Gust of 50 knots pounded the boat, the waves breaking through the anchorage causing havoc and occasionally breaking over our bow, boat awnings were being shredded like paper. Frantic calls were being put out over the radio by boats dragging anchor.
For 18 hours the wind was relentless it squealed and screamed, that all to familiar haunting sound, the wind sitting at a steady 40 knots gust of 50 knots on the nose in an unprotected anchorage. All the boats took cover behind the reef, there was nowhere to run for safety.The anchorage was messy and the start of tropical cyclone Tuni was making everyone feel very tense and stressed. We had 60meters of heavy chain out plus 5m of rope.
At 6am when the wind peaked to 50knots we began a race with the boat next to us to see who could drag the furthest and the fastest. Fortunately we caught a coral bombie and only dragged 100m, the boat next to us won the race dragging over 200m into deep water before catching on a bombie
When we saw the words “tropical cyclone” pop up on our weather fax we knew we had no where to hide. You instantly get that heart warming, sinking feeling. All we could do is find the best part of reef to anchor behind about 250m back from the very small palm tree’d island. We battoned down the hatches and prepared for the onslaught. ¾ of the boats anchored dragged that morning and thankfully the only issues that were had was us and another boat loosing our engines due to fouling our props with fishing line and the other boat a rope. Both us and the other boat were fortunate enough not to drag into another boat or worse onto the dry reef behind us.
This was the very, very edge of the cyclone and the cyclone was only just beginning to be a cyclone. We have never seen 50knots before and knowing we weren’t in harms way, now being securely wrapped around coral, we were able to really appreciate how devastating these winds could be and how intense and strong the wind could blow. It really was mind blowing and quite unreal to see. What an experience, in saying that I also never want to re-live a moment like that again or be caught out in winds like that. Once was enough for me. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be stuck in a catagory 5 cyclone, where the wind blows 200+kms an hour !
As soon as the wind died down to 20knots we got the hell out of there and headed for the Kiribati