Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Two happy ending stories today

Today there are two successful rescue operations to report: One is in south U.K., reported by Des Ryan of Sail-World:
A romantic boat trip to mark a wedding anniversary that turned into a dramatic rescue operation this week shows again how difficult it is to get someone back on board a sailing boat once he or she (particularly he) has fallen overboard.

The husband and wife, from Hertfordshire in the UK, set off from Birdham Pool Marina in Chichester Harbour to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

The yacht was a mile off Hayling Island and he was on the bow, changing sails, when a rogue wave washed him off the boat into a choppy sea.

He was wearing a life jacket, and his wife, who was not an experienced sailor, threw him a rope and tried desperately, but could not pull him back on board. He was left hanging, the wife called for help, and hypothermia began to set in.

The wife made the distress call at about 4pm and two lifeboats were sent. The man was plucked from the water approximately 45 minutes later by lifeboat crew member Jasper Graham-Jones, and was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Carol Carter, from Hayling Royal National Lifesaving Institute(RNLI), said:
'He had a lifejacket on. Had he not had a lifejacket on, he would not have survived.'

The other one is off Baylys Beach northwest of Auckland, New Zealand, reported by Rose Stirling of Dangaville News:

A father rescued his son in a sea drama after their boat capsized when it hit two rogue waves just off Baylys Beach.

Boat owner Grant Tregidga was on a fishing trip with his 19-year-old son Shannon and family friend Jason Ward on Monday morning, when their boat capsized 150 metres out to sea.

"Two rogue waves came up from nowhere and the boat just rolled upside down really slowly," he says.

The three occupants were thrown into the water and with no time to contact coastguard, they relied on the locals to spot them.

"We were really lucky two people were walking along the beach at the time the boat tipped up," says Mr Tregidga.

While locals contacted emergency services, he found himself involved in a rescue bid for his son

"I was all right but my son was caught in a rip so I went out to rescue him because I could see he was struggling."

Mr Tregidga managed to swim out to Shannon and pull him to shore.

Shannon says he was worried. "I was in trouble but my dad was out in front of me and he helped me out".

The boat’s third occupant, Jason, also made it safely to shore.

According to the trio, it was about half an hour into their ordeal that the Te Kopuru inflatable rescue boat TK Rescue and crew arrived on the scene.

"I think their response was fantastic," says Mr Tregidga.

The troubled boat named Bling It On only received minor damage to its hull and outboard motor.

"We were very lucky."

Locals and officials on the scene said the trio were lucky not to have been hurt.

Two cases, half way across the globe apart, one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern, both encountered freaque wave and survived their ordeal. We have to thank the rescuers for their timely operations and admire the cool and collection of the people affected to be able to do the right thing at the right time that all resulted in happy endings. It is wonderful world after all. Thanks be to God!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Newport Beach tragedy

One thing I guess I'll never understand is body surfing. According to Wikipedia, "Bodysurfing is the art and sport of riding a wave without the assistance of any buoyant device such as a surfboard or bodyboard. Bodysurfers typically equip themselves only with a pair of specialized swimfins that stay on during turbulent conditions and optimize propulsion." There they show this picture that was taken at LaJolla:

So it may not be totally unexpected, but this news headline from the LA Times today: "Man killed at the Wedge in Newport Beach" is still hard to bear. Here's the report of Mike Anton and Gerrick D. Kennedy:
The explosive Wedge surf break in Newport Beach has left generations of daredevils with broken bones and concussions.

On Friday, with waves topping 20 feet, it killed a man -- a rare death at a place that would seem to invite it.

The Orange County coroner's office has identified the man as 50-year-old Monte Kevin Valantin of Lawndale. He was thrown against the rock jetty that produces the Wedge's outsized waves about 12:30 p.m.

Newport Beach lifeguards pulled him aboard their boat and he later died at nearby Hoag Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

"There was a relatively small group of bodysurfers and boarders in the water," said Jim Turner, a Newport Beach lifeguard battalion chief. "On the shore, there were in excess of a thousand spectators."
The report also has this sober description:
The physics of the Wedge have earned it an international cult following. Incoming waves carom off the rock jetty that protects Newport Harbor and slam into following swells. The result is giant tubes that thunder to shore at speeds reaching 30 mph.

The inexperienced get tossed around like rag dolls trapped in a commercial washing machine. Even experts who get sucked into the Wedge's steep break can be flung into the air or slammed into the shallow, sandy bottom.
Like I indicated at the beginning, I'll never understand why would anyone be allowed to risk their own body be slammed against the rocks at the mercy of the waves. Only waves will suffice, not necessarily freaque waves. Today the 50 year old man paid with his ultimate price. Really, it's not worth it -- not with your life!

Update 8/18/2009

I come across this video made during that day at the Wedge a few hour before the tragedy:

The storm on the Sea of Galilee

(From Wikipedia) The Storm on the Sea of Galilee is a 1633 painting by the Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn that was in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, prior to being stolen on March 18, 1990. The painting depicts the miracle of Jesus calming the waves on the Sea of Galilee (Palestine) and now known as Israel, as depicted in fourth chapter of the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is Rembrandt's only seascape.

This one from here:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tragic end to fishing trip

There has been a number of reports about this case already, the title given by the Sydney Morning Herald probably accurately described what had happened: "Tragic end to fishing trip." This news article by Caroline Marcus also told the story in much more details than any other similar case reports:

A COUPLE drowned and a man swam up to a kilometre to safety after a small boat capsized during a night fishing trip off Sydney.

The bodies of Norman Baeger and Susan Brown, from Casula, were found floating off Wanda Beach, Cronulla, early yesterday.

The couple, who have four small children including a four-month-old baby, had set off with a friend, Sean Buckley, 32, of Randwick, from the nearby Port Hacking boat ramp in a six-metre aluminium runabout at 2.30am.

Mr Buckley, the owner and skipper of the boat, said the vessel capsized after hitting a large wave or reef. He managed to swim and cling to the upturned boat for about an hour before being washed up.

He then ran about 500 metres to Sanderson Street, Cronulla, where he knocked on the door of a house to raise the alarm.

Peter Williams, his wife and three children were asleep when Mr Buckley, distraught, with a large gash on his forehead and naked bar a lifejacket, woke them about 4am.

"He said, 'Please, please, please, I beg you, please help me,"' Mr Williams said. "What do you do when you've got a bloke standing outside your front door in this day and age and he's naked? You think, 'What sort of lunatic are you?"'

Mr Williams said he first thought Mr Buckley was drunk. After hearing his story he called triple-0.

"He said they were going fishing," Mr Williams said. "His two friends were lost. He wanted to find his friends. I really feel sorry for this bloke. He said it was a freak wave or reef or something. He didn't know how it happened."

Mr Williams said Mr Buckley told him his friends were a husband and wife. "He said he took his clothes off because he was starting to sink. He said how lucky he was to be alive. He was just sobbing out of control for some minutes and then he'd say, 'I'm really sorry."'

Mr Buckley was treated for hypothermia before being taken to Sutherland Hospital. A hospital spokesman said he walked out of the hospital "on his own steam" about 1pm.

Mr Baeger's father, Adolph, told Channel Ten news his son, 36, "worked hard. He was a decent man". Ms Brown's sister, Theresa, said the couple's newborn had been her sister's priority.

The matter has been referred to the coroner. Detective Inspector Rohan Cramsie, of Miranda police, said it was too early to say if any charges would be laid.

People who fish in the area say the waters are known to be unpredictable - there is a sandbar not far from shore.

I am impressed that the reporter tracked down Mr. Williams, whose family were woke up at 4 am by the survivor, Mr. Buckley, to call for help. The comment "He said it was a freak wave or reef or something. He didn't know how it happened." is totally plausible. It just happened, no one knows how it happened. And the last sentence about the "waters are known to be unpredictable" should be a timely warning again for anyone on the beach or go fishing to the sea. It's nice recreation area generally. But one just can not take anything for granted. They always happen. We just don't know where, when, why, what or how! It is a sad tragedy: in just an unpredictable moment, four children including a newborn baby lost their loving parents. May God's blessings be with them all!

Again for us outsiders, Cronulla is located directly south of Sydney. Here's a picture of the beach:

And here's the boat of the sad fishing trip being recovered by police and divers:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Successful North Wales rescue

This news reported by Owen R. Hughes in the Daily Post today:
Family rescued after boat capsizes off Gwynedd

A FAMILY of four on a fishing trip had their lives saved by a fast-acting lifeboat crew after their powerboat was capsized by a freak wave in rough seas.

The 14ft boat turned over in force five winds and crashing waves half a mile off Barmouth, Gwynedd, yesterday, throwing the two adults and their children, aged 11 and seven, into the choppy waters.

They were unable to right the boat and in just minutes the children started to suffer with hypothermia.

Luckily for the family, who were on holiday from Burnley, the capsize had been seen by sharp-eyed RNLI station mechanic Llew Griffin through a telescope.

He had been asked to keep a watch for the boat after Deputy Launching Authority John Puddle became concerned for their welfare.

He raised the alarm at 1.30pm and the Barmouth inshore boat was launched by tractor driver Jackie Thomas, with Mr Griffin and crew member Aaron Griffiths on board.

They fought the gusting wind to race to the stricken family and drag the four of them out the water. They were immediately wrapped in emergency foil bags to warm up.

Spokeswoman Jacqui Puddle said: “It soon became apparent that the two boys aged seven and 11 were suffering from hypothermia so the ambulance was called.

“The mother of the two boys was also in pain possibly from being stung by a jellyfish.”

Once back on the shore the boys were treated for hypothermia by paramedics but did not require hospital treatment.

The mother was also treated by the ambulance crew, one of which was also a Barmouth lifeboatman.

Spokeswoman Mrs Puddle said: “They were very lucky to be seen. The boys were already suffering hypothermia and the conditions very rough. They said the boat was hit by a big wave that I suspect hit them side on.

“The quick actions of the crew have saved their lives.”

John Probert, the Lifeboat Operations Manager at RNLI Barmouth Lifeboat Station, said: “Had it not been for the vigilance of one of our crew members and the quick reactions of the mechanic, the consequences of the fishing trip could have been far more serious.

“Before venturing onto the sea the state of the wind and the tide should always be taken into account.”

The last sentence is certainly a sound advice for any ventures out to sea to be fully aware of what the weather is in store. At any rate this is a wonderful successful rescue story to hear.

All the best to the family and most deserving appreciations to the RNLI (royal National Lifeboat Institution) crews.

By the way for us outsiders, Gwynedd (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈɡwɪnɛð]) is a county in north-west Wales of U.K. according to Wikipedia. Here's a picture of Tremadog bay in Gwynedd in Wales.

Freaque waves can appear any time and anywhere in the world. yes, even in beautiful tranquil place like this!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Washed out to sea at Aran Islands

This news was reported by BBC yesterday:
Man says wave washed away son

The father of a Londonderry man who drowned off the Aran Islands said he believed his son was washed out to sea by a freak wave.

Joe Brown, 42, was last seen alive on Inisheer on Saturday 11 July. He and his wife Denise were on holiday.

"It was choppy that night and the waves around the island can be dangerous," said Pat Brown.

"The rescue people said he'd been caught in a wave and that took him straight out to sea."

The body of Joe Brown was found on Thursday 16 July by a fisherman in Galway Bay. He was buried on Monday.

"Joe said to Denise he was going for a dander along the seafront while she went back to the hotel for tea. When he hadn't returned by eleven-thirty she thought he had just met up with someone and had gone back to the bar," he added.

"Come the morning at 10 o'clock she phoned the two guys he was most likely to be with and they hadn't seen Joe since the night before.

"Then the panic set it, the Garda had been contacted and the air and sea rescue people came out. They searched all along Inisheer and they carried on the search up until Tuesday afternoon at three o'clock and that particular team had to leave to go and search for the Polish man and his son lost off Kenmare."

This is a rather frightening story. As BBC shown the following picture of the water front presumably where young Mr. Brown was washed out to sea.

How can a place like this be dangerous? Who wouldn't wish to take a stroll along the sea front in the morning or any time? But since the young Brown was lost to sea, the elder Brown's conjecture of washed out by a freaque wave is probably very plausible. Most likely the young Brown was attracted by the waves and gotten a little too close to sea. It's really an unexpected tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go to the Brown family. An advice of be very careful on the sea front and try not to go near the sea would be superfluous but a necessary warning nevertheless.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar eclipse

Solar eclipse of July 22, 2009:

Viewed at Chungching, China

Viewed at Varanasi, India:

Check this NASA site for details.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Where is QE2?

According to QE2's own web page: "QE2 is arguably the most famous liner in the world." I guess no one, if at all, would disagree with that statement. But for freaque wave aficionados, QE2 is also famous for having encountered a major freaque wave on September 11, 1995 with no major injuries while crossing North Atlantic westbound, headed for New York, somewhere around 200 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. As was famously described in detail by the QE2 captain, Captain Warwick (see CruiseBruise):
"At 0410 the rogue wave was sighted right ahead, looming out of the darkness from 220°, it looked as though the ship was heading straight for the white cliffs of Dover. The wave seemed to take ages to arrive but it was probably less than a minute before it broke with tremendous force over the bow. An incredible shudder went through the ship, followed a few minutes later by two smaller shudders. There seemed to be two waves in succession as the ship fell into the 'hole' behind the first one. The second wave of 28-29 m (period 13 seconds), whilst breaking, crashed over the foredeck, carrying away the forward whistle mast."
The estimate of the size of the waves by the Captain was quite accurate as there was also recordings by Canadian weather buoys moored in the area with the maximum measured height from buoy 44141 to be 30 m.

It was also worldwide famous event when QE2 retired and we had all heard, just as her web page indicates, "QE2 is currently docked permanently in Dubai. " Well I am rather surprised to notice this news from gCaptain today:

The Queen Elizabeth II is headed for Cape Town, South Africa. This just in from BBC News:

Cunard sold the Southampton-based liner for £50m to the United Arab Emirates real estate developer Nakheel.

It had planned to refurbish the ship and open it as a floating hotel in Dubai but that has been put on hold.

The QE2 will now go to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, where there is a shortage of hotel rooms.

According to the report, the QE2 is planning on staying in Cape Town for 18 months set to coincide with the June 2010 Fifa World Cup and the trip will delay refurbishment of the famed ocean liner. Reasoning behind this decision , “QE2 is simply a victim of the recession.”

The ship is expected to be moved to South Africa under its own power, but the sale contract with Cunard meant it could not carry passengers as a cruise ship.

Dubai or Cape Town, either or both are nice home for QE2. Of course she is certainly not going to be worrying about freaque waves again!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reading 1 today

Woe to the shepherds
who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture,
says the LORD.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,
against the shepherds who shepherd my people:
You have scattered my sheep and driven them away.
You have not cared for them,
but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.
I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them
and bring them back to their meadow;
there they shall increase and multiply.
I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them
so that they need no longer fear and tremble;
and none shall be missing, says the LORD.

(Jer 23:1-4)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sailing in the deadliest storm of 1979

"The sea showed that it can be a deadly enemy and that those who go to sea for pleasure must do so in full knowledge that they may encounter dangers of the highest order."

The above quote was the conclusion of an inquiry report on the 1979 Fastnet yachting race disaster as reported by Tony Peterson in The Independent today. That case was still "the deadliest storm in the history of modern sailing" with these results:
By the time the 1979 Fastnet had officially finished, 15 people had died, five yachts had sunk, 24 crews had abandoned ship and 136 sailors had been rescued.
Only 85 boats out of 303 managed to complete the race that year.
Mr. Peterson himself a sailor in that race was on one of the boats that survived. Because he was there, this remembrance article is more of a personal tribute than merely an ordinary newspaper reporting. It was wonderfully written with real feeling. Here's his account on what happened 30 years ago:

The 1979 Fastnet began in fine weather. But within the space of 48 hours it had turned into every sailor's worst imaginable nightmare. The race was hit by a violent Force 10 storm that swept across the North Atlantic and into the southern Irish Sea, catching forecasters almost completely unawares.

For almost 24 hours, the estimated 2,700 men and women crewing the fleet were pounded by monster waves whipped by screaming 60-knot winds. Dozens of boats capsized or lost their rudders. Crews who escaped to what they assumed was the safety of an inflatable life-raft were horrified to discover that their floating shelters simply disintegrated under the force of the waves. Lifeboats, rescue helicopters, merchant ships and the navies of at least three countries were involved in a desperate struggle to save them.

The storm wrought its vengeance in an era which was still without the modern navigational aids that today's sailing legends such as Dame Ellen MacArthur and Samantha Davies take for granted. Thirty years ago, sailors had no recourse to GPS receivers which can pinpoint a yacht's position with a degree of accuracy which allows for an error of a mere 15 feet. Neither could they rely on satellite phones, or sophisticated computerised weather-forecasting techniques, or DSC radios which can relay a yacht's position to a rescue-service command centre at the press of a button.

In many ways, sailing in the late 1970s had barely moved on from the days of Cook and Nelson. Wealthy skippers could afford the expensive Decca receivers used by professional fishermen to find out where they were. But most 1979 Fastnet boats relied on "dead reckoning" – which is simply a calculation based on speed, drift and tide strength – to roughly estimate their position. Their efforts were backed up by inaccurate radio signal bearings transmitted by lighthouses or old-fashioned chronometers and sextants.

Here are more personal accounts:
On the Friday night before the start, the six of us aboard Xara sat on deck and watched the sky bursting with the spectacular firework display that is put on towards the end of each Cowes Week. The weather forecast was good when we slipped across the start line opposite the Royal Yacht Squadron, the following Saturday afternoon. There were breaks in the cloud and the Solent waters had been turned into a mild yet steady chop by a light south-westerly breeze as we tacked out into the channel.

As Saturday merged into Sunday we started to run into patches of mist that hung above the water in great clouds. The gaps between the boats opened up as they continued zig-zagging against the wind down the coast towards Land's End. Then, by dawn on Monday, the wind had died away altogether. We were left rolling on the swell of a mirror-like, deep grey and greasy-looking sea, surrounded by other yachts. Like us they were trying to catch the slightest breath of wind with large, brightly coloured spinnaker sails which hung from mastheads and swished lifelessly into the rigging with each roll of the boat. We did not realise it, but this was simply the "lull before the storm".

Gradually, and out of a rain-sodden sky, the wind began to pick up from the south-west and we began to heel over (or tilt) to the steady breeze that started to carry us north-westwards towards the furthest point of the race – across 150 miles of open sea to "The Rock" as the Fastnet Lighthouse is referred to. Like everyone else, we had picked up the early afternoon shipping forecast on Radio 4. It predicted wind strengths in our area would be between Force 4 and 5 on the Beaufort Scale (ie, a moderate to fresh breeze) increasing to Force 6 or 7 later (moderate to fresh gale). The early evening forecast talked about Force 4 wind strengths increasing to 6, locally Force 8 (fresh gale). The forecasters had been warning about the possibility of gale Force 8 winds on the Monday night – so their prediction was not unexpected. There was no mention, however, of the violent storm that we were blindly sailing into.

Coming on deck from my bunk at around nine o'clock that evening, I was to take the wheel of the yacht, now heeling sharply to strong and occasionally violent gusts and beginning to buck wildly over white-capped waves that sent great lumps of water hurtling across the deck and smacking into the sails. I grabbed the large stainless-steel ship's wheel, and within the space of about 10 minutes, I had worked myself into a mucky sweat inside my oilskin jacket. The wind was increasing unremittingly and I found myself fighting furiously to keep control of the boat which was now forcing its way up into the wind, sails shaking and cracking like gunshots, no matter which way I turned the wheel. "I can't hang on to her, like this!" I remember shouting to the owner. We called below deck for reinforcements. Two came up and we began reefing (or shortening) the mainsail. But the wind was still getting up, it was now getting dark and it was fast becoming clear that this was something far more threatening than the comparatively ordinary Force 8 gale that was forecast to occur locally.

Official photographs which show what the wind does to the sea in all of the Beaufort Scale's wind strengths – from 0 (flat calm) to 12 (hurricane) – are taken from the bridge of a large merchant ship. But the perspective is completely different from the deck of a small boat of between 30 and 50 feet in length. Even photographs or video footage of rough weather at sea actually taken from small boats tends somehow to flatten the waves and give an impression that the weather was not that bad – so experiencing a very rough sea from a small boat for the first time can come as a shock.

Aboard Xara, the shock effect was beginning to grip all of us. It was now pitch black, apart from the loom of the red and green navigation lights which momentarily illuminated the boiling whitecaps. Red compass and instrument-panel lighting gave the crew members' faces a disturbingly Satanic hue. The wind had now started to howl and occasionally scream through the rigging. At the same time it was whipping tennis-ball-sized lumps of luminous green phosphorescence off the tops of the waves which flew across the boat like miniature comets, shooting through the rigging and smacking into the heavily reefed sails.

We had to reduce sail further. The aim was to put up a "stay sail" – a much smaller jib (the triangular foresail on the front of a yacht). We turned the boat downwind and dragged the new sail up from the cabin below, but because we had never practised it before, all attempts to pull the sail up ended in failure. The wind was already so strong that the sheets (or ropes) holding the sail to the boat had become hopelessly entangled like a ball of string toyed with by a cat.

Now we were beginning to see red SOS flares shooting up like Bonfire Night rockets into the sky for a few feet before being whipped horizontal by the wind. It was clear that a lot of other yachts were in trouble, but we could do nothing to help them. We stripped the boat of all sail. I was allowed off watch and fell into an uneasy slumber in a bunk located near the stern of the yacht. I was awoken with a start sometime later by being thrown hard on to the side of the boat. We had been rolled hard over by a big breaker, the top of the mast almost striking the water. Books, blankets, charts, cutlery, glasses, cups and a whole lot more shot on to the already soaking and vomit-spattered cabin floor and slithered back and forward in a heap with each roll. I began to panic and a rush of adrenaline surged through my body leaving me with a headache that stayed with me for hours afterwards.

A grey and threatening dawn lit up the absolute fury of a full-blown storm at sea. From the cockpit of the yacht, the spectacle was almost unbelievable, like something out of a film. It was awesome, frightening and strangely sublime. The biggest thing on earth was wild and angry. The waves towered above us, the size of blocks of flats, streaked with hundred-yard slashes of white spume and topped by boiling masses of breaking foam. We could see a 200-foot-long Irish warship in the distance which kept disappearing completely behind the waves. By now, all the life belts had been washed off the yacht. The wind-speed indicator was off the dial at around 60 knots. Xara wasn't carrying any sail but was going forward at a speed of six knots because of the wind resistance created by the bare mast. We were trying to point into the waves but were crossing them at an angle of about 60 degrees off the wind. In the troughs of the waves the howl of the wind in the rigging dropped to a low moan. The noise increased to scream pitch as we careered to the top of a sea where a boiling crest would smack the yacht like a fist and send it yawing over on to its side. We took turns to sit at the wheel and guide the yacht over these monsters, tethered by lifelines to the boat. The process repeated itself for 10 hours before the wind began to abate, allowing us to put up a tiny storm jib and make for the Irish coast. There we sheltered overnight before going on to complete the race. In all, the storm had lasted a total of 22 hours.

Here's a picture of crews on Camargue being rescued by helicopter:
And here's the dismasted yacht, Ariadne:
Thanks to Mr. Peterson and The Independent for this great documentation of an important historical event: "Hell and high water: The Fastnet disaster."

The Fastnet race of 2009 is due to start again August 5, 2009. God speed and all the best to all!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Welcome back Zac and Congratulations!

Here's an inspiring and heartening story 13 months in the making as reported in LA Times by Peter Thomas:
Zac Sunderland, who left Marina del Rey 13 months ago with a bold ambition to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone, returned to complete that quest today at 10:30 a.m.

Sunderland, 17, who was greeted offshore and escorted in by an armada of well-wishers aboard dozens of sailboats and fancy yachts, cleared the breakwater beneath a clearing sky and stepped ashore at Fisherman's Village in bright sunshine.
Here's the young hero and his boat followed by a map of his route below:

And here's some further details of Thomas' reporting:
Sunderland, 17, who departed Marina del Rey when he was 16 on June 14, 2008, becomes the youngest person to have sailed alone around the world -- and the first to do it before turning 18.

He beat a record held by Australia's Jesse Martin, who was 18 when he finished his voyage in 1999.

After departing on a westerly course, he crossed three oceans and five seas, and crossed the equator twice, covering more than 25,000 miles. He endured a pirate scare, a broken boom, broken tiller, broken forestay rigging, a broken bulkhead, and he was swamped and almost washed overboard by a rogue wave off Grenada.
I don't quite remember if I had blogged about his voyage before, I may have, regarding his freaque wave encounter. Anyway I wish to add my downright, heartfelt congratulations to Zac on his incredibly successful voyage at his young age. May be some day his can tell us more details of his encounter of the freaque wave.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rock fishing tragedy

Here's a tragic case happened near Sydney, Australia. The above picture shows a Buddhist monk prays for a fisherman feared drowned after he was washed off rocks at Port Kembla, while relatives look on. (Picture by SYLVIA LIBER.) As the Illawarra Mecury reports this morning:

The 31-year-old man from Hurlstone Park was rock fishing at the foot of Heritage Park just after 9pm last Sunday when he was hit by a freak wave as he was packing up to leave.

The last known sighting was by a rescue helicopter the night of his disappearance, when he was spotted floating face down in the water, but they lost sight of him shortly after.

Intensive searches were held daily; a grey spray jacket was located last Monday, although police could not confirm whether it belonged to the missing man.

While police have been combing the surface of the water near where the man went missing, a treacherous swell has prevented divers from approaching the area immediately adjacent to rocks where the tragedy occurred.

As Wikipedia describes it: "Rock fishing is fishing from rocky outcrops into the sea. It is a popular pastime in Australia and New Zealand. It can be a dangerous pastime and claims many lives each year." Here's a picture of "Extreme rock fishing" off Muriwai, New Zealand, given in Wikipedia accompanied their article:

It certainly looks exciting and clearly safety is not a main concern on the minds of those people out there. First and foremost question on my mind when I saw this picture is naturally how do they cope when a freaque wave hits? None of them wearing a life jacket, I am sure they have heard of freaque wave encounters. May be they all think freaque waves are only rare things that happens to the other people. That could be very true. But no one can be sure that will not happen to you. May be the next wave comes in the next moment, before you realize, . . . . Oh well, my knees tremble even by think about them. Evidently I am not the one who would enjoy rock fishing by any means!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Divers rescued in Salcombe, Devon

This news just reported in BBC:

Twelve people have been rescued from the sea off Salcombe in Devon after their 40ft (12m) dive boat sank.

The divers from London let off a flare when a freak wave swamped their boat, Aquanaut, sinking it in about eight minutes off Bolt Head, on Saturday.

The divers were spotted by the crew of a passing yacht which took two on board while the rest got into a life raft. A lifeboat took them all into Salcombe.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said after the wave hit the stern, the boat took on water rapidly.

Ten of the divers took to a life raft and the remaining crew boarded the yacht, Dutch Angel.

The 10 divers, from Dive Wimbledon, and two instructors, were checked over and were all fine.

All were fine! That's a good news to hear for a Sunday morning. Two things come to mind: as shown in the picture above, the 12 m boat is certainly not a small one, one should feel reasonably safe to be on there, but it is vulnerable when encounters a freaque wave nevertheless. There's no details about the freaque wave, but it must be a freaque wave to swamp the boat and cause its sinkinbg in a few minutes. Let's all be thankful that "All were fine!"

One other thing also comes to mind is that Salcombe is a beautiful town in the South Hams district of Devon, south west England. And according to this:
The town is close to the mouth of the Kingsbridge Estuary, built mostly on the steep west side of the estuary and lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The town's extensive waterfront and the naturally sheltered harbour formed by the estuary gave rise to its success in the Boat and Ship Building industry, as well as a popular sailing port!
So who would expect that a freaque wave could be just around the corner? But it is certainly there, somewhere, sometime, somehow! Never ever let your guard down. In this case it's lucky that there's a yacht nearby to rescue the lucky divers. Thanks be to God!

Psalm 85

Restore us once more, God our savior; abandon your wrath against us.
Will you be angry with us forever, drag out your anger for all generations?
Please give us life again, that your people may rejoice in you.
Show us, LORD, your love; grant us your salvation.
I will listen for the word of God; surely the LORD will proclaim peace To his people, to the faithful, to those who trust in him.
Near indeed is salvation for the loyal; prosperity will fill our land.
Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven.
The LORD will surely grant abundance; our land will yield its increase.
Prosperity will march before the Lord, and good fortune will follow behind.
Psalm 85: 5-14.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Highest wave ever known

According to, on this day 51 years ago:
On the night of July 9, 1958 an earthquake along the Fairweather Fault in the Alaska Panhandle loosened about 40 million cubic yards (30.6 million cubic meters) of rock high above the northeastern shore of Lituya Bay. This mass of rock plunged from an altitude of approximately 3000 feet (914 meters) down into the waters of Gilbert Inlet (see map below). The impact generated a local tsunami that crashed against the southwest shoreline of Gilbert Inlet. The wave hit with such power that it swept completely over the spur of land that separates Gilbert Inlet from the main body of Lituya Bay. The wave then contiuned down the entire length of Lituya Bay, over La Chaussee Spit and into the Gulf of Alaska. The force of the wave removed all trees and vegetation from elevations as high as 1720 feet (524 meters) above sea level. Millions of trees were uprooted and swept away by the wave. This is the highest wave that has ever been known.
Yes, the highest wave that has ever been known, 524 m (1720 ft), happened 51 years ago today at Latiya Bay, Alaska. Here's part of a map showing where Latuya Bay is:

Here's it's aerial view:
And here is a model conjecture, according to Kenji Satake, Geological Survey of Japan (see here) of what might have happened:

Study of tsunami wave is fascinating. I once collaborated on a paper with Dr. Hermann Fritz whose laboratory data on landslide generated impulse waves enthralled me to no end. But there's only limited data available and limited stuff a data analyst can do. So I remained as a tsunami bystander.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Freakish rogue administration

Yes, this blog is about freaque waves. The news front about freaque waves has been relatively quiet lately. In the mean time the news front of American main-stream media has also been quiet about what is really happening in the country -- not exactly a top secret, but they will certainly not admit it. What I am getting at is a news that has been buzzing for several days now, but American people that normally getting their news from tv and radio have not even heard about it yet. For those who had spent their own money to see stupid Algore's inconvenience movie, you should especially appreciate this Glenn Beck segment:

No, Algore would certainly not want you to see this. That's why the Gore cronies current in power would want to suppress his report. Thank God this is still America of liberty.

I know that you have probably never heard the name Alan Carlin before. Now you have seen him in person. What do you think? You must agree that he knows what he is talking about in a typical scientist fashion. For those of us that have never been sold by the Algore hoax, we applaud Dr. Carlin's courage of voicing the true facts based on his research in the face of his "supervisor"'s supression. It is gratifying to see this kind of courageous spirit under tyranny. In case you are wondering, Carlin has a B.S. in Physics from Cal Tech and a Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T. He was the Director of Implementation Research Division of EPA when EPA was first started in 1971. He's been the senior Operations Research Analyst at EPA since 1974. Yes, he does know what he's talking about. Can you say the same for Algore and those crowded Obamania followers?

By the way the supressed report has been released and it can be downloaded HERE.


A more complete Alan Carlin interview:

But there is still no word from any of the media outlets American people are used to follow. Communists during the Soviet Union era couldn't do as good a total cover-up job as the current Obamania media are doing right now!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Reading II Today

(2 Cor 12:7-10.)

Brothers and sisters:
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness."
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 233rd Birthday, America!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights - that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Missing on Lake Erie

Here's a developing news by Joshua Rhett Miller of Fox News:

The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian authorities are scouring Lake Erie for four fishermen whose 19-foot boat sailed from a Michigan park a day earlier.

The men, who are between 50 and 70 years old, left Sterling Park in Monroe, Mich., Thursday morning and had planned to return by 4 p.m., Greg Fondran, a search and rescue controller at the U.S. Coast Guard's District Nine Command Center, told

Fondran said three of the four men have cell phones with them but have not answered calls by authorities. The last incoming and outgoing calls received and placed by the phones were at about noon Thursday, he said.

Weather conditions have not been severe, Fondran said, leading authorities to believe the 19-foot boat likely had not capsized or overturned.

"Though it's always possible," he continued. "You can get a rogue wave and all of a sudden, you're taken over."

Family members contacted the Coast Guard at about 9 p.m. Thursday. Boats, helicopters and other aircraft from the U.S. and Canada have been searching since that time, Fondran said.

"We're obviously concerned," he said. "We're considering it a distress case."
It is something no one wish it to happen but it happens sometime, somewhere, somehow. Mr. Fordran's comment that "You can get a rogue wave and all of a sudden, you are taken over." is really plausible and not far fetched, even on Lake Erie. Let's sincerely hope and pray that the four people can all be successfully found and rescued.

America the Beautiful

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Freaque current off La Jolla shores

Keith Darcé of Sign On San Diego reported today a strange deep water current off La Jolla shores that had occurred yesterday. Here's what happened:

— In more than 700 scuba dives off La Jolla Shores, Terry Strait had never encountered a deep-water current like the one that slammed into him and his buddies yesterday morning about 250 yards from the beach.

As the four divers swam roughly 60 feet below the surface along the edge of La Jolla Canyon, they noticed a wall of sand rushing toward them from the southwest.

“The current was really pushing us,” said Strait, 41, of Kensington. “We tried to swim lateral to it but couldn't get out of it.”

They held on to the edge of the cliff to avoid being pushed farther out to sea. The group slowly swam against the flow toward the surface and finally broke free at a depth of 15 feet, Strait said.

The strange and previously unknown current occurred in a normally placid area of water, said lifeguards and a marine expert at the nearby Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It was noticed by other divers in the area over several hours starting around 6 a.m., but not by swimmers on the surface of the water.

Here's a drawing of the local conditions:

and here's a plausible explanation of Dr. Seymour:

During normal current patterns, waves move up the coast from the south, Seymour said. Point La Jolla, which juts into the Pacific Ocean, serves as a natural breaker that largely protects the north-lying La Jolla Bay from those waves.

But the wave track shifted slightly yesterday morning — coming more from the southwest, Seymour said. The change was enough to allow waves to wrap around Point La Jolla and move into the bay, where they collided with a large pool of sedentary water that bounced them back out to sea.

Divers swimming around the edge of La Jolla Canyon were in the direct line of that deflection, Seymour said.

“The currents around La Jolla were very strong,” he said. “The intensity of this event was probably produced by a group of very big waves.”

It is of interest to note that there are not only freaque waves but also freaque currents as well and this freaque current took place at the door step of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the world's premier ocean research center. We have built up a large knowledge base on ocean over the years and centuries, but we still know so little about the ocean. I think Seymour rightfully pointed out that the the currents might still be "produced by a group of very big waves" though the big waves were not observed. Perhaps as given in the article, Mr. Strait, the star of this story, gave the most sober of all possible comments:
“I have respect for the ocean. I constantly remind myself that I'm not really supposed to be out there underwater and that the ocean wants to kill me.”