Thursday, November 16, 2023

Rhapsody meets Cyclone Mal

 "When are you leaving the boatyard?"

This was the question the marina management asked us when we came into the office. "There is bad weather coming"

We were well aware of this as we had been watching the reports for days, watching the growing system and realizing that it was headed in our direction.

The problem is, we are "on the hard" meaning that Rhapsody has been hauled out of the water to have some repairs made and some necessary maintenance done. We currently have no prop shaft and the rudder is laying on a pallet under the boat, making it impossible for us to maneuver in the water if we had to be launched, if we even had someplace safe to go to.

Next we received an email stating the following:

"Please kindly note we will have to relaunch your vessel at the earliest by 5pm this afternoon. "

A little background here as to why we are still on the hard after two weeks. Our prop shaft was causing some wiggling in the steering, so we had it removed to test for trueness. Upon removal it became obvious that it was no longer usable, the (something or other) was rusted and the shaft was bent?. A new prop shaft would have to be ordered from New Zealand. We had no choice but to tell them to order it, but to please hurry as we would like to get back in the water to make ourselves safer during the rapidly approaching cyclone season. They agreed to get the process moving.

Three days later...

"We have just ordered the prop shaft"

So much for rushing things for us.

"It has been ordered from Wellington but it has to be shipped to Auckland to have the trueness tested. We have had problems with shafts arriving here and not being true enough for our standards"

One week later...

"The shaft has arrived in Fiji, but they did not package it to our specific requirements, they used 2 boards to protect it instead of our requested four, and it has arrived bent"

"We are working with the company to try to expedite another shaft for you"

And so we sit, rudderless, and wishing we had been given the shaft.

Next the Marina office came to us again-

"You have to leave"

"Sorry, but we can't"

"Please sign these waivers making you liable if anything happens anywhere around your boat"

So, we signed, or rather Bob signed (does that make him more liable than me?)

The preparations all around the marina were in full force. Tourists were crowding off the ferries from the outer island resorts,like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Anything that had the potential of flying away was removed or tied down. 

The biggest activity near us was all the boats were removed from the docks, sailboats were sent to the mangroves to tie up and power boats were crammed in the boat yard all around us, even spilling out into the adjoining parking lots.

The docks and the mooring fields looked like a ghost town. 

These docks are usually completely full.

Rhapsody got tied down six ways to Sunday.

Lines from bow, stern and center, a line from the top of the mast to help stabilize it, and many additional jack stands were placed around us, with Melody, our dinghy, tucked and tied beneath Rhapsody.  Note the absence of our rudder and prop shaft.

And then we waited. 

Here, looking back at the boatyard, with one lone sailboat mast, Rhapsody. 

 The marina management was very uncomfortable having us there, worrying,  not so much about us, but that our boat might topple and cause damage to the other boats around us.

Here are some notes I wrote, waiting for the bigger winds to come:

3:30 PM winds begin, the mast begins to sing, sounding like air being blown across a bottle, or a boomwhacker.
4:30 whitecaps forming out in the bay the winds are up to 20 knots
6:30 sunset, there is a new, higher tone in the singing mast, winds up to 24 knots
7:30 still no rain, winds down to 14-17
8:30 ditto
9:30 the rains have begun winds still in the low 20's
11:15 Things are picking up. The boat is vibrating, but solid and stable. Winds in the low 40's gusts to 50. The hatches have to be closed because of the intermittent rain, and also the certainty that the wind would blow them open. This is making the cabin hot and stuffy. Usually the fans by our bed are enough for relief,  but not now, it was just too humid. 
12:30 AM The winds feel higher now, Rhapsody is vibrating more, but feeling well tied down. 
1:30 There has been no change in the winds, neither higher, nor lower
3:30 Things are sounding like they are calming down. I am going to try to get some sleep.

The small white dot to the right of the center is Rhapsody.  Cyclone Mal passed to the side of the main island of Viti Levu. The highest gust I saw was 50 knots, I know it got higher than that, but certainly nothing that ever put us in danger.

After the sun came up it was still blowing a little, but the worst had passed. 

There was a lot of small debris on the ground, but no major damage was seen anywhere. The weather outlook for this cyclone season has 4‐6  cyclones predicted.  That was one. Here's wishing the others treat us as kindly.

We love to hear your comments.

Kathy and Mark said...

Wow! Sounds like you stayed aboard during the storm. "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din."

Dancing on the Edge said...

Glad you made it through.

Sarah said...

Thanks. We briefly considered not staying on Rhapsody, and had the forecast been worse we would have sought other accomodations.

First & Last Mate Rosie said...

So glad we never experienced a significant blow while we lived on EXIT STRATEGY!

Sara s/v Due' said...

So glad you 2 and Rhapsody came out unscathed! Mother Nature keeps us on our toes!

Hope you get the shaft (:-)) soon!

Sarah said...

We have been shafted! And it is a good thing!