Archive for the 'Creatures' Category

GoT Ship

Sort-of viking-hulled ship with funky batwing lateen rig, from the Game of Thrones Season Three trailer.   Looks underpowered, but I’ll watch anyway.

Mermaids with whale sharks

Photoset of underwater fashion models swimming with whale sharks.  Thanks to H2OJoe for the find!  Click pic for more.

Dodging whales

Just like the big boys aboard CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand V-70, we saw almost this exact same view on the ride home from Monterey last weekend.    Of course, CAMPER’s speed at the time was about four times ours (or about twice measured in boatlengths/second), and we didn’t actually have to dodge to avoid a collision, but it was pretty close all the same.   Santana 35 Ahi reported that they did strike a whale in the race, and had the barnacle residue to prove it.     Video found on the S/A mythical Front Page.

Spinnaker Cup 2012

Our Spin Cup day started early with the long motor out in the cold to the Knox start area, spotting one of the AC45s on the way, tricked out with a big “75” logo to help celebrate the Bridge’s birthday.   Temerity was entered in the Shorthanded Division, with Andreas as crew.  The forecast was for 20 – 30 kts all weekend, fine for the race but I was worried about the long uphill slog for the return delivery.

The reality was very light wind for the start, and the flood already starting.  The RC made a point of telling the racers the scary forecast, including steep 6 – 8  ft seas at 6 seconds, with wind waves on top of that.   We got ready with the #3, motoring around the start area while starts were delayed to wait for wind.   Finally it was our turn as the last Division to start.    With Andreas’ good tactical advice we nailed the start, crossing the favored pin end in clear air about 2 seconds ahead of the drop.  The wind built quickly as we approached the bridge, and we took in a reef in a timely way, which helped us a lot later on.   It was a hard beat all the way to the R8 turning  mark,  which we needed only a small pair of tacks to make.  In the process we started catching up with the C and D fleet boats ahead.    Bearing off we found the wind was on or even a bit ahead of the beam.   The seas were a bit choppy but nothing like the forecast.   We stuck with the #3, sheeted to the rail.   No one of the C, D, or E fleets had set a kite.

So we sailed and we sailed.  We had seen Elan at the start, and I thought I again saw them up ahead.   We were very slowly overhauling them.    Then we heard USCG on the radio, hailing Elan and stating that a PLB had gone off.   Several boats responded, and since we thought we had them in sight, they asked us to try to get into hailing distance.    Of course, this being a race, it was easier said than done.   We had already tried Ch 16, Ch 22A, and the RC frequency Ch 65, so we tried sound signals and our strobe/spotlight.    Finally Ahi hailed us and pointed out that we were chasing the wrong boat.  D’oh!

We later gathered that USCG had sent a helicopter out to hover over Elan, to get their attention and get them to finally turn their radio on and tune to Ch 16.   I am sure the next SI’s with have a reminder on this point, although clearly a large majority of the fleet were guarding 16, and are now privy to Dylan Benjamen’s cell phone number.   (“We just want the number for our records, sir.”)

This next piece of excitement was seeing SC27 Furthur blast past us, chute up and crew working hard.   Oh, well.

Then, dark.   And cold.   We were still north of Santa Cruz and faced a long night, sailing very deep and abusing the poor #3.  The seas were very beamy and unsteady, so we still did not feel like we could set, and the wind varied from the teens to the low 20s.  We appeared to be making good time against the rest of the fleet, holding about 7 or 8 nm off the coast.   Neither Andreas or I had had much sleep the night before, so we started trading watches, letting the other guy get some sleep.    At one point mid-Monterey Bay, I went below and neglected to leave the handheld GPS (critically low on batteries) with Andreas, which turned out to be a pretty big mistake as he was sailing to the wind primarily, and when a big shift came we found ourselves fairly well off course.   Unfortunately the track data from the handheld has been lost, and getting the data off the plotter at the nav station is a task for another day.

We finished at about 0430, with a elapsed time of almost exactly 16 hours.   Starting the motor after we crossed the line brought more excitement, as every piece of electrical equipment on board died upon pushing the start button.   Teething pains from our new power electrics.   Fortunately, the ugly fix of combining the batteries got us started and to our slip.   The harbor and MPYC folks were more than helpful and welcoming, and we enjoyed some minestrone while receiving the very pleasant news that we had placed second in our division.

We left Monterey at about 1400 Saturday, and I decided to just straight motor home, as the wind was fairly light and on our nose, and the seas were moderate.   We made it to Alameda in about 21 hours or so, and probably burned about 10 gallons of diesel at 2800 RPM covering around 100 nm.    I was glad to do this test as it is valuable, current data that will help energy planning for both battery charging and possible motoring fuel budget for our Hawai’i trip.

All in all a fine way to spend the holiday weekend.

First Place SH trophy standing in for 2nd Place DH Trophy


Some of the famous Monterey Bay marine fauna. These  1-inch-long shrimp or krill  found their way into my raw water strainer.  We also saw whales and a dolphin on the trip home.

Birgus latro in the news

Among the most interesting animals that cruisers encounter for the first time in the South Pacific is the coconut crab. Check out the one — they are typically blue — being held up by Randy Ramirez of the Stockton-based Mariah 31 Mystic at Suwarrov Atoll in the Cook Islands a few months ago.

Full story at ‘Lectronic Latitude

All about the Farallones

Lying 28 miles off the coast of San Francisco, the jagged silhouette of the Farallon Islands disrupts the clean line of the horizon. This foreboding knot of rocks sits amid one of the most productive marine food webs on the planet and hosts the largest seabird breeding colony in the continental United States. QUEST ventures out for a rare visit to learn what life is like on the islands and meet the scientists who call this incredibly wild place home.

Paul H. and I will be doing the Double Handed Farallones race tomorrow, but we will be more likely too busy dealing with the hefty amount of wind forecast to enjoy the scenery or wildlife.

The winds are expected to start very light in the morning in the Bay and near shore, and then rapidly build to 30 kts in some areas at around 4 or 5 PM, and then rapidly decline after that.   Hopefully we will be reaching both ways and it can be a fast race.

More on the Farallones, the wildlife, and the famous great white sharks at KQED here.

The Whale that Ate Jaws

Off the coast of San Francisco, an unexpected killing challenged the great white shark’s supremacy as the ultimate predator when one became prey to a killer whale. Whale-watchers witnessed a stunning act of nature as a killer whale rose to the water’s surface with a great white in its mouth and held it there for 15 minutes. Even more amazing, biologist Peter Pyle was nearby and able to get underwater footage of two whales feeding on the shark.

Watch this episode of Nature Untamed tomorrow night (Monday, March 21) on National Geographic at 9pm.

Looks like it was just off the Farallones.   Heading out that way a couple of times this month, I’ll keep my eyes open.

via Sea Monstery

The Kraken: The Simulation Application for Nautical Maneuvering

Now is it time to finally get an iPhone (or, more likely, an iPad2)?

Thanks to BitterEnd for the find.

Orcas outside the Gate

Great news story broadcast just two days ago about a pod of killer whales (orcas), about 10 nm outside the Golden Gate.

Birgus latro ripped my flesh

I have a large tattoo of a coconut crab, Birgus latro, climbing up my left calf. Somehow it seems I never posted about this on NSL.   I had it done in Kailua right after the Pacific Cup last year, the artist is Laura Naylor.

The picture above is from when the tattoo was only a day or so old, it has lightened considerably since then.  There is a long story about me and coconut crabs that comes from when I was a little boy and we lived for a time on Kwajalein Atoll.    The pic below, which I stumbled on just  today,  is worth a thousand words.

Thanks to Grottu for the find, the original post is here.

Gray whales

Gray whale near Pacific Grove. Photo: Tom Clifton

It’s gray whale season. As you gaze out across the Pacific, you may see one. These whales are gray in color (hence their name), and are dotted with white markings—scars from parasitic barnacles that attached themselves to the whales’ skin, and then fell off. As they dive, you won’t see a dorsal fin—gray whales don’t have them—but you might see a series of bumps that extend from the middle of the back towards the tail.

The gray whales we see this time of year are traveling from the Bering and Chukghi seas, their summer feeding grounds, to Baja, where they mate and give birth to their calves. These are some big babies—they’re about 4.5 meters (15 feet) long and weigh up to 1,500 pounds!

Historically, gray whales had a wide distribution. There were four populations: the Eastern North Pacific population that we see migrating along our coast, a Western North Pacific population along the coast of Asia, and two populations in the North Atlantic. The Eastern North Atlantic population, along the coast of Europe, went extinct in the 5th century. The Western North Atlantic population, along the east coast of North America, went extinct in the 18th century because of whaling. Today, the North Pacific population close to Asia is critically endangered, with fewer than 200 individuals.   The North Pacific population along our coast is doing well, with over 20,000 individuals.

Read the rest here, at the KQED QUEST site.   S/V Temerity may be heading out the gate for a  practice/whaling mission in February, wx permitting.

Killer irukandji: One more damn thing to worry about

As a result (maybe) of global warming, the incredibly toxic, prolific, and all-but-invisible box jellyfix or irukandji (Carukia barnesi and similar species) are poised to become the dominant life-form in the world’s oceans.   Or at least ruin your warm-water vacation.   Declining populations of sea turtles, a major jelly predator, may also be contributing to the impending ecotastrophe.

The swarms of jellyfish are multiplying in the Western extent of the Pacific ocean and threatening 20,000 miles of coastline off Japan, Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea and Australia.

In the film scientists conclude that they swim towards land because it is easier to kill their main prey – fish – in shallow water off the coast which puts them on a dangerous and potentially fatal collision course with unwary swimmers.   [Telegraph]

More coverage:  squidoo, The TelegraphLife is Beautiful, wiki

Mission to the West Coast’s Last Whaling Station

Inspired by posts from blog-pals  Monkey Fist (Adventures of the Blackgang) and Capt. Rodriguez (Bitter End Blog), the NSL investigative team of David and Char decided to see for ourselves what might be left of the whaling station at Point San Pablo, a 75 minute drive north of where we live.

A recently killed Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) is suspended and about to be transported for processing at the Richmond whaling station. The Humpback was the most commonly hunted whale during the history of the whaling station, which was active from 1956 to 1972.   More pictures can be found at the KQED flickr site here.

Continue reading ‘Mission to the West Coast’s Last Whaling Station’

Marine critters that keep us safe (?)

Some of the nation’s most sophisticated military submarines are based in the chilly waters of Puget Sound, an inlet of islands, peninsulas and harbors that is worryingly vulnerable to terrorist attack from a furtive diver or brazen suicide swimmer.

But the Navy’s plan to use a squadron of highly trained dolphins and sea lions to patrol and protect the submarine fleet is running into opposition from those who fear the glacier-fed waters of the sound are too frigid for warm-water dolphins.

Full story, via Navagear

I, for one, welcome our new jellyfish overlords


The Turritopsis Nutricula is able to revert back to a juvenile form once it mates after becoming sexually mature.

Marine biologists say the jellyfish numbers are rocketing because they need not die.

Dr Maria Miglietta of the Smithsonian Tropical Marine Institute said: “We are looking at a worldwide silent invasion.”

The jellyfish are originally from the Caribbean but have spread all over the world.

full story via Dilbert blog