Thursday, August 18, 2011

March 2011 Tsunami

On the Waikiki - Honolulu side of the island a lot (maybe hundreds) of boats made the correct choice to go out into the open ocean to ride  out the  Tsunami even though it finally ended up not amounting to much.

Since the Tsunami waves are really long (like 20 miles) they go by in the open ocean without any effect. One just goes slowly up then slowly down.

On the Kaneohe side of the island it was as if no one got the word. Not a single boat responded (other than me). Since the Tsunami was supposed to arrive around 3:00am I went down to the boat around midnight and started to get underway. Since it was rainy and squally (and I was alone) and no one else seemed concerned I almost decided to give in and just hope for the best. Besides I'm getting old and creaky, so these adventures are getting harder to pull off.

You will not be surprised to learn that bravado prevailed and we (Cirrus and I) set out for Sampan Channel into the open ocean. Not so easy in the dark and in the rain. Most of the navigation marks are not lighted and it was a constant battle to stay oriented and avoid getting confused by lights off in the distance or on the land, (Traffic signals, for example,  are also green and red.) One marker in particular just didn't seem right and I almost ended up going on the wrong side of it. The range lights at Makani Kai and the Sampan Channel were absolutely essential. Don't know what I would have done without them. In between it was hard but manageable. The GPS was a big help also but I ended up as well picking out unlighted marks with a flashlight.

It took about an hour to get out the channel so I still had two hours to get as far offshore as possible before the predicted Tsunami arrival time of 3:00am. The SSB radio has one pre-programmed commercial channel that just happened to be the one that was doing continuous updates. Motor sailing to get as far offshore as possible was really hard. It was all straight into the wind and with the worst bumpy confused seas I have ever seen. The wind was about 15-20 knots and the waves were not much bigger than 6-7 feet but they were steep and coming from every different direction. I kept having the thought that it was really, really good that I seem to be impervious to motion sickness. (Even in space.) If you get sea sick you would not have wanted to be there. It's interesting that even though it didn’t seem so bad at the time, none-the less all my core muscles ache today from continuously fighting against the jerky motion of the boat while moving around doing things (and old age).

After an hour or so I was casting about for things to do. I thought of fishing but I wasn’t sure about doing it in the dark. Finally, I realized that even though I wasn’t that hungry it would be a challenge to boil some water and make a cup of noddles. That kept me busy for about 15 minutes and established that I probably wouldn’t starve even in the worst conditions.

At 4:00am (an hour after the predicted Tsunami arrival time) I gave up and headed back in. With the wind behind me and a little surfing I was back at the dock slightly before dawn at 6:00am. From the marina the ride home was a little unreal because the mountain was covered with people, parties, tents and cars parked every which way.

I was thinking how tough I was but then fell asleep while trying to have some breakfast at home.

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