Archive for the 'Ocean' Category

Peaceful afternoon in Hanalei

Me in 2014?

How to stay sane on a ship in the middle of the ocean

Waaa, I’m stuck on a boat with 57 other people for a month,  the work is repetitive, entertainment options are limited and the gym is like, totally marginal.

The Knorr is a big ship as far as research vessels go – but there’s still no getting around the fact that you’re in a little metal box in the middle of the ocean with 47 other people for a month. Add to that the fact that most people are doing highly repetitive experiments all day (and I do mean all day, people get up at 5 am and work until 11 pm) and you’ve got a recipe for madness.

Gee, seems like a soft billet compared to PacCup, SHTP — let alone Volvo or Vendee Globe racing conditions.

read on if you like here, at SciAm

Mile Rocks Shortcut?

Some races forbid the passage between the Mile Rocks and the shore, and some allow it.   Frankly, as I can only see about 0.14 nm (less than 300 yards) of clear water, I’m happier when it is excluded, and I don’t have to think about chancing it.  But then, I’m a well known wimp.

Why 43 nm?


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

Tsunami in Surf City

Pictures and video from Jeremy of Surf City Sailing, in Santa Cruz.    There was significant surging in the S.C. harbor, reportedly 10 boats and at least one floating dock have sunk.    Nothing like what has happened in Japan, but people are very nervous here on the California Coast.

As reported by Jeremy on S/A

Santa Cruz Harbor is fucked! At least 10 sunken boats of various ilk. My Newport 33 is still secure, but the dock next door is nonexistant… along with all of the boats that were tied to her. It’s a mess, and the whole place was in panic mode. This aint gonna be pretty when the dust settles. Gotta go deal, it’s still surging.


The initial surge hit around 8:10am. The harbor basically sucked dry, and you could see sand almost all the way across the entrance. Lots of keels in the mud. Then the harbor filled with the strength of whitewater rapids. As it filled, looking south from the bridge which bisects the lower harbor from the upper harbor, I could see the masts raise like the wave at a baseball game. It was surreal to watch. This initial wave loosened several boats, and cracked ‘U’ Dock away from its pilings.


Lifeboat 1998 • Oil on Linen • 80 x 100 by Bo Bartlett

In my mind this is what it is like.   All alone.  Just the sea and the boat and the feeling of my arm, back, and leg muscles working the oars.   No observers, no one talking, no one thinking.   Lifeboat, life, boat.

Thank you, Mr. Bartlett. via Monkeyfist, sort of.

World shipping lanes


Wilderness? Only 10% of the land area is remote – more than 48 hours from a large city

The world is shrinking. Cheap flights, large scale commercial shipping and expanding road networks all Wilderness? Only 10% of the land area is remote – more than 48 hours from a large citymean that we are better connected to everywhere else than ever before. But global travel and international trade and just two of the forces that have reshaped our world. A new map of Travel Time to Major Cities – developed by the European Commission and the World Bank – captures this connectivity and the concentration of economic activity and also highlights that there is little wilderness left. The map shows how accessible some parts of the world have become whilst other regions have remained isolated.

Still plenty of places not to get hit by a freighter.  Thanks to S/A for the find.  LINK

Dueling ladies

dee.JPG      sam.jpg
Above, Dee (L) and Sam(R).  Below, Dee (purple #13) and Sam (pink #15), as of 1400 PST 13 Nov 08.  Loïck Peyron in lead.


Now that the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world race has begun, I’m finally getting into it.  And a brutal start it has been, with four of 30 starters already retired and two seemingly also down, while the leaders are reeling off 300+ nm days.   And only 4.5 days in!

I’m glad to see that the two ladies in the race, Dee Caffari and Samantha Davies are doing so well.   There is almost a race-within-a-race going on with exchanges of their rankings since the start.   Read their sites, pick your favorite, subscribe to the RSS feeds, and have a great couple of months!

Dee Caffari Aviva Ocean Racing

Samantha Davies Roxy Sailing

Vendee Globe main site

Dead water

In 1893, Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his ship Fram were victims of a strange phenomenon as he sailed past the Nordenskiöld Archipelago, north of Siberia.

Nansen wrote afterwards: “Fram appeared to be held back, as if by some mysterious force, and she did not always answer the helm … We made loops in our course, turned sometimes right around, tried all sorts of antics to get clear of it, but to very little purpose.”

Nansen called the effect “dead water”, reporting that it slowed Fram to a quarter of her normal speed.

Research has already shown that dead water occurs when an area of water consists of two or more layers of water with different salinity, and hence density – for example, when fresh water from a melting glacier forms a relatively thin layer on top of denser seawater. Waves that form in the hidden layer can slow the boat with no visible trace.

more at New Scientist

Vendee Globe teaser

Rodéo à bord de Groupe Bel !

30 noeuds de Mistral, gerbes d’écumes, ambiance sous-marin. C’est dans ces conditions que la banque images hélico et embarquée de Groupe Bel avant le Vendée Globe a été réalisée. Du rarement vu, dixit les photographes et caméramans de l’équipe.

Rodeo aboard Bel Group!

30 knots of Mistral, jets of skimmings atmosphere submarine. In those circumstances the bank board images of helicopters and Bel Group before the Vendee Globe has been achieved. From rarely seen dixit photographers and cameramen of the team.

Rockin’ preview clip of Vendee Globe from the Groupe Bel.  More here.

West Coast Currents on Google Earth


There are a lot of sources of tide information on the Web.  One of the most popular and useful is the WWW Tide and Current Predictor at .  Like the name says, it has current information, unlike most other sources.   However, the location of the sites can be hard to visualize at times.  To help with this problem, I have created a little Google Earth mashup.  Download either of the files below and open in Google Earth, and you will find placemarks with links to the tbone server to see the predicted current at that site for the next couple of days in the Google Earth browser pane.   Presently these are only for the West Coast sites (California and Washington), but it would be easy to do the East and Gulf Coasts.

(Note:  Right-click and Save As…    Some browsers may try to change the file extensions of .kml and .kmz to .xml and .zip.  What a pain.)

Download Links:

September 20 is Coastal Cleanup Day

California Coastal Cleanup Day is the premier volunteer event focused on the marine environment in the country. In 2007, more than 60,000 volunteers worked together to collect more than 900,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from our beaches, lakes, and waterways. California Coastal Cleanup Day has been hailed by the Guinness Book of World Records as “the largest garbage collection” (1993). Since the program started in 1985, over 800,000 Californians have removed more than 12 million pounds of debris from our state’s shorelines and coast. When combined with the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by The Ocean Conservancy and taking place on the same day, California Coastal Cleanup Day becomes part of one of the largest volunteer events of the year.

Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup is the world’s largest volunteer event of its kind. Last year, 378,000 volunteers from 76 countries and 45 states cleared six million pounds of trash from oceans and waterways and recorded every piece of trash collected.

This year we’re doing it and you should, too.  Sign up:  or

Venomous lionfish prowls fragile Caribbean waters


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A maroon-striped marauder with venomous spikes is rapidly multiplying in the Caribbean’s warm waters, swallowing native species, stinging divers and generally wreaking havoc on an ecologically delicate region.

The red lionfish, a tropical native of the Indian and Pacific oceans that probably escaped from a Florida fish tank, is showing up everywhere – from the coasts of Cuba and Hispaniola to Little Cayman’s pristine Bloody Bay Wall, one of the region’s prime destinations for divers.

Wherever it appears, the adaptable predator corners fish and crustaceans up to half its size with its billowy fins and sucks them down in one violent gulp.

Research teams observed one lionfish eating 20 small fish in less than 30 minutes.

“This may very well become the most devastating marine invasion in history,” said Mark Hixon, an Oregon State University marine ecology expert who compared lionfish to a plague of locusts. “There is probably no way to stop the invasion completely.”

full story