Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga

Cyclone Rene

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Note: All of these photos were taken before the storm, during the eye, or during the second half of the storm.   The most violent weather occurred during the first half of Rene which was during the hours of darkness and of this we have no photos.



Ominous Forecast

This is a visual of the forecast generated from the GFS computer system and sent to us as GRIBs or gridded binary data. We used many forecasting models; these tend to under-estimate wind speeds during storms. Notice Carina's position on the chart.


Falling Barometer

This was taken by Mariah but the vessel Jazz (who were aboard during the storm) reported 968 and falling and then a rising barometer of 11 millibars in 3 hours.

Carina's Storm Bow

It might look like a bit of a rat's nest but these multiple lines and chain, secured with chafe protection, kept Carina securely on her mooring.


It took two full days of work to strip Carina to prepare her.

A Stripped Down Carina Awaits Rene

Ed of s/v Kuay took this photo of Carina just prior to taking the Carina crew to shore to wait out the storm. We towed our dinghy (sans engine) to shore, broke it down and stowed it under a staircase. The local date was actually Feb 14th - Valentine's Day.

The Ferry Pulupaki in Protected Waters

This (condemned) ferry sought refuge in Neiafu bay during the storm. Her anchor would not hold without the ferry running her engine and powering forward to remove strain. (Mariah photo)

Scary Pre-Sundown Sky

The sky just before darkness fell reflected an eerie glow presaging a fierce cyclone.

Dawn Breaks

And Carina still floats! Photo taken from Manu-o-Ku by Steve Gates during the first, most violent half, of the cyclone Rene.

S/V Mariah In the Eye

We have no photos of the first half of the storm, rated as at least 40% more violent by a friend who was aboard his boat. (It was a category 4 when it reached Tonga.) The eye arrived at just after dawn and lasted an incredible 2 1/2 hours. The crew of Mariah snapped this photo of her.


During the oddly calm steamy eye, the Pulupaki moved to the commercial wharf. (Mariah Photo)

Two Boats Loose, One Driven Ashore

S/V Liten Up struck and damaged another sailboat and ended up driven on the rocks. S/V Entelecheia DRAGGED her mooring across the bay during the 1st half of the storm and back the other way during the 2nd half (Mariah photo).

S/ V Liten Up on the Rocks

The owner of the this sailboat had ignored his boat for years. His sun-damaged mooring and bow lines snapped during the very beginning of the storm. (Mariah photo)

Carina Fights Rene

This photo gives an idea of the conditions during the (less ferocious) second half of the storm. (Jazz photo)

Boats Battling Rene

S/V Caribee and an unidentified Moorings charter boat during the storm (Mariah photo).

Carina Heels Dramatically

During the storm, there were many tiny tornado-like gusts. Here one drives Carina to starboard. (Jazz photo)

S/Vs Mariah and Aita'pe'ape'a

The danger to a very light catamaran (Aita'pe'ape'a in the foreground) is for wind to get under the hulls and flip the boat end-over-end. (Mariah photo)

A Loose Moorings Charter Cat

We were amazed to watch this catamaran drag a 3-ton concrete mooring for a quarter mile before snagging the bottom again in shallower water. (Caribee Photo)

Overlooking Vava'u Yacht Club

Mariah photo.

Carina Bashed About

Other cruisers who stayed aboard their boats reported being terrorized by the storm's ferocity. (Jazz photo)

A Bay in Turmoil

Ed on s/v Kuay took this photo during the height of the second half of the storm. (Date is incorrect.)

Post Storm Damage

The restaurant, Dancing Rooster lost a roof.

At Least They'll be Able to Watch the Stars

Many homes suffered significant damage and some, like this house, had their roofs completely blown away. Luckily, no one suffered injuries or death. (Mariah Photo)

Tongan Navy Patrol Boat

The day after Rene, the Tongan navy sent this partol boat from Nuku'alofa to help in the clean up after the storm. (Caribee Photo)

Tin Hazard

The greatest hazard of flying debris during this cyclone was flying tin roofs. (Mariah Photo)

Even the Tiki Couldn't Help

This restaurant's table was pulled right out of the ground.