Winds at 110 Knots Sustained…Will the Anchor Hold?

May 8, 2020

I want you to know first and foremost that during these crazy times, you are not alone. The virus does not see color, wealth, or even location. It can impact everyone. So we all need to take care of ourselves and our families.

Sometimes I feel like i am holding on for dear life trying to figure everything out.

But I want you to know that the time to finally relax is coming, the virus will decrease, we will find medicines to reduce its impact, and finally a vaccine.

It will come, but now we hold on for dear life and do everything we can to stay well, safe, and sane! 

Here is a little story from my sailing days about holding on and believing that the time to relax will come.

The main harbor of Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia is a hub of movement, commerce and beauty. Yes, beauty. From the harbor, you can see the close mountains just behind the town. They are covered in green trees and at the top of those mountains there are even fir trees. When I am in Tahiti, one of my favorite trips from the city is to the mountains and listen to the wind in the fir trees. It is a lovely whisper. Below is the harbor of Papeete, the coral creating and protecting the lagoon, and the sea beyond.

In addition to being surrounded by mountains, the houses and buildings are all kinds of colors, which adds to the South Pacific atmosphere.

Bob and I had our boat there at the main quay during the 1983 season. We had been sailing for less than a year, and yet we had made it to Tahiti! We were so excited. What we did not know was that 1993 was going to be the strongest El Nino year ever recorded with nine hurricanes in the waters of French Polynesia. The wetter season is December through March, yet, hurricanes rarely come to these waters unless it is an El Nino year!

Each hurricane would last about a week total. The first few days was tracking the hurricane as it grew closer to the islands. The middle days was its approach through its hitting the island, then the last few days was all about cleaning up and getting back to normal. We had done this seven times this season and each time we were able to stay at the quay during the hurricane. However, now approached Hurricane Veena the eighth hurricane of the season and it was a category 4.

For this hurricane we were instructed by the harbor master to anchor in the middle of the  harbor for better protection. We did.

We set the anchor, we took everything off the deck we could, and waited for the storm to come.

And they came…the highest winds during the storm were clocked at 110 knots sustained. We were fortunate in the harbor that the winds came over the mountains so they did not reach the full 110 knots. I have to say gusts of 80 to 90 miles an hour is very strong. The storm raged. I would go forward to check the anchor with a snorkel mask on, snorkel, and long sleeved shirt every half hour. The wind was so strong that the particles blown by the wind etched my mask and made it hard to breath.

In addition, I kept an eye out for other boats at anchor with dragging anchors. The biggest threat was for other anchors being dragged and pulling your anchor up.

After around five hours of strong winds, they began to calm down and we realized we had made it through! What a relief! We could relax.

Through the whole storm, I kept saying to myself that we would make it. That we would survive an eighth storm, and we did. I didn’t know how, when it would end, but I just kept saying it to myself that we would get through this. We did.

I think of this event in my life during these days and I keep saying to myself that we will get through this. That if you keep going and keep trusting that we can get through this we will make it.

We will and we will travel again.

Stay well and strong. Stay home if you can. We will get through this together.


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