Sunday, October 29, 2006

The peril of nearshore freaque waves

Whenever freaque waves are mentioned, they are usually implied that unexpectedly large waves occurred in the deep ocean. That’s also most of the research efforts have been concentrated on. But freaque waves are not merely confined to the deep ocean, far from it! Nearshore freaque waves along the beach are also happen frequently with disastrous consequences. They are not part of the classical nearshore hydrodynamics and there is no known research effort enacted to examine or explore those nearshore freaque waves. A few depressing news in the last few days can only call attention to the inanition of understanding in this realm.

October 23, 2006, Seattle Times, in the Mexican resort town of Cabo San Lucas, a 66 year old artist and lay minister from Renton, Washington was swiped out to sea by a rogue wave while taking an evening walk with his wife and sister.

October 22, 2006, Times-Standard, Redwood Creek Beach County Park in northern California, a 4 year old girl, who was playing on dry sand only a few step from her mother and her mother’s girl friend, who were sitting on the beach when a wave took them by surprise and swept the little girl into the ocean. When the mother and her friend went into water to rescue the child, the friend was also lost.

October 24, 2006, Irish Post, Greek tourist island of Rhodes in eastern Mediterranean, a loving Irish couple from U.K., 47 and 46, were swamped by a massive sudden wave as they paddled in the sea after a meal. Eye-witnesses said the couple were washed ashore by two-metre high waves amid desperate attempts to save them.

It is extremely dreadful to read or hear these kind of tragic stories happen in various part of the world ocean and feel so hapless. It can happen anywhere and any time without any possible warning. We are simply incapable and helpless by any means from preventing their happenings at the present. And there does not seem to have any tangible effort from the powers that be to remedy this dismal condition either. Rely on the expertise of over-worked, under-staffed, Coast Guard valiants, Que Sera Sera!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Black Friday of 1916

Yesterday, Friday, October 20th, went by smoothly just like any other day. Somehow there does not seem to have any news online to remember the same Friday, October 20th ninety years ago. It was known as the Black Friday in the Great Lakes area, especially in Lake Erie. Here's the full article published in the 2003 Spring/Summer issue of Mariners Weather Log:
The name "Black Friday" was given to the date of October 20, 1916, after a violent storm sank ships and ended lives on Lake Erie. The James B. Colgate and her crew were among the victims, and only the captain survived.
James B. Colgate

A cargo of hard coal had come aboard at Buffalo and was consigned to Fort William, ON (now Thunder Bay). Despite a rising wind and the sound of waves crashing the outer breakwall, the vessel cast off lines and departed on its final voyage shortly after midnight October 20.
Lake Erie, the shallowest of the five Great Lakes, responded to the high winds with towering seas that pounded the James B. Colgate as it made its way west. That evening the ship developed a list and, within hours, slid bow first to the bottom of the lake.
Without radio communications and unable to launch the lifeboats, the crew struggled in the frigid waters to cling to anything that floated free. Three men, including the captain, found a small life raft. The cruel waves flipped their flimsy craft several times, and by morning only the captain was alive.
Fortunately, the lake settled down, and he survived the day and another night before the crew of the carferry Marquette & Bessemer No. 2 spotted the almost lifeless body on the raft and pulled him to safety.
Others also perished on the lake that day. The lumber carrier Marshall F. Butter sank, but all were rescued. The schooner D.L. Filer went down and only one sailor, who clung to the mast, was rescued. Finally, the Merida, with 23 on board, was lost with all hands.
The James B. Colgate was built at West Superior, WI and launched on September 21, 1892. The 320 foot long whaleback design bulk carrier sailed for the American Steel Barge Company, Bessemer Steamship Company, Pittsburgh Steamship Company, and Standard Transit before being lost. It is shown in a photo from the collection of Captain Ken Lowes.
Divers located the hull of James B. Colgate in 1991. It rests upside down, some 12 miles southwest of Erieau, ON.
Again, we do not know if there were freaque waves among those towering seas described in the article. Waves were nevertheless part of the prominent culprit of the disaster. October 20th of 2006 was a peaceful day weatherwise. The memory of Black Friday has clearly been faded. But how much have we learned about waves in the last 90 years?

Friday, October 20, 2006

A happy ending at last!

Not all the encounters with huge waves in the ocean end in tragedy. Thank God! Here's a happy ending story posted on the super site Ships Nostalgia by their super Senior Member Rushie. I find it is germane to what I am doing here so I took the liberty to copy the whole article here including his tittle:


Four fishermen rescued clinging to wreckage

The US Navy has rescued four Filipino fishermen found clinging to the wreckage of their vessel after four days at sea, officials and survivors said Friday.

An ABS-CBN Regional News Group report identified the fishermen as Jimmy de Gracia and Raymond, Giovanni and Andrew Sumandal.

The four, pale and close to death, were taken for treatment to a military hospital Friday in the southern port city of Zamboanga.

The fishermen sailed Monday but their motorboat had been destroyed by huge waves off the western island of Palawan. One of the fishermen said that they survived by clinging onto the wreckage and drinking seawater.

In a statement, the US Navy said a US Navy SH-60B Seahawk helicopter was conducting routine training flights when it noticed the men Thursday aboard a submerged craft and waving a white banner.

The helicopter radioed the nearby HSV Swift, a US naval logistics vessel, which sent a smaller boat out to rescue the men.

The fishermen were turned over by the US Navy to the Western Mindanao Command.
Of course I was prompted by the fact that "their motorboat had been destroyed by huge waves." It is difficult to ferret out whether or not freaque waves are part of those huge waves. But it can always be surmised. Again we don't yet know where, when, how, or why those huge freaque waves happen, but it is always gratifying to hear a happy ending story. Thanks Rushie!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another fishing village, another freaque waves tragedy!

Musselburgh is a charming little old town, located six miles east of Edinburgh city centre, which is known to be Scotland's oldest town since it was first settled by the Romans in the years following their invasion of Scotland in AD80. Fisherrow is a part of Musselburgh that was formerly a fishing village with its Fisherrow Harbor duly preserved as a traditional fishing harbor that can only be used primarily by pleasure boats, although a few inshore fishing vessels remain.

For a town rich in history and tradition, they just paid tribute to seven Fisherrow fishermen who lost their lives onboard their fishing vessel Alice of Boddam during a nasty October storm 125 years ago. Here's the story as told in East Lothian Courier
The devastating storm hit after the Alice of Boddam – which had left Fisherrow harbour five days previously – was attempting to return to Dunbar following a spell of bad fishing. In the midst of the turmoil, the boat was seen half a mile away from Dunbar harbour when two massive waves struck sinking the vessel with all her crew.
So this 125 years old tragedy is a long memorialized freaque waves case locally but not well known for the outside world. As it was seen that the vessel was struck by two massive waves, there should be no doubt that they have encountered freaque waves. The story of Alice of Boddam uncannily resembles a case on the other side of the Atlantic in November, 1991, the Andrea Gail. Another fishing village, another freaque waves tragedy!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Breezy Point tragedy

This following news item was carried in the NewYork Times’ Metro Briefing section yesterday:
QUEENS: BODY OF MISSING MAN RECOVERED IN OCEAN The body of a man who was swept off a jetty in the Rockaways last week was found in the water yesterday not far from where he disappeared, the police said. The man, Karl Heinzen, 21, had been fishing with his father at Breezy Point last Sunday when he was struck by high waves that carried him into the ocean in his waders, said his father, Jerome Heinzen. (Reported by Michael Wilson)
It’s not an earth shaking news. But to the family that lost their love one, a dynamical 21 year old, on a supposedly pleasant weekend excursion, it’s a sad major tragedy. Of course the part that drew my attention is that the young man was “struck by high waves that carried him into the ocean in his waders.” That can happen to anybody, at any time and any place including the beautiful beach area.

Breezy Point is that terminus of the Rockaway peninsula shown on the right hand side of the above picture, which consist dune/beach shoreline terrain that extends outward into the Atlantic Ocean. A natural, charming, scenic spot no one should expect something terrible can be lurking around. Unfortunately it did. The high wave that struck the young man must be some kind of nearshore freaque waves no one has any notion about it at this time. It’s unknown, uncertain, and unpredictable. We don't know much about the deep ocean freaque waves. We know even less about the nearshore freaque waves. Our science and technology have come a long, long way, but in no way that can anticipate and prevent this kind of tragedy yet. Our heartfelt prayer goes to the young man, may he rest in peace, and his family.