Saturday, February 20, 2016

Cyclone Winston - THE STORM - February 20, 2016 Savu Savu Anchorage, Fiji

By noon the skies to the east started to darken, the wind increased to 30 knots and the barometer started dropping rapidly crossing below 999.  Within the first hour the winds were blowing 40 gusting 50 and the barometer dropped below 990.  We had our VHF radio on monitoring local traffic and began hearing cries for help as one boat after another starting to break free of their moorings.  This was very unsettling.  There was zero visibility and we could not even see the two boats moored closest to us within 100 ft.  KaijaSong was being tossed around literally from gunwale to gunwale and we had our first mishap as the ship’s computer took flight.  The anguished cries from fellow cruisers was very hard to listen too but there was nothing anyone could do…you could not see and certainly not stand outside with winds now topping 100 knots and climbing.  The sting of the rain was overpowering and the only chance for any visibility was with a diving mask.  The feel of the horizontal driving rain was like being hit with bird-shot. 

By 3 pm the barometer hit 977 and winds were constant at 200 km/hr and gusts over 300 km/hr.  

There was no safe place to hide...Everything around you was in a complete state of chaos...KaijaSong was being tossed around like a bathtub toy.  You were inside a washing machine/dryer combo on Rinse/tumble dry cycle.  Your very being was being rocked from it's foundation!  You were in a state of shock, unbelieving the forces that were relentlessly pounded upon you! You felt bruised, battered and almost broken, you held on to whatever you could, physically, mentally, spiritually! In my entire life I have never experienced anything to compare with this.  Words fail to describe the intensity of the emotions you feel...And the worst part for me…was the overwhelming feeling of helplessness…we were completely at the Mercy of Mother Nature and God Almighty.

By 6 pm…the winds began to slacken and by 9pm the barometer once again topped 999 and winds were down to a very manageable 40 kts.  We spent a much harried night hoping/praying that Winston would continue on its way out over open water where it would do the least amount of damage.  Thankfully…it did.

The good news (if any) was that this storm hit our location (30 km north of the eye) during daylight hours.  I can only imagine how terrifying this experience would have been in the dark.  Not that we could see much outside of the boat, but at least we were able to stay somewhat oriented visually to our little world inside KS.  Night was upon us, the winds were abating…we had survived, our home and boat were safe, Kaija & I hugged each other and gave thanks to our Lord and Savior for sustaining us thru the worst weather experience we have ever faced!  I am a firm believer that there are no atheists in the middle of a storm and am sure that we were not the only ones who had just had a sustained period of ‘intense fellowship’ with God Almighty!

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