Lightning and thunder shook the area this week as the first major storm system of the fall moved through Southern California. Lightening does hit boats, and I have seen the aftermath of a strike, but chances are rare. Of course, sailboats with the masts acting as lightening rods are more prone to strikes then a motorboat, and I recommend that if there is lightening in the area you stay at the docks or tuck into a harbor or cove.
There is not much you can do while in the ocean to prevent a strike; however, you can minimize some of the damage. I always turn off all the electronics if the lightening is within a few miles, and immediately plot my position, course and speed on the chart. You remember a chart – the big piece of paper with drawings that look like a map of the ocean and crisscrossing lines on it?
Additionally, I would not recommend standing next to the mast or holding on to any shrouds or stays on a sailboat. Also, do not on any boat be sitting in the bow pulpit surrounded by stainless steel rails and a metal anchor with chain leading aft into the chain locker. Just stay away from metal, and the mast leading down into the main cabin, too.
But I digress.
The clouds should part to mostly sunny this weekend with the daytime high temperatures in the upper 60s. Sailors can expect afternoon winds from the west blowing around 5 to 12 knots.
The Pacific swells will be a mixed set, with a 2-foot west swell and a 2-foot south swell. Now two sine waves of the same amplitude hitting each other should cancel each other out is what I learned in my college physics class.
As always, with an eye to the north, boaters off Point Conception will experience northwest swells just under 10 feet with strong northwest winds that will be gusting up to 25 knots, making the ride around the Point a rough one.
Remember, to check your boat, bilges, and mooring lines after a rainstorm, and always check the sea and weather conditions before you leave the dock.
Mike Whitehead, Capt.