Sunday, August 26, 2012

Five freaque wave tragedies in five days off Irish coast

This article "Four sea tragedies in five days blamed on freak waves" by Ralph Riegel published in the Irish Independent today:
FREAK waves are now being blamed for four sea tragedies that claimed five lives off the Irish coast.
The fifth and final victim -- retired west Cork schoolteacher Pearse Lyne (63) -- was buried last week, with his family asking mourners to make donations to the RNLI rather than bringing flowers.
Mr Lyne drowned on August 17 when his lobster boat capsized off Pulleen Harbour. An RNLI member on shore spotted his small boat floating upside down and raised the alarm.
Mr Lyne had helped support the local filming of Neil Jordan and Colin Farrell's firm Ondine inCastletownbere in 2009.
His death was the fifth following four separate marine accidents in five days -- and experts now believe freak waves were instrumental in all four tragedies.
It is now suspected that two Clare fishermen died when a freak wave struck their vessel, the Lady Eileen, and ruptured propeller shaft water seals.
Noel Dickinson (35) and Michael Galvin (64), both from Quilty, Co Clare, died when their trawler sank off Spanish Point on August 13.
The bodies of both men were found side by side in the wheelhouse.
Divers found damage to the hull of the Lady Eileen and it is suspected water seals may have been breached when a freak wave struck the vessel and it sank, colliding with lobster pots as it plunged to the seabed.
Marine experts are examining the possibility of a freak wave given that it sank so quickly that neither fisherman was able to escape the doomed boat.
The same day, well-known poet and community campaigner John O'Leary (58) drowned off Cod's Head in west Cork.
Mr O'Leary was a good friend of Pearse Lyne, who was to drown four days later.
The poet and farmer, who was originally from Boston in the US, had gone sailing and fishing with his son Christopher (18) from Pearl Beach near his Allihies home.
A freak wave capsized their craft, with neither man able to raise the alarm as they clung to the hull for six hours.
Eventually Christopher bravely decided to swim one kilometre to shore to raise the alarm amid concerns that they were drifting out to sea in the looming darkness. But his father had vanished by the time rescuers arrived.
Mr O'Leary's body was eventually recovered at 2am on August 14 -- with the same Irish Coastguard helicopter leading the search for him as helped rescue him from virtually the same spot following a boating accident in 2011.
The fourth death occurred on August 14 when Martin Burns (54), from Gurteen, Clare Island, Co Mayo, drowned when his currach capsized while he was attempting to secure lobster pots before a storm hit.
Mr Burns, a father of three, was reported missing by his family when he did not return to port as scheduled.
It is believed that Mr Burns, like Mr O'Leary and the Lady Eileen's crew, was the victim of a freak wave.
His body was recovered from the sea not far from Roonagh Pier.
- Ralph Riegel
There is one comment to this article so far by a reader "Bingham" which given as simply "Unsubstantiated unattributed unhelpful." I don't know what was the intention of this comment, but I can only surmise from my point of view that it intends to point out that all the freaque wave claims were unsubstantiated and unattributed and therefore unhelpful for freaque wave studies.  Nevertheless five freaque wave tragedies in five days is quite shocking to hear and the implication which freaque waves were the culprit was certainly distinctively possible.  We are sincerely sympathetic with the victims, wishing them rest in peace, and offer condolence to their families.  Somehow we can not help feel deeply regret that modern science can only help with the speculations and not much else to their prevention and understanding on how and why these tragedies happen.  After nearly 20 years the academic community accepted the existence of freaque waves, we still can not offer any optimistic hopes for better understandings to come, that's a pity!

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