Our first Cyclone

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Our cyclone hole, I would advise against waiting out a cyclone behind reef.

We saw the dreaded words on our weather forcast last night. Tropical cyclone. We want to leave our options open so by clearing out if the weather gets bad and the cyclone develops, then we can get the hell out of here and ride it out in the open ocean. If the cyclone doesn’t develop and passes over, it gives us the option to sail north on Saturday.

They had been dredging out the front of town trying to create a beach. When we arrived the usual jetty was now high and dry. We got out of the dinghy and sank into a fine sludge layer. I sank up to my knees. I grabbed AK and tried to trudge through the sludge. I got a few steps and was stuck in sludgey sand up to my knees. I was laughing hysterically because the locals watching were laughing at the sight of me stuck knee deep with AK on my hip. Slade made his way over to the jetty with Beany and then came back to fetch AK.

I had made the mistake of wearing shoes, not wanting to find out what was below the sludge. I got my shoes off and tried to free my feet from the sludge. I fell forward and now had grey sludegy sand caked to my pants and hands.

The locals had gathered by now and they went up in a roar. Eventually Slade came back, to tug my feet free. I slowly shuffled across the sludge flat while Slade charged off. The local boys all came trudging out to join me in my sludge shuffle. Together we laughed as we sunk down on every step.

The jetty was soon in arms reach and I hauled myself up onto the cement path. The locals all clapped and we laughed some more. The best news is that the Tuvaluan council got it all on footage, so I am sure they will enjoy watching my sinking debacle over and over again.

The boys showed me to a tap and I cleaned myself up. We all then went into town to see the trade fair and have something to eat. When Slade went in to do clearing out procedures I taught some young kids to do handstands and had handstand walking races. The smile on there faces were priceless. For an hour we did handstands and they showed me there break dancing moves.

We were soon on a mission and I took off with AK to get provisions. Walking through town was so hot. I got lost several times making the trip even longer. Finally Slade and Beany found me at my last store.

We have to go to every store since they only stock 2-3 tins of each food, so we buy a tin from each store as to not buy them out. Thankfully the supply ship had come and the shelves were full with a variety of cans.Mackerel i tomato sauce, tomato sauce with mackerel, whole tomatos with mackerel.

On the walk back to the boat we stopped in to see this young couple who run a grocery store. We told them we were leaving and they filled a box full of food for us. They absolutely adore the kids and told us not to worry, they want to make sure the kids are well fed. They gave us over $50 worth of food. I couldn’t believe the amount of generosity. What truly beautiful hearted people.

When we went to get fuel the swell was rolling through, having built up the whole way across the lagoon. I stayed at anchor while the boat pitched and slammed between waves. Slade took a wild dinghy ride in to the fuel dock to fill up our jerry cans. 2hrs later we were done and headed back to our anchorage.

We left at track so we could follow it through the coral bombies in the last light of the day. When we got closer a boat had anchored right on our way point that marked a safe hole in the reef patches. We dropped our anchor as close as possible in the hope we had hit sand not reef. We were very close to the other boat. Just as I went to bed the anchor in I hear this clunk, clunk, clunk. I immediately throw the engine in to neautral. I check the chart plotter thinking we reversed onto reef, but its all clear. I try again Clunk back into neautral. I yell to Slade he comes down and realises we have wrapped the lure around the prop. That’s not good. He gets his snorkel on and dives down. How stupid of us, to wrap a lure around the prop. I guess every one has their first prop wrapping at some point in there sailing.

 

Slade re surfaced very unhappy. The wire trace and 400pd line were well and truly wrapped around the prop. Luckily the people off Menkar were on there way back from spearfishing and dropped in to say hello. For the next 2 hours in the dark Slade and Sylvan took turns in trying to free the prop and cut away the line. Sylvan is a very good diver with a great breath hold, we were lucky he popped by. While they got busy doing the prop, I had to entertain Sylvans father who unfortunately had lost his goods out the side of his pants ! I didn’t know where to look and didn’t want to embarass him. Finally the prop  was free enough that if the wind piped up in the night and we dragged we would be able to re anchor or move. The fishing line had melted into the cutless bearing and we were very lucky not to damage our shaft. We were now ready to tackle the approaching cyclone, bunkered down behind a piece of reef.

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