Day 514 [Feb. 28/10] -- Valdivia spared, Saito is fine

Today's Report
Feb. 28/10 0800 JST
39°49'S, 73°15'W (Valdivia Marina)

Saito-san called last night about 10 pm Tokyo time to report that he was fine. He called again this morning to provide more details.

At the time of his first call he had little news himself on the earthquake other than word-of-mouth. There was no cell phone service throughout the day until it was restored in late afternoon. He had not heard of the magnitude of the quake until our call, which he could finally make by Iridium 6 1/2 hours later. He said he had heard from a fellow boater that "Santiago was 80% destroyed" (a figure that TV news showed later was greatly exaggerated).

Saito-san said that he was awakened about 3:30 am by unusual boat movement but that it caused no damage to the boat or dock facilities. Later in the morning he visited the marina's main building. Other than a large crack in the floor there was no noticeable damage, he said. 

He reported that a tsunami came up the river, though "it wasn't much, only about half a meter," he estimated, arriving several hours after the earthquake struck.

He walked through streets of Valdivia and saw no serious damage. All shops were closed, he noticed.

It is expected that delivery of the parts that have been sent to him to repair the aux. generator and genoa furler will now be delayed. According to CNN, the Pan American Highway connecting the north and south is expected to take weeks or months to be repaired. Major bridges are damaged or collapsed, including those that connect the northern and southern areas of the country. We have to assume as well that air service to Valdivia will be disrupted for some time.

We tried to call Hanaoka-san in Punta Arenas, and were not able to get through. It is presumed no damage resulted there as it is 800 miles further south.

Saito-san does not know the status of the two sails, the main and the genoa, which are off the boat after being sent to a sail loft to be repaired. The rigger is scheduled to visit Monday and Saito-san said he hopes to learn about the sails then. He is unsure whether the loft was outside the area of intense quake damage.

CNN is reporting that at least 214 persons were killed in Santiago, and that more than 45 aftershocks have occurred. Experts have calculated that it was 800 times the magnitude of the recent quake in Haiti, but with less damage due to various factors including the greater depth of the Chilean quake and better earthquake resistance of buildings in Santiago after the lessons learned from the massively destructive 1960 Valdivia earthquake.

Yesterday's quake is expected to go into the record books as one of the world's top five earthquakes in terms of magnitude since 1900.

A tsunami "high alert" is in effect (at the time of this 11 am post) for the Japan western coastline with 2- to 3-meter waves expected in mid to late afternoon, with some waves predicted as early as 1 pm. Evacuation orders have been issued for a number of low-lying areas of Hokkaido, in northern Japan, with residents ordered to evacuate immediately to higher ground.

Two-meter waves were expected in Tokyo Bay and Sagami Bay about 1:30 pm.

About 9 am JST, an "all-clear" was announced for Hawaii after a weak series of tsunami waves were reported there, and relieved officials said on TV the Hawaiian Islands had "dodged a bullet."