Tsunami - Fellowship and Feelings
Jan Morten Ruud
Sun 28 Feb 2010 13:09
Position: 00:44.669S, 90:18.606W
Some days are not as other days, and little did we know when we went to bed
what the next day would bring. At 02:20 the phone rang for the first time
without anyone paying any attention, well at sleep. At 02:32 the captain
wondered what the heck is ringing out in the salon? It was Frivind, our
weather router that called with a straight message: Jan Morten, there is a
Tsunami coming your way - it will hit you in approx. 4 hours. Suddenly I was
awake. After thanking Frivind for the warning we contacted Rally Control in
World ARC. They were already well into the situation, assessing the newly
information for all of us.
Given our situation, with the whole family with us, we decided to get ashore
and not take the boat out to deeper waters. At 03:15 we were standing
ashore and we quickly found a taxi. How do you explain to a taxi driver that
only speaks Spanish and we not? I had a small chart of the Island and just
pointed to the middle of the Island. We used 20 minutes before he started to
drive. After another 20 minutes we come to a small village, were there where
some people partying in the street - and there we found one that could speak
English. Having breached the language barrier everything went easier. One
thing was for sure, our taxi driver thought we were just crazy, we believing
there was a Tsunami coming our way. Big was his surprise when he heard on
the radio the Presidential order to evacuate the whole city Ayora due to a
coming Tsunami. Then he was quite eager to get us out of the taxi so he
could go and pick up his family.
We ended up in Bellavista, the same city that the officials used at the
evacuation base. During the whole process we followed our other friends it
the World ARC on the VHF, the most of them decided to taking their out to as
deep water as possible. It was not an easy task, given that all the boats
where moored with anchor both in the bow and stern. There were several quite
dramatic situations to follow on the VHF, but after an hour they were all on
the way out. At this time the port master had closed the harbor and ordered
everyone to either take the boat out to sea or leave the boat and get
Suddenly we heard Rally Control again on the VHF, they we had not been able
to hear for some time. They had, after being out to each of the ARC boats,
securing that they either went to sea or to shore, also evacuated to
Bellavista - arriving some hours later than us. It was great to find some of
our own group in the whole situation. The Tsunami where scheduled to arrive
at 07:13. We got regular reports of the situation at sea level, and it
become soon clear that it was not a large wave that had hit the Island. More
specific details was not possible to get, it was just a lot of different
rumors around of different happenings (such as that the whole harbor had
been emptied of water - not good for the boats). Around 08:30 the tsunami
warning was released and we had to wait for 1 hours after that until we were
allowed to go back to the port.
The port where still closed at this time, due to abnormal situation in the
sea around Galapagos. There where an oscillating surge of 2 meters that went
in and out with some minutes interval. She surge around in the harbor was
just amazing and dangerous. Great was though the relief, seeing Ronja
exactly at the same spot, floating as normal before we left. We could just
not wait to get out to her and asses the whole situation.
Three of us where able to get hold of a water taxi, and we urged out to
check the boats. Ronja was first up. She had sadly got some damages from a
nearby boat that must had collided during the waves/swell. The bow roller in
front where bended, the push pit in front on starboard side also bended and
some scratches in the paint on the front starboard side. Luckily none of
the damages seems to be serious and can quite easily be fixed. We will start
to deal with that the first thing tomorrow.
Some final words:
We had thought about Tsunamis back home, easily concluded that it was only
to get out at sea. We had not in our wildest dreams believed that we would
be part of one. When the situation suddenly appeared, we found our self to
be quite unprepared.
- What depts do we have to get out to, to be safe ?
- How do we get anchors up at night when we are anchored
both in the bow and stern ?
- Is it sure that we there will be no other effects of a
Tsunami out at sea ?
- Had a real discussion what to do if a Tsunami threat was
If we had had solid data on these questions, we would probably be heading
out to sea instead.
Regarding the depts, Mads - our weather router called the Norwegian
authorities. They told us that it was regarded that one should be between
200-300 meters to be safe for all situations. The greatest depth that we
could reach was approx. 160 meters. Later we had a lot of input from our
other World ARC participants that 100 meters is more than sufficient. We
will now find solid and hard data on these questions - so we are not
uncertain for the next warning (which is highly unlikely that we will