Real-time Earth and Moon phase

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A further recall of the encounter

I asked Karsten yesterday if he would care to recall and give some further details of that October 1977 storm he experienced onboard “Stolt Surf.” Here’s his response:

Regarding your questions about big waves - - - 
Yes, - I do recall this storm very well.
After all it is the most violent one I have ever met
during 37 years at sea, because instead of trying to
avoid it, - we headed straight into its very center - - -
The waves in this storm was not suddenly built up,
but made by a very strong wind which over great
distances pushed the water up.
It is normally like that on the big oceans, when
the "force" comes steadily from one direction over
a great distance - - -
There are other cases where it is not like that,
- where the waves seem to come from all directions -,
and then two big waves sometimes "kiss" and makes
one even bigger wave, before it collapses under its
own weight. You can also experience the opposite
situation, where it is not a "mountain" that builds
up, but a "hole", that suddenly appears in the ocean.
But not in this case - - - -
I have a strong feeling, that this was ocean waves
from one direction, pushed up by strong winds over
a great distance of open water. And it
happened many times - - - - wave after wave coming - - -
But, - of course -, some waves are always bigger than
others, and I cannot really say for sure if the one on
the picture you refer to was the biggest. Actually I do
not think so, since several waves actually broke over the
bridge, - smashing doors, windows and port holes -, and
the bridge deck was 22 meters above sea level, so they
were huge - - -
At the peak of such a storm, - you see nothing, so if an
even bigger wave was there, I might not have been able
to see it, because all is darkness and foam
everywhere with zero visibility - - -
Photography under those circumstances are of course not
possible, so my storm pics are all taken after the wind
had calmed down a little bit - -

These are truly insightful eyewitness accounts of an encounter with raging ocean waves in the middle of the Pacific Ocean during that terrifying autumn storm. It all makes a lot of sense. As Karsten alluded that the pictures he took may not be the largest wave he experienced that day. They were nevertheless large enough by any means. The waves that broke over the bridge covered them with water and foam when they can not see anything may certainly be much larger. I am just wondering if their decision of confronting the storm by directly heading into the center of the wave front might have actually contributed to their happy survival of the storm. Clearly trying to run away from the oncoming waves could be futile and much more dangerous. That should be a good lesson not only for navigation but also for life in general, I guess!

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