We got our first at-sea taste of these on the way down from the Gold Coast to the Clarence River last night and it was quite an experience! We left in bright sunshine and a lovely 15 knot NE wind, passing down the first few miles of coast dominated by the high-rise towers of Surfers Paradise.
The forecast looked good - winds of up to 20 knots from the NE in the evening - but did mention the slight possibilities of thunder further south. Pretty soon, the sky started to look distinctly ominous and, as a tanker passed us heading south, the dark clouds were beginning to look very unfriendly:
|The last patch of blue sky gets swallowed up in cloud|
A few minutes later, however, and we could see two storm cells coming out to sea and we were right between the two of them!
The sky continued to darken around us and our own radar showed heavy rain (the pink splodges overlaid on the chart, below) just behind us.
|Maunie with rain on her tail - the tanker is the blue triangle just to the SSW of us|
|After many attempts, we just caught the tail of a lightning strike in this photo|
So we're now anchored in Iluka but it seems that the storms haven't finished with us. The coastguard has just issued a warning for potentially destructive winds, large hailstones, lightning strikes and heavy rain for this evening. This is the full text of the warning:
The advice to move cars, avoid power lines, etc is all very well but it doesn't mention what we should do if we're anchored in a boat with a metal mast right in the middle (next to Yamba) of the forecast area! Pour a stiff drink is probably the answer, but we've lashed everything down, checked the anchor and will be refreshing the BOM radar screen at regular intervals. The laptop, phone and GPS will be going in the (cold) oven if anything threatens to come close - the theory is that it acts as a 'Faraday Cage' in the event of a lightning strike so that the energy dissipates around it, protecting its contents. The rest of the boat's electrics would probably be toast so we very much hope we don't have to test that theory.