Posts Tagged ‘Chocasana’

Hit by a Chocasana

Monday, June 4th, 2012

We’ve been anchored in the Green Island group for about a week now. Some good rains in the am and then generally a warm to hot day with a mild evening. Some evenings actually moved into the  nicely cool range.  Yesterday pm it was cool for a bit and I heard the wind shift.  I recognized we would most likely be getting more early wet sunshine so I reached up to close the hatch, turned on a fan,. Still thinking I better check further I got up for two minutes and stuck my head out of the companionway to see what the Mother Nature was going to give us. There was some lightening; not a lot, but some, to the E of us so I crawled back into my berth hoping for a couple more hours of sweet sleep.

Neptune knew better. About 30 minutes later the winds began to pick up. Pick up isn’t the best description. The winds went from the speed of a bicyclist cruising down the street to a car cruising down the interstate in just a few seconds.  I got out of my berth as quickly as possible making sure I didn’t knock myself out on the way forward to again stick my head out the companionway. By the time my eyes were open and head exposed we were healed over as if we were sailing and the awning was acting like  a mainsail. Yeah, we leave it up 24/7.

Our awning has been tested; mostly accidentally, to about 40 knots of wind on the beam and for the most part she holds up fine. In Grenada we had broken an

Awnings after the Repair in Grenada

Awnings after the Repair in Grenada

awning pole; maybe two I don’t remember, and I had endeavored to flatten out the peak of it some and strengthen the poles.  That has worked for close to two years. Here the awning was scooping wind like a kite and the poles were under a great deal of tension.

The aft pole snapped in two. That was the weakest and the shortest. The middle pole started to bend and then the forward.  By the time the boat had  had begun to sit to the new wind direction the aft two poles had snapped into two pieces each and the forward pole simply had good solid kink in the middle. W/ was now up and she grabbed me some lines so we could secure the middle aft pole and keep it from doing a great deal of damage swinging about in the wind. That pole secured I put the furthest aft poles on the awning outside the boat. With the four pieces flailing around and with the sharp broken Aluminum ends I wasn’t wanting to be struck by one nor have one pole end dig into anything on the deck.  With those poles secured I tied the kinked forward pole off a bit so hopefully it wouldn’t part. Luckily it didn’t.

With the poles secure we waited. The Chocasanas are brief periods of high wind and rain lasting usually less than an hour.  svMoonsong in Coco Bandaros; about 2 miles N of us, reported on the VHF sustained wind of  50 kts for 30 minutes.  Finally the winds did calm and I was able to evaluate what and how things would be repaired.First however; breakfast and the SSB nets, then work.

I know the poles can break. We use the Forespar Awning poles and I’ve broken enough over the years that I repair them by splicing more together making a stronger middle section.  I’ve never had one break out near the ends.  For the most part this method works but I still need more of the larger outer pieces of Aluminum to keep the center splices strong. When we get back closer to civilization I’ll order a couple more spare poles.

All morning I worked on replacing parts and by noon the awning is reset flatter and back in place.  If I have an opportunity to go through this again I’ll temporarily tie off the pole down so it will not kink up. Kinking up is where I break the poles. We’ll see how that strategy goes.  Hiatus has been spending a good part of the Summer season in the San Blas for the last 12 years and had only seen two of these. They now have added a third to their sittings. If luck is with us; we won’t have another Chocasana while here.

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