Tsunami!

Position: 09 21.45 S 140 06.33 W
At anchor, Baie D'Hakahetau, Ua Pou
Wind: East, F3-4 Gentle to moderate breeze
Weather: Mostly sunny, warm
Distance Sailed: 33nm

I woke up this morning at about four to a wierd siren going off, lots of high tech dots and dashes, whoops and whines. “I wonder what that is all about,” I thought and then rolled over and went back to sleep. Later, at about 5.30, someone came and knocked on Sylph's hull, I climbed out of my bunk, put on sime shorts and went on deck. Juan was in a dinghy alongside and asked, “Did you hear the tsunami alarm?"  How could I not?  So that is what it was. I thanked him and he continued on his way.

Despite my initial non-response to the alarm I had planned to get under way today and had already made a few preparations yesterday, including removing a small coral reef that had established itself on Sylph's anchor chain, so it did not take me long to weigh anchor and get moving, in fact I was the first one away and soon had a bunch of other boats following me.

We cleared the entrance to Baie de Taiohae just after 7, outside we found a nice fresh breeze which had us on a brisk beam reach making a sparkling six knots with Sylph flinging spray regularly over her bow. It did not take long to make our destination, Baie D'Hakahetau on the island of Ua Pou, only 25 miles away. When we arrived there was already a big ugly Lagoon catamaran at anchor, he had left Nuku Hiva at the same time as me but being a little faster had arrived a short while before. I assumed that if he was at anchor then the tsunami alert must be over, but just to be sure I continued on for a bit and explored the west coast of Ua Pou which was quite interesting, three pinnacles ascending a little back from the coast dominate the landscape and the coastline is mostly steep and rocky. At 11.30 we were approaching the westernmost point of the island where the wind was becoming increasingly fickle so figuring that we would have killed enough time to be safe by the time we got back to Baie D'Hakahetau I reversed course and initially made slow progress in the light and variable airs. We were in no hurry but about half an hour later we were clear of the islands wind shadow and punching into the easterly trades which on this side of the island were bent round more to the north east. We tacked into the bay, skirting the big ugly catamaran (I am pretty confident they won't be reading my blog any time soon) dropping sail and coming to anchor about 100 meters off the shoreline in 10 meters of water at 13.25.

All is well.