More than a week after the awful tropical storm which was called “Sendong” by the Philippines and “Washi by the rest of the world Bonbonon still has no electricity. Three fishermen in nearby Albica were killed, in and around Dumeguete more than 100 people are dead after floods and mudslides destroyed their bamboo huts, and in Mindanao, the large island south of us over 1000 people are known to have been killed, many still missing.
In Bonbonon the evening of the storm started uneventfully. It was Friday and Arlene’s regular buffet was as good as ever, chicken roasted on an open fire and fresh grilled fish, home made bread and potato salad, good conversation and plenty of beer. The rain hadn’t even started by the time we got home and it looked as though the forecast was wrong; there wasn’t even any wind. This was the calm before the storm- yes, it does really exist, I know that now. We went to bed hoping for a few hours sleep, and were awakened at dawn by a wind which came screaming into the anchorage from the north, flinging enormous drops of rain at us. Sheva retired to her winter home under the sprayhood looking at us reproachfully; she is sure we control the weather and doesn’t understand why we make it rain at such annoying times.
The light was good enough to make out yachts being flung about, straining at mooring ropes which in many cases were several years old and untended. There are yachts here which haven’t moved for 20 years, and lots that have been here 10 years, and in all that time a storm like Sendong hasn’t come along. The wind built up gradually and so did the waves, until the bay looked like the open sea on a nasty day. I was glad we were held by a big mooring and two anchors, and that we were in one of the best places in the bay, with almost no yachts in front of us. The first yacht to drag was an old sloop which broke it’s shackle, we were told later. It smashed into another old sloop, a Japanese boat, and dismasted it. Next was the old classic metal boat Black Rose, which sped down the bay and impaled itself on an aluminum catamaran, but not before hitting several other boats on the way. The huge unwieldy Russian sloop which had already dragged onto shore a few days before came off the shore again but just turned round and re-beached itself luckily- this boat is heavy enough to sink anything it hit.
The storm was over quickly, probably not more than three hours from the first whistle of wind through the rigging to the sodden bobbing aftermath. By nine o’clock people were bailing out dinghies, rescuing oars, starting to get the stray boats re-anchored. We didn’t know about the tragedy just over the channel in Mindanao for several days.