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Wednesday 31 March 2021

The excitement of the 5th of March, 2021

Due to many queries on the day by people who had heard about the tsunami warning for New Zealand on Friday, the 5th of March, I'm adding this experience to our blog.

Just after 10 AM both Tim's and my mobile phone erupted with the horrible screeching noise that we associate with an imminent change to the COVID alert level.

I received my alert on Larus and Tim received his in the marina shower.  It took a while to process what appeared on the screen. The emergency alert sirens, which are instigated by the local council, started within a few minutes of the phone alert and heightened the feeling that we really should be getting a move on.
Not knowing for sure if Tim had his phone or not, I packed his backpack and mine with things I thought we might need - passports, wallets, water, phones, glasses.  We were staying in the Basin Marina, Whangarei, which is surrounded by residential areas and is a very close to a lot of very high ground.  It wasn't like we were evacuating into the wilderness or abandoning ship into the liftraft, but next time I'd definitely bring something to sit on, bug spray and our hats, which we soon missed.

I met Tim at the marina showers and he dashed back to the boat for a few more essentials, including a half dozen banana muffins, and we headed for high ground.  The nearest high ground was about a hundred metres away up someone's drive, but we thought it best to try to find a more public location to wait it out.
It is amazing how few public areas there are in residential areas.  We walked for quite a while trying to find a comfortable shady place to sit and they really were few and far between.  Locals who lived in houses closer to the river  had brought sun umbrellas and deck chairs or were simply sitting in their cars.
We found a group of people from the marina sitting around a street-side picnic table and a local gentleman was bringing water and allowing them to use his bathroom.  We stayed there for a little while but there was little shade and no where comfortable to sit, but moved on to sit on the bottom steps leading up to local homeowners front gate.   

We later learned that boats at anchor were instructed to head out to deep water.
The Kermadec Islands are about 500 to 620 miles northeast of New Zealand. It took about 3 hours for any hint of a disturbance to be seen along the coast.
When we got bored or sore from sitting, we'd pick up our things and try to find somewhere more accommodating.  This was how we passed the time until the alert was cancelled at around 1400 and we wandered back down to Larus.

Once back on board, we discovered that there were no dangerous waves or tsunami anywhere on the NZ coast.  Much of the warnings were for areas immediately a long the coast as there can be unexpected currents.  Tutukaka, on the east coast just north of Whangarei, had unusually strong swirling currents in the harbour but no waves or damage.

If you are interested in knowing more of the facts around what happened, the following link is to RNZ News this article is very useful  Earthquakes and tsunami threats in New Zealand - How Friday Unfolded and links other articles published on the day.

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  1. Hi to you both
    Very pleased to read that you are safe after tsunami scare. Look forward to blogs! Re reading all my sailing books for about the 4th time!
    Love Elaine

  2. Thx for the update. Please add us to your Family & friends email.
    Chris and Bill Burry
    Mathews, VA