Tsunami in American Samoa
jT - breaking dawn - cool with high clouds
10/01/2009, Noumea, New Caledonia
Nemesis is ok and we have just anchored in New Caledonia the night before.
We are a few days behind, but had learned that an 8.0+ earthquake hit in the Samoa Island Region. We know of two boats, friends of ours, that are in Pago Pago, American Samoa, "Mainly" with Joan and Danny and "Jubilee" with Joe and Dubus. Yesterday, when still at sea, I was warned by my Dad that another earthquake had hit in Tonga, so I sent an email with the specifics to make sure our friends were ok.
Kirsty was checking mail right after dinner and as the modem downloaded the mail, she commented on an email simple titled "Mainly". She told me and said sounds like they are ok, email coming in from them. But then I look over as she shrieks and starts to cry! My first thought is that Joe on Jubilee had replied to our email and was telling us that "Mainly" was lost. I quickly go over and read the email as Kirsty sobs into my chest.
Our friends, Danny and Joan on "Mainly (for me)" were tied up to the dock/pier in Pago Pago harbor in American Samoa. The 8.0 earthquake hit at about 5:48pm local time. Twenty odd minutes later the water started to recede in the harbor. Here i'll quote from the email Kirsty was reading from Joan: "Danny had gone on the dock to release the lines when the water began receding and was swept off the dock when the water came up. He really never had a chance. He died doing exactly what he always wanted to be doing. And he loved being with all of you. My boys are arriving on Friday and all the cruisers here are helping me more than you can ever know."
The earthquake was about fifty miles away from Pago Pago, with the Tsunami reaching the harbor as about a five foot wave. We don't know the details of how big the wave grew in a shallow harbor, but can imagine it was horrific. Joe from "Jubilee" replied back that "several boats were put aground and some are now severely damaged, to be a total loss. Jubilee was lucky and and no damage, we got the anchor up and motored to the deeper water. We will stay with Joan for a few days, her sons arrive Friday to help her."
In our reply back to Joan on "Mainly" we expressed what condolences you can at a time like this: "Thank God you are OK! It just broke our hearts to read what happened to Danny. You are so right that he was doing exactly what he wanted to do, and with who he wanted to do it - you! After the shock and tears of what happened to Danny, Kirsty rightly said that would have been me, or any of the other men we know... up on dock, trying to save the boat and in the process saving his loved ones. That's what men do... we try to fix things, save things... and he did!
We are so glad you have friends around you in a tough time like this. Words cannot relay what we are feeling for you right now. But know that you and Danny touched our lives by meeting us. Your friendship in Ecuador helped Kirsty when I was away in Miami, then continued as we went across the Pacific. We still live by some of the advice and help you and Danny gave us... a tin of contact cement now helps with sail and canvas repairs... and Kirsty still quotes Danny's maintenance advice... "if you wait long enough, it will fix itself.... well, sometimes!" That was so Danny... and we will cherish meeting him and the friendship that sprung from that!"
Just days ago we were emailing "Mainly", offering advice and shopping tips for their next port of call, Fiji. Now, just days later, Danny is gone. Joan has to pick up the pieces and bury her husband. We are glad that her boys and families were able to visit with them in the Galapagos, and their youngest son, Cole, completed much of the Pacific trip with them. Quality time with Danny, that's all we can ask for. Once again, life just shows how short it can be. My advice, grab life by the horns and live your dreams, for if you don't fan the flames of your dreams - life and dreams can be snuffed out like a wisp of smoke
you and Danny are in our thoughts and prayers...
Godspeed Danny, Godspeed!
Landfall at New Calendonia sometime tommorrow
09/29/2009, 120 miles ENE of New Calendonia
After a big week of being hauled out at Vuda Point we put Nemesis back into the water last Friday with a shiny new bum and beautifully waxed hull. It was a lot of work and we did all the work ourselves - antifouling, waxing and servicing our prop, its a dirty job but she looked great once we were finished. We have had a great month in Fiji, it just flew by between having Lou visit and the party week of Musket Cove Regatta and then both Jeff and I flying home to the USA and Australia separately as well as being hauled out - there was a lot going on. All good things must end, so We checked out of Fiij and after sadly waving goodbye to Ian and Ida from Ishka (thanks again for all the help) we headed off for New Caledonia on Saturday afternoon, a 680 mile passage that should put us into New Caledonia either Thur or Fri.
It's now Wednesday, we have had a pretty uneventful passage, with a bit of everything from the weather. We were hard on to the wind at about 20 knots for the first day and a half, which let us put in a couple of big days of sailing and get some miles behind us. The next couple of days were pretty light from the rear port quarter, we sailed during the day and motored overnight - the wind just died both nights. Right now we have about 15knots hard on again, we have a double reef in, its much more comfortable that way, and we are still averaging around 6knots. We have around 120 miles to run to be at the Havannah Pass, the South East entrance to the New Calendonia lagoon and expect to be there sometime tomorrow, with a short hop from there up to Noumea. The pass should be interesting, we are trying to time our entry to a flood tide to avoid having a 5 knot current against us as we pass through, at this point its all up to the wind gods.
I'm hoping to see some land this afternoon, the Loyalty Islands (part of New Cal) which are about 60 miles east of the main island should be in sight during daylight... its always a good feeling to see land where its meant to be after some time at sea with nothing much around but water and sky. I did see a container ship pass by on the horizon last night, a bit of excitement for me during night watch - that shows just how interesting night watch is!
One more passage to go after this and then we are back in Oz - time has just flow by and I'm excited and nervous about coming home. One thing I know for sure, I wont miss all these long ocean passages.
Hauling out in Fiji
KB, Bloody horrible weather
09/21/2009, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
With Jeff having to head back to the USA we um and ah about if we should go ahead with the scheduled haul out or put if off until he gets back. We decide to go ahead as planned, we will haulout on Thursday and Jeff will be back on Saturday. That decided Jeff heads home and I spend the next few days getting things ready. I'm nervous but OK, I'm sure it will be fine and I've got Ian and Ida from Ishka to help me. This is all shattered when I find out I have to back Nemesis into the travellift... BACK IN ARE YOU KIDDING ME, noone told me that. Crap now I'm really stressed out, backing is not my best angle.
So the big day arrives and after a few hiccups the time arrives, no getting out of it now. It is of course pouring with rain, Ian, Ida and myself are all in our foulies looking like drowned rats. We cast off, to add to the fun its just after low tide, the depth guage is showing 8" and we have a 7"10' draft, even though the marina guys assure me that we have plenty of water its just another thing for me to fret about.
We get ourselves over the travellift and George, the marina guy who helps everyone in and out of their mooring and into the travellift is in his dingy in his T-shirt absolutely soaked, is on hand to give us a nudge at the bow if we need it. Unfortunately as it turns out we are over correcting each other and finally Ian asks Ida to tell George to leave us to it. With Ian talking me in we make into the slings with surprisingly not too much hassle. With slings in place we are gently lifted out the water, quite a strange feeling. Its my first time to haul out and its really interesting to see how it all works. We jump off Nemesis and head off to our spot on the hard. As it turns out the marina guys want to put us into a hole because of our deep draft, we will be closer to the ground and a little more secure. Its still pouring with rain and takes a little bit of time to get Nemesis set in her spot and secure.
Just at this moment, a huge squall comes in, the rain gets heavier and Ian and Ida head off to make sure Ishka is secure. The marina guys tell me they will put the props up when the wind dies down so I scurry back to Ishka to thaw out for a little bit. We find out later on from some friends of ours that were out in the squall that they saw up to 50 knots, I'm not sure we had that much wind but thankfully it didn't hit when we were still hauling out, that would not have been fun.
Over the next few hours the wind dies down, its still pouring, but the marina guys have all the props up and Nemesis is secure. They decide to leave her in the slings overnight so she is secure. I jump on board to collect a few things and then head back to Ishka for a yummy dinner and well earned wine.
This was a first for me and its great to look back and see that it all went fine, even with the weather. A huge massive thanks to Ian and Ida for getting soaked with me, you guys are amazing and I couldn't have done it without all. Also thanks to George, Mo and the other guy at the marina who worked for hours to get us hauled out safely. They worked in the driving rain with no complaints and did a fantastic job.
Jeff, well what can I say but that I surely cursed your name a few times, next time around I will make sure you are there and if its not raining I'm turning the hose on you just so you don't feel like you missed out from this time around! But seriously, maybe it was better that I had to sort it out myself, I wont worry about it next time around at all - piece of cake..
Who needs a memory card in their camera??
KB, Sunny & Hot During the Day, Cool at Night
09/14/2009, Vuda Point Marina, Fiji
What a great night we had last night at the First Landing Resort, which is next door to the marina here in Vuda Point. It was $10 Fijian pizza night, which is about $5 US for a huge pizza.. ok so they were a little slow in coming out for most of us - but good all the same.
A big thanks to all the cruisers who turned out to wish me a happy (not mentioning how old) birthday! I did take a whole heap of pictures of all the crew but when I went to take out the memory card to upload them today I discovered that there was no memory card in the camera, it was still in the PC, oh well I guess this will be a post without pictures.... lucky for us I havent been in charge of picture taking for the rest of the trip.
Jeff we missed you last night and hope all is going well in the USA.
As friends and family will know, my Mom has been in remission for the last few years from an medical issue that almost took her life back in 2004. In the last few weeks, she has been in and out of the hospital, and is now in a care home. She might be put on hospice in the next few weeks.
I'm going home to see her, so thanks for all the support from family, friends and fellow cruisers.
Cherish the moments you have.
Live life with no regrets.
Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers.
Love you Mom,