Friday, November 25, 2011

Big waves at night

It is understandable that waves, including large freaque waves, happen during the day and the night  irregardless of hours or time -- when it happens it just happens!  When I started advocating making spatial wave measurements using multiple cameras, one of the first strong objections or unfavorable comments was, and still is, that cameras can not see waves at night.  Indeed we can not limit freaque wave happenings to only day time occurrences.  As a matter of fact in April 2005 the cruise ship Norwegian Down encountered a damaging frreaque wave at a dark night.  No one can see it's coming.

Well! Leave to the surfers, they can do what scientists obviously can not!  An article in Australian by Cassandra Murnieks just published with a video this morning with the title:"Documentary probs big wave night surfing of Mark Vissor"!

Here's part of the story:
TALK to any big wave surfer about their adventures and you will almost certainly be moved to consider them crazy.

But what if they were to take on the big waves at night?

Sunshine Coast’s Mark Visser had it on his list of "things to achieve in life" and in January this year crossed it off after taking on monster waves, some with 50-foot faces in the dark at the famed Jaws break in Maui.

Visser is one of the brightest big wave talents in the world, pushing his body physically and focussing mentally to undertake on of the most dangerous pastimes known to man.
Visser’s preparation and big wave skills have come together in a television documentary “Night Rider” to feature on Channel Nine this Sunday.

“We have had this idea since about 2007. A friend told me that he had a dream about a guy who rode waves at night, which got me thinking. Was this achievable? Could it be possible?,” Visser told The Australian.

“I became a bit of a nutty professor in looking at all the options of making something like this happen. Other big wave surfers said it wasn’t safe enough to do, but I wanted to push myself and get out of the comfort zone.”

With the night surf session being filmed in January, a large bulk of the documentary was filmed beforehand.

Months of preparation were undertaken, which involved working with safety teams, special-forces and a number of coaches, who showed Visser a number of techniques designed to allow him to best cope in the event of something going wrong.

“The training with the coaches was tough. I worked with a number of people, who prepared me for the night surfing. If I had all of those things under control, it was one less thing to worry about when it actually came to surfing Jaws,” he said.

Visser tested the smaller waves at night in Australia to ensure they had the technology right.

To guide Visser through the waves, he had a number of lights strapped to his body, which allowed viewers to see the vast speed and the distance that he surfed the waves.

Now here is the difference between a surfer and a scientist: a surfer is always looking to "get out of the comfort zone" whereas a scientist absolutely needs to stay within their comfort zone both intellectually and most importantly fundingwise!  So is there any question regarding why the science is progressing so slowly in ocean wave studies: both in deep ocean and nearshore waves?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stormy in NE Atlantic predicted for Thanksgiving Day 2011!

This rather strange looking wave picture accompanied the BBC article this morning that entitled
"Hurricane warnings for the sea off northern Scotland" with these local warnings:
The Met Office has issued a warning of hurricane force winds at sea off the Western Isles and violent storm force 11 winds off Shetland's coast.

Severe weather warnings have also been issued for the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland and the north Highlands, with gales expected over land.
I guess that's not too unusual for this time of the year. The article also reports the BBC weather presenter Chris Fawkes described the intense low pressure causing the stormy conditions as "absolute monster" in the video.  He also said that winds could gust up to 100 mph and higher at sea with the potential for wave heights of up to 18 m.  So this is the time of the year it's better to stay home on land doesn't matter which side of the Atlantic Ocean.  Twenty years ago there was that famed early November, 1991 Nor'Easter, the "Perfect Storm" that harrased boats from Nova Scotia down to New Jersy coast, including the 70' longliner Andrea Gail went down in that storm.  May God bless all those who have to be out there this time of the year.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A terrifying ordeal with a happy ending!

Take a closer look at the above picture and that young man standing there.  He's far enough above the ocean waves below, so he should be safe,  right?  Well, read this story entitled "Terrifying reef ordeal - survivor" below by Nathan Crombie in Wairarapa Times-Age  of New Zealand:

The man who survived being torn from the reef at Castlepoint Beach into massive seas has described his hour-long ordeal in the water. 
 A huge wave swept the 22-year-old Nelson man off the rocks on Saturday. 
 Speaking about his lucky escape yesterday, Pip Richards said he quickly abandoned hope of rescue after being swept from the rocks and tried to swim for The Gap, the only way back to safety from open sea. 
 But Mr Richards faced two-storey high waves pounding the rock outcrop. 
 "My only real chance was where the waves were smashing against the reef. It was the most terrifying time of my life. I was hoping rescuers would miraculously appear. But they didn't." 
 Mr Richards was unaware two fishing boats had been launched to help him and a helicopter put on standby as the rescue attempt threatened to become a recovery operation. 
 "Then seagulls started attacking me, divebombing me," he said. "They were ferocious." 
 Mr Richards had been with friends at Castlepoint Beach to celebrate the birthday of his sister Harriette and climbed the reef, past a warning sign. 
"I was just sitting and watching the waves," Mr Richards said. "I could see it was stormy and I saw the sign. But I thought the warning was about the odd rogue wave." 
 Mr Richards started swimming clear of the reef as soon as he entered the ocean. He stripped off his boots, jeans and shirt and swam towards the opening. 
 He signalled to his friends as they pointed him toward The Gap, "just to let them know I was still all right", while out of his sight about 50 onlookers had gathered with emergency crews along the beach. 
 Meanwhile, the two fishing boats, the Norwester and the Legioneer, had come within 200m of the reef in an attempt to reach him before turning back for fear of running aground. 
 "I could see the beach through The Gap and it gave me hope," Mr Richards said. "But the waves were crashing and they travel so fast and have so much force. The power behind them was incredible. 
 "I was hit three or four times in a row and I turned to see if it was clear. A big one was right on top of me. I said 'no, no, no' to the sky just before I went down. 
 "I came back up spluttering and coughing because I'd swallowed water. I was still scared and worried but I realised I'd just passed the worst of it." 
 Once through The Gap he was reached by rescuers who swam out to help him. 
 "When I put my arms around the guy who pulled me out of the water, all the strength went out of me and I felt the cold. I couldn't even stand up. I was done." 
 Mr Richards was taken to Wairarapa Hospital where his wounds were treated and his lungs and stomach were checked for sea water. He is grateful to his rescuers, including Louise Oakly and Lawson Campbell, who swam to help him once he cleared The Gap. 
 He leaves for work in Germany next Thursday.
This is a terrifying story but rather enjoyable to read because knowing it'a a happy ending we are not nervous or worrying.  We may even share Mr. Richards' triumphant survival as we are cheering him on the sideline.  Thanks to Mr. Crombie's superb story telling, and the editor's nice tittle choice for the story, it makes this a heart warming happy ending story that everyone appreciates.  After all is said and done, however, we must congratulate Mr. Richard for his incredible luckiness while a number of things can go wrong when he was swept off the rock. Note that he was smoothly fallen into the ocean, we know that many tragic cases happened during just that moment.  The swept force is totally unexpected and unpredictable, no one can control where to fall and how they will be hit along the way.  Many had been rendered bodily injury or even unconscious.  But Mr. Richard can immediately and calmly prepared himself for swimming and he is a good swimmer able to successfully struggle with those ferocious waves.  All these certainly made the rescue effort relatively easier in the end.  God help those who can help themselves!  So all the lucky factors rolled up together to bring about this happy ending story.  Thanks be to God!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A lucky angler, a wonderful rescue success!

A freaque wave can be encountered at any place and at any time, when that happens rescue efforts are usually needed.  A rescue operation usually requires different elements all working together smoothly and successfully in very short notices -- therefore a prayer for all of them working flawlessly - a lucky factor, is certainly always needed.

This morning West Briton pened this well organized article in that's telling the recent story of a very lucky angler as the article clearly demonstrate the above contention.  First, what had happened:

A LEEDSTOWN angler who was washed off the rocks by a "freak wave" near Porthleven at the weekend has been discharged from hospital.
The man, who is thought to be in his 40s, was airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro in a critical state on Sunday.
He was fishing off Rinsey Head when a giant wave washed him and his friend into the sea.

Now the local rescue effort sets in motion: 
On receiving a 999 call, Falmouth coastguard alerted RNAS Culdrose and the RNLI all-weather and inshore lifeboats from Penlee as well as Porthleven coastguard rescue team.
From the lifeboat side:
Penlee lifeboat coxswain Patrick Harvey said the second man managed to climb back onto the rocks and raised the alarm.
He said: "We were called out at 7.15pm. We tried to get there as quick as we could.
"On arrival the rescue helicopter was already there. They had managed to locate him but then lost the sight of him. He was wearing a fleece and it was pulling him under.
"But they got him onboard and was airlifted to hospital.
"He was very lucky, the sea conditions were poor and very choppy."
And from the aircrew - not a smooth start:
An aircrew from RNAS Culdrose's 771 search and rescue squadron pressed ahead with the rescue even though there was a problem with their helicopter's stability.
One of the pilots, Lieutenant Chris Whittington, told The Cornishman a minor "serviceability" problem had been identified with the Sea King helicopter after take-off from Culdrose.
This slightly affected the aircraft's stability but the crew – Lieutenant Whittington, Flight Lieutenant John Owen, aircraft commander Lieutenant Commander Simon Daw and aircrewman/paramedic Chief Petty Officer Dave Rigg – decided to press on.
Yes, they pressed on:
"We practice for this during routine training on a regular basis," Lieutenant Whittington said.
The crew also had to take into account the water temperature and the length of time the man had been in the sea – about 20 minutes at the time.
"We weighed up all the factors. Every minute counts in these situations.
"We weren't sure how long he had been in the water.
"We were confident it wouldn't stop us conducting the rescue."
He said another aircraft would have been available but it was quickly decided not to return to Culdrose for it.
Despite the time spent in the water, the man was still conscious when spotted by the helicopter.
He was winched on board and transferred to hospital
Now a lucky angler!
On Tuesday he was out of intensive care and said by the hospital to be progressing well.
Falmouth coastguard watch manager Andy Condy said: "This angler was very fortunate to be found in the water after dark and in rough seas.
"He was not wearing a lifejacket and so he was extremely lucky to have managed to stay afloat long enough to be spotted by rescuers.
"HM Coastguard recommends anglers can stay safe by wearing a life jacket."
Lieutenant Whittington said the operation had shown again the "excellent working relationship" between Culdrose, the coastguard and the South West Ambulance Trust.
Now please let us pray to the good Lord that every rescue effort can be as successful a happy ending as this one!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happened in Kirkcaldy, Scotland

The above picture was published yesterday in in a story written by John McDonnell with this depressing news:
A three-year-old boy has drowned after he was swept from a sea wall in Scotland by a freak wave as his parents looked helplessly.
It was happened in the coastal Esplanade of Kirkcaldy, Fife on the East Coast of Scotland.  A dreadful tragedy happened in such a peaceful coastal area.  We are certainly all grieved for the shortened life of this 3 year old and the unnecessary loss of the love one for the heartbroken family.  Let's pray for the family and may the little boy be rest in peace.  Hope similar tragedy will never happen ever again:
To You, O Lord, we humbly entrust this child, so precious in Your sight. Take him into Your arms and welcome him into paradise, where there will be no sorrow, no weeping nor pain, but the fullness of peace and joy with Your Son and the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.  (Comment by reader Paulmcbride to this news article)
Here's a picture by Gordon Terris in heraldscotland early today showing the floral tributes on Kirkcaldy Esplanade, presumably at where the tragedy happened.

A great detailed report on this case, completed with picture of the little boy along with eye-witness accounts, is given in this long article.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Waves of November

As a wave aficionado, I always enjoy watching waves.  Here's a picture of me doing wave watching in the most safest place possible -- behind the picture window of a hotel dinning room:

The picture was taken last May by my colleague Dave Schwab when we were both attending the Great Lakes Research Conference and stayed at the same hotel.  Somehow I forgot to bring my camera on that trip so I was only able to stand there simmering the scenery when Dave took the pictures.  Here is an actual wave scenery that day which was also taken by Dave:

These were not Waves of November, of course!  What I am trying to lead to is a fabulous article about waves with pictures I just came across.  The article, entitled "Waves of November", published in WaWa-News and written by Brenda Grundt, who is also the photographer, is delightful for a wave watcher to read and it is timely for this time of the year especially the last paragraph of the article:

For those who remember big waves on the lake, this evening is the 36th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. "The last communication from the doomed ship came at approximately 7:10 p.m., when the Anderson notified the Fitzgerald of an upbound ship and asked how she was doing. McSorley reported, "We are holding our own." She sank minutes later. No distress signal was received and ten minutes later the Anderson could neither raise the Fitzgerald by radio, nor detect her on radar." - Wikipedia
Which is a nice remembrance of SS Edmund Fitzgerald as we always remembering on this day every
year for the tragedy of SS Fitzgerald that happened on November 10, 1975.  After 36 years, however,
some history may still not be too certain, but some fact has already been emerging, one of them which
everyone tends to agree would be the fact that there was really no distress signal!  Else no one knows
what had happened in those dreadful final moments. So it is rather curious to hear that Mr.Gordon
Lightfoot would choose to modified his popular song and lyric in 2010 supposedly in responding to some
new info. Huh?  Nothing has ever been proven or uncovered, who knows more for sure?
Let the 29 souls rest in peace.  Let the history takes care of itself!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A 90' surf wave!

Hey this news story has even gotten into the noon time TV news here in SE Michigan.

According to that's shown the above picture with:
Garrett McNamara has surfed what is considered to be the biggest wave ever. The Hawaiian big wave rider caught the huge monster in Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal, during the ZON North Canyon Project 2011.
The wave caught by McNamara is estimated to be about 90 feet (30 meters). Garrett was tow-in surfing with Andrew Cotton and Al Mennie when he suddenly caught this giant wave. Watch the biggest wave of all time, here.
"Everything was perfect, the weather, the waves. Cotty and I surfed two big waves of about 60 feet and then, when Garrett was ready came a canyon wave of over 90 feet. The jet ski was the best place to see him riding the biggest wave I've ever seen. It was amazing. Most people would be scared, but Garrett was controling everything in the critical part of the wave. It was an inspiring ride by an inspiring surfer", says Al Mennie.
This was not the first time that Garrett McNamara rode giant waves at Praia do Norte, which is under the influence of a phenomenon known as "Nazaré Canyon" that creates unusual giant waves.
The conditions of swell and wind direction observed on McNamara's big day were quite special. The local maritime authorities registered a wave of about 8 metres off Nazaré coast, in one of the buoys. With a WNW swell direction and a favorable wind, the canyon does the rest
"I feel so blessed and honoured to have been invited to explore this canyon and its special town. The waves here are such a mystery", says Garrett.
I guess not being a surfer or a surfing follower I don't really know who Garrett McNamara is.  But the picture and the video are really impressive.  We have all heard about very large waves but who has ever really seen one? Here it is, the video, all 90 feet of the glorious wave in action right in front of our eye!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Happened at Archill, Ireland

Similar story line, similar sad, tragic news, this time it happened at Achill, the largest island off west coast of Ireland. As reported in Mayo News:
The rescue search to recover the body of a Finnish male student who was washed into the sea off the Atlantic Drive in Achill has been hampered by difficult weather conditions.
The accident occurred just after noon on Thursday, November 3 when the young Finnish student (22) fell into the water while walking with three friends along the Atlantic Drive at Cloughmore, Achill.

Freak wave
It is believed he was standing by rocks when a freak wave took him into the water. His friends raised the alarm but running to a nearby house and the Achill Coast Guard, Achill Lifeboat and Gardaí were all involved in the search.
Searches took place yesterday and today, and although his body has been seen in the water, heavy seas are hampering its recovery.
A spokesperson for the Achill Coast Guard told The Mayo News at 11.30am today that as of yet the body has not been recovered and efforts were ongoing, but the weather conditions was making the exercise very difficult.
The Finnish embassy in Dublin have been informed of the tragedy and is contacting the man’s family. The incident occurred close to the area where a Polish man fell into the water and died in 2005.
Local councillor Micheál McNamara said this was ‘an awful tragedy’ and expressed his sympathies to the family and friends of the young man.
Yes, our deep sympathy goes to the family and friends of this 22 years old young Finish student away from home, may he be rest in peace in God's mercy and blessing.  Can science ever be counted to provide some useful guide and help toward preventing this kind of tragedy from happening over and over again?