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White Squall

Although it hardly ever rains in Ibiza in the summer, Wednesday made up for it. Some parts of the island had 80 litres/sq m of rainfall and the meteorological office recorded 343 ground strikes of lightning. We were in Ibiza Town in the morning when the first squall hit. The streets flooded and Carita's building was hit by lightning, bringing concrete and plaster falling down into the street. Needless to say, she closed up and got out of there. I was checking the boat cam all the time on my phone and was amazed to see that things were dry and calm in the north of the island. We drove back and as we crossed the hills the rain stopped and everything was bone dry.

The weather had been very unsettled for days and there was a lot of swell coming into the anchorage, so that evening I tied a extra line over to another mooring... just in case. Carita and I were sitting in the cockpit having a drink at about 03:00 in the morning, watching a massive lightning storm that was taking place over the sea. We were just about to go to bed when a chill wind began to pick up. Realising the squall and the lightning was heading our way we cleared the cockpit and put things inside. Due to the boat turning in the wind during the evening, the line I'd put across to the other mooring was now twisted around our chain so I needed to sort it out. The rain began pouring down as I took the dinghy across to untie it and untangle things but the wind was increasing all the time so manoeuvring the dinghy was not easy. I managed to get back over to the buoy and concentrated as I tied the rope back onto it, then, as the wind was too strong to steer through, I pulled myself and the dinghy back to the boat along the line and Simon tied it up. Lightning was now striking all around us and the wind kept increasing with seemingly unlimited power. I heaved the rope tight so that we were now being held on the other mooring as well as our own and hoped things would hold. The smaller dinghy was lifted out of the water and flying in the air as Carita tried to secure it, then it was suddenly blown onto the deck. The wind was screaming by now, around Force 11 or 12, hurricane strength. The hotel next to us, which was slightly higher than our mast, was hit directly by lightning. Carita was almost blown off the foredeck into the sea. She seemed to be screaming something to me about ice falling but I couldn't understand what she was saying until an egg-sized lump of ice hit me on the head! The wind was blowing so hard by this time that the air was full of seawater and visibility was very poor. A small sailing boat moored nearby was being lifted so far out of the water that you could see it's keel. We took shelter from the ice storm under the sprayhood while Simon comforted the dog downstairs and took care of the water that was getting in. The solar panels sounded as if they were being smashed by the impact of the falling ice and the wind continued with a deafening roar. I began to wonder what else I could do if the moorings started to drag. The wind was far too strong to attempt to tie off to anything else or take an anchor out in the dinghy so I started the engine & motored forwards to take some force off the moorings, praying for the wind to drop. Looking behind the boat I saw huge waves crashing over the rocks barely 30 metres away. Lumps of ice continued to fall from the sky amongst the torrential rain and it felt like hell. It was one of the most frightening times I'd ever had at anchor.

We managed to sit it out though. Eventually the wind backed to the south as the eye of the squall moved past, then finally to the east and we felt the wind begin to drop and the rain ease off. Shaken and shocked but glad to be alive we looked around. Part of the beach had been washed away and some of the smaller boats in the anchorage had taken a bit of a battering but they were all still intact. The adrenaline was still running through us and we were wide awake. I turned the engine off and we sat hoping that there wasn't another squall on it's way.

Apprehensive when we finally crashed out, we didn't have a very restful night, but all that followed was some rain and the next day the weather, thankfully, began to improve.


Bron and Carita.... fellow Storm Riders.

Everything written above is exaclty as it
happened. I have travelled the Atlantic both
ways (once in winter with waves people only
have nightmares about )and been in boats since I was 8 years old but this was far worse than anything I had encountered being at anchor in a small inlet the wind so strong and almost
directionless less than 400mm under the keel
at the bottom of the swell and lightning
striking everywhere.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Bron for his
fine seamanship and cool headedness in the
face of such adverity....thankyou.


We had such fun in the Ibiza summer sun ;)

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