Hurricane Lorenzo Prep
|Weather passing over Kilrush|
After we returned from Spain, we spent weeks emptying our personal possessions from Aleria, our Bowman 57, as we had decided to put her up for sale. Fifteen years of accumulated stuff had to come off, ferried by our launch, get washed/cleaned, and stowed somewhere in the house or garage. It was a huge undertaking. Art had to come off the walls, etcetera. Of course, when the art was removed, the walls were discoloured. So we had to paint. I taped and Alex painted. Then I removed the tape and cleaned. All this time, the weather was awful. Wet, windy and cold.
We watch the Atlantic storms, especially late in the season, which October is in Ireland. We were watching hurricanes closely, and then noticed one form in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa and once again, like Ophelia two years ago, start spinning northwards instead of west across the Atlantic. It had never happened before Ophelia and now we had two named storms in two years heading straight up toward us instead of charging toward the American coast. Hurricane Lorenzo was making a beeline for Ireland, brushing past the Azores en route.
Meanwhile, the local weather forecasting had been highly variable, with multiple updates during the day and multiple models disagreeing on the forecasts. We wanted to move Aleria down the coast to Kilrush on the Shannon River where she will be spending the winter. That way, if the hurricane did come directly up the Atlantic, she'd be tied up in a marina or even hauled out and on the hard.
|Making way in Clew Bay|
The first weekend we were ready, the forecast was for strong winds in the high 30s on the nose. As we would be heading south, strong southerlies would make it almost impossible. We decided to forego that weekend and head down the following weekend. Lorenzo was now forecast to arrive on Thursday and we could make it home by Tuesday if all worked according to plan.
|Departing Clew Bay|
|Anchored at Inishgowla|
|Anchored in Inishbofin|
|A trad music session on Inishbofin|
|Truant in Kilronan|
|Sam, John and Toby|
|Gusty winds along the Cliffs of Moher|
|Finally, we could see Loop Head|
|The locks in Kilrush|
As soon as we had tied up securely, the wind died. We thought about removing the headsail but decided against it. And that was good because within minutes the wind had reversed direction and was blowing just as hard as it had before from the opposite direction. So we turned Aleria around using the dock lines and the wind to pivot her. That way, she'd be facing south, the predominant direction for the coming winds of Lorenzo.
|Looking out towards the Shannon from the hammerhead|
Simon dropped us off at the bus stop, but we realised we'd arrived an hour and a half early for the bus to Ennis on that day. So we had a good walk around town and tea and coffee in the new cafe. Things have changed a lot in Kilrush, definitely for the better. It has a vibrant feel now, with several nice restaurants and pubs. I don't know if Doonbeg, which is just down the road, has had a knock-on effect or if they've just recovered from the economic collapse of 2008, but it's quite nice now. We caught the 1215 bus from Kilrush to Ennis, then the next bus to Galway, and from there the 1515 bus to Westport. We were home before 1800 h.
In looking back at the forecasts and conditions, I think what we sailed through what were the remnants of a tropical storm. The winds were cyclonic and variable, there were squalls and heavy rain. Yep, I think that's what it was. But we made it through okay.
|Aleria on the hammerhead|
Meanwhile, another drama was unfolding. Alex kept Toby up to date on the storm track and the guys were getting concerned. They decided the place to be was on our mooring and off the boat. We usually guide visitors in, but Alex had an Oyster Coop Board meeting and it was his first as Treasurer so he had to be there. They came in to our mooring on Wednesday evening before dark, having found their way on their own without knowing more than where it was roughly on a chart. They opted to stay aboard overnight and Alex would pick them up in the morning in Moytura.
By 9 am, the wind was already building to the high 20s with higher gusts out of the SE. Alex had a hard time getting out to them and holding on to the boat while they climbed aboard. That day we had three happy sailors in our house, though Toby did worry about Truant out there on her own. Cosy and warm, with wifi and a rugby game (Ireland v Russia) on the telly, it was a "Rescue Party" as Toby called it. Now all we had to do was wait out the storm, and hope that the boat was still there in the morning.
|The "Rescue Party" in Port Aleria|