Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tsunami effects

As I posted yesterday, most boats elected to leave the small boat harbors in Banderas Bay, in anticipation of a tsunami surge estimated as large as 2 meters in height. Turns out that is almost exactly what we got. What is surprising is how long it has lasted. There is still a noticeable surge in and out of La Cruz marina, nearly 24 hours after the first wave arrived yesterday. Several of the channel markers (similar to this one) were swept away by the current.

Out on the deep waters of Banderas Bay, the tsunami was not detectable. While enjoying a beautiful afternoon of sailing, we followed radio reports from shore, reporting a surge of about 30 inches at about 1pm local time. The surge cycle grew in strength, until a maximum water level change of about 66 inches was reported around 3:30pm. The surge cycle was as little as 10 minutes. This rapid movement of water generated strong currents at the marina entrances for La Cruz and Nuevo Vallarta. Several boats reported being unable to buck the currents to get back into the marinas, and the rest of us were advised to remain in open water for the night. This was a problem for some of the boats here for the Banderas Bay Regatta, as they had left the dock without anchors or chain! There were probably about 150 boats anchored out at La Cruz (normally there would be between 30 and 40).

We returned to our slip in the marina at first light. There was still a strong current at the entrance, rapidly shifting between ebb and flow. River running experience was helpful for "reading" the water and counteracting the current. Although it doesn't appear so in this photo, these two boats nearly collided as strong currents pushed them out of the channel and toward the shore.

Back in the marina, damage from the tsunami was immediately evident. At least two fingers at the end of Dock 11 were destroyed, and at least one piling was bent.

These docks were intended for 60-foot boats, and were only constructed 3 years ago. According to one eyewitness, the break-up took place within a few minutes' time. Fortunately, no boats remaining in the marina during the tsunami were damaged, as far as I know. Vicki and I extend our sympathy to the people of Japan who have been so severely affected by this event. This was a reminder that we are all connected on this Earth, and that we are no match for the forces of nature which can strike anywhere, anytime.
Note: a dockmate who is a professional writer has a great blog post and excellent photos on this event, from the perspective of someone who stayed in the marina for the duration:


Cathy Ellis said...

Hello M & V, thanks for the interesting tsunami updates, there in the waters of the Mexican Riviera....sounds like boats in Brookings Oregon got hit hard....hard to imagine the suffering of those in Japan, and those big nuc reactors, on the edge of a meltdown, time to rethink our place here on mother earth, but..nothing will change too quickly, if at all.....i like to believe that we can make a difference....well, are you all set for your puddle jump journey !? Lucky sailors ! We will all have to just have fun being bystanders and well wishers...fair winds and see you later, all is quiet and peaceful and lovely here on Orcas Island.....Cathy

Sandy said...

We'll be following your adventure and looking forward to seeing you again next season. Safe journey! Sandy & Chris