Monday, March 16, 2015

Cyclone Pam

Pam has passed the Northern part of the north island of New Zealand. Sunday night, we had some wind (though not as strong as predicted), lots of rain and a very low barometric pressure. In fact, we watched as the barometer dropped over the period of an hour as the storm approached offshore of Whangarei. We are up the river quite a way so we did not see the large surf that was part of the storm.

Today (Monday), the rain cleared and right now it is sunny outside and projects are again in theme process of getting done. We managed to get the stains off the hull this morning with some acid washing and that made the boat look great. All the rain did cause the new cockpit floor to leak – something we were hoping to repair – so that was a major disappointment, we are hopeful it can be resolved without entirely removing the new floor and destroying it. For now it will simply have to dry out.

Vanuatu, the island group we spent almost four months visiting last season, got badly hammered by this super cyclone. It was one of the worst ever and the destruction we are seeing on TV is awful. We feel for those really kind people. We were hoping to go back to that island nation again this May and visit some of the island groups we missed last year – but we will have to see if they want boats visiting or not. If we go, we know we'll have our work cut out for us helping on some of the islands.

Having spent time on these islands, we know how fragile the environment is and how difficult it is to get repairs made. Everything must be shipped into the country and when piers and wharves are destroyed, it only makes getting the needed supplies more challenging. We spent several weeks in Port Vila, the capital, and met many wonderful folks whom we know are suffering. We hear that the city is nearly destroyed. We saw pictures of many boats piled up against the dock where we would leave our dinghies to go ashore. It was a very narrow channel and we presume the storm changed that dramatically as well. We wish the best for really wonderful people and a lovely country very dependent on tourism in their economy.

Our friends on "GypSea Heart" headed out to Great Barrier Island last week before the storm showed its intentions. They luckily made it out of there in time to get to Gulf Harbour near Auckland safely. We are glad they weren't out there on Great Barrier which had much bigger winds and seas than we experienced here. We haven't heard of any boats being damaged here in New Zealand yet – so that's good news. The Volvo Ocean Race, scheduled to start the next leg of their race from Auckland to Brazil on Monday, was actually postponed. Cyclone Pam actually remained a cyclone for quite a long time off the cold waters of New Zealand – a testament to the strength she had.

Let's hope that's the last of all the cyclones this season for the islands and for here.

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