Sunday, January 30, 2011

Happened on the Brilliance of the Seas

As a cruise ship, Brilliance of the Seas is only of the mid-size Radiance class of cruise ships for Royal Caribbean. Most people would be happy to have a cruise on board of her as long as there is no storm. When there is a massive storm, well, clearly no ship will be safe at any size. This instance happened to the Brilliance of the Seas as described in the Wikipedia:
On December 11, 2010 Brilliance of the Seas left Rhodes, Greece on a 6-port cruise to Alexandria, Egypt and other stops around the eastern Mediterranean and experienced very high seas and hurricane force winds overnight. During the night winds were noted by passengers watching the ship's heading and statistics channel to max out at around 82 miles per hour. At around 2:15 AM, it is reported that in a cluster of ships rushing to enter the port of Alexandria, a freighter turned in front of the Brilliance forcing the ship's captain, Erik Tengelsen to slow her below the 9 knots per hour necessary to maintain her stabilizers' function. Brilliance was thus at the mercy of 50 to 60 foot waves and started to heel port and starboard violently. Passengers reported that they were thrown out of beds; furniture and unsecured objects tossed and slid about their staterooms. A grand piano smashed through a window. The ship's Christmas tree fell over in the Centrum Lobby giving an eerie "Poseidon Adventure" feel to the incident, beckoning back to the 1972 movie starring Gene Hackman and Shellie Winters in which passengers of a capsized ship were forced to climb up a toppled Christmas tree to escape before she sunk completely. Windows and mirrors were smashed, and the spa basins were damaged. A reported 105 passengers needed medical treatment for their injuries, although that number continues to be disputed by both passengers and Royal Caribbean International interests. The heeling incident lasted several minutes, after which the Captain acknowledged that it had been a "horrifying experience."
While they like to mention the movie scenes, the real life happening to the Brilliance of the Seas clearly was due to storm weather that has nothing to do with freaque waves. Neither were the make believe scenes in the movies. They never make it clear how and what did happen due to the supposedly freaque waves. I don't blame the movie makers for not make it clear. They make their buck on sensationalism not facts. One just can not and should not look for Hollywood productions for information and education whatsoever.

Here's a tragic news today resulted from that storm encounter by the Brilliance of the Seas last month:
THE shattered husband of a hairdresser who died after being injured on a storm-lashed cruise liner told of his grief yesterday.
Barbara Davey fell into a coma in her cabin three days after giant waves battered the luxurious cruise ship Brilliance of the Seas.
Barbara, 56, was taken to hospital in Malta before being airlifted back to Scotland while still in a coma.
Husband John took the decision to switch off Barbara's life support machine earlier this month.
He has now instructed solicitors Irwin Mitchell to sue cruise firm Royal Caribbean over his wife's death.
John, of Dunfermline, claims the ship sailed into the storm instead of staying docked in a safe port. The couple paid £2700 for their deluxe ocean view stateroom cabin for the sail around Europe and North Africa.
Taxi driver John said: "This was our holiday of a lifetime but it has turned into a nightmare which will never end for me.
"We thought we were going to die when the waves hit the ship. It was absolutely terrifying. Messages were broadcast on the PA systems that everyone should stay in their cabins. The whole place was in an uproar.
"Barbara was tossed around like a ragdoll and was seriously hurt. When the storm calmed, the ship's interior was smashed to pieces.
"I took Barbara offthe ship for a few minutes when we eventually docked at Malta, but she was feeling so ill.
"In our cabin she became violently sick. Three days later, she lapsed into unconsciousness before my eyes, fell into a coma, and never woke up."
Barbara and John boarded the 12-deck £225million liner in Barcelona on December 5. It was carrying 2500 passengers and 800 crew when it left Rhodes on December 12 under Captain Erik Tengelsen.
The ship was bound for Alexandria in Egypt but violent storms forced a turnaround to Valetta, Malta, on December 14.
Barbara was bedridden and was complaining of headaches. She vomited before falling into the coma hours later.
John said: "The captain instructed the crew to empty the swimming pools and shut offsome of the deck areas.
"I can't understand why he didn't just stay in Rhodes until the storm passed.
"But he sailed for Alexandria and sent out intercom messages that we should expect a 'bumpy night' because of very high seas and winds of 60mph.
At 2.15am, the ship appeared to turn side-on to 45-foot waves whipped up by winds closer to 80mph.
John said: "It lurched so badly we thought it was going to topple into the giant waves. Barbara was screaming as the ship bounced backwards and forwards, listing at 30 degree angles.
"I saw the propellers lifting out of the sea. We were on the tenth floor and the waves seemed inches away."
John says doctors believe the incident caused Barbara to suffer a series of strokes. On December 28, she was airlifted back to Scotland and admitted to the Western General hospital in Edinburgh.
She died just after 7am on January 7. Her funeral was held in Dunfermline 11 days ago.
The cause of death was given as brain hemorrhage.
John said: "She was my world and the pain is unbearable. When Barbara and I met, we'd both been widowed and it was a dream come true when we married seven years ago."
Captain Tengelsen posted a memo on the door of the couple's cabin on December 13.
It said: "On our approach to Alexandria, we experienced extreme wind and sea conditions, beyond what was forecast. Winds were in excess of 70 knots, nearly double what was forecast."
It is a tragic story indeed. It shows what worst can happen to a cruise. Our hearts and prayers go to the husband and her families, may Mrs. Davey be rest in peace under God's love and blessing. Hope all cruises can always have a smooth and safe sailing!


A reader of the original news article, who calls himself "Old_sea_dog", made this comment on the published article:

"I saw the propellers lifting out of the sea...." Absolute rubbish, you cannot see the propellers from any deck on this ship. It is extremely sad that his wife died, but making stupid claims like this will not help his case in proving that the brain hemorrhages were caused by the ship's violent motion.
I have wondered about that too when I first read the story.  I guess whether or not one can see the propellers "lifting out of the sea" from the deck is not hard to verify by the experts.  I would not fault the poor husband making that statement.  Anybody in his situation might have seen things which may or may not be there!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Freaque waves blamed for swimmer's death

This week old (Updated Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:13am AEDT) news item from the Australia ABC News just came to my attention along with the above picture of Stanwell Park beach by their Carrie Soderberg :

New South Wales police say a series of freak waves caused a man to drown at a beach near Wollongong, south of Sydney, yesterday afternoon.

Around 50 people were swimming at Stanwell Park beach, north of Wollongong, when large waves swept dozens of people out to sea.

It sparked a frantic rescue by the three lifesavers on patrol.

Paramedics tried to revive a 63-year old man, who on holidays from Perth, but he died at the scene.

His daughter and another 15-year old girl were taken to hospital with breathing problems, while a 20-year old man suffered a heart attack and remains in a critical condition.

Chief police inspector Mark Lavers says everyone was swimming between the flags.

"These people did the right thing," he said.

"It's just unfortunate. It was a bit of a freak wave, or a number of waves, that seems to have caused the incident."

He says lifesavers initially thought a sandbank had collapsed.

"But a detective spoke to those surf lifesavers later in the evening, and they've spoken to me, and they said basically it was just all the water coming in at once and washing them out," he said.

It is always sad to see someone lost life, let's pray for the departed and his family. This is just about a typical tragedy that can happen along a beach area. There is really not much anyone can help when "all the water coming in at once and washing them out" as the Chief police inspector indicated. We need measurements and research, but no one is doing it!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Mavericks on February 13, 2010

The Mavericks on February 13, 2010 is probably one of the worst case ever happened from the spectator's point of view. But it was nicely big surf wave for surfers:

Well, here's when the wave reached the beach just that first 20 seconds was the start of a nightmare for many:

Was that a freaque wave encounter? Yes, to some extend. But the wave was certainly welcomed by the surfers. It does appears not many surfer actually caught this one. This is just showing that thing like that can really happen. Only we don't know when, where, how, or why!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happened at Mavericks

This world wide news was reported in the U. K. Dailymail yesterday:
A surfer is fighting for his life in hospital after nearly drowning when a 25ft wave took him by surprise.

The man, named on an extreme sports blog as Jacob Trette, was found floating face up in the water by a photographer who had witnessed the devastating wave at Half Moon Bay in California.
And here's a scary picture reported by Fred Pawle in showing Jacob Trette's green board pops above the first of two rogue 25-foot waves as Trette himself is dragged backwards. (Photo: Russell Ord Source: Supplied).

And here's a topographic map given in a 2007 New Scientist article showing why waves are always huge there.

Now here's the good news from AP:
A surfer who nearly drowned after being pummeled and washed through rocks by a big wave in Northern California is expected to recover, hospital officials said Tuesday.
We can just breath a sigh of relieve and say Deo Gratias!

Surfing at night

I don't know what to make of it about this news: surfing at night! According to

Australian big wave surfer Mark Visser has had the ride of this life at the infamous Jaws of Maui.

And just to make it a little more interesting, Visser rode the giant waves at night.

The 28-year-old says he spent two years planning his quest to become the first person to surf the 12 metre high waves in complete darkness.

“I probably surfed this wave over and over about a thousand times in my head but the real thing was nothing like it. My heart has just been pounding for last week leading up to it so stoked I’m still here. One of the most awesome things I’ve ever done in my life,” says Visser.

Visser had LED lights inserted onto his board and a life jacket to make it easier to find him after a wipe out.

Here's the news video: Aussie surfs giant waves - at night - 3 Sport - Video - 3 News.

I guess it's just a matter of something new and different and he is the first to do it. I was simply impressed by the surfer's comments: “I probably surfed this wave over and over about a thousand times in my head but the real thing was nothing like it."

Yes, indeed, the real thing was nothing like it! I think this can particularly also apply to freaque wave research, although not many will accept it. No matter how well do you conjecture about how the freaque wave was supposed to have happening out there, but the real thing was nothing like it!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday Outing Turns Tragic

This is a sad but accurate headline, Sunday Outing Turns Tragic, for a tragic story reported in of Brunei by Rokiah Mahmud:
Bandar Seri Begawan - A picnic to Berakas Forest Recreational Beach turned tragic for a group of Filipino friends as two of them drowned after they saved another just in time.

The two victims, Jonathan Diones and Jhay Pee, both aged 24, joined their friends for the Sunday outing organised by their fast food company.

The body of Jonathan Diones was found around 8.35pm two kilometres away from where he was last sighted. His body was found washed ashore.

The two victims were not alone when a huge wave pulled them deep into the sea. Their friend, Danial, too was dragged in by the rogue wave.

One of the eyewitnesses said that she saw them frantically waving their hands, but she initially thought that the three were having fun and playing with the waves.

However, it turned out to be serious when she heard one of them cry for help. When she saw one of the victims trying to save Daniel from drowning, she immediately alerted her friends about the incident.

However, it was too late as Jonathan and Jhay were dragged in by another big wave but not before they managed to push Daniel to safety.
The rest of the world may not ever heard of Berakas beach, but it is certainly a beautiful place for a Sunday outing according to Jewelle Tan:

I guess it's no longer any surprise that peaceful beach like this one is not at all free from freaque wave encounters! One is hard to fight not being pulled and dragged deeper into sea by the unwelcome and unexpected waves. Here's a picture in BruDirect showing search and rescue at work:

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Here's another Hokusai-like wave shown here yesterday. It is at the site of Jay At Maverick's Big Wave Invitational 2010-2011 that will have the Maverick's beach and surrounding bluff areas closed to the public.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ninth wave in art and poetry

A little over three years ago, I once blogged about Ninth wave theory. Little did I know that "ninth wave" has been an artistic and literary substance in Russia. I just came across this fabulous Tanais Gallery web site that shows the 1850 painting "The ninth wave" by Russian Artist Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900):

The painting is in the St. Petersburg's State Russian Musium. The Tanais site also included this poem by the Russian poet Fyodor TuTchev (1803-1873):

Fyodor Tutchev. May 11, 1865.

In ocean waves there's melody
There's harmony within the clash of elements,
And a harmonious tuneful whisper
Streams through the rippling rushes.
There's unperturbable order everywhere,
Full consonance in nature,
And only our illusory freedom
Is out of tune with her.
Whence, how did this dischord arise?
And why, amidst the universal chorus,
Do human souls not sing as does the sea,
Why does the sentient reed sigh?
And from the earth unto the highest stars
Unanswered to this very day
A voice lamenting in the wilderness,
The soul protests despairingly?
(Translated by Athena)

So it appears long before the scientists become absorbed in learning freaque waves in the latter part of 20th century, Russian artist and poet had already enthralled by the phenomena over a century earlier.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rescue of right time, right place

According to Noosanet answering a question to "Where is Noosa":
Noosa lies about 150 km north of Brisbane on the northern tip of the Sunshine Coast. Noosa is known internationally as one of Australia's most beautiful areas. Sparkling ocean, perfect waves, wide sandy north facing beaches, national parks, cool Everglades and a unique river and lake system.
Well, there's this news today from the Noosa Journal:
A NOOSA Coast Guard member will undergo surgery this week after receiving a horrific injury at sea on Saturday.
But Coast Guard commander Tony Taylor said the incident would have been far worse if surf lifesavers had not been on hand to help.
The experienced crew of Bartender Patrol was heading out over Noosa Bar on patrol when disaster struck.
A freak wave flipped over the boat, with one crew member catching his ankle under the spinning propeller. Other crew members received cuts, bruises and a dislocated shoulder.
``It was pure chance the surf lifesaving jet boat was heading back in over the bar and saw it happen,” Commander Taylor said.
``It really was a case of right time, right place.
``I hate to think what would have happened if they hadn’t been there.”
So here again we can see freaque waves happens anywhere, anytime, and to anybody -- even to the well experienced search-and-rescuers! Thank God this is a happy ending case of the right time, right place. Hope all the encountering cases can be like that!

This lucky case brings up a possibly useful point: since the crew was "heading out over Noosa Bar on patrol" when it happened, I am just wondering would it be possible that freaque waves can be more susceptible to the local nearshore bar formation or it is entirely fortuitous?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stand up paddle surfing

While ocean and waves are as old as the earth planet itself, there are also plenty of new things related to ocean waves in the sports world that one can hardly keeping up. For instance, the stand up paddle surfing, as this new BBC video shows:

According to Wikipedia Stand up paddle surfing (SUP), or in the Hawaiian language Hoe he'e nalu, is an emerging global sport with a Hawaiian heritage. At any rate as the above video shows, SUP is at least something enjoyable to behold and something to be awed by our earth human planet!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An eye-opener and reality check

This news from New Zealand:

A freak wave nearly tossed a Tauranga kayaker, who is attempting to break a record for paddling around New Zealand, overboard

A Tauranga kayaker attempting a record-attempting paddle around New Zealand says he has had a "reality check" after a freak wave nearly swept him overboard.

Tim Taylor has now travelled over 1500 kilometres of his 5,500 km journey which started in the Bay of Plenty two months ago.

He says he has enjoyed pristine conditions for the past week, but was blown to shore twice paddling across a river near Christchurch.

Mr Taylor who is on his way to Timaru says the experience was an eye-opener.

Well, he did enjoyed pristine for a week, but the world can never be "pristine" for very long! Just be thankful that he is well continuing on his journey!

Torrent came out of nowhere

Frightening story happened in Toowoomba as reported by Adrian Lowe in Canberra Times:
Danny, an interstate truck driver, was in Toowoomba on Monday when the freak wave of water hit. He described the day's events as ''horrific'' and ''incredible''.

He saw children being swept away and helped rescue other people from trapped cars.

''As soon as I pulled out of where I loaded, it turned to mayhem,'' he said.

''The street just turned into a torrent, out of nowhere.

''Lots of kids got swept away that we could see probably two or three. A few pedestrians that were walking got picked up and swept away.''

The truck driver said the children swept away were probably aged 13-14, and they ''just went across in front of me''.

''We myself and another truck driver pulled .. a woman and two kids out of a four-wheel-drive. She would have got through but she was absolutely petrified,'' Danny said.

''We got an old woman from the veranda of her house.

''We pulled probably about 10 cars out. In [about 2 hours] I reckon I probably towed a dozen people out that were stuck in water. We just stuck a chain on the back and pulled them out.

''There were cars wedged up against fences with people stuck in them.

''It was just horrific.''

Danny said the freak nature of the storm's arrival was particularly confronting.

''People were just going about their own thing it was a typical day in Toowoomba,'' he said.

''Between 2pm and 4.30pm I reckon every road in Toowoomba was a raging torrent.''

He also saw ''people swimming through an intersection''.

''There was a couple of young kids stuck on light poles where there should have been a red light there was nothing and there was two kids holding on for dear life,'' he said.

This is part of the large horror from the Queensland flood in Eastern Australia.

They need our help and prayer!

Saved by ‘bearded angel’

Here's a frightening story from South Australia as reported in The Islander entitled "Saved by 'Bearded angel'":
Regular island visitor Les Stewart is thanking fate and surfer Shaun Bailey after his near drowning at Pennington Bay on December 30.

Mr Stewart had been surfing at the bay and abandoned his board to continue body surfing as he had done at the bay for more than 20 years.

“I am, and was, aware of the dangers there and as a strong and experienced swimmer I was fooled by a false sense of security,” Mr Stewart said.

“Around 4pm, after discarding body boards, we continued to body surf.

“I was standing in chest height water when a freak wave swept me far out to sea and started to spiral me down to the bottom.

“After what seemed like an eternity I was completely exhausted and fatigued and every time I thought I was getting closer to shore I was taken out even further.

“I gave the distress signal before I was again pulled under as if at the bottom of a washing machine.

“I had given up hope of surviving and did not want to die this way.

“All of a sudden a bearded angel on a surfboard appeared to my left,” Mr Stewart said.

Shaun Bailey, 39, from Victor Harbor, had been on his way to catch the ferry home with his wife and baby when he thought he would take a look at Pennington Bay as he had never been there before.

“My wife ran up to the car park and asked him for help, and he risked his own life to help me.

“Although both Shaun and I were on his board we did get swept out further but finally we reached the beach where we hugged like long lost friends. I owe my life to him and will be recommending him for a bravery award,” Mr Stewart said.

Mr Stewart said he went back to the beach two days later to check for “danger” signs.

“There are none. Only a small cartoon on piece of wood.

“I feel that a large “DANGER NO SWIMMING” sign needs to be erected at the top of the stairs, situated in such a way that parked cars do not hide it.

“Interstate and overseas visitors as well as South Australian tourists need to be alerted to the dangers there,” Mr Stewart said.

It is gratifying to see Mr. Stewart has provided us with so much details, especially the part that he was being "spiral" down to the bottom and "pulled under as if at the bottom of a washing machine." Most similar cases may not be lucky enough to be rescued in time or as strong and experienced a swimmer as Mr. Stewart is and able to sense and remember all the details. Now we have one case study with some clue on washing-machine-like of happening. Does it applicable to other cases?