Tsunami cancelled

Caramor - sailing around the world
Franco Ferrero / Kath Mcnulty
Sun 25 Dec 2016 19:25
At 5am we rose to prepare Caramor for our two day sail to Valdivia where we will base ourselves for the next year. Our final engine check before casting off revealed a gearbox oil leak. There was no way of tightening the drain plug, it just kept turning, Franco must have overtightened it when he did the engine service. Without wind or engine, we couldn’t leave. Despondent, we informed the club staff and went back to bed.

Later, over breakfast, we felt a very strange motion, it wasn’t the same as the wash we get from boats motoring past, more like a wobbling coming down the mast.

Robusta had left at 5:30 and Yao! had just sailed away. Tomas from Kalibu came over to ask why we hadn’t left. The next minute Birgit, Leo and Zoe were running up the pontoon shouting “Tsunami alert” and Franco was coming in the opposite direction “We need to get to high ground, there’s a tsunami on the way!” Then the sirens started.

This was all new to us. The staff didn’t seem too phased and I reckoned that if you ran when they did, you would probably be alright.

We packed some kit and headed for the second floor of the club house. Then we saw Yao! returning. They had been ordered back to port by the navy.

The evacuees (Zoe, Birgit, Leo, Jean-Loup, Marianne, Franco and Tomas)

As we wondered what to do next, the three navy ships on the pontoon nearby cast off and headed out to sea. There is no doubt that the worst place to be when a tidal wave hits, is near land so it seemed rather hypocritical of the navy to have ordered Yao! back when they instructed their own ships to stand off.

The marina guard informed us that there might be a 2-3 m surge around 2:30. Yao! and Kalibu decided to head out and take their chance in open water. They weren’t the only ones to leave. We stayed behind and monitored the navy’s tsunami alert page. At 1:30 the warning was downgraded to ‘precautionary’ then at 2:20 the tsunami was cancelled.

The only ‘tsunami’ we saw, heading out to sea

Luckily, the only damage was inflicted on the Christmas dinners of the good people of Puerto Montt who had to evacuate uphill just as the ‘asado’ (roast) was ready.