The first major storm of the South Pacific cyclone season — named Mick — clobbered the Fijian islands two days ago with winds as high as 94 knots (108 mph). At least four lives were lost, in addition to yet-untallied property loss, including the long-time Alameda-based S&S 47 Moonduster.
Fortunately, however, Wayne Meretsky and his Kiwi girlfriend Neria Brewerton survived the nightmare with only "a few scrapes and bruises."
"We motored at anchor at full throttle in the maelstrom for about an hour," explains Wayne, an accomplished ocean cruiser who singlehanded from San Francisco to New Zealand last year. "In the end, the second snubber parted and then the windlass slowly backwound the remaining chain. The chain ended in 300 feet of nylon rode — that parted from chafe.
"Thankfully, the boat veered to the left. At full throttle, there was no way to get back head-to-wind. We stepped off onto the reef and walked the mile to the resort being blasted by sand driven in clouds from the beach. The boat was driven across 30 meters of reef and onto the beach. The port side is completely stove in and the boat is full of sand and water."
Through a series of emails, Wayne explained to friends on his mailing list that the low had built quickly during the previous day. Cruising within the Yasawa Islands group of western Fiji, Wayne and Neria decided the best protection from the fast-approaching storm would be at Likuliku Bay, on Waya Island, adjacent to the Octopus Resort. Weather models from Fiji Met Service led them to believe that the eye would pass directly over them, leaving them with a temporary calm long enough to relocate the boat to Nalauwaki Bay. There, they planned to ride out the anticipated "southerly and then westerly onslaught."
Sadly, the storm sequence progressed differently than they’d hoped, leaving Moonduster at the mercy of the storm’s full force as it clocked around. Naturally, Wayne and Neria are emotionally frazzled from the experience, but are accepting their bleak reality stoically. Promising a full blow-by-blow report soon, Wayne wrote this morning, "My view remains that individuals remain responsible for their own choices, and that bad weather is a relative constant in the world of sailing."
At this writing, Mick is pounding the Tongan Islands, but with substantially diminished force.
One of the world’s preeminent yachtsmen, Roy E. Disney, passed away earlier today in Newport Beach — less than a month from his 80th birthday — after a year-long bout with stomach cancer. Although better known to the non-sailor for his machinations at Walt Disney Company, he was known to sailors for his active campaigning in the ULDB 70 and MAXz 86 classes and his philanthropic exploits. On the sailing side, this took the form of considerable support to US Sailing, youth sailing in California, Orange Coast College’s School of Sailing and Seamanship, and the Morning Light project, to name a few. We’ll have a more complete picture of his life in the January issue of Latitude 38, and invite you to share your recollections of him with us here.
"You guys rock!" writes Classy Classified advertiser Eric Sorensen of Half Moon Bay. "I sold my Fatty Knees dinghy in less that a week. What a great service to fellow boaters!" Eric is, of course, talking about the Classy Classified section of our website.
Did you know that we’ve improved our online submission form, making the whole process nearly painless? Or that your ad goes live on our site within two business days (but usually much sooner)? Or that online ads for gear and boats costing under $1,000 are totally free? All that, combined with the fact that Classies really work, make it a no-brainer to earn a few extra holiday bucks by selling your stuff with a Classy Classified.
And don’t forget — the deadline for getting your paid ad into the January edition of Latitude 38 is 5 p.m. this Friday, December 18!
In the aftermath of a tragic motorbike accident, South Pacific cruisers are reaching out to aid Renee Nauman, an American from Salem, OR, who is currently paralyzed from the neck down on one side.
Renee and her partner Gene operate the popular waterfront CocoNet Cafe, where they provide many services to cruisers. According to Philip DiNuovo and Leslie Linkkila of the Kingston, WA-based Mason 33 Carina, "Renee requires, at minimum, a CT scan to determine whether she has a life-threatening blood clot.
"A group of friends here in Neiafu has rallied together to help her get the medical attention she requires that is not available here in Neiafu. One cruiser couple has coordinated the evacuation of Renee to Nuku’alofa (principal island of Tonga) and from there she will need to travel to a US or NZ facility for diagnosis and treatment.
"Unfortunately, Renee does not have the ability to pay for her transportation and medical care, so there is a fundraising effort by her friends in the community here in Tonga. The coordinator is Lisa Molloy at the Cafe Tropicana here in Neiafu, Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga. She is opening a bank account specifically for funds to help Renee and will provide a full accounting of donations and expenditures." If you’d like to help, please email Lisa or the cafe. Any amount will be gratefully accepted.