Saturday, November 30, 2013

A happening in the Clipper round-the-world race

Here's a news article in UK Independent entitled "Freak wave hits British yacht racer Michelle Porter off Africa":
A British woman injured when her yacht was hit by a “monumental” wave off the coast of South Africa was being treated on Sunday night.
Michelle Porter, from London, was evacuated to a hospital in Port Elizabeth from one of 12 yachts which were taking part in the Clipper round-the-world race. Her yacht was “rolled” by hurricane-force gusts, but she escaped with torn ligaments and severe bruising.
The 11-month race began in London in September and the fleet has so far completed around a quarter of the 40,000-mile course.
Ms Porter said: “I feel a bit numb, a bit sick, and also pretty devastated that I’ve had to leave the yacht.”
Now here's a picture of the rescue effort in the Southern Ocean reported here:

That's the typical scenery we might expected from South Indian Ocean off Africa. I guess the story is not really unexpected either.  At least it's all's well that ends well!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Bishop Coyne's quote of St Augustine

“People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering… Now, let us acknowledge the wonder of our physical incarnation— that we are here, in these particular bodies, at this particular time, in these particular circumstances. May we never take for granted the gift of our individuality.” 

– Saint Augustine of Hippo

2013 Thanksgiving post

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Who's responsible for the freaque wave occurrence?

I find this news in Taipei Times reported by Shelley Shan upsetting! Politicians hold the Ministry of Transportation  officials "accountable" for the freaque wave occurrence in the recent freaque wave attack in NE coast of Taiwan:
The legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday passed a resolution asking the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to submit a plan to protect visitors to coastal areas after eight people were killed by a rogue wave on the northeast coast on Saturday, and called for the officials responsible to be held accountable.
How foolish and  irresponsible can politicians be? Arbitrarily blame the occurrence, totally beyond anyone's control, on some administrative personnel.  I guess this is an universal problem of politics in dealing natural disaster with ignorance. People elected them to take care of people's welfare before things happen, NOT to play blame game after it had happened. Their blame game certainly will not prevent something like the happened disaster to happen again.

What's really in need is more research to understand the natural phenomena.  They should appropriate more funding for more measurement and research, a lot more to be effective -- something the politicians will never understand!!! These stupidities are not only confined by Taiwan's politicians.  But Taiwan's politicians seem to be more notorious of this kind of foolishness.

Saint Firmina, the Patron Saint of the Sailors

Saint Fermina (or Saint Firmina, is equivalent) is the Patron Saint of the Sailors, Amelia and Civitavecchia. In Amelia is celebrated on November 24th each year.

I think we can also reasonably pray to St. Firmina for the calming of freaque waves!  St. Firmina, pray for us!

Monday, November 18, 2013

An "all of a sudden out the blue" story in the Yacht Race

This news item from Scuttlebutt Sailing News reported, with video, what happened when a freaque hits:
The infamous Roaring Forties of the Southern Ocean have long been known as being home to some of the least hospitable conditions on the planet for professional sailors, let alone the amateur crew taking part in Race 4 (Cape Town to Western Australia) of the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race. 
GREAT Britain crew, Jim Hendry, Ben Pate and Mark Heywood were on deck when a huge wave crashed over them, knocking them into the cockpit. Jim, who gladly suffered no major injuries recalled: “I was sitting there, talking and singing quite happily, when all of a sudden out the blue, a big massive wave came out of nowhere and knocked me, Ben and the yacht, everything flying.” 
Ben Pate commented: “I’ve looked to my left and Jim is lying there with his head in a pretty peculiar position. It didn’t look like he was breathing. I called his name a couple of times and he didn’t respond. After a while, he gave a little cough and started breathing again.” 
After coming round and being checked by on board medics, Jim is making a full recovery, has now returned to his watch duties and is incredibly grateful for his team mates assistance, saying: “Unfortunately I got hit, but that was it. Thanks very much for the crew for helping me out and getting me back together.” 
There are twelve identical, British registered 70 foot ocean racing yachts, carrying 240 international amateur crew, each under the command of a professional skipper, on the world’s longest ocean race. It is now 10,000 miles out of London on its 40,000 mile, 11 month marathon journey. The fleet left Cape Town on 4 November and is expected into Albany, Western Australia towards the end of the month. The unique event ends back in London in July next year. 
More at 
Clearly this is a real freaque wave hit case being recorded by a video and told by those who experienced it. For something  "all of a sudden out the blue, a big massive wave came out of nowhere", I don't think there's any doubt there.  

Now this is a real encounter with freaque waves and they all fortunately survived to tell it -- it's just a day in the life of sailors! But what I wish to know is what might this freaque wave looks like on a paper? I mean if the wave can be recorded would it be looks like the Draupner wave???

I very much doubt it!!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tragedy at NE Taiwan's Longdong Cape (龍洞灣岬)

This picture from Focus Taiwan sows the waves that caused a major tragedy happened in NE Taiwan:
Taipei, Nov. 10 (CNA) New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu said Sunday that security at northeastern coastal areas will be tightened after eight people were killed and eight others injured by freak waves at Longdong Cape (龍洞灣岬) in the city's Gongliao District a day earlier.
Here's what had happened:
. . . a 26-member group from Shulin Community University that was visiting the Longdong (龍洞) Geopark Saturday to attend an outdoor learning course.
The group consisted of lecturers, students and members of their families. The deceased included six adults and two schoolchildren.
All eight bodies had been retrieved by 7 p.m. Sunday, but none of them could be resuscitated after being rushed to nearby hospitals, including Keelung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and the Keelung branch of the Tri-Service General Hospital, according to New Taipei Fire Bureau officials.
What a terribly depressing tragedy! A nice learning opportunity in a beautiful natural surrounding was destroyed by the freaque wave!  Our heart goes to the eight who lost and their families. May God bless the living and the dead.


The local news reports in Chinese called the freaque wave 瘋狗浪.


This blog post in Chinese has good information and discussions on freaque waves concerning this tragedy I am not allowed to copy any of it so for Chinese readers it is worth to pay a visit of the blog!

A reflection on Edmund Ftizgerald day!

Such a beautiful ship, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, that lost 38 years ago today. We remember her every year without exception. 29 souls along with her wreckage rest in peace at the bottom of Lake Superior. May God bless them and their families!

A personal memory: I did a preliminary hindcasting of the waves during the disaster presented at the Great Lakes Research Conference in the spring of 1976. I don't remember what was the title I used, but I do remember my old colleague, Bob Pickett, suggested it should be called "How big was the wave that sunk the Edmund Fitzgerald"! That turns out to be an unanswerable question. In-spite of all the later further efforts at hindcasting with more sophisticated approaches, we just don't know what had really happened. In 1975, that was 20 years before the Draupner wave being recorded in the North Sea, no one had ever alluded to freaque waves at the time. Now it seems universally accepted that the lost of the Fitz was caused by a freaque wave. It doesn't matter, we'll never know the real facts beyond speculations, scientific or otherwise!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Happened in Wales' Aberystwyth

According to Wikipedia Aberystwyth is a historic market town, administrative centre and holiday resort within CeredigionWales. And here's a picture that comes with an article published in WalesOnline yesterday:

As the article describes: 

This is the terrifying moment a freak wave hit the seafront in Aberystwyth at the height of the weekend's storms - and nearly cost a photographer his life.
The huge surge of water hit the promenade in Aberystwyth at around 7.30pm on Saturday night, knocking photographer Keith Morris to the ground and destroying his £6,000 camera.
The Ceredigion town was among the worst-hit places as gale-force winds battered several parts of the country.
In photographer Keith's own words:
 “I’d been taking pictures of the storm since around 4.30pm in the afternoon as conditions became windier and windier and went back out at around 7.30pm knowing that was high tide. 
"I actually had my back to the sea when the wave hit, I was photographing people watching the storm from the Marine Hotel on the promenade, when, all of a sudden I was knocked flat to the ground by this huge force behind me. 
“I was on the road, under two-feet of water. 
“I’m extremely lucky, if I had been standing closer to the railings on the prom, there’s a good chance I’d have been sucked out to sea and nobody would have been able to rescue me in those conditions.
. . . 
“I’ve been filming these storms for decades, been soaked plenty of times but have never seen anything like this.
 . . .“It was a freak of nature, four or five times bigger than any other wave that hit the prom that night.
“A completely unique one-off. 
“I’m just thankful I lived to tell the tale.”

He was absolutely correct in being thankful, of course. Because if anything worse happens, any rescue effort will unlikely to be timely and successful.  And we are also being thankful for the eye-witness account he provide, which gives us some indication on what had happen.  Though we are still far away from able to scientifically understand what led to the happening and what to expect in terms of predicting it's happening in the future! We still wish to thank the good lord to keep the lost only in monetary estimates!