Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jessica Watson News

I did not follow the news of Jessica Watson, the 16 years old sailor who is currently on a solo sail around the globe, very closely. Couriermail has this news report by Amanda Lulham today:
A ROGUE wave has knocked Jessica Watson's 34-footer over on its side for the sixth time as she nears the finish line of her round-the-world solo voyage.

The young Sunshine Coast sailor has repeatedly said the home stretch of her odyssey could prove the most treacherous. She is on high alert for the next 48 hours after she sailed into the first of three predicted storms yesterday.

Nine-metre waves are the biggest Watson has encountered. They are also as big as some of the waves encountered by sailors during the deadly 1998 Sydney to Hobart where a Bass Strait "bomb" in the form of a deep depression exploded and savaged the fleet, claiming the lives of six men.

An exhausted Watson managed to get word off her yacht yesterday to confirm both she and Ella's Pink Lady have survived the knockdown without major injury or damage.

She also reported the 35-knot winds she'd encountering had abated, as she continued towards Tasmania.

Jessica remains on course to achieve her dream of becoming the youngest person to sail round the world before her 17th birthday in late May.

"It's not going to be the easy sailing that I asked for," she wrote on her internet blog site last week.

It is estimated she has about 1500 nautical miles to sail to finish her solo trip.

I remember reading the news of her planning voyage and many warned her of the possible encountering with freaque waves. Obviously she's having her share more than anyone expected. Six probable freaque wave encounters already. According to dailytelegraph the first four encounters "came in quick succession in the Atlantic Ocean in late January, not long after she rounded Cape Horn." Now another on her home stretch. God speed, Jessica!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

An encounter and rescue at Northland harbor

An encounter and dramatic rescue story in The Northern Advocate of New Zealand today that gave all the details of what had happened. From the detailed story it was clearly a freaque wave was encountered. As usual there was no more details about the wave condition at any rate. But all in all it's a successful rescue and happy ending. Alleluia! Here's the article filed by Kristin Edge and Peter de Graaf::

A crayfish boat hit by a rogue wave off a notorious Northland harbour took on 10 tonnes of water and almost sank- sparking a dramatic rescue.

The Waitara was heading out across the infamous Hokianga Bar when the 18.3m vessel was hit by what skipper Rob Saunders called "a rogue wave" about 10am yesterday.

The impact shattered five windows at the front of the cabin, ripped off spotlights and demolished a screen around the bridge.

The rush of water through the cabin blew out the rear windows and sent the vessel's radios and even the stove flying onto the deck.

Worse, the boat took on 10,000 litres - that's 10 tonnes - of water.

Worried family members gathered on Signal Station Rd on South Head, where they had a clear view as the drama unfolded.

Northland police Search and Rescue incident controller Spence Penney said the skipper did not make a distress call, but was concerned the boat had more water on board than its pumps could handle.

The Hokianga Coastguard rescue vessel took two portable pumps, three firefighters, an ambulance officer and a policeman out to the stricken fishing boat.

With high tide and swells hitting three metres around midday, it became urgent that the Waitara got back across the bar.

"With the outgoing tide and the wind blowing down the harbour it would have chopped up badly on the bar," Mr Penney said.

With 4000 litres of sea water still on board the skipper made the decision to cross the bar about 11.40am.

The Waitara was shadowed by the Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter during the eight-minute crossing.

Pilot Steve Couchman said the vessel risked taking on more water, so the team was ready to winch the skipper and two young crewmen from the water.

"We had a winch operator ready and had a guy in a wetsuit just in case the crew had to abandon their boat," he said.

Omapere Fire Brigade senior station officer Graham Morris said without being pumped out first, the boat would not have made it back over the bar.

The forward cabin was filled with water up to the deck and the bow was so low the boat would have "scooped up" the next big wave.

Two firefighters went on board to operate the pumps, while another stayed on the Coastguard boat and Mr Morris parked the fire truck at South Head to run communications.

The crew suffered only minor scrapes, he said.

"The skipper was pretty stoic, pretty calm but the boys were a bit freaked out. There were a lot of hugs all round when they got to Opononi wharf."

Despite the heavy swell, Mr Saunders said the conditions were "just another day at the office".

"It must have been a rogue wave. She's been through much bigger waves than that."

The skipper's brother-in-law, Hokianga Express owner Peter Clark, was one of the first to be alerted. The Waitara's radios were wrecked but Mr Saunders managed to raise him on a cellphone.

Mr Clark said few people knew the bar better than his brother-in-law.

"It's a mean bit of water. You've got to respect it."

Owner Johnny Goodwin did not want to speculate about the accident while a Maritime New Zealand investigation was underway.

The greatest damage was to the vessel's electronics. An insurance assessor was expected to make a estimate of the costs today.

Here's the picture of the boat accompanied the article:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Life saving freaque wave!

Freaque wave aficionados can take some comfort from the following story from Australia's 9News (ninemsn):

A Sydney man who jumped from a notorious Sydney suicide spot has been saved by a freak wave.

The 45-year-old man plunged off The Gap at Sydney's Watsons Bay last night.

But a wave cushioned his fall and washed him back onto dry land almost unharmed.

Emergency rescue workers found the man with only minor injuries.

Helicopters winched the man to safety and took him to the Royal North Shore hospital for treatment.

The title of this report is "Freak wave saves man" -- so not all freaque waves are associate with destructive negatives. There is at least this one redeeming freaque wave story after all!

Monday, April 05, 2010

When freaque wave combined with rip current . . .

Perils for beach goers: freaque waves can be terrible to encounter, but when it is combined with rip current -- watch out!

Here's a depressing news from New Zealand:

Frantic rescue efforts by Northland beachgoers yesterday failed to save a man swept to his death in a strong rip after being knocked over by a rogue wave.

The 20-year-old Auckland man, a poor swimmer, was walking in shallow water with four mates at the normally safe Ngunguru Beach, about 24km north of Whangarei yesterday.

All five were knocked down by a rogue wave but the missing man was caught in a strong rip and carried out to sea, in what police called a freak and tragic accident.

Police searching for the man's body today said one of his four mates swam to his aid after he was spotted floundering in the surf.

The rescuer reached his friend, who was struggling to stay afloat, but they were separated by waves.

The missing man was believed to have panicked and may have pulled his rescuer under the surface.

"They were hit by a wave, he lost sight of him and that was the last they saw of him," said search controller, Senior Sergeant Cliff Metcalfe.He said the man and his four friends were doing nothing wrong.

"They were walking in the surf between knee and waist deep (water) and a rogue wave has knocked five of them over and the undertow has sucked him out through the waves."

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

If not for the Resurrection, there could be no faith. It would be pointless to believe in a Lord still buried in a tomb.
"And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." 1Cor 15:14

Pope Benedict XVI's homily

From Pope Benedict XVI's homily on Easter Virgil, April 3, 2010:
Indeed, the cure for death does exist. Christ is the tree of life, once more within our reach. If we remain close to him, then we have life. Hence, during this night of resurrection, with all our hearts we shall sing the alleluia, the song of joy that has no need of words. Hence, Paul can say to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).
Joy cannot be commanded. It can only be given. The risen Lord gives us joy: true life. We are already held for ever in the love of the One to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given (cf. Mt 28:18). In this way, confident of being heard, we make our own the Church’s Prayer over the Gifts from the liturgy of this night: Accept the prayers and offerings of your people. With your help may this Easter mystery of our redemption bring to perfection the saving work you have begun in us. Amen.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Teen sailor Mike Perham heard freaque wave roar!

In the News of the World today, an article by the young sailor Mike Perham retold the story of his encounter with a freaque wave on March 29, 2009 near the western tip of Australia during his solo sail around the world:
IT was a freak wave - and it came thundering through the black from the port side. I was in the cabin so didn't see it coming but I had a one-second warning - its deafening roar.

It scooped the boat up and slammed it flat on its starboard side in an instant. All I could do was hold my breath and somersault with the boat as my world was flipped upside down.

The fear was instant, the noise ridiculous. The boat creaked, groaned, rattled and screamed. As it tipped, there was stuff flying around the cabin.

This was about as bad as it could get. A wave could sweep in from behind at any moment, flipping the boat fully, ripping the carbon-fibre mast from the deck like matchwood.

The four-metre keel was out of the water, the 70-foot mast pointing down. My feet were now on the roof. I thought to myself: "Is this it? Is this how I'm going to die?"

I felt the boat dip as the back of the rogue wave passed underneath. Then the boat strained to right herself.

Gravity gradually took hold of the keel and I felt enormous relief as the boat flipped back up with another tremendous crash. I couldn't believe it when I looked outside to see the mast and sails undamaged.

It's an amazing story. I guess any sailor sails long enough, sooner or later, will probably encounter something which may or may not be similar. I think Mike's story telling has provided us a new characterization of freaque waves: a deafening roar! That's definitely something new for the freaque wave community to contemplate about!

I have been using the forest tree fall metaphor to make connection with freaque waves. Now it's really -- A freaque wave roaring through in the ocean or lakes, if no one around to hear it, was the sound for real? Of course! I don't know if there's anyone ever heard tree fall in the forest, but now we know at least Young Mike Perham had really heard a freaque wave roar.!