Strong front catches sailors- and BOM- by surprise

Storm approaching over the Harbour Bridge
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A strong front passing through Sydney last night caught the boating community, as well as the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) , by surprise.

One 38ft yacht, with four crew on board were caught by the front while entering Sydney Harbour. In trying to get the main down, it tore and eventually became entangled, incredibly, in the propeller. Having lost power they then called a mayday, and were towed to shore by the water police.

Another boat was blown onto rocks in Botany Bay, and the passengers leapt ashore. The skipper was then able to make it alone back to Cooks River boat ramp.

The strong winds also caused many boats to be wrenched from their moorings, and police were kept busy most of the night.

The gale force winds, which hit between 6pm and 8pm last night, were caused by a strong front passing over Sydney, Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Jane Golding was quoted as saying.

Winds of up to 45kts were recorded across Sydney, and of up to 50kts in Wollongong, she told the Sydney Morning Herald

'The strength of [the winds] did catch us by surprise a little bit,' Ms Golding said.

'We knew a front was coming through ... [but expected] the strongest winds to be off-shore.'