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[Fwd: Tsunami aboard yacht in American Samoa!]

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  • cavelamb
    I m going to post this email I got from another ham friend just as he sent it. It is an amazing story with lessons for every sailor and crew on the planet.
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2, 2009
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      I'm going to post this email I got from another ham friend just as he
      sent it. It is an amazing story with lessons for every sailor and crew
      on the planet. I'm very sorry I cannot stop my Xnews from wordwrapping
      it.



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      *Gripping sailor's tale of the Samoa Tsunami - and the lessons*
      'Dave on Biscayne Bay after the tsunami' Wayne Hodgins *This
      vivid
      tale of the tsunami which hit Pago Pago in Samoa, and the lessons at the
      end of it, are told by American cruising sailor Wayne Hodgins of SY
      Learnativity, who is sailing with his dog Ruby. *

      I am up as usual about 6:30 and getting ready to go for my morning
      shower up on the deck when I became aware of a low frequency thrumming
      that I could both hear and feel. This continued and my first thought was
      that there was a large freighter or other ship nearby and I was simply
      feeling the effects of its large propellers churning the water.

      Stepping up into the cockpit to look around there was nothing in sight
      and it was otherwise the start of another day in paradise with the
      verdant hills surround Pago Pago Harbour rising up steeply all around me
      and piercing the few clouds in an otherwise brilliant blue sky.

      The calm harbour waters stretched out as Learnativity tugged gently on
      her dock lines securing us to the large concrete wharf where we have
      been docked in about 15? of water since arriving on Friday afternoon and
      joined about six other sailboats and cruisers from Australia, USA and
      Canada. The quake from the NASA Earth Observatory - Wayne Hodgins


      But what IS that vibration?? It is about 06:50 as I step off the boat
      onto the concrete dock to see if it was perhaps just on Learnativity or
      the water? No, it continued and was intensifying if anything. Having
      experienced several other quakes including Mount St. Helens and the big
      quake in San Francisco and LA in the 90?s I began to suspect this as the
      source however it was too gentle and going on too long for my
      understanding of what an earthquake feels like. And I can HEAR it as
      much as feel it.

      Over a minute has gone by now and as I look ashore in search of other
      points of reference sure enough I can see that the lamp posts and
      telephone poles are waving back and forth like they were blades of grass
      in a gentle breeze. Hmmm, I?ve only seen poles move like that once
      before and that was as I looked outside my office window in Sausalito
      during the 1989 Loma Preita earthquake. OK, it may be different but I?ve
      solved the riddle and we got ourselves an earthquake.

      Learnativity at the dock in Pago Pago - Wayne Hodgins

      A few of my fellow cruisers (people who live aboard their boats while
      cruising the world) have been awakened and are crawling sleepily out of
      their beds and joining me on the concrete wharf. The mood is typically
      easy and friendly as we say quietly say good morning, compare notes and
      discuss just what?s going on.

      The thrumming continues through most of this and I?d estimate at least 3
      minutes in total. We agree it must have been an earthquake and Gary, an
      Australian from Freemantle on his 52? Irwin ?Biscayne Bay? with wife
      Lisa, son Jake and Canadian crewmember Chris, joins us and tells that he
      has just checked it out online and found reports filed under ?latest
      earthquake? of an underwater eruption about 20 minutes ago 130nm south
      of us

      We continued to casually chat and discuss how unique the characteristics
      were. None of us had ever experienced an undersea eruption or other such
      disturbances on our boats and we just left it at that as we dispersed
      back to our boats for breakfast and one person casually joked that we
      should just watch for any big wave we see. No such wave ever
      materialized, it was much worse.

      Just as I was bout to step back onto my boat it started to drop. Huh?
      Before I could even comprehend what was happening it then started to
      rapidly lean sideways as the dock lines strain and screech, tightening
      more and more as they take on the full weight of my very heavy steel
      home. My instincts scream GET ON THE BOAT! I jump aboard and grab onto
      the rigging as she continues to lean more and more and more. THUD! Holy
      #^%& we are hard over on our side and ??. WHAT the ?..? the bottom of
      the bay is staring back at me as I dangle by one hand from the rigging.

      My mind is cycling through every possible explanation, trying to come to
      terms with all the inputs and amongst the cacophony of sights and sounds
      as boats smash around me, deck lines snap, rigging strains. These sounds
      are overlaid and an ominous and enormous rushing and sucking sound as
      the water all around my boat suddenly drains away!

      But a new noise, like fingernails across a blackboard divert my
      attention to the near vertical deck and I see poor Ruby (my 2 year old
      cockapoo and sailing companion) trying in vain to dig her claws into the
      steel deck, her legs thrashing like a cartoon animation character as she
      gathers speed going the other way and her tail end is headed for all the
      fish I now see and hear flopping around on the bottom of the bay as they
      search of their missing watery home.

      Ruby?s a gonner if she leaves the boat so I let go of the rigging, do my
      best imitation of a full 180 mid air flip and lunge after her with one
      outstretched hand and desperately reach out with the other in the hopes
      of grabbing some other hand hold. Just as Ruby is launched off the deck
      I get a right handful of the scruff of her neck and harness as my left
      hand wraps itself around the lifeline cable. No time to think, just act.
      Ruby in hand I scramble up to the opposite (Port) high side of the deck.

      All hell is breaking loose around me both on my boat and all the others
      and I?m not going to be able to do much with one hand. I look up above
      me and spot Jake, Gary?s son (14) standing on the edge of the wharf
      looking down at me and I yell ?Jake! Catch!? and throw Ruby up to his
      thankfully open arms. He makes a great catch, Ruby is in good hands and
      I?ve got both of mine back.

      Interesting how we all react differently. Back aboard Biscayne Bay, Gary
      and family have been below making breakfast, when they notice the
      concrete dock rushing up past their porthole windows as if they were in
      an elevator shaft. Their boat is in much deeper water around the corner
      from where I Learnativity is docked, so they are going straight down,
      lines straining, fiberglass crunching and that ever present surreal
      sucking sound all around. Gary?s reaction, understandably is to GET OUT!
      and so they all dash up into the cockpit and scramble up the vertical
      wall of concrete and rubber tires as Gary pushes and shoves each of them
      up onto the top of the concrete wharf.

      The sucking sound stops.

      There is a moment of seeming silence that you?d think would be
      comforting but you?d be wrong. It?s ominous. And then a new set of
      sounds begin. The volume with a ferocious velocity. Faster than it has
      left, all that water is now coming back! All the problems reverse.
      Learnativity rights itself and is now rocketing skyward.

      I grab my always-on-my-belt knife and dash down the port side from bow
      to stern slashing all the dock lines. Scramble back into the cockpit,
      start the engine, simultaneously shove both control levers ahead,
      putting the transmission into forward gear and the throttle lever on
      full.

      All six cylinders pick up speed as the revs cling, the turbine whines,
      the prop bites hard into the swirling water below and Learnativity
      starts to pull away from the ?????????? wharf. What wharf? It?s GONE!

      The water rushing back into the bay doesn?t stop at its previous level,
      it continues to go up and up and up the sides of the wharf. It floods
      over the top and keeps going. The speed and force of of the current
      created by millions of gallons of water flooding into the harbour is
      unbelievable water and is doing its best to push Learnativity backwards
      into the dock and marina as I put my faith into the power of diesel fuel
      and take a minute to look back and see if I?m going forward or
      backwards.

      It is hard to describe what I see. Closest to me, Gary, Lisa, Jake
      (clutching Ruby) and Chris are running as fast and best they can through
      the rushing water for a stone walled garden area in the middle of the
      concrete wharf that happens to have a small but tall light post embedded
      into it. I watch helplessly as they climb up onto the base of the light
      pole, wrap their arms around each other and hang on as the water rushes
      past them, continuing to rise; up, up, up.

      I glance along where I know the edge of the dock to have been and watch
      as one other boat with a great young crew of five from California have
      jumped aboard even quicker than I and are motoring quickly away. No
      wait, on the other matching lamp post down the dock I spot one of their
      female crewmembers who got caught ashore now clinging to this lamp pole.
      Other sailboats, including Biscayne Bay have now ripped free of their
      tethers and I watch as they turn with the continuously rising current
      and crash into each other, taking the other boats in their path like
      falling dominos. On the left is the ?after? picture of this infamous
      light pole with (from left to right) Chris, Jake, Lisa, Ruby and Gary
      posing with much different expressions on their faces. Imagine them and
      the water level half way up this pole!

      As my eyes continue to travel further down the dock, I watch in horror
      as one cruiser is on the dock trying to untie his lines and is swept off
      his feet by the torrent of water. His wife is aboard and manages to
      control the boat as it comes free but I can?t see any sign of her
      husband in all the flotsam and jetsam churning in the water.

      Worse than just the water though, almost everything imaginable has been
      picked up by this flood of water, torn lose from anything silly enough
      to try to hold them down and is now looking to smash into anything and
      everything in its erratic path.


      The dock underwater in the middle of the surge - Wayne Hodgins

      I glance back to the lamp post where the Biscayne Bay crew are now
      climbing higher and higher up the lamp post, Gary has Ruby wrapped
      around his neck so he can use both his arms to hold on to his family and
      try to keep from being ripped off the post by the force of the water or
      hit by one of the boats or containers rushing toward and past them. My
      brain is cycling through the question of ?What can I do to help them??
      but it is quite literally out of my hands and I have to turn away and
      bring my attention back aboard and foreword. Fortunately diesel power
      overcomes even these humbling forces of nature and Learnativity and I
      escape to the safety of the middle of the bay. Or is it?

      No time to think, just act. With the chaos of other ships, some manned,
      most not, surrounding me and with the water swirling in every direction
      it was impossible to tell if I was moving forward or back. I pushed
      Learnativity as hard as I could with full throttle to overcome the
      unbelievable opposing force of millions of gallons of water now rushing
      back in to refill Pago Pago Harbor and doing its best to suck
      Learnativity backwards into the concrete dock we were fleeing.

      Looking back to try to gauge direction and progress I couldn?t believe
      what I could not see. There was no dock to be seen! Just boats and water
      everywhere. Was I that disoriented? Had we drifted that far? Searching
      for the dock, I finally got my bearings from the buildings on shore and
      confirmed that I was just where I thought I was, about 100 feet away
      from the dock that wasn?t there.


      The lifesaving pole is on the right - Wayne Hodgins

      What I can see is a pencil thin vertical line that is the light post
      which now has Gary, Lisa, Jake, Chris literally hanging on for dear life
      and Ruby wrapped around Gary?s neck. I glance further west and see
      Emily, the stranded young lady from the California yacht Banyan clinging
      to the other light post. Then I watch as Kirk, Catherine and Stewart on
      their sailboat Galivanter motor across the TOP of the dock and get out
      behind me!

      When I think about tsunamis I envision this giant wall of water, a
      monster wave. There was no wave here. The bay simply emptied like
      someone had pulled the stopper out of a really big bathtub and then
      equally as fast put it back in and filled it all up from a giant valve
      below.

      My brain is struggling to process these visual inputs and try to make
      sense of it all as I realize the whole dock is under water! That safe,
      solid, secure concrete wharf which used to sit about 8 feet above the
      water is now about five feet under water and rising. Boats which were
      previously tied up to the inside edge of the dock between the shore and
      the dock have broken free and are careening about in the swirling
      current, posting great threats to Gary et al on the pole.

      I look west down to the end of the bay and see that it is filling up
      with a collection of every floating vessel known to man; pleasure boats
      both motor and sail of every size, 100? steel purse seiner fishing
      boats, trawlers, cargo ships and rowboats. Most seem to be unmanned and
      are randomly dancing together, running into each other and all headed
      West. Biscayne Bay amongst them.

      Learnativity and I escape the clutches of the incoming current and
      suddenly speed forward. Hmmm, where did all that ferocious current go?
      The water becomes eerily calm and smooth. Again, you?d think this would
      be a good thing and again you?d be wrong. The cycle is now reversing.
      All that water piled up at the end of the bay, having run up onshore and
      floated everything there from full buildings to cars, now wants to go
      back out.

      This is the first sign of any wave I saw through the whole ordeal as the
      water rushes back from its momentary travels ashore and has now formed a
      low wide wave that is headed east back towards me. I?ve now made it out
      into the middle of the harbor where the water is deepest and I have the
      most room to run and avoid all the oncoming ships and Looking. I turn
      Learnativity to face this new rush of water, throttle at the ready to
      ride out the next surge of current.

      Glancing ashore through all this I watch the concrete dock magically
      reappear as if it is rising up out of the water in some perverse magic
      trick. Then my brain realizes that the dock isn?t moving up, the water
      is moving down as gazillions of water molecules all rush to join their
      buddies down at the West end of the bay. I watch in humbled awe as the
      water again drains away leaving the dock fully out of the water pilings
      and all.

      On the left here is one of the few photos I was able to snap in the
      midst of all this you can see the concrete dock with the tires on the
      side and the water at the level it would normally be at. I was only able
      to take time for a photo because it is in that lull between surges in
      and out so this water level is between its high and low.

      Oh, and you might also notice the sailboat that has been deposited up on
      top of the wharf! Minutes earlier it had been tied up alongside the
      dock. Think about it and you will have a better sense of the height of
      the water as it flooded in such that the boat could float up and over
      the top of the dock and then be dropped on top as the water receeded.

      I would estimate the sea level dropped over 15? in less than 30 seconds.
      Then someone hits the rewind button on the video I?m watching and as
      fast as it dropped the water level starts moving up and my friends on
      the light poles rush back to it and brace for another dunking.

      As it turned out, the worst one yet - due I suspect to the additional
      forces gained by the water all collecting its energy up on the western
      shore, the speed of the water now rushing out of the bay is the highest
      yet. To make matters worse this was no longer ?just? water, it was a
      giant tossed salad of debris from ships to cars to docks to scrap and
      crap. All headed back for us with increasing velocity.

      And again I am rendered helpless to watch with the disgust of not being
      able to do anything and the embarrassment of being so relatively safe
      and dry aboard strong steel Learnativity. Lisa, Gary, Jake and Chris
      grip each other and that slender pole, their bodies now trailing off
      almost horizontal as the slimy soup rises and rushes past them making
      every effort to rip their hands from the pole and sweep them away like
      insignificant insects.

      They would later recount that this second surge out was the worst of
      them all and they were within seconds of losing their grip and the
      torrent of water began to slack and they returned to vertical as the
      cycle repeats; current subsides, water goes slack and starts to drop
      again. The photo on the right is of this infamous life saving light pole
      in the middle of the dock and was taken just after I?ve come back in and
      tied Learnativity up just across from it. Four people and a dog are
      alive today because this pole was there, and a similar one right beside
      me where the Emily from Receded was able to hang on and survive.


      The dock after the water has receded - see yacht ON the dock - Wayne
      Hodgins As the water drops away and drains off the dock, I can see Lisa
      and Jake, with Ruby in tow, make a mad dash across the now dry concrete,
      hit the shore running and kept on going, climbing up the hillside to
      watch safely from higher ground. I spot Gary and Chris down on the dock
      and I speed over close enough that we can yell back and forth.

      I?m desperate to help them get onto Biscayne Bay and be able to keep it
      out of any further harm. I try to make a pass alongside the wharf so
      they can jump aboard Learnativity, but now there isn?t enough water
      beside the dock to float my boat! I head back out to the middle of the
      bay and watch and wait for another cycle and then try another pass at
      the dock to pick them up, but the currents are simply changing too
      rapidly, there is too much debris to avoid and too dangerous for them to
      jump.

      We all watch over the next 15 minutes as Biscayne Bay pilots itself
      westward down the bay being hit and hitting back other boats along the
      way. With one of the next big surges she is lifted up onto the mud banks
      and leans over onto her side to rest high and dry, covered in oil and
      fuels and badly beaten up.

      Another cruiser, Mike from Eureka California was having better luck and
      an amazing experience as his 27? sailboat motored down the main street
      at the far west end of the harbour, circled around the intersection and
      went back out into the harbor! As the surge he was riding went out it
      dropped him and his boat onto the ground and then just as nicely picked
      him right back up again on the next cycle and he was able to get it back
      into the harbour. He quickly headed out to the far eastern end of the
      harbour for some clear water and space to inspect below but all signs
      show that he only suffered some serious gouging of the keel and hull.
      Amazing!

      While all this is going on, Joan on Mainly is letting us know on the VHF
      that she has still not seen her husband Dan, the one I saw being swept
      of the docks in the first surge. One of the big disappointments of this
      whole experience is the complete lack of response or rescue resources
      from ashore. I assumed, very incorrectly, with this being US soil there
      would be plenty such resources; again I was wrong.

      I learned later that the USCG is land based only and it was over three
      hours later that they were able to respond with any presence on the
      water. Nor was their any help from the port authority, no Navy presence,
      and we were left to our own devices to help each other and coordinate as
      best we could. There were now about six or more other sailboats motoring
      around in circles with me in the middle of the bay as we turned back and
      forth to point into the next surge and tried to dodge the continuing
      barrage of unmanned ships, hulls and garbage.

      Joan was doing a great job of single handing her boat and I and others
      started widening our circles to come closer to shore and cover more area
      in search of Dan or others who were in the water. This cycle of the
      tsunami ?tide? coming in and out continued for several hours and was
      like a pendulum, continuously decreasing in height and velocity.

      When I was first got out in the middle of the bay my instinct for some
      reason was to get the word out to both friends and family that I was
      safe and to let the rest of the world know what was going on. I imagined
      that there would be lots of news reports about the eruption but very
      little information on just what was happening locally and I also
      desperately wanted to know if more was coming and what to expect.
      Fortunately I carry a satellite phone and while expensive it certainly
      more than paid for itself in this situation.

      I couldn?t take my eyes and hands off the tasks of piloting Learnativity
      and searching for people, but I was able to hit my sat phone speed dial
      and call a friend in Florida, to get the word out to friends and family.

      I?m not quite sure of the timing, but about 11am, four hours after the
      mayhem started, I decided that the surges were down enough and not
      coming back so I headed for the dock and tied Learnativity to the
      outside and jumped ashore to help others who were following my lead in.

      I was anxious to find Gary and Chris who I?d not seen in the past hour
      while I was circling out in the bay and also to see what assistance I
      could provide to others who were looking for lost crewmembers as well as
      the whole situation ashore.

      On American Samoa, as with most other islands the only real road is the
      one which circles the coastal circumference so it is all very close to
      sea level. Normal sea level that is. When the tsunami hit, the water
      rose up to a level about 5? above the roadway and several hundred feet
      inland. It cleaned out everything in its path, picking up vehicles and
      dropping them inside buildings and culverts. If the buildings were
      concrete and well built, the water neatly emptied all their contents, if
      not it simply washed away the entire building.

      Cars were strewn everywhere as if some giant hand picked up the island
      and gave it a good shake. As you walked up to the road there were manta
      rays, eels and tuna still flopping about on the dry pavement desperately
      searching for their watery homes.

      Several hardware stores along the road had been emptied and tools were
      strewn everywhere. Much of the edge of the water was lined with chain
      link fencing which had acted like a sieve and was now a colorful mosaic
      chockablock full of a plastic, paper, wood and weeds.

      By the time I got up to the road though, people were already pitching in
      to help others in need and soon people started to clean up the mess that
      was everywhere. Traffic was at a standstill of course with vehicles all
      over the road, wrapped around trees, sticking out of doorways and
      windows and parked in culverts. Many had simply been washed into the
      bay.

      There were injured people everywhere and soon the sirens began and
      continued on through the night and the next few days as more were found
      amongst the wreckage and on the sides. Miraculously to me no fires had
      broken out which was a good thing as there was fuel and oil everywhere.
      The gas station immediately behind the dock had all four of its pumps
      knocked clean off their foundations as cars had floated by and the water
      rose up over them. Now they spewed raw gasoline and diesel out of their
      amputated pipes. While out in the bay the smell of diesel, gas and oil
      was overwhelming as most of the large fishing and commercial ships that
      were swept away had ruptured their tanks and the water was slick with
      petroleum.


      Biscayne Bay where the tsunami deposited her finally - Wayne Hodgins

      I wanted so much to head for the West end of the bay to find Gary and
      Biscayne Bay and help them find Biscayne Bay, as well as see if Ruby had
      survived. But I dare not leave Learnativity alone and there was so much
      to do on the docks trying to help those whose boats were still there and
      those who were missing crew members.

      Gary actually showed up aboard Joan?s boat Mainly to help her dock it
      and there was still no sign or word of Dan. And so the afternoon
      progressed as we all pitched in and drifted from one job to the next;
      cleaning, consoling, assessing and trying to comprehend what had just
      happened.

      With son Jake on board Biscayne Bay to keep watch as looting had already
      begun on ships and ashore, Chris and Gary went back and forth between
      Learnativity and Biscayne Bay in the dingy, moving all their belongings
      and food aboard Learnativity as I invited them to live with me for the
      next while.

      As we shuttled all their belongings from one boat to the other we
      decided to try to get Biscayne Bay back into the water and if she was
      not taking on water to try to bring her back to the dock. Gary and Chris
      went back to the boat and with the help of some others and the next big
      surge, miraculously got her upright and off the mud bank and bottom into
      deeper water.

      She was taking on some water, but it was minimal and the bilge pumps
      would be able to keep up with it. The engine would start but something
      was wrapped around the prop or shaft or both and they were locked up
      solid. There was limited steering but with a 25HP outboard on his
      dinghy, Gary was able to push and shove her all the way up the bay and
      around the end of the concrete dock. With Chris at the wheel and Gary
      using the dinghy as a mini tug boat, Jake threw me the bow line as she
      raced toward the dock and I was able to wrap the line around one of the
      large steel bollards and with a final crunch against the dock she was
      back home. It was hard to believe that only 8 hours earlier this
      crunched and battered dear boat had been quietly tied up next to
      Learnativity in pristine condition.


      Chaos and debris after the event - Wayne Hodgins The search continued
      for our missing comrade cruiser Dan and with no sign of him by mid
      afternoon Joan went to the hospital and sadly arrived just as they were
      bringing Dan?s body to the morgue. His body had washed up at the west
      end of the bay.

      So difficult to comprehend all this. How is it possible that at 7am you
      are sipping your first morning coffee together as a happy retired couple
      in the cockpit of your sailboat docked in paradise on the cruise you?ve
      dreamed of and worked for your whole life, and then minutes later be
      washed off the dock never to be seen again?

      We all did out best to be with Joan as she worked her way through such
      questions and did what we could to be supportive and consoling. Her boat
      would not start now for some reason and we were all anxious to ensure
      that our boats were ready to go at a moments notice should another
      tsunami strike and so several of us went aboard to set it right. There
      was no shortage of skilled mechanics and electricians and we all
      provided tools and labor and Jack stayed aboard to find it was a bad
      solenoid and soon had it replaced so at least Mainly was back in working
      order. Hearts and minds would require different tools, techniques and
      time before they would be so mended.

      Learnativity, Ruby and I came through it all pretty much unscathed. Just
      the stainless tubing bow pulpit had been ripped apart and so I set about
      removing it and seeing what could be done to repair it. It was beyond
      repair and so I salvaged the running lights and then set about using
      some low stretch line I had to create a makeshift set of lifelines to
      enclose the bow.

      Fortunately none of this is structural or will prevent me from
      continuing to sail to New Zealand where there will be lots of facilities
      to build a new one. And I was planning on building a whole new dual
      anchor setup and sprit on the bow which would require a new pulpit
      anyway. I just didn?t plan on removing the old one quite so soon. Mother
      Nature apparently had a different schedule and I didn?t get the memo.


      Biscayne Bay back floating - Wayne Hodgins

      Gary and family were back onboard Biscayne Bay assessing the damage for
      the rest of the afternoon and it didn?t look good. The more you looked
      the more structural damage and failed systems you found. It was floating
      and they decided they could sleep aboard that night but I had them over
      for diner and cooked up a big feed of salad (expertly assembled by
      Chris) and my tummy filling spicy spaghetti and meatballs.

      None of us had eaten all day and now with a chance to relax just a bit,
      the hunger and exhaustion set in. We spent most of the evening quietly
      reflecting upon the day, dissecting it and discussing this extraordinary
      and harrowing experience. I think it was very therapeutic for each of us
      as our minds started to deal with the reality of what all had taken
      place on this eventful day and what we would need to do in the aftermath
      of the days ahead. Sleep was both restful and fitful for most of us that
      night.

      Writing this now, two days later, we have continued in this pattern of
      cleanup, helping each other, repair and restoration of both ships, shore
      and souls. It will be a long process for all of these. The local people
      have continued to astound me with their genuine kindness and generosity.
      In spite of great loss of life all over the island we have had a steady
      stream of people binging us cases of bottled drinking water, boxed
      lunches and cooked dinners.

      In the span of two days I?ve witnessed the full spectrum of both human
      and mother nature and I?ve learned so many life lessons. It is no where
      near a complete list, but to finish up this posting I?ll share a few of
      the lessons I?ve learned through this experience.

      *Some Lessons I Learned from the Tsunami in Pago Pago:* ?It may sound
      trite but it is SO true that you never know when the last time will be
      for most things. Living in the moment, maximizing every opportunity, are
      attitude and behavior to live by rather than cute phrases and
      platitudes. ?When it is all said and done, people, friendship and
      relationships are all that really matter. ?The best place to be when
      trouble or disaster strikes is ON your boat and out in open water. Get
      there and stay there at almost any cost. ?I?ve renewed my conviction and
      love for steel boats. ?In times of great stress and disaster, human
      nature is on full spectrum display and is the same in all places and
      cultures. ?Put your faith and optimism in people. There is much more
      good in the world than evil, many more good people than bad. ?A big
      powerful working engine in a sailboat is a safety device. Make sure it
      is always at the ready. ?Mother Nature is a majestic and powerful force
      on a scale that is truly humbling. It is likely a good thing to be
      reminded from time to time just how small and puny we are. ?Technology,
      especially communication technology is vastly under rated and under
      appreciated for how profound a difference it can make. ?Sat phones are
      essential safety devices for world cruisers. ?If are ever in the
      vicinity of a large underwater seismic eruption either get on a boat and
      head for open water or head inland as high and as quickly as you can.

      I hope that by sharing some of these experiences I?ve been able in some
      small way to help others learn lessons of their own. I?m off to bed now
      for a few hours to let my head sort through more of this experience and
      get some rest before another busy day of dealing with the aftermath of
      this extraordinary life and learning experience.

      by courtesy of Glenn Tuttle 7:45 PM Fri 2 Oct 2009 GMT

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