What to do about Cyclone Season

Tropical Cyclone season is December to March, which is summer here in the Southern Hemisphere. There is a pretty well defined region where cyclones develop. Tonga, Fiji and Samoa are all in this region, so all of us cruisers have to make a plan regarding what to do.

Option 1: Head south to spend the summer in New Zealand. This is the most popular choice, but it can be an uncomfortable passage to New Zealand and then another uncomfortable passage back before winter comes to New Zealand.

Option 2: Head north to get out of the traditional cyclone zone.  Some people head north, to places like The Marshalls. This is certainly heading off the beaten path.

Option 3: There are a few really enclosed anchorages (known as hurricane holes), and some people choose to stay and plan to ride it out if a cyclone comes there way.

We like option 4: Leave your boat somewhere safe and go have fun elsewhere. This is what we did 18 months ago when we left our boat in Guaymas, Mexico for the Pacific Hurricane season. That worked out okay.

Now here in the South Pacific, we were not really sure what we wanted to do until two things happened. Malcolm realized that ski season in the Northern Hemisphere corresponds to the Tropical Cyclone season and Dina found out about a new boatyard opening in Vava’u, Tonga (http://www.boatyardvavau.com/).  Dina corresponded with the boatyard and it all sounded great. The owner/operators are very professional, the boatyard is in a very well protected location in Vava’u and Tonga is in a great location to start cruising again after cyclone season.  So, the decision was made.

We have spent about 6 weeks exploring Vava’u, having fun with friends (see previous blog posts), and saying good-bye to those heading south to New Zealand or north towards the equator. There was a tiny bit of concern because the trailer used to haul out the boats was delayed a bit, but it all worked out.

On Monday we were boat #4 to be hauled out (the owners took their own boats out first). Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were spent preparing the boat. Anything that wasn’t bolted down, and a few things that were, were taken off the deck and put down below.  We also squeezed in some last minute socializing!

Driving up to the ramp

Hooking Up
Malcolm is a bit nervous about this!

Parking in a nice safe spot