Saturday, November 3, 2012

Two fishermen rescued by another fishing vessel

Dramatic footage shows a fishing boat being swallowed up by the sea — moments before the two-men crew is plucked to safety by another trawler.

From TheSun

Captain Stephen Kearney, who has been fishing for nearly 20 years, and another man were on board the vessel on Tuesday when it began taking on water and they were forced to head for Ardglass (Ireland).
"We just went up on a wave and the back of the boat went into the water and she just never come back - she just went down that quick," Stephen explained.
While another fishing boat, the Tribute, was nearby and went to the rescue, Stephen's fellow fisherman had already become entangled in a rope attached to the boat."
A split second and you had to react," the captain said, describing how fast the sinking and the rescue effort all happened.
Both men are lucky to be alive, with Stephen recalling how the strong tides kept pushing them away from the boat that was trying to save them.
Both men spent 10mins in the water.
They were airlifted to hospital by the Irish coastguard.
Stephen knows how lucky they are to be alive but, while he will be taking some time off to recover fully, he plans to be back fishing within weeks.
And he's very grateful to their rescuers, who he credits with saving their lives.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mike Peyton, "The world's greatest yachting cartoonist,"

From CNN

"Cartoons are about doom and disaster -- and you don't get more doom and disaster than in a German prisoner of war camp," says Mike Peyton, the man uniquely hailed as the world's greatest yachting cartoonist.
As a teenage illustrator from the British mining town of Durham, Peyton was captured by World War II German forces while drawing maps of the north African desert for the Intelligence Corps.
Yet amid the horrors of his prison camp - the 91-year-old recalls eating Nazi guard dogs that had been clubbed to death - Peyton carved a unique space for laughter by drawing wry, darkly humorous cartoons.
Published in a prisoner-run newspaper, the drawings poked fun at camp life, offering Peyton a distraction from the everyday brutality and his fellow inmates a rare source of joy.

They would also spark the beginnings of a career spanning seven decades, more than 20 books and the birth of an unusual new genre in illustration - nautical cartooning.
It's a genre that Peyton has dominated for 70 years, amassing followers across the world with his trademark, roughly scribbled drawings of rain-sodden sailors naively headed for impending doom.
If the leap from a 1942 prison camp to hopeless yachtsmen lost at sea seems huge, Peyton has the answer: "The secret to cartoons is you always need something going wrong."
Following the war, the then 24-year-old continued sketching his droll observations of everyday life.
But it wasn't until Peyton bought a boat in his late 20s, setting up a business offering charter cruises, that he began to turn his illustrations to sailing.

"I'll be glad to get in. We've had enough excitement for one day."

Now a retrospective of his work - "The World of Peyton" - published this week, features 150 of his favorite sketches.

Sadly it will also be Peyton's last book, after gradually losing much of his eyesight.
"Mike has reached the point now where he is going blind," Janet Murphy, publishing director at Adlard Coles Nautical, said.
"It seemed such a cruel disability for a cartoonist to have their eyesight shot down. So we asked Mike to put together his best cartoons for a final retrospective."

 Having been published in a plethora of British magazines ranging from Yachting Monthly to the Church of England Times, Peyton admitted it was a huge undertaking whittling down his immense collection of work.
Science and technology periodical New Scientist paid tribute to the man who began drawing for them in the 1950s, claiming he had "seen off more editors than anyone else at the magazine."
It added: "His sharp eye and satire often contrasts with a softer, gentler approach when the subject warrants it."

"The last time I saw the boat keys was where you always leave them: 
on top of your desk -- and may I add -- to be touched by no one."

But It is among sailing enthusiasts that Peyton's name brings most smiles.
As Janet explained: "Mike is synonymous with nautical cartoons."
"He is on a pinnacle all on his own -- Mike is the one yachting cartoonist people think of. He's got a unique skill of seeing the funny side in a typical situation -- whether it's people huddling under waterproof gear or wives looking forlornly out the window as they lose their husbands to sailing in the snow on Christmas Day," she said.

"There's no one who can touch him, both because he's been going for 70 years and because he's been so prolific over that period."
Before Peyton, there simply were no yachting cartoonists, she argued: "He blazed a trail. There was humorous writing around sailing but up until the war it was still quite an elitist pastime, which people took very seriously.
"It's quite hard to keep humor going year after year. But that's Mike's skill. Those everyday sailing mishaps such as tweaking bits of rope or relying on the weather strike a chord with people all over the world."

 "I thought we were in with a chance when you stopped praying 
and started composing a letter to your insurance company."

After the war Peyton pursued his love of drawing, heading to Manchester Art School where he met future wife and now successful children's author Kath Peyton.
The penniless newlyweds spent their honeymoon sleeping rough across Europe, paying their way by collecting waste paper en route.

"I reckon I am the only bride that ever had to collect salvage in Paris to earn her fare back across the Channel," Kath recalls in Dick Durham's autobiography on Peyton, titled -- naturally enough - "The World's Greatest Yachting Cartoonist."
Returning to the UK, the couple set up home in rural Essex on the River Crouch. But instead of spending their hard-earned savings on renovating their dilapidated cottage as planned, Peyton bought a boat -- much to his wife's dismay.
His reason? "You can't sail a house," he told CNN.

 "Have you got everything? Aspirins, Stugeron, spare glasses, medication, hearing aid, factor 30, thermals, digestive tablets..."

When not drawing, the father-of-two worked as a sailor; taking out charter parties, racing boats and delivering yachts everywhere from London to the Baltic Sea.
"I didn't have to think up cartoons -- I saw them happen. They're all based on real life," he said.
"I remember years ago I thought I'd run out of ideas. But I never have."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Skippers training for the Vendee Globe 2012-2013

As the impressive fleet of 20 Imocas and their skippers have now assembled in Les Sables d'Olonne for the imminent start of the Vendee Globe, some sailors and their 60' monohulls share a special spotlight for the video of their training :

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Did climate change supersize hurricane Sandy?

Frankenstorm Sandy : Google crisis map

From ClimateDesk

As I write this, Hurricane Sandy’s minimum central pressure has dropped to a stunning 940 millibars, meaning that air is rising in this storm in a way similar to a Category 4 hurricane.
Sandy is strengthening as it approaches an East Coast landfall tonight—even as the storm also undergoes a much-discussed “extratropical” transition from a hurricane into a winter cyclone.
In the next 48 hours, we are going to find out the difference between just bad and the worst-case scenario.
One thing, though, seems likely: This will be perceived as a climate-change-related event by much of the public. Weird, extreme weather makes people worry, makes them think the world is changing.
They aren’t wrong about that.

But how, precisely, can we say that Hurricane Sandy, and the extensive damage it will soon cause, are related to climate change?

 acquired 28/10/2012 (NASA)

You have to be careful, given that a Category 1 hurricane in October is not itself unusual—and what’s really unique about Sandy is its collision with another, extratropical or winter storm system.

The Nasa satellite image below shows the extent of the Hurricane Sandy's storm clouds.
Winds of up to 75mph (120km/h) were recorded.
The storm is predicted to make landfall in New Jersey on Monday 29 October, somewhere between Philadelphia and New York City.

Still, there is much that can be said here, even though scientists are careful to emphasize the remaining uncertainties:

1. Precipitation: Scientists agree that global warming has added more moisture to the atmosphere, such that for any storm event, including Sandy, there will be more precipitation as a consequence. And excess rainfall is one of the top three sources of hurricane damage (the others being wind and storm surge).
Explains meteorologist Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research:
“I have no equivocation in saying that all heavy rainfall events, including this one, have an element of climate change in them, and the level of that contribution will increase in the future.”

2. Storm surge: Something similar can be said for Sandy’s storm surge, which will cause damage across a large area of the northeastern US coast and threatens to flood the New York City subway system.
There’s no doubt that global warming has raised the sea level, meaning that every hurricane—including Sandy—surfs atop a higher ocean and can penetrate further inland.
Indeed, this is true virtually by definition.

NASA : Acquired October 29, 2012, this natural-color image shows Hurricane Sandy approaching the U.S. East Coast shortly before making landfall
(other picture : the “day-night band” on Suomi NPP's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite detects light wavelengths from green to near-infrared )

3. Ocean temperatures: As meteorologist Angela Fritz observes, sea surface temperatures off the Mid-Atlantic coast were near a record high in September, and 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the long term average.
In fact, averaged across the globe, ocean temperatures in September were the second highest on record, surpassed only by 2003—and with much of the excess heat occurring in the Atlantic region.
Warm oceans are jet fuel for hurricanes, so it’s fair to say that these warmer temperatures are revving Sandy’s engine.
And while many factors shape sea surface temperatures in a given place, the overall trend—directly linked to climate change—is toward hotter oceans.
Thus, while Sandy’s particular path could be considered a matter of chance, the warm temperatures beneath it allows the storm to be stronger, for longer, than it might otherwise have been.
And global warming is creating a world where, on average, those warm temperatures will be there more often than they were in the past.

NASA : Overnight View of Hurricane Sandy

4. Massive size: The most striking and destructive aspect of Sandy is its breadth—tropical-storm-force winds reached a radius of 520 miles at one point yesterday.
Apparently only one storm in the Atlantic region has had a larger wind field, and of course, bigger storms drive bigger storm surges and damage larger areas when they make landfall.
So is global warming involved in making storms bigger, overall? According to MIT hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel, it might be—but probably only a little.
“For ordinary hurricanes, we actually expect a little increase in the size, based upon recent work we’ve done,” Emanuel explains. “Not spectacular, but a little increase in size.”

 NASA satellites see Sandy expand as storm intensifies (video / animated)

5. Hybrid storms and climate change: Sandy, continues Emanuel, is a “hybrid storm”—in other words, it has characteristics of tropical cyclones (hurricanes) that get their energy from the warm ocean surface, but also of winter cyclones that get their energy from temperature contrasts in the atmosphere.
Such hybrids do occur around the world with some regularity, but how is global warming changing them?
That’s less clear, Emanuel remarks. Unlike for hurricanes, “nobody has bothered to compile a comprehensive climatology of hybrid storms,” he says.
“So there’s nowhere to go to see the characteristics of these storms changing.”
Caveats notwithstanding, then, when people worry about climate change in relation to Sandy—and wonder why their presidential candidates aren’t bringing the matter up—it’s hard to say they’re misguided in doing so.
In a campaign season that has studiously avoided the “C” word, Sandy reminds us that eventually, the weather always forces the issue.

Links :

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Steve Jobs’ yacht revealed, christened 'Venus'

On october 28th Steve Jobs' envisioned yacht Venus was unveiled in Aalsmeer, The Netherlands.

From Mashable

Steve Jobs‘ yacht was unveiled in a Dutch shipyard on Sunday, where the unusual boat designed by Jobs and famed minimalist designer Philippe Starck was christened “Venus,” after the Roman goddess of love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory.

According to Dutch website OneMoreThing, the finished ship was launched at shipbuilder Koninklijke De Vries in Aalsmeer, The Netherlands.
Jobs’ widow Laurene and three of their children, Reed, Erin and Eve, were at the ceremony.

The Jobs family gave each of the members of the shipbuilding staff an elegant thank-you note, along with a token gift of their appreciation — an iPod Shuffle with the name of the ship inscribed on the back. See that in the gallery below.

The yacht appears to be as it was described in the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson.
In the book, Isaacson wrote about Jobs showing him models and architectural drawings of the yacht, which Isaacson described as “sleek and minimalist.”

According to the report, the enormous yacht is between 230 and 260 feet long, and appears to be as it was described in the Jobs biography — it’s an extraordinary vessel with teak decks and large panes of ceiling-to-floor glass throughout.

 Wheelhouse powered by seven 27" iMacs

The boat is said to have seven 27-inch iMacs on board, and a photo showed six of them lined up on a single counter (see gallery below — by the way, you can see 7 iMacs on the bridge in exterior photos of the ship).

The late Apple CEO was aware he might not live to see the boat launched, but continued to tinker with its design.
Now, at its christening more than a year after his death, his quotes about the yacht become even more poignant.
In the Isaacson book, Jobs said, “I know that it’s possible I will die and leave Laurene with a half-built boat. But I have to keep going on it. If I don’t, it’s an admission that I’m about to die.”

Links :
  • BBC :  Steve Jobs high-tech yacht unveiled

Monday, October 29, 2012

20,000 colleagues under the sea

Autonomous Underwater Operations : the iRobot Seaglider is revolutionizing ocean data collection.
Seaglider collects data, gathers surveillance and performs a variety of other subsurface missions for oceanographers, maritime researchers and military planners at government and research institutions worldwide.

From TheEconomist

Sailing the seven seas is old hat.
The latest trick is to glide them.
Sea gliders are small unmanned vessels which are now cruising the briny by the hundred.
They use a minuscule amount of power, so they can stay out for months.
And, being submarines, they are rarely troubled by the vicissitudes of weather at the surface.
Their only known enemies are sharks (several have come back covered in tooth marks) and fishing nets.

Sea gliders are propelled by buoyancy engines.
These are devices that pump oil in and out of an external bladder which, because it deflates when it is empty, means that the craft's density changes as well.
This causes the glider to ascend or sink accordingly, but because it has wings some of that vertical force is translated into horizontal movement.
Such movement is slow (the top speed of most gliders is about half a knot), but the process is extremely efficient.
That means gliders can be sent on long missions.
In 2009, for example, a glider called Scarlet Knight, operated by Rutgers University, in New Jersey, crossed the Atlantic on a single battery charge, though it took seven months to do so.

Since that crossing, gliders have been deployed on many previously unthinkable missions.
In 2010 teams from the American navy, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and iRobot, a robot-maker based in Bedford, Massachusetts, used them to track the underwater effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
That same year a glider owned by Oregon State University watched an underwater volcano erupting in the Lau basin near Tonga.
In 2011 a glider made by another firm, Teledyne Webb of East Falmouth, also in Massachusetts, tracked seaborne radiation leaked from the tsunami-damaged reactors in Fukushima, Japan.
And the University of Newfoundland is planning to use gliders equipped with sonar to inspect icebergs, to work out whether they are a threat to underwater cables and other seabed infrastructure.

Skipping under the ocean

Ten years ago there were fewer than 30 gliders in the world, all built either by academic institutions or the armed forces.
Now there are at least 400, and most are made by one of three firms: iRobot, whose product is called, simply, Seaglider; Teledyne Webb, which manufactures the Slocum Glider (named after Joshua Slocum, the first man to sail solo around the world); and Bluefin Robotics (the third member of the Massachusetts sea-glider cluster, based in Quincy), which sells the Spray Glider.
Broadly speaking, these machines have three sorts of application: scientific, military and commercial.

At the moment, science rules the roost.
For cash-strapped oceanographers, gliders are a blessing.
Their running costs are negligible and, though buying one can cost as much as $150,000, that sum would purchase a mere three days of, say, a manned trip to the Southern Ocean.

Gliders, moreover, give a continuous view of what is going on, rather than the series of snapshots yielded by equipment lowered from a vessel at the surface.
Besides tracking pollution, watching volcanoes and measuring icebergs, they are following fish around, monitoring changing temperatures in different layers of seawater and mapping the abundance of algae.
The Ice Dragon, a modified Seaglider operated by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, has explored under the Antarctic ice shelf, and another modified Seaglider, the Deepglider, can plumb the depths down to 6km (20,000 feet).
Teledyne Webb's Storm Glider, meanwhile, lurks in hurricane-prone areas, bobbing up to take readings during extreme weather.

Gliders are also quiet—so quiet that, as one researcher puts it, you can use them “to hear a fish fart”. This was demonstrated by a recent project run by the University of South Florida, in which a glider successfully mapped the locations of red grouper and toadfish populations on the West Florida Shelf from the noises the fish made.

Military applications are growing, too. America's navy, for example, has ordered 150 gliders from Teledyne Webb's sister company, Teledyne Brown, for what it calls its Littoral Battlespace Sensing-Glider programme.
To start with, these gliders will be used individually, to measure underwater conditions that affect things like sonar.
Eventually, the plan is to link them into a network that moves around in a co-ordinated manner.

Gliders are also ideal for gathering intelligence.
Having no propellers and no engine noise, they are difficult to detect.
They can be delivered by submarine, and can lurk unseen for as long as is necessary.
Any shipping, whether on the surface or under it, which passes near a glider can be detected, identified and pinpointed without it realising it has been spotted.
Indeed, the American navy is now evaluating a design called the Waveglider, made by Liquid Robotics of Sunnyvale, California, for submarine-detection work.

The third use, commerce, seems, at the moment, to be the smallest—though that may be because the companies involved are keeping quiet about what they are doing.
But Joe Dyer, the chief strategy officer at iRobot, thinks oil-and-gas exploration will be a big market for the firm's gliders, because they can survey large areas of seabed in detail at low cost.

ACSA, a French glider firm, has a similar market in mind.
In March it launched the SeaExplorer, a streamlined, wingless glider with a speed of one knot—twice as fast as the American competition.
According to Patrice Pla, ACSA's marketing manager, SeaExplorer's lack of wings reduces the chance of its getting tangled in nets.
Its payload bay, meanwhile, is designed to take interchangeable modules so that it can hold whatever equipment is required.
That means customers do not have to buy different gliders for different applications.

A glide path to discovery

Nor is ACSA the only non-American in the field.
A glider called Sea Wing, for example, has been developed at the Shenyang Institute of Automation, in China, by Yuan Dongliang of the country's Institute of Oceanography.
It was tested last year and operated successfully in the western Pacific at depths of up to 800 metres. Meanwhile, at Tianjin University, a team of glider researchers is trying to improve the machines' endurance.
They are testing fuel cells instead of batteries and are also working on the idea of powering them with a thermal engine that draws its energy from the differences in temperature between seawater at different depths.

Japanese researchers, too, are building gliders.
At Osaka University, Masakazu Arima is involved in several glider projects.
One is a small, low-cost version called ALEX that has independently movable wings.
Another is a solar-powered device called SORA.
Though SORA has to surface to recharge, its requirements are so modest that it does not take long to do so. It can travel underwater for months, surface for a few days, then carry on.
It can therefore stay at sea indefinitely.

Dr Arima's greatest interest, though, is like America's navy's: that his gliders should collaborate.
His plan is to deploy 1,000 of them in a network that surveys and measures the oceans.
If it works, the single spies of sea-gliding really will have become battalions, and the ocean's fish will find themselves shadowed by shoals of mechanical counterparts.

Links :
  • EGO (Everyone's Gliding Observatories) : ressources on gliders
  • OurAmazingPlanet :  Underwater robots track sharks off US in a first
  • OurAmazingPlanet : Robot sub maps underside of Antarctic ice in 3-D