Sunday, February 28, 2010


Potentially pretty exciting stuff.

Sometime around 8:30 pm HST, Friday, February 26th  there was a big earthquake in Chile that sent a Tsunami out into the Pacific Ocean. That pretty quickly got the attention of a lot of people in Hawaii. Somewhere around midnight Donna's ex-husband, Bill Austin, called her with the news that the wave was expected around 11:00 am and that people were taking it seriously. He suggested that Donna and Richard take Addiction out into the open ocean a couple miles. A general warning was scheduled by the civil defense people for 7:00 am but a lot of people were getting the word before that. Phone calls from the mainland were common, and I even got an email from Ulli in Germany. What a world we live in, the wonders of the information age! 

Donna  called me around 6:00 am to give me a heads up. I called Ric and he said that he was on his way to the Red Cross Civil Defense headquarters in Diamond Crater. I think that I was still waking up when I realized that I was in my truck and headed for the boat. At the Pali lookout and all along the road near the peak it was already packed with cars even though there was no official warning so far. As the highest point around and with a good view of the windward side I guess it seemed like the logical place to party and wait out the crisis.  Indeed, later in the day, on my way home the area was still packed. By that time people had set up tents and picnic tables, barbecues were going, Frisbees flying and you could hear guitars and music all along the way. I think that if there is a world ending crisis I want to be in Hawaii when it happens.

A little after I arrived at the boat (after leaving the truck on high ground) the sirens went off and even the AM radio station that is on Ch. 160 of my SSB switched over to tsunami coverage. The Makani Kai homeowners association scheduled a meeting for 8:00 am and the general chat on the dock seemed to indicate that people were not going to take it seriously. Since I had my heart set on a day out in the open ocean I figured there wasn't much point in sticking around. So I got Cirrus ready to go and headed out.

One motivation for going out was to put some more hours on the engine. Since we did some major work on the engine a couple weeks ago I wanted to run it as much as possible before putting the engine cover back on just to be sure there aren't any fuel, oil or water leaks. (This was a good thing to do.) The engine got a lot of exercise. There wasn't a breath of wind all day. No, let me take that back. What actually happened was that there was a light breeze that followed me around all day so I wasn't able to generate more than a couple of knots relative wind even by motoring. A couple attempts to shut off the engine and unfurl the jib (The main traveler is being repaired.) met with complete failure.

On my way out the Sampan Channel the tide was pretty low and the sandbar was high and dry. I saw a helicopter land by Kapapa Island just seaward of the sandbar and wondered if  it had something to do with the tsunami warning.  About a quarter mile beyond R2 I went below to get my PFD and tether. When I came back up on deck I was looking right down the blow hole of a whale that was only about 50 ft away. It was off the port quarter and headed NW up the coast, so I must have almost run over it. Actually, with all the breathing plumes and lifted tails there must have been at least two of them maybe more.

That was it for excitement. I went out about seven miles, shut off the engine and just drifted around for a couple hours until it was pretty clear it was going to be safe to head back in. At some point I got a call from Ric telling me that there was a Civil Defense all clear. Apparently there were 3 or 4 little surges that passed by the islands where the water went down a couple feet and then back up, but it was all pretty boring. No stories to tell in the bar later.

Most of the time I was the only boat out there except for a couple fishing boats. Later I saw a couple of small sails. This was in dramatic contrast to the other side of the island where there were a hundreds of boats in the ocean off of Waikiki and the Navy emptied out Pearl Harbor. Someone could have made a mint setting up a cold beer and deli concession. The tsunami was scheduled to arrive just at lunch time.

1 comment:

  1. I can only imagine how wonderful it was to be out there floating about once you it was all clear. I think if we indeed had some kind of "end of the world event" I would want to be on your sailboat too! *completely jealous*

    Keep us informed.