Wednesday, November 7, 2012
1st Big Tropical Storm
Jim here. I'm still in Nieafu harbor in the Vava'u group in central Tonga. This is the most protected harbor within in all of Tonga and today it's a very good place to be. 500 miles to the south is the first tropical storm/cyclone of the southern cyclone season, which officially started on November 1st. The boats that are already on route to New Zealand are having a tough time. I can listen to them via the ham radio and most are reporting over 30 knots of wind with some as high as 60 knots, and seas of 15 to 25 feet. One boat has been abandoned. The crew is in their life raft and a rescue effort is underway. In a separate incident an EPIRB has been activated but no other details on that one are available. A number of boats are hove-to waiting it out. Another boat is reported on the reef within 20 miles of where I am. Here in the harbor it is blowing around 25 knots from the northwest. This puts Sockdolager on a lee shore with trees about 50 feet astern. The good news is that I'm on a very strong mooring and so have little fear of breaking loose and going aground. Last night provided a pretty incredible lighting storm. The harbor which was looking pretty empty a few days ago is now full up with boats that have come seeking shelter from as far as 100 miles away. Everyone here is feeling very grateful not to be out in the storm. It looks like the next weather window to leave for New Zealand will be around Monday or Tuesday, however I will be staying here until around Nov 21st when my friend Tom is scheduled to arrive to help sail the boat to NZ.