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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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2012, 12-17 Tropical Cyclone Evan

11:00 am

Gale force winds and rain have just arrived. We had expected the winds to begin building last night but they didn't show themselves until about an hour ago. The expected hours of heavy rains to usher in today's winds also didn't materialize which allowed both Bill and I a good night's sleep to bank against the coming storm. As I type this we are at gale force (35-50mph) but that is light enough for Bill to take a walk to the breakwater for a few minutes where he reported that right outside the marina proper the wind is near 50mph while inside the marina where we sit safe and secure it is blowing around 35mph.

Unfortunately the surge protecting boom has already failed but the marina staff has a diver in the water and a boatload of workers frantically trying to fix it. Side note: we thought the boom was going to be a giant chain with airplane tires strung like beads stretched across the mouth of the marina but when we were watching them get things ready we could tell they were going to be using heavy lines instead of chain! The winds haven't even reached us yet and already Bills EESP (Engineers Extra Sensory Perception) showed itself by predicting the failure more than half a day before the event.

Not one of the forecasts we are checking matches any others on predicted wind speeds or path so who knows what we will see in the next 24 hours but regardless it looks like the party is at our door! Kat

1:45pm

We are now experiencing heavy rain and sustained winds of 50 with frequently much higher gusts. The eye of the storm is scheduled to come it's closest to us in about 5 hours. So far our most serious problem is the fenders that keep blowing up onto the deck instead of lying at work between us and S/v Sojournor on our starboard. We have a steady set of drips around the main companionway but still have plenty of dry towels.

Around us things are starting to fray a bit. There is a loose halyard ricocheting around from the big unoccupied Formosa two boats over, the main sail on Turn the Page is unfurling and Relax just reported a large tree fell on them moments ago.

4:00 PM

Things are still building. A few hours more and then hopefully things will begin going the other direction. We are unscathed though getting damper by the minute. Beds still dry though! Our wind indicator tops out at 51mph no matter what is blowing so we have no real guess as to the sustained wind speeds but it is significantly more than we have ever experienced before and we have been at anchor with 60mph winds and in a marina at 75.

Our fenders are still jumping up on the deck instead of staying alongside where they would be of some use but the great news is that our quad stern, quad bow and anchor chain are all holding fast as are those on the boats around us. The two small boats on our starboard side have been hitting the quay and the little wooden finger pier splintering it a bit but are so far doing OK. The big Formosa one over on our port side is also holding fast thankfully since they were our biggest worry. Guava Jelly the 36 footer to our port between us and the Formosa is also doing well though his main hatch cover is gone and his Sunbrella tarp is slowly turning into ribbon. Our Whisker pole came loose and was flying off to starboard at a near 90 degree angle but S/v Lochiel saw it and gave us the heads up over the VHF and Bill was able to cinch it down.

There are head sails unfurling and fraying on other boats in all directions though none seem to be too threatening to the boats around them. We thankfully completely stripped our boat of sails as is the order of the marina. Those who chose to save themselves the work will be paying for it in the weeks ahead but since right now they are impossible to bring down the real danger is to the boats around with the added windage likely to bust lines and lay boats against one another. Up on land behind us S/v A Go GO sits in a pit and is slowly tilting to port. I'm not sure how far she can go before she tips out of the pit and or into the boat next to her.

Our friends John and LeeAnn on S/v Red Sky are reporting significant damage to their hull from the boat next door and at the moment are not answering their radio which has me a little worried. Grant and Caroline on S/v Lochiel were losing ground with the quay and are now motoring forward to try and keep the damage at bay. A boat kitty corner across the boat basin lost both their bow lines and the anchor chain that was attaching them to the central ring but seems to be managing fairly well by using their engine but when I look in their direction I assume there is going to be some significant damage to the boats around them as a result of the failure.

The trees around that I can see are splintered and broken and for as far around me as I can see the foliage is mostly off the trees. Bill is doing most of the outside work but the rain and winds are so strong he keeps getting chilled and the stuff flying through the air is so thick he is now wearing the ski goggles he received as a gift for just such a purpose when we first bought the boat. I appreciate his efforts more than he will ever know but I have to say Bill soaking wet, covered with leaves and tree bits wearing swim trunks and ski goggles is a truly humorous vision.

I can only assume that everyone is doing relatively well since the airwaves have stayed surprisingly quiet. Which either means all is well or they have no power to run their radios. Our wind indicator continues to read incorrectly but S/v Chrisandaversdream report gusts over 100mph. In time we will learn just how high the winds managed to build but in the end we get what we get and knowing exactly what it's blowing doesn't change things much.

The report that just came across the VHF said the winds should clock around to come from the north in about 1 hour and then we can expect about two more hours of topped out winds then things should begin to settle down. Oh and we still have no idea if the surge boom was repaired or not but I guess we will know as soon as the winds clock around to the point that the ocean swell is poised to howl directly down our throats. That could be fun in the coming dark. And yes I was a teensy bit scared but feel better now. Kat

8:15pm

It looks like the worst of the wind has passed us by. The needle on our barometer dropped like a rock over the last ten hours from 1018 to roughly 960 (the barometric pressure in the eye was reported to be 940 so we were darn close to the center of things) but is on the rise again at an equally fast pace. We are fine and even drying out a bit. The winds are still roaring at about 40 mph with pretty regular gusts into the 60's but in comparison to what we've just been through it sounds downright quiet out there. It will take daylight and much lighter winds before we can really check for damages but all in all it looks like we have fared extremely well.

We still have the back half of the hurricane to weather but really our only worry is the possibility for surge. The forecast calls for a 4 meter ocean storm surge -the surge is what causes flooding in cyclones- and it remains to be seen how much of that will breach the outer reefs and islands to work it's way to our home. High tide comes in a couple hours and the worst of the surge generally comes after the eye of the storm has passed so the flooding that will hit Viti Levu is yet to come. It is dark out now and it will be much harder to judge what we should do with our lines to combat any swell inside the marina. Bill always looking ahead put 50 foot lines on the quay side for just this eventuality. If we get a 12 foot surge we have 30 feet of line to use for adjustments. Not my fort-ay for sure but we will do our best to finesse the lines as best we can for whatever comes our way.
The water in the marina is now filled with debris: plastic bottles, tree branches, leaves, bits of rope, pieces of wood and at least one 55 gallon drum. So wish us luck in the dark tonight. Kat

11:30pm

Thankfully no huge surge made it into our inner sanctum though it looked like the tide was high (the highest we had ever seen it) in our little boat basin several hours after official high tide. We were lucky, extremely lucky. It sure looks as if Bills decision to re-tie the boats to either side of us made a difference in our outcome. I'm exhausted and since the winds have lowered enough that I might be able to get a bit of sleep I'm going to do just that. Kat

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