the north end of that bay there's a cliff featuring a peregrine nest, and one of them was flying about.

From Kayak2010

The forecast was for a increasing chance ot T-storms after 8, so some of us thought the group was hanging out a bit too long in Malletts bay. We applied best practice cat herding skills and started back.

Here we see the dark clouds ahead:

It seemed time to step on the gas a bit, and the group made a point of staying fairly close to shore for bail out options.  I mentioned to the 2 guys I was paddling with that this was the motivation for practicing fast and continuous paddling (as opposed to the usual Wednesday 5 minute cycles of paddle and rest)

We started seeing lightning, but don't worry, the strikes are all limited to that area where the cloud dips down in sort of a... uh.. funnel shape.  For our small group, the nearest "land" was a marsh of grass growing up through the water that would prevent us from reaching a solid shore.

Suddenly, literally in about 5 seconds, the wind went from about 5 to 60 or 70 (according to NOAA) with a mix of rain and hail, straight in our faces.  Since there was no solid ground behind, the path was ahead!   We were making progress, and I remember thinking that if it wasn't for the lightning (never very close) and worrying about the others behind, this would be "as good as it gets."

A guy who arrived after we left had just taken a short paddle and had his truck headlights shining to guide us back.
After the storm eased, we could see some boats in the distance.  The others had solid ground at hand and waited the storm out.
One had capsized, bailed out, and made the tactical error of letting go of his kayak, which quickly sailed out of sight.  He got towed back, holding someone's stern grab loop.  One of us took the task of calling the Coast Guard so if the boat was found they wouldn't be out looking for the owner.  In the next week it washed up somewhere and got reunited with the owner.

Later on the news was a report that the same storm generated a tornado somewhere in the middle of the state.  The whole thing was really localized.  The Diamond Island weather station, about 25 miles away, never registered over 8 knots.

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