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 46 of 109


In the aftermath, a house at the head of the bay, directly in front of us, lies decimated. Photo taken the day after.


“4,000 homes were destroyed, 26 yachts were driven onto beaches or reefs, 39 pleasure boats and 6 bonito skiffs had foundered.”

Veena was far and away the most ruinous of the season's cyclones. The damage it inflicted to Tahiti and Moorea was horrendous. According to the local newspaper, four thousand homes were destroyed, most of the agrarian interests were decimated, all roads were severed, many bridges were carried away by the torrential rains, and the electrical network was largely razed. The yachts anchored at Tahiti had fared far worse than those of us at Moorea. Twenty-six were driven onto beaches or reefs. Most of these had not been equipped with all-chain rode, so their anchor ropes had merely chafed through at the bows. Additionally, 39 pleasure boats and 6 bonito skiffs had foundered.

During the night of the cyclone, when Jenny and I had been hanging on to our wildly rebounding home, Jenny's parents were roused by the hotel staff, and with the other guests were shown to the main kitchen - the hotel's strongest room. There, they remained safely throughout the night, sipping coffee, eating sandwiches, and chatting nervously. As it happened, the hotel was situated more in the island's lee, so it did not sustain the full brunt of the tempest. Late in the afternoon, Jenny's Dad set out to determine whether we were safe. He reported climbing over and under the tremendous downfall, and eventually reaching the bay where he could see Suka lying securely.

Windjob in Distress

The next day Jenny and I monitored the VHF radio, listening to the salvage operations taking place on Tahiti's beaches and reefs. Then in a tired, quivering voice, a yachtsman identifying himself as Dirk Winters issued a call for help. It seems that Dirk had been single-handing his 34-foot sloop Windjob, and was nearing Tahiti when hurricane Veena struck. Now in the aftermath, his sails were in shreds, his engine was inoperable - having seized years ago - and in the persistent cloud cover he was unable to navigate. Windjob was dead in the water, and her captain was exhausted and rather lost. The French harbor authorities were deluged with other projects, so the captain of a nearby oil tanker offered to search for Windjob. Six hours later the tanker's crew found Windjob, and by then the yacht had drifted within a few miles of Tahiti. The tanker's maneuverability was of course extremely limited, and because her captain could no longer lend his assistance he steered away. Later that night, closing with the reef and about to meet his demise, Dirk put out another call. This time the yachtsman-interpreter Stefan managed to summon the French Navy. A ship was dispatched and three specialists bedecked in the latest counterinsurgency outfits (as Dirk reported later) zoomed to Windjob in an inflatable, and climbed aboard.

“Forget it. My boat isn't worth that much.”

Dirk learned that the tow back to the harbor would cost him the equivalent of $3,000. He replied, "Forget it. My boat isn't worth that much." So the three agents volunteered to sail Windjob back to port. All night they worked on saving Windjob from the reef, but with no engine and no sails they could do little but tow her a short distance away. In so doing, at least they prevented Windjob from foundering on the coral reef and thereby meeting a most untimely end to her circumnavigation. Yes, it seems that at the age of 79, the ol' shellback was completing his sail around the world, having had departed Tahiti eight years previously.

Next morning, a yacht generously set out from the Papeete harbor and towed Windjob into port. To everyone's amazement, Dirk related that he had endured, not one, but three cyclones while at sea.

. . .

A week later, yet another cyclone warning came over the airwaves - "William". At poignant times like this the VHF radio would come alive with interesting chatter among the yachtees. One woman was heard to say, "We're not going to do this one." This reflected our sentiments precisely. And to everyone's relief, the cyclone dissipated.

The Infamous Cyclone Season

The 1982-1983 cyclone season will long be remembered by all who were present in French Polynesia that season. And the catastrophe was not confined to the eastern South Pacific; the devastation was world-wide. The overall phenomenon is dubbed El Niño, a name derived from an Ecuadorian off-shore current that occurs at Christmas time. El Niños happen sporadically, on the average of once each four or five years; rarely, though, with such intensity. In fact, National Geographic magazine characterized this particular El Niño as, "one of the most destructive climactic events in modern history."

Cyclones in our vicinity

Experiences with El-Nino, by Ray Jardine

The story has 109 pages. This is page 46.
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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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