Global Voyage

A Story About Sailing Around the World

Ray & Jenny aboard the ketch Suka

3 years, 35,000 miles, Nov 1982 - Jan 1986

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Chapter 3: Tahiti And The Societies page 42 of 109

In Memoriam: Ike and Debbie Thompson

    Ike and Debbie Thompson had sailed their Islander 36 Summer Seas from Hawaii, and had arrived in Nuku Hiva shortly before Jenny and I had. Together the four of us had gone on snorkeling and hiking excursions, and we had shared a number of pleasant evening sundowners together, in their cockpit or in ours.

    Summer Seas departed the Marquesas three weeks after we had. Her crew was also eager to reach Tahiti, but warily they chose the somewhat longer and slightly safer route skirting the Tuamotus well to the north. Purely by happenstance, their timing proved all wrong. For cyclone Reva, the thrasher, swirled into existence virtually on top of them.

    For thirty-six hours Ike and Debbie battled the horrifying tempest. Late in the evening, Ike contacted the Maritime Mobile Net. "We're in trouble," he reported. "We haven't had a celestial fix in three days and I don't have any idea where we are. We're towing warps; the wind is eighty-five knots out of the north; the seas are thirty-five feet, and it's too rough to set any sail. And we're taking on water through the propeller shaft's packing gland that has come apart."

    Ham operators responded to the call. One wisely suggested that Ike jam a rag around the prop shaft then drive it home with a hammer and screwdriver. And indeed, this action proved successful in checking the infusion of sea water.

    But Ike was unable to obtain a bearing on the nearby aero beacon at Rangiroa, ludicrously because his radio direction finder lacked the necessary BFO (beat-frequency-oscillator) switch. So someone suggested he take a bearing on the Tahiti AM Radio station. Ike managed to take a rough bearing, but while taking a second reading the station went off the air for the night. Even so, the station's direction was not favorable for gleaning the needed information from Ike's line of position.

    "We're OK for the time being," he reported, "and we're going to sleep." This drew immediate and frantic response among some of the radio operators, who strongly advised Ike to stay with it. But understandably Ike was exhausted. "I'll be in contact again in the morning," he asserted. This was the last anyone ever heard from Ike or Debbie, or of the yacht Summer Seas.

    A subsequent and purported three week search by the US Coast Guard and the French Navy turned up not one shred of evidence. The consensus was that perhaps in the grips of an adverse current, Ike and Debbie had not progressed as far westward as they had thought, and so had perhaps not cleared the atolls. Therefore, in subsequently running south, they may have smashed onto one of the deadly Tuamotu atolls, perhaps Matahiva or Tikahau.

Cyclone Reva

Meanwhile in Tahiti our sky grew ominous, and the wind began churning the Papeete harbor. With Joe's help, Jenny and I retrieved Suka's a-proviso shore lines, then weighed and nervously moved well out into the protected harbor. We lowered the forty-five pound CQR into forty feet of water, and paid out the three hundred and fifty feet of three-eighths-inch anchor chain to its bitter end. Most of the fifty yachts were likewise moving away from the quay, such that the harbor became severely congested. Swinging room was critically restricted.

Moving west, Reva passed by Tahiti well to the north. We endured two days of twenty to forty knot winds. However, a small number of yachts were lying in calm conditions at the nearby Maeva Beach and Beachcomber anchorages, now protected in the island's lee. All looked well for us, but radio reports relayed the news that the Leeward Islands, Huahine, Raiatea and Bora Bora, were being hammered.

Then unpredictably the storm changed course, reversing its direction and now bearing hard upon Tahiti.

“Cyclone Reva smashed Tahiti's anchorages with eighty knot winds laced with one hundred knot gusts.”

The cyclone smashed all of Tahiti's anchorages with 80 knot winds laced with one hundred knot gusts. Papeete's harbor was churned into a seething ground-blizzard of raging, white spume, and with each gust Suka lay far over and strained at her unbudging bower. One by one, members of the flotilla dragged their anchors, but the five powerful harbor tugs scurried about saving the vessels, towing them to windward, and securing them to shoreside bollards.

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Cyclone Reva churning the Papeete harbor.

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The winds are abating beneath a spectacular sunset.

When one of the largest yachts in the harbor, Verdura, suddenly lost her anchor, her bow spun around and she headed downwind, out of control and directly for a nearby freighter secured to the windward wharf. But at the last moment a tug adroitly sped to her rescue and pushed Verdura's bow away, narrowly averting her demise.

Suka's anchor held fast. Her crew cowered belowdecks peering out the ports and hatch, and witnessing the devastation ashore. The hideous tempest was stripping buildings of their siding and roofs. Bursts of airborne sheet metal, glass, and miscellaneous debris were occasionally hurling far out into the harbor.

The sinister eye had missed us by a mere seventy-five miles to the north.

After seven hours of unparalleled excitement, the tempest eased. Then late in the afternoon it died, leaving the yachts lying motionless in a deafening quiescence beneath an unimaginably spectacular sunset. The monstrosity Reva, meanwhile, was headed back for another strafing run at the hapless Tuamotus.

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In the cyclone's aftermath, Joe helps with the clean-up.

The story has 109 pages. This is page 42.
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Page Links
GV 001: Title Page
GV 002: TOC
GV 003: Dedication
GV 004: Preface
GV 005: Prologue
GV 006: Beginnings
GV 007: Work Done
GV 008: Making Ready
GV 009: Departure
GV 010: Sailing Credentials
GV 011: First Lesson
GV 012: Sextant Navigation
GV 013: Safety Harness
GV 014: Murphy's law
GV 015: Spirit of Adventure
GV 016: Holding On
GV 017: First Big Storm
GV 018: Storm Intensified
GV 019: Rolling Violently
GV 020: Mizzen Sleeping Bag'sl
GV 021: Freeing the Propeller
GV 022: Visits by Birds
GV 023: Crossing the Doldrums
GV 024: Nearing First Landfall
GV 025: Land Ho
GV 026: Fatu Hiva
GV 027: Trek Inland
GV 028: Anchor Watch
GV 029: Passage
GV 030: Hiva Oa
GV 031: Skin Diving Circus
GV 032: Almost Like a Jungle
GV 033: Polaris Missile
GV 034: Taiohaie Bay
GV 035: Cascade Hakaui
GV 036: Taipi Bay
GV 037: Cyclone Lisa
GV 038: Cyclone Nano
GV 039: Passage of Patience
GV 040: Tuamotu Archipelago
GV 041: Tahiti
> GV 042: Cyclone Reva
GV 043: Secret Sharer
GV 044: Moorea
GV 045: Cyclone Veena
GV 046: Aftermath
GV 047: Good Weather in Papeete
GV 048: Huahine
GV 049: Raiatea
GV 050: BoraBora
GV 051: Rarotonga
GV 052: Tonga
GV 053: Fresh Air
GV 054: Tongan Feast
GV 055: Excursion to Maninita
GV 056: Mariner's Cave
GV 057: Fiji
GV 058: Ndravuni Island
GV 059: Mara Island
GV 060: Aneityum
GV 061: Noumea
GV 062: St Elmo's fire
GV 063: Breakwater Reef
GV 064: Bundaberg
GV 065: Life on the Burnett River
GV 066: Engine Sabotage
GV 067: Flying
GV 068: Aground in Round Hill Creek
GV 069: Gladstone Confinement
GV 070: Tropical Queensland
GV 071: Trip into Townsville
GV 072: Cairns Sojourn
GV 073: Cramped Cooktown
GV 074: Lizard Island
GV 075: The San Michelle
GV 076: Lost Mummy Cave
GV 077: Land's End
GV 078: Darwin
GV 079: Christmas Is
GV 080: Passage
GV 081: Cocos Keeling
GV 082: Crossing the Indian Ocean
GV 083: Rodriguez
GV 084: Mauritius
GV 085: Reunion Cirque de Mafate
GV 086: Reunion Cirque de Salazie
GV 087: Passage to Africa
GV 088: Kruger National Park
GV 089: Richards Bay
GV 090: Durban
GV 091: Port Elizabeth
GV 092: Cape Town
GV 093: Storm Passage
GV 094: St Helena
GV 095: Passage to Brazil
GV 096: Fortaleza
GV 097: Passage to Caribbean
GV 098: Bonaire
GV 099: Passage to Panama
GV 100: Panama
GV 101: Panama Canal
GV 102: Medidor
GV 103: Costa Rica
GV 104: Passage to Acapulco
GV 105: Acapulco to Cabo
GV 106: Baja
GV 107: Home Port
GV 108: In Retrospect
GV 109: Next Time
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