[091216, 1755 UTC, Neiafu, Vava'u Group, Kingdom of Tonga; 1839.46'S / 17358.92'W]

 

Dear Friends;

 

As we write this we're sitting out the remnants of the first cyclone of the season, Mick, which galloped over the top of Fiji two days ago leaving two dead and some people missing. Winds in Fiji reached 92 knots but in Tonga are only in the mid to high twenties, occasionally gusting up to the mid 30s. We've stripped Carina of much of her windage: foresail, bimini, etc. and have wrapped the mainsail and tied a line around the blades of our wind generator to keep them from turning.

 

We've attached an extra 20mm diameter(about one inch) polypropylene line to the ship's chain of our mooring 120' below us. The chain is attached to a large ship's anchor and then to a three-ton concrete block that is buried in the silt. We were told that a 51' sailboat rode out cyclone Waka, with winds of 160 knots, on this same mooring back in 2001. We don't think Carina will be pulling our mooring around the sea floor anytime soon.

 

We've left Bacio, our nesting dinghy, tethered to Carina. He's ridden out 50 knot winds in Bora Bora without any problem so we decided to leave him in the water. We would take more drastic steps to prepare Carina if a major cyclone threatened but our minimal preparations should be okay for this storm.

 

The winds we are experiencing are not particularly nasty but Carina shudders with each blast. Also, we keep checking out, with a jaundiced eye, all the boats to the north of us (our wind is from the northwest), especially those which are riding on uncared-for moorings. And then there is Mariah, a HUGE 58', high-windage, charter catamaran which continues to sail around on her mooring close by. But, so far, every boat seems to be behaving and staying in place.

 

And so, we're hunkered down, not only for this storm but also for the holidays. Both of us (and Jake too) are in good health and looking forward to the holiday preparations here in Tonga. Tongans will be putting on a cultural celebration this weekend with music, arts exhibitions, dancing and the local cuisine. We hope to join in the fun.

 

We want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and hope that the new year brings health and happiness to you all.

 

Your friends of SV Carina,

Philip, Leslie and el gato guapo, Jake