Surviving a cyclone in NZ aboard our sailing yacht felt like crossing an ocean in a day

– I am going to brush my teeth, says Sorin.

– Ok.

– Aren’t you coming? 

– No way!

———————

We don’t have hard rules aboard Mehalah. We both have a sense of responsibility that compensate for any rule.

Enjoying the calm before the storm in Te Kouma harbour once preparations ahead of cyclone Dovi NZ were completed
Met Service NZ tropical storm warning

We had carried out our tropical cyclone preparation to the slightest detail. We had an exit plan should anything go wrong (e.g. anchor chain giving in, dragging anchor). We had an anchor alarm to wake us should Mehalah move beyond the set safety limit. However, I was still not comfortable to fall asleep knowing cyclone Dovi track is straight over where we were and it would hit in the middle of the night. What if the alarm fails to go off? What if we would not wake up? It was a risk I was not willing to take.

Everything secured on deck

Of course Sorin lingered on. Once cyclone Dovi hit at 3am, there was no way to sleep even if we were on sleeping pills. The gusts gained an incredible force. When they hit we had to hold on. Mehalah was thrown around by the unleashed power of nature right and left like a Yo-yo and unwillingly performed numerous pirouettes. The crunching of the anchor chain under the immense pressure was like a choking baby.

Outwiththewind right on Cyclone Dovi path with 56 knots of wind forecast in Te Kouma harbour and actual 57 knots recorded by a local weather station

The anchor alarm would often go off and every time we would  immediately check Mehalah’s position on the iPad. Our ‘wild horse’ was bellowing and foaming but always stayed within the safety perimeters. 

Mehalah’s ever changing position (anchor symbols) thrown around in the bay at 1.7 knots, recorded at anchor

In the wake of the cyclone Dovi hitting NZ we had secured everything on deck. We never dawned on us that the cyclone would, more or less, feel like crossing an ocean. We were at anchor after all. Except for having everything in order down below, which is normal routine, we did not put any special measures into place. We realised we omitted this necessary precaution when candles started sliding off at one of Mehalah’s wild turns. We quickly mended our mistake. 

Once the Universe started pouring its first drops of light, things become easier. We took turns dozing off for a couple of hours each. In his watch Sorin had to fend off Mehalah supremacy in the bay when a couple of boats in the neighbouring bay sought a more secure anchorage for their troubled vessels. Given the extreme weather expected we had dropped 30 m of chain in 3metres of water. They anchored alongside Mehalah – one too close and one too far from the shore. Just after a couple of hours, they were back on the saddle heading to the opposite side of the harbour.

Overwhelming conditions in a very long and well protected bay

Our prayers paid off. Late afternoon Dovi was starting to show signs of loosing its power, the gusts gradually becoming weaker and rarer. We felt a sense of relief. We could afford to fall asleep. We conked out shortly after 8pm.

A strange sense of calm and renewal was felt when I stepped on deck the following morning at the crack of dawn. Everything had completely changed. Like you turn the page to start another chapter in the never ending book of life. The golden waters were flat and shiny like a stunning ball dress on the perfect body of the renewed Earth. Fish were now and then cracking a hole in this beautiful dress that would sew itself right back. Birds chirping. Cows mooing. Turkeys gobbling. To perfect the picture the long awaited sun made his grandiose appearance from behind the surrounding green hills.The beauty of life resumed in all its glory. Pure bliss. Pure enchantment. Accompanied by a great sense of relief and gratitude.

The renewed Mother Earth post cyclone Dovi NZ
Outwiththewind saying goodby with gratitude to the bay that kept us safe over the worst weather in our sailing around the world adventure
14 Feb – On an absolute high with Love, Life and Gratitude post cyclone Dovi NZ (13 Feb)

On 15 Feb we picked up some light southerlies (at last!) and made it to the Great Barrier Island, the Mecca of cruising in NZ.

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