Holy Chubasco…

…and our love affair with our ground tackle. Chubascos are a summer season weather phenomenon here in the Sea of Cortez (lucky us) that are associated with the monsoonal t-storm activity. These storm cells typically bring rain and winds between 30-40 kts (but have been clocked up to 60), are relatively localized, crank up in the blink of an eye, and can be quite violent. Oh, and they usually arrive in the middle of the night just as we’re approaching REM sleep. Of course.

So, there we were, nestled in the anchorage just off the village of Bahía de los Ángeles. We stopped in here briefly a few days ago to grab some bananas and cilantro, then headed up to La Gringa to hang out with some other crazy cruisers who are summering over in the area (see upcoming post). After a couple of nights of lovely, benign conditions, we came back down to the village so Rand could get caught up on work and we could, once again, stock up on bananas. Every night there’s a chubasco report, and last night’s was inconclusive, although we could see t-storms building over the mainland as well as the Baja, and lightning was quite pronounced to the east.

Ok, well, we’d be ready should anything come our way. We’d taken down all of the shade cloths, brought in rash guards and swim suits hanging from the life-lines, and used minimal bedding for sleeping on the net. Around 1230, both of us awoke to a shifting, cooling breeze from the southeast, and it only took a moment – we gathered up our “bed” and headed for the cockpit. Within seconds, we were seeing 30+ knots and building wind waves. Once the anemometer ticked past 40 kts the first time, Rand fired up the engines, flicked on the navigation lights and sat at the helm to keep FL into the raging winds and seas. Apparently, this is a trick used by sailors to relieve pressure on the ground tackle and keep the boat from yanking too hard on the chain, and it works.

So, da boat was under control and taking the brunt of the storm quite well, but the crew (that is, Rand and I) were a bit on edge given the noise and the movement of da boat underneath us. We had to yell to one another to make sure we could be heard over the howl of the wind, the clanking of the battens that stabilize the solar panels on the bimini, the rush of water along the hull…all while getting splooshed occasionally by salt spray over the bow – so much so that Rand was wearing his swim goggles to keep the salt water and wind out of his eyes. It was an experience for the senses, that’s for damn sure.

Across the anchorage, the holding for a large power yacht that is known here in BLA was suspect, and they began dragging. Luckily there were crew aboard, and the captain of the boat came out from his house ashore, so they were able to manage the position of the big boat and keep her from bearing down on the sailboat fleet (including FL) that was downwind. Our new friends aboard S/V Dazzler, who’d stayed up in La Gringa, were dragging anchor in 30-40+ kts of sustained wind, so they hauled it up and headed down to the village. Other cruisers in the area, including S/V Manta, S/V Tappan Zee, S/V Linger Longer, and S/V Slipper stayed in touch throughout the mighty chubasco and assisted Dazzler on their entry into the anchorage.

After about 3 hours of holding FL’s position on the anchor and fighting the helm to stay up into the wind (she likes to get broadside to it) and waves, Dazzler was secure, the big power yacht appeared to be secure, the rest of the fleet was secure, and the chubasco (#3 for us) was finally abating. We cannot say enough about the comfort and confidence we have in our Ultra anchor and 225-feet of anchor chain. In situations like this, it is critical to trust your equipment, and we do. In fact, we’re totally in love with the Ultra. AND, what can we say about the cruising community? Wow, what a bunch of selfless, hearty people. Something else we can take comfort in.

To the next chubasco – no thank you!

(Apologies for the lack of a photo gallery – you’ll just have to wait til the next post!)


  1. Pam Ellsworth

    So scary. Glad you guys are ok.

    1. Jody Fraser

      We think there’s a chubasco badge out there somewhere – not sure who doles them out though. Quite a ride!

  2. Bud Stych

    I trust you had your PFD’s on and tethered to something substantial.
    If not, why not?
    You guys are too valuable to us!

    1. Jody Fraser

      Ummmmm…well, uh…we will next time, Bud!

  3. Papa

    I’m all wet after reading this adventure!
    Talk about weathering the storm, that describes it.
    Hang on tight!!
    Love you guys, Papa

    1. Jody Fraser

      Yeah, we won’t have you guys visit during chubasaco season, Papa! Love you more!

  4. Carla Adwell Webb

    Wow! Feel so fortunate to have you guys letting us know what lies ahead. So glad you are ok and I’m looking into the ultra.

    1. Jody Fraser

      Fun times ahead!! 🙂

  5. Stacy

    Oh boy! Now that’s exciting and scary all at once! So glad you and your equipment are safe!! Love ya

    1. Jody Fraser

      Indeed! Love yous, too!

  6. Flea

    Wow! I read this post and cried cuz I want to be on fl so bad…especially during these turbulent, tense times when I know you 2 need your 3rd mate!

    1. Jody Fraser

      Yeah! We NEED our third mate!!!!

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