Tsunami in Samoa and Tonga 2009

by Drew on October 1, 2009

I believe this is in Pago Pago

2009 Tsunami Damage-Latest Death Toll is 150 and Rising

A story fresh off the AP covers the latest news on the tsunami that hit American and Western Samoa and Tonga on Sept 30, two days ago, while this brief article from Latitude 38 covers several cruiser’s experiences around the Pacific.  Sitting here in Neiafu, Tonga we didn’t experience much; only a small rise and fall of a few feet in water depth.  There was a lot of misinformation going on in the harbor.  One boat would come on the radio and announce that they just witnessed a 30 foot drop in water while seconds later, a boat no more than 500 yards away would say they just dropped 2 ft.   Meanwhile I’m sitting on one of the moorings closest to shore watching the water rise and fall maybe 1.5 ft, covering and uncovering a tire on the beach a few times.  Several boats only a few miles from here did see some crazy tidal shifts and standing waves.  A couple of boats dragged across the reefs, while others dropped their entire anchor chain to quickly escape to deeper water.

We managed to escape the bad parts although the epicenter was only 250 miles north of here.  As peaceful as it seemed here in the harbor, the chatter on the VHF and SSB kept reminding us how different it was for others out here.  Thanks to everyone who checked up on us through email or on facebook.

The past several days have been nothing but work for me.  The cockpit lockers are getting a complete makeover and now they’re so organized I’ve convinced myself they need a paintjob.  Yesterday, I did a complete engine fluids changeout, changed the belt, reorganized all the wiring, adjusted the transmission, and decided that if I’m painting the lockers, may as well paint in there too.   Today, I took apart the entire top end of the outboard for a thorough cleaning and inspection.  The carb needed some work and I replaced the spark plugs, but other than that the engine is in great shape.  I can’t explain how nice it is to have the Short Bus back!

Meanwhile, Margie found the benefits of third world dentistry.  Two days ago, she tagged along Neiafu’s dentist and spent the afternoon teaching the importance of proper dental care to Tongan children.  The next day, she visited that same American trained dentist and had a filling replaced and a complete cleaning for $30US.  Now she has a lead on free crownwork from the Mormon dentists down in Nuku’alofa  on our way to New Zealand!

Speaking of New Zealand, our second family on Zen left this morning.  We sure will miss those guys.  They had to leave early since Zen is coming out of the water for a huge refit including a new paintjob.  They are moving ashore in Whangarei while the work is completed.  Everyone else around here is starting to think about the weather too.  As for us, Marge and I begin looking at windows in 10 days!  Chances are, we’ll still wait around till the end of the month, but if a really good opportunity pops up, we seriously have to consider taking it.

For all those who have emailed me about the sale of Dosia, I’m working as hard as legally allowed here in Tonga to get the page finished.  I decided on pricing and the equipment list is building as I clean and organize the entire boat.   There’s a ton more photos coming in the next few days.  I promise to get back to each and every one of you!  Thanks for your interest!

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