Preparing for a gale

Rapa’s a great little island with beautiful nature and wonderful people, but weather-wise it’s rather unfortunate…

It’s located outside the tropics and also outside the trade-wind belt. Variable winds prevail the whole year round which makes it somewhat difficult for sailboats to visit. In July and August the temperatures go down to 10 degrees with winter storms battering the lonely little rock.

The summer is short (only 3 months from end of December to March) and on top of that it happens to be the rainy season ;-) During these months the SPCZ (South Pacific Convergence Zone) likes to linger over the Austral Islands and they lie in the path of troughs and depressions that move along this zone towards the Southeast.

One of these lows is predicted to pass Rapa tomorrow, so we’re preparing the boat today for strong winds. We have removed both foresails, taken the bimini down and removed some other items to reduce windage and to keep bits from taking off. We’ve already had some violent gusts over the last weeks, so the anchor should be nicely set. Each forecast predicts different wind directions (depending on how close by the system passes), but the bay is enclosed by high mountains and the entrance to the east is protected by a wide reef, so the sea should remain rather calm. The high mountains result in acceleration zones and gusts that thunder down the slopes from different directions.

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