Earthquake then Tsunami !
Richard and Rachel Caswell
Thu 1 Oct 2009 15:06
Well, we pulled up our anchor at 6:45 am on 30th September to head to the Va Vau group, the next group down south in Tonga, for a 160 NM trip.
As we were pulling up our anchor we could hear all this banging ashore and didn't know what was going on, then we could hear a large growling rumble and after talking to another yacht who was going to leave as well we figured it out as being an earthquake.
Four boats were leaving at the same time in the morning and we were the third to go out the pass, time now being 10 past 7, and saw the water suddenly rushing out beside us.
As we just passed the outside markers we could see the water being sucked out off the reef beside us, and only just made it out, as the photos show no water around the markers.
And then the first of five big waves started coming onto the reef and then washing violently onto the shore. We could see the water rushing through the trees, and the two yachts at anchor still in the lagoon were pitching violently up and down. One of them broke their windlass. The worst for them was the backwash from the surge coming from the shore with loads of debris including buildings and houses, and lots of stuff from the village. We heard on the radio that all the villagers had run to the hills, and the two yachts that were still at anchor are OK and staying to help out.
The fourth yacht then came out of the pass, but said there was loads of debris, and even some of the channel markers were gone. No-one could've gone back in and anchored with that much debris around and we were worried that there maybe more large waves to follow, so we pressed on to Va Vau, having a quiet sailing day and night to get there. Two Mahi Mahi jumped off our hooks during the next day, so no fish tonight, but we feel very lucky indeed to be safe and sound.
Very impressive but very scary as well !
I'll put some pics on our web blog, go to mailasail dot com then click onto web diary, then Kachina to see them....
So we're safely on a mooring in Neiafu counting our lucky stars and will bless the gods with some aperitifs soon !
Rachel & Richard,