Friday, January 16, 2009

Freaque wave stories

If we can paraphrase Mr. Murphy's saying "if anything can go wrong, it will" as "if freaque wave can happen, it will" which may not be kosher but practical! A few news in recent days may vouchsafe for it:

This news written by Nadja Hainke from NTnews, of Australia:

A FISHERMAN was pulled to safety after he fell out of his boat - which sped away unmanned for 50km out of Darwin harbour.

The 33-year-old man fell into the water when a "freak wave" hit his 4.5m aluminium Stacer.

The tinny continued driving around the harbour region - reportedly at 30km/h - nearly colliding with other boats.

And this one from Scotland in BBC:

A fire service rescue crew was thrown from its boat after the vessel was hit by a freak wave on the River Clyde.

The incident happened during a training exercise near the Glasgow Science Centre at lunchtime on Wednesday.

Now here's a very well written article by Edward M. Gilbreth in tells a happy-ending story that carries a very practical lesson. Caution, the following long story may not be G but probably PG-13:

I didn't know this until fairly recently, but apparently one of the things to be avoided on a deep sea fishing trip is the temptation to void abaft while under way.

Not long ago I was talking to a fellow who had gone out to the Gulf Stream with some other mates for a day of fishing. Everything went smoothly on the way out and the fishing was excellent. It's not inconceivable that beer may have been consumed intermittently throughout the day, which prompted the most natural physiologic responses. But fishermen, by their very nature, and particularly if ladies are not present, tend not to use the small, cubbyhole bathrooms that usually adorn traditional sporting craft, choosing instead the great outdoor panorama.

With that in mind, picture a vessel heading back to port midafternoon at about 30 knots or so. A gentleman quietly repairs aft to take care of a very private matter. There's nothing unusual about it. He has done this on multiple occasions throughout his life as an avid fisherman. A moderate chop adorns the surface of the water, but certainly nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing that would begin to cause significant loss of balance, particularly in a craft so large.

But, amid the serene beauty of an otherwise flawless afternoon, the boat suddenly clashes with an unexpectedly large rogue wave, and the fisherman impossibly finds himself airborne. Not just an inch or two, but several feet, as if catapulted away by trampoline.

Suspended in midair, everything briefly seemed to come to a halt. There was no sound, no movement, no anything except the shocking absence of footing and the unmistakable appearance of water directly below. This couldn't be! He wanted to scream, but nothing seemed to come out, as if he were suspended in outer space instead of the intimate environs above the Atlantic.

But the reverie ended quickly enough with a splash into the briny waters some 20 miles off the coast. A guttural howl of desperation erupted at that point, but it was no use. The boat kept going. The fisherman flailed his arms desperately and then watched as it approached the vanishing point, only to see it disappear in a poof of summer haze.

As you might notice in the above, I bold faced the part where freaque wave became the culprit that ruined the wonderful fishing trip for the guy. Her's the happy ending:

All was suddenly quiet, and the range of emotions hit him with furious onslaught in what amounted to an accentuated and sped-up version of an acute grief reaction: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. There were moments of great courage and determination, prayers of rage and hope, tears and then resolution to the fact that he would soon drown at sea.

There was nothing he could do. He was very tired now, having been in the water a long time and knowing he couldn't last much longer. When it all seemed so utterly hopeless, when he started to wonder if he shouldn't just go ahead and dive, inhale the water deeply and try to get it over with, what should appear on the horizon but a craft heading practically straight at him! It was so miraculous he just couldn't believe it. Prayerful that he wasn't hallucinating, he raised his arms with what little strength he had left and was spotted — by the same boat, no less, from which he had fallen. After what must have seemed an eternity, someone aboard had finally noticed that he was missing, and the crew affected a successful rescue before notified authorities could do so themselves.

This is indeed "an amazing story and happy ending" as the author said. I doubt many of us would make the same mistake as the "luckily" fisherman in the story. But it's a lesson to remember nevertheless. And freaque wave is everywhere -- When it is going to happen, it will!


Here's another rather tragic case happened in Mombasa, Kenya in 2006 as reported in a couple of days ago:

A MET policewoman was crushed to death after falling from her jet-ski on holiday in Kenya, an inquest heard.

Pc Sally Roberts, 28, a neighbourhood safety officer in Croydon, was riding the jet-ski with boyfriend Andrew Freeman off Mombasa in the hope of seeing dolphins when they were swept off the craft by a freak wave.

According to Mr Freeman:

"We were both in the water, and I was trying to help Sally get on to the other jet-ski [belonging to an instructor]. Then I looked up and saw the jet-ski we had just fallen off being swept towards us."

Well, it just happened that Ms Roberts was hit and suffered chest, neck and head injuries. Three British doctors gave first aid on the beach after the accident in September 2006 but she could not be resuscitated. The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death. It all because of meeting a freaque wave while watching dolphins on a jet-ski. A little absurd, but that's what happened!

No comments: