I thought I'd throw in a couple penny's worth of info on the Avalon wind
event. I was on island the day after Christmas
to board my boat (also lost
but outside the harbor so it's not counted in the stats).
On Dec 26th I arrived on the 7 am ferry
from Long Beach and the swells were running about 6 to 8 feet outside the harbor. The runway into the harbor is along the more southern end of the harbor with a small jetty/seawall protecting the northerly part of the harbor (where the fuel dock
is normally moored). They remove the fuel dock
when weather is predicted so it was not in residence and the harbor patrol was towing the last dinghy
dock out to reduce the congestion in the harbor.
I watched as the rollers moved through the mooring field and crashed onto the seawall. Each Christmas
I'm usually moored in this field on 'multihull row' and it's never been calm for the last 5 or so years. The 'santa ana' winds that caused this event are in term caused by air cooling
over the the mountain range in the Angeles National Forest which is East of Los Angeles where you can see San Gregornio has a snow cap. The snow cap is visible from Catalina Island
(27 miles from Long Beach/Los Angeles area.)
My boat 'Ceil' (31 ft 'Nicole Trimaran') has been anchored south of Avalon
when not down in San Diego
on/off for the last 7 years. I have a 'port captain' on the island that watches Ceil for me and he and one of the harbor patrol officers dove her mooring the last week of November for me and actually moved her to a mooring that is normally used for a 65' ferro
cement tall ship. (Courage of Catalina | Join Capt Rall in finishing the newest Tall Ship!
Ceil was tied to her mooring (mooring is still there) with a 1 inch line which is cleated to a samson
post 3 feet from the bow of the boat. The mooring line wraps the samson
post and then terminates with a second attachment on one of the cleats on the stbd rail. The line couldn't be terminated at the mast base as the mast is stepped on the cabin
The image of Ceil off pebbly beach is here on google
( 33.342871, -118.315220 )
Ceil was anchored/moored 150 yards off 'Pebbly Beach' which is a very narrow band of 2" pebbles and then a road....
I tried to launch an inflatable
but the 4 second wave period ruled that out. I then decided to suit up and swim out (3/8" wetsuit as the water
is cold out there). Once out past the breakers (it's only a 20' break zone as the bottom drops to 100' pretty quickly) I swam out and boarded the boat.
The two wind speed indicators on board Ceil showed gusts (at masthead) in excess of 75mph. One is analog, the other is digital and they are on two separate anemometers.
It's actually been 'normal' to see this speed in the gust range as pebbly is at the base of a cliff which accelerates the gusts. The difference for December was the speed was sustained above 40 mph for extended times (gusting even higher) which sweeping along a 27 mile fetch can produce significant wave height.
After boarding I checked the new mooring line and made sure it was still in the firehose anti chafing where it went over the bow rollers. Everything was fine. I moved the hose cover to check that the line wasn't chafed inside and it was ok there too.
My main reason for the visit was to install a new starter on the two cyl yanmar diesel engine
as the unit hard been hard starting. Due to the extreme amount of wave/swell action it was obvious that working on the engine
was both unwise and physically probably not possible. The swells were between 4/5 second intervals (mixed from two directions) and moving the boat like a crazed elevator. Ceil is light weight (12,000 lbs) and bounces on the waves.
After checking the electrical
systems (two battery
and wind charging) and making sure the 4 bilge
pumps were clear and in working order. I decided that spending the night was without purpose. The forecast
was for more of the same or worse. I've been in worse and it's no fun. I decided to abort the mission until the winds passed. I did think of moving to the harbor but after being there before knew that no work
would be accomplished I made the decision to secure the boat and come back again later.
I took the 6pm ferry
back to the mainland that evening and planned to return after the weather calmed. We had plans to take the boat to San Diego
for the rest of the winter.
I'm attaching a brief movie
of the boat taken from shore. The height of the waves in the video doesnt' show well as it's taken from the road above the seawall.. the breakers were between 6' and 8' feet on that day / time. Notice how nice the ocean looks East of the boat. The white caps were more pronounced depending on the gusts but the ocean isn't too disturbed. It's not wind but the lee shore that will get you!
Now, all the above was on 12/26. The gusts were more intermittent then. Where we were staying in LA the wind was quite fierce and many trees were felled as well.
As the weekend ended the wind picked up and was sustained for longer periods of time which resulted in much larger swells across the 30 mile or so fetch.
On the evening of 12/30 the wind was gusting higher and the sustained winds were higher resulting in much higher swells and resulting waves along the Catalina
There were two other boats out on pebbly beach on each side of Ceil and both of these are gone as well. One was a 22' monohull
and the other a boston whaler (16'?).
The debris field combined from all the boats including others from up and down the coast of Catalina
Ceil was a 1967 31' Nicole trimaran
. She was cold molded with 1/4" cedar wrapped around the hull
in two directions and re-skinned with 8 oz glass and WestSystems epoxy
... she was equipped with an inboard yanmar
2 cyl diesel
, wind gen / solar panels
and everything else you'd find in a small cruiser but still floated 1 1/2" above her lines. When we refitted in 2010 we pulled all the polyester fiberglass
off the hull, reglued all joints in the hulls and added some bracing and water
proof bulkheads between the engine compartment under the cockpit
and the main cabin
Hope this different view of the same event helps clear up what happened out there. I knew Bruce and had met Tim a couple times - both men
were professionals and will be missed.