Thursday, April 12, 2007

Muckle Flugga lighthouse

According to Wikipedia, Muckle Flugga is a small rocky island north of Unst in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. It is often described as the northernmost point of the British Isles, but the smaller islet of Out Stack is actually farther north.

This magnificent lighthouse of Mucle Flugga, in her long history, must have witnessed all kinds of happenings and have all kinds of stories to tell. Here's one about freaque waves told by one of her lighthouse keepers is certainly one of the best. I found this in my saved files but I regret that I have lost its original source:

"Rogue waves over 110 ft high may be rare but are not unknown. For five years I was a keeper on the Muckle Flugga lighthouse, a place with many similarities to Eilean Mor, particularly in its exposure to the full brunt of the fury of the North Atlantic. I recall one day when my friend and fellow assistant lightkeeper, David Macdonald, and I was cleaning the lantern panes at the top of Muckle Flugga lighthouse. We had been suffering bad weather for weeks and during a lull we were cleaning off the accumulation of salt that this had caused to block up the lantern panes. The weather at the time was breezy but far from gale-force and there was a slightly choppy sea running. Suddenly David yelled a curse and grabbed my shoulder, turning me round to see an enormous roller bearing down on Muckle Flugga, which Eilean Mor crashed and broke with an almighty boom in the gully between Muckle Flugga and the neighbouring holm of Cliff Skerry. David and I were both drenched with spray, and you might consider that at our position on the lighthouse balcony we were a full 260 ft above sea level. There was just that one rogue wave, no more, and the sea reverted to the choppy conditions previously prevalent."

This is a real fact about a case of true freaque wave encounter. It convinces me never to doubt an unexplainably high freaque wave that just may have been occurred. We can't explain it, there is no measurement, only an eye witness account -- which could be on the exaggerate side, but its authenticity should not be in doubt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sports fishermen's jeopardy

In the this morning (also here), they carried the report of U.S. Coast Guard rescued 3 sports fishermen from a raft floating 60 miles east of Port Canaveral, and a helicopter plucking them up 30 hours after a large wave disintegrated a boat they chartered and were taking to the Bahamas for a billfishing tournament.

One of the three men, who was interviewed by a reporter, said an estimated 10 feet high freaque wave shattered their 48 feet custom Uniflite sport fishing boat and scrapped their fishing tournament plans. The three were set out about 4 a.m. Saturday from Port Canaveral aboard the Aqua Mist. They had met only that day, but within five hours, the freaque wave would force them to huddle together in a waterlogged life raft during a cold night. It was all basically calm and quiet out there when the wave struck. Then the bow dipped under a second wave, the 30-year-old boat shook and disintegrated into three large pieces. They found a life raft, inflated it, and all three of them hauled into it. They managed to snag some supplies as they floated by in the boat's debris field: water, rum, cigars, flares and blankets.

"In the first hour, they saw a freighter. They wasted four flares trying to get its attention. Within 15 minutes, they saw a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, he said, but its crew didn't see them.

"They were 27 miles from the Bahamas shoals and 62 miles from Port Canaveral. To stay warm that night they huddled."

It was the boat's owner who became worried when he hadn't heard from the crew. After getting no response when he tried to call the men, he reported them missing Sunday afternoon to the Coast Guard that led to the eventual successful rescue.

"God didn't get us this time," this rescued sport fisherman said. "He meant us to keep on going. We'll pull up our boot strings and get another boat in a year or so."

That's the right spirit -- No retreat, no surrender! It's just a natural occurrence, there is just no need to be alarmed or victimized by it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Freaque wave the detective?

Freaque waves are undoubtedly always be the villain of many terrible tragedies. Would it be possible by any chance that freaque waves can serve any redeemable purpose? Well, the answer could be a qualified may be, by serendipity but not by design. This morning's Independent Online of South Africa article tells such a rare case: The recent freak wave damage along the Umdloti coast and the alertness of a few beachgoers led to the discovery of some human skeletons protruding from an exposed sandbank. It might be connected to the case of unsolved disappearance of six young girls in the 1980s. There were suspects on the run, who stayed nearby, and later committed suicide. If this television mystery kind of case, now rekindled, can be led to a conclusion from the new discovery, freaque waves would certainly deserve an ever minor claim of credit to have nudged it along.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Mavericks surf contest canceled

On the Mavericks surf website this notice has just been posted:
The waiting period for The 2007 Mavericks Surf Contest® presented by® is officially over. Bad news for surfers and surf fans alike, but Mavericks is an unpredictable place, and Mother Nature calls the shots. It takes near perfect conditions – swell, winds, tides, and weather -- to create contest-worthy surf at Mavericks. This year, that perfect day never came.
This is certainly a major disappointment for many. Mavericks is a world-renowned big wave breaking place located one-half mile off the coast of Half Moon Bay, California and 20 miles south of San Francisco. As their website describes that Mavericks has been in the foreground of modern big-wave surfing since the early 1990s,
. . . attracting the most elite riders to test its limits each time it breaks. These riders are presented with waves that have crested at over 50 feet, remarkably strong currents, dangerously jagged rocks and shallow reefs, and frigid water temperatures. In summary, Mavericks is like no other place on the planet.
The contest takes place every winter during the period from new year to the end of March. Ther're usually large waves out there. But somehow this year the "world class swell" just refused to show up. So now the wait for '08 begins.

For us non-surfers or a desk surfer like me, however, we can always take comfort in this real life experience of an inspired surfer by Cathy Hamilton published in the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World this morning:

. . . I skip into the ocean, cold waves lapping at my legs. I wade out, deeper and deeper, until the water is chest-high. Off in the distance, a swell is building and heading toward me. It looks big.

I’m stoked!

“Surf’s up!” I cry and hoist myself onto the board, hugging it and bracing for the ride of my life.

The wave starts to curl downward. It’s a FREAKING TSUNAMI! I start to kick my legs and paddle furiously to get out in front of it.

Before I can cry “Banzai!” the wave crashes down, pitching me forward in a gnarly whirl of blinding, salty foam. The board flies out from under me and, after a two-second head-over-heels tumble, I land facedown on the beach. My hair completely covers my face. My swimsuit is twisted into a wad, and I’m swallowing sand.

Something tells me I didn’t exactly rip it.

This rather humorous description of an esxciting but not so humorous experience is a master piece. I, for one who has never dreamed to be a surfer and is not waiting for the Mavericks '08, can certainly fully empathize what she went through! May be if I were much younger, I might have a part of me to think why not try it some time. But it is more than a humorous adventure, it can be much worse than swallowing sand. Anyway my nerve is definitely not made to do something like that!