Weather Forecasting Shenanigans
The allied invasion of Europe in June, 1944 occurred on the sixth, which was seen by the weather forecasters as the best day. The invasion was originally schedule for 5 June, but a spate of bad weather delayed the actual invasion until June 6, D-Day. The bad weather prior to the invasion, would, according to the meteorologists lessen to such an extent that they would be able to launch the invasion. The German weather forecasters predicted that the weather wouldn’t ease off and assumed that there was no likelihood of an invasion. The resulting invasion completely caught the Germans by surprised and by this stage, the outcome of the war was certain, victory for the allies was inevitable.
All this occurred 75 years ago this year. What did they know about weather forecasting that they don’t know now? You would think that 75 years of progress, the introduction of computer technology etc would mean that weather forecasting would be a lot more accurate and reliable. Apparently not.
The weather forecasting on La Mouette is basically mobile phone Apps, mainly WillyWeather and BOM Weather (Bureau of Meteorology). 2019 weather forecasting should be spot on and totally reliable. We had a weekend planned with a well earned day off on the Friday which made a three day weekend. The plan was to fill the fridge with beer and food, hank on a headsail, pump up the dinghy, fill the fuel tank, fire up the trusty Yanmar and head out up Coal and Candle Creek to catch the wind and voyage to destinations exciting and exotic. Well, Refuge Bay or somewhere similar and once the mooring was secure, we had plans to sit back and relax with a beer and the Kindle. What better way to spend a three day weekend.
Of course, we avidly followed the BOM App and WillyWeather. By Wednesday, the forecast wasn’t looking good. A high percentage of showers, gusting winds and thunderstorms. Not looking good. Thursday’s forecast wasn’t any better and the decision was made to head out anyway and we packed our wet weather gear accordingly. We could motor out in the rain, get to the exotic, if wet destination and rig up a tarp and raid the fridge for beer. By Friday and by the time we had packed everything and arrived at the marina, the actual weather didn’t look too bad – although the forecast for Saturday and Sunday looked really abysmal. Rain and thunderstorms. People we spoke to around the marina were also predicting storms. OK the decision was made not to head on the Friday, irrespective of the nautical superstition of not sailing on a Friday. But the question was if we did go out, how would it be getting back in that filthy weather? By this time we had made good use of our Friday off and had brunch at the Marina restaurant. I put the batteries on charge, plugged the fridge into shore power, and suitably stocked with food and beer, we planned to ride out the storms at the marina. It started raining in the afternoon, confirming our decision not to sail. The trusty tarp was rigged to stop the rain blowing in the companionway. I have found that if I lower the boom a bit, the sides of the tarp will just go over the guard rails and all the water will run off outside the cockpit. A bit will drip in from the aft end, but it is still a lot better than having it completely open.
Friday night we enjoyed a home galley cooked meal and a nice bottle of wine. Life afloat can be really nice. With the curtains closed we could imagine that La Mouette was anchored in those exotic places even though we couldn’t hear the sound of the surf pounding on the shore line, or the wind whistling through the palm trees. We were at Akuna Bay and that’s still a pretty good place to be. Late at night, the traffic at the boat ramp finally comes to a standstill and with a bit of rain on and off, the hoons with the Nissan Skylines and Subie WRX’s weren’t drifting around the corners of the road to annoy us as they do some evenings.
Saturday dawned nice and clear. Where were the thunderstorms they were predicting? They were still there on WillyWeather. Maybe later in the afternoon. Do we sail or do we stay. We didn’t throw any caution to the wind, as it was supposed to be gusting at 34 to 40 kpm/hr. Instead, we got out the frypan and cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast, washed down with espresso coffee from out stove top coffee maker. It turned out to be a glorious day and we spent the day relaxing.
In the afternoon, I rigged the dinghy and outboard and we zoomed out up the channel to Mushroom Bay exploring. We had a hand held depth sounder and played around in the bay checking the depths and also trying to find the ruins of Colin Campbell’s cottage which is supposed to be near the channel to the marina. There is a bit of rope hanging from a tree and this is supposed to be the site but we couldn’t see anything, and it didn’t appear to be a good place to build a house.
It looks like our weekend sailing was not to be. On the return to La Mouette in the dinghy we motored up along the starboard side and oddly enough, there were barnacles on the bow! The portside was clear and in fact, the week before when I was scrubbing the toe rail for a couple of coats of Cetol, I had been sitting on the finger wharf dangling my feet into the water and I could feel the underwater part of the port side and it was smooth. No barnacles or growth. We got out the waterproof Olympus camera and managed to get a brief video of the propeller. There was a bit of growth on it but didn’t look like there barnacles. Definitely time for a haul out and bum scrub.
On Sunday, again the forecast looked terrible, we made the decision to pack up and go home before the bad weather descended upon us. As I was running around the deck stowing dinghies and de-rigging tarps, the clouds gathered ominously. We only have 15 minutes before the deluge begins I thought whilst looking up at the blackening sky. Time to get the skates on. We had everything packed, cleaned, stowed and in the car by 11 am. It did rain, for about 10 minutes, but not enough to wet anything. Honestly, the forecasters go it so wrong this weekend.
At least the weather forecasting was good enough for the invasion of Europe, but 75 years later, it wasn’t able to be accurate enough for our weekend afloat. There is a free weekend coming up soon and hopefully, we can get to those exotic places in the fabulous waterway that is Cowan Creek and the Hawkesbury River, but more on that next time.