Saturday, October 12, 2013

Virbac-Paprec 70 capsizes ahead of Transat Jacques Vabre

From SailWorld

The MOD70 Virbac-Paprec capsized on Thursday afternoon during a training session ahead of the Transat Jacques Vabre, off Belle Ile.

Her crew Jean-Pierre Dick and Roland Jourdain were sailing 15-20 knots of wind.
They were surprised by a strong gust and could not stop their multihull overturning.
Their mast broke into three pieces.
Roland Jourdain was able to protect themselves under the hull, while Jean-Pierre Dick was violently ejected into the water.
Initially, both crew were declared safe and sound, with some back pain for Jean-Pierre.
Eventually Dick was airlifted to hospital in Lorient.
A compression of a vertebrae was diagnosed, it remains under observation for two days.

The boat was towed to Lorient with the The Cross, SNSM (lifeboat) in attendance long with the Virbac-Paprec technical team.

 Inside view

Jean-Pierre Dick later commented:
'I'm still in shock.Everything went very quickly. I saw a strong gust get behind us. I released the mainsail carriage but it was obviously not not enough.
'Everything changed quickly, I fell from a great height, and I hit something and before falling into the water. It was violent.
'Fortunately, I was able to reach the hull very quickly. I could soon feel that I had back pain. We waited for rescue in sadness.'

Roland Jourdain commented: 'We were sailing in 15 knots of wind but with irregular established gusting to 18-20 knots. The conditions were manageable. Suddenly, there was a stronger gust than the others. The boat is rose and rose. It hovered for a few endless seconds. I released the Solent jib. We thought it was going to come back upright ... but the boat capsized.
'I was very afraid for Jean-Pierre. This is the first capsize I have experienced, I am very shaken. '

Friday, October 11, 2013

Captain Phillips movie

Director Paul Greengrass says he thought the film would feel more authentic if it was all shot at sea.
He had personal motivations, too: "My father was in the Merchant Marine and was at sea all his life so I wanted to explore his world," he says.

From NYTimes

“Captain Phillips,” a movie that insistently closes the distance between us and them, has a vital moral immediacy.
It was directed by Paul Greengrass, the British filmmaker who quickened the pulse of contemporary action cinema with the second and third installments in the Bourne franchise, features that proved yet again that big-screen thrills and thought need not be mutually exclusive.
Kinetic action and intelligence are similarly the driving forces in “Captain Phillips,” which, like Mr. Greengrass’s Bourne movies, shakes you up first with its style and then with its ideas.

The story is based on shivery, true events that unfolded in early April 2009, when four armed Somalis seized the Maersk Alabama, an American container ship under the command of Richard Phillips.
The ship, with an unarmed crew of just 20 sailors, was hauling tons of cargo in hundreds of containers, including food from the United Nations World Food Program designated for African countries.
To the Somalis, the ship apparently looked like a floating jackpot.
What happened next played out in world news, and Captain Phillips went on to write, with Stephan Talty, a plodding, straightforward book with the telegraphing title “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea.”

“Captain Phillips” is based on “A Captain’s Duty,” and while they trace a similar narrative arc and share numerous details, they’re worlds apart in terms of sensibility.
Written by Billy Ray (whose credits include “Shattered Glass”), it opens with a postcard-perfect shot of a white Vermont house.
Inside, Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) is packing up and checking his route.
He and his wife, a nurse, Andrea (Catherine Keener, who’s there to underscore Phillips’s decency), are soon on their way to the airport and murmuring about their children, the future and a fast, scarily changing world.
There’s a stiltedness to their talk — and Mr. Hanks leads too hard with a broad Boston accent — yet the scene’s intimacy, and the couple’s vulnerabilities, immediately humanize Phillips. 

Mr. Greengrass likes to work fast.
One minute Phillips is hugging his wife at the airport and the next he’s walking the decks of the Maersk Alabama, testing its unlocked security gates and running his crew through a safety drill. Almost as soon as the crew finishes the exercise, it’s confronted with a real-world threat: two rapidly approaching skiffs.
Phillips and the crew dodge the skiffs by increasing their speed (the real ship’s speed topped out at 18 knots, or about 21 miles per hour) and shifting course to churn up destabilizing waves.
Badly rocked, their jerry-built engines sputtering, the skiffs turn back, but the next day, one returns with four heavily armed Somali men.
Led by Muse (the newcomer Barkhad Abdi, very, very fine), the Somalis board the Alabama, initiating a harrowing siege. 

At the time of the hijacking, a lot of the news reports focused on Captain Phillips and the nominal exoticism of a 21st-century piracy that had nothing to do with illegal downloads, football or Johnny Depp swashbuckling through a Disney franchise.
The existential realities that inform contemporary Somali piracy turn out to be one of the unexpected themes of “Captain Phillips,” which begins as something of a procedural about men at work and morphs into a jittery thriller even as it also deepens, brilliantly, unexpectedly, into an unsettling look at global capitalism and American privilege and power.
Phillips is unambiguously a heroic figure, but he’s scarcely the sole point of interest in a movie that steadily and almost stealthily asserts the agonized humanity of his captors.

This humanization hits you like a jolt.
The shock isn’t that the pirates are people, however corrupted.
But that even as the movie’s rhythms quicken along with your own — Mr. Greengrass works you over like a deep-tissue pugilist with smash cuts, racing cameras and a propulsive soundtrack so you feel the urgency as well as see it — an argument is being created.
There is, you realize, meaning here beyond the plot, meaning in the barren Somali hamlet in which Muse and his companions congregate under warlord gunpoint and in the razored angles of their startling, gaunt faces.
There’s meaning, too, in the wild eyes and stained teeth of men who never eat, but stuff their thin cheeks with khat, the amphetaminelike plant that, among its uses, helps suppress the appetite.
After the Somalis take over the Alabama, the action downshifts and the story settles uneasily into a tense standoff with Muse and Phillips now staring warily at each other across the ship’s bridge rather than across the water through binoculars.
Mr. Hanks is one of the few movie stars who, like Gary Cooper once upon a Hollywood time, can convey a sense of old-fashioned American decency just by standing in the frame.
There’s something so unforced about him that it can seem as if he’s not delivering a performance, just being Tom Hanks.
This feeling of authenticity, however well honed and movie made, dovetails with Phillips’s gruff likability to create a portrait of a man trying to keep himself, his crew and his ship together even as the world he knew comes violently undone.

That reality grows progressively more uneasy with the arrival of the American military, which descends with expected might in warships that loom over the crisis like idled, waiting giants.
Throughout “Captain Phillips,” Mr. Greengrass plays with scale, proportion and camera angles to underscore the differences at play in the story; there’s an early aerial shot of Phillips walking on the deck of the Alabama and dwarfed by a ship that in turn drifts like a speck on the water.
Later, these extremes accentuate the paradoxes of the story — the tiny Somalis scrambling aboard an enormous American ship — that grow more pointed and political, as when a group of hugely muscled Navy personnel arrive and begin gearing up for a finale in which there seem to be many Goliaths but no David.
What comes after isn’t a surprise, even if “Captain Phillips,” which revs you up with frenzied action and violent spectacle, does surprise by denying you the usual action-movie high.
Because just as the movie races toward its foregone conclusion, it also begins siphoning off the excitement it has been building up all along.
The big men with the big guns do their part, but the skin-prickling, carnal excitement that almost inevitably comes with certain types of screen violence never manifests, replaced instead by dread, anxiety, a shaking man and whole a lot of blood.
It’s the kind of blood that most movies avoid and that, Mr. Greengrass suggests, is what remains unseen in global traumas like this.
Some viewers may pump their fists but, I think, he wants this victory to shatter you.

This footage was shot by real pirates, off the coast of Somalia.

Links :
  • NPR : Tom Hanks Is 'Captain Phillips' In High-Seas Hostage Drama
  • CNN : Controversy surrounds 'Captain Phillips' movie

Thursday, October 10, 2013

OceanGate company building innovative deep-sea manned submarine

OceanGate Inc., a global provider of manned submersible solutions for research and commercial applications, has announced the completion of the initial carbon fiber hull design and feasibility study for its next generation manned submersible -- Cyclops™.

From University of Washington

For the past 70 years, the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory has conducted ocean research and engineering.
Now they are teaming up with a local submersible company to build an innovative five-person submarine that would travel to almost 2 miles below the ocean’s surface.

When completed in 2016, it will be the first deep-sea manned submersible project for the UW.
“What a terrific asset for the UW to have access to one of the few available manned submarines in the U.S.,” said principal investigator Robert Miyamoto, who directs the lab’s industry and defense programs.
“If someday students routinely had the opportunity to go on a manned sub I think the research in deep-ocean science would explode.”

The submarine, named Cyclops, has a carbon-fiber hull that can take passengers to 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) – deeper than all but a handful of existing subs.
“Most people don’t appreciate there are not very many private or commercial subs,” said Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate Inc., an Everett, Wash., company that charters submarines.
He says there are about 600 military subs worldwide, but only about 100 certified civilian subs, and most of those are on private yachts or in storage.

For the past year and a half, members of Miyamoto’s team have leased a campus lab with OceanGate. The group has gone through more than 20 prototype designs before settling on the recently unveiled plan.
The carbon-fiber hull is shaped like a bullet that can plunge down to depth in less than 60 minutes. Once the vessel reaches depth, it rotates to its cruising orientation.
The passenger seats pivot in order to stay upright.

The Boeing Company worked with OceanGate and the UW on initial design analysis of the 7-inch-thick pressure vessel.
The design uses a strategy where each strip of carbon fiber and resin is precisely placed to ensure that there will be no gaps or weak points. The battery will be a lithium-polymer design that will also make the sub lighter and able to dive longer and faster than traditional subs.
The front viewing area, for which the vehicle is named, is designed as a 5-foot-wide dome of 4-inch-thick glass.
Passengers will sit inside the dome to have a 180-degree view.

The collaboration was worked out through the UW Center for Commercialization.
For OceanGate, the UW offers ocean engineers who are used to working on challenging problems, and access to wider campus expertise.
For the UW, it’s a chance to test new sensor, manipulators and control systems, and give researchers and students a front-row seat to explore the deep sea.

Miyamoto and Rush say they plan to integrate modern control systems into the vehicle, replacing the many dials and levers used on today’s submersibles with joysticks and more automated control systems that allow it to operate with a single pilot.
“It’s like going from Model T to the Tesla,” Rush said.
UW researchers hope to test and integrate their underwater sensors.
Since high-bandwidth communication is not possible through water, the unmanned vehicles they typically use either must be tethered to the ship or record data that they download at the surface.
“With a manned submarine you can actually have the researcher watch as the sensor is taking data and make changes,” Miyamoto said.
“It speeds up the testing cycle and provides better information on how the tool is operating.”

The UW portion of the project is funded by a $5 million industry grant from OceanGate.
The UW team now comprises about six people; Miyamoto anticipates that will grow to about 10 when the project is at its height.
The submarine is scheduled to be commercially available from the company in 2016.

Passenger safety and cost are the two most common criticisms of manned submersibles.
But Rush argues that in the past 35 years there have been no serious injuries in nonmilitary submarines.
And the team aims to build a smaller, lighter vehicle with a launch system that doesn’t require a specialized vessel to keep total operating costs lower than today’s manned submersibles.
Rush, an amateur diver who moved to Seattle in 1990, says he became involved with submarines as a way to explore the Pacific Northwest marine environment without having to deal with the cold water and cumbersome dry suits.
When he discovered that subs-for-hire were in short supply, he bought an unfinished sub and finished it for his own use.
In 2009, he founded a company that now charters two submarines for exploration, research, commercial use and deep-water filming.
Researchers pay two-thirds as much as commercial clients.
With Cyclops, OceanGate seeks to develop a versatile, economical submarine that can go more than six times as deep.
The company will target the oil and gas industry, deep-sea mining, pharmaceutical exploration, academic research and even tourism.
“To make a submersible economically viable you need to be able to serve multiple users so you have the volume to keep costs low,” Rush said.
“The key today for big projects is you’ve got to have multiple revenue streams.”
Miyamoto and Rush met through BlueView Technologies, a Bellevue, Wash.-based spinout from the Applied Physics Laboratory that develops underwater sonar.
Rush now holds an affiliate position at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory.

Despite the recent emphasis on autonomous vehicles, including many projects at the UW, the pair believes there is a role for human presence in deep-sea exploration.
“I grew up in a Jacques Cousteau world, with a lot of emphasis on oceanography, and it just feels like it’s waned since then,” Miyamoto said.
“Pragmatically, it’s nice to advance the state of the science, but I would do it just for the exploratory aspect.”
Links :
  • Gizmodo : Monster machines: this mini-sub brings the deep ocean's treasures within reach

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wind turbine concept ties-in 'America's Cup' technology

From SeaDiscovery

American Offshore Energy takes a page out of America's Cup sailboat design technology to build a patented high-tech, low cost floating Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT).
The aerodynamic section of this VAWT is built with a combination of sailboat mast and bicycle wheel technology.
The tension and compression design principles allow for stiff, light weight fixed-wing-composite sail structures that can be scaled to huge sizes.
The low center of gravity and broad support base creates a stable floating wind turbine design.

With kinematic support bearings and generation at the perimeter, there is no central shaft.
Each bearing point is directly above one of three floats which are tied together structurally and secured to three anchor screws on the sea floor and located to provide anti-rotation.

The turbine would be assembled on shore and could be towed though shallow water out to deep water moorings.
Sail-type air foils are the lowest cost per sq. ft. and the lightest weight air foils possible.
They can be automatically reefed to fit conditions or completely furled for hurricanes.
A turbine 100 miles off shore could be towed back for major repairs in a day.
This reduction in risk reduces the cost of money and insurance on the project.

Floating turbines allow for sitting wind farms more than 25 miles off shore, putting them out of migratory bird patterns, NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) issues and State Jurisdictions.

The daytime thermal issues that require high towers on land are eliminated far out at sea as wind aloft reattaches to the water surface providing high capacity generation factors.

 Capital costs for the large castings, gears and roller bearings in the conventional turbine supply chain are not necessary with this design.
Manufacturing can scale quickly using common steel fabrication and fiberglass technologies.

A franchise model could put wind turbine factories and jobs in our old ship building, Navy Yards or cargo transfer ports on both coasts and the Great Lakes allowing us to leapfrog foreign turbine builders with a technology that suits America’s resources.

Links :
  •  The Guardian : Is US offshore wind power finally ready to take off?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Antarctica's scars hold clues to hidden water

An ice-shelf channel is visible on the MODIS Mosaic of Antarctica image map.
The predicted flow route of water beneath the grounded ice sheet aligns with the initiation of the ice-shelf channel.
The dashed line marks the point at which the ice starts to float.
MODIS Mosaic of Antarctica Image Map/Anne Le Brocq

From LiveScience (by Becky Oskin)

Deep furrows on Antarctica's floating ice shelves mark arch-shaped channels melted out under the ice.
Thinner ice floats lower, and researchers can read the corrugated surface topography like a map that mirrors what lies beneath.
Now, a new study published today (Oct. 6) in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests that in some spots, these surface scars also signal where water drains from beneath Antarctica's giant ice sheets.
"These features on the ice shelf are very long, so it suggests the water is flowing quite steadily and consistently over time," said Anne Le Brocq, lead study author and a glaciologist at the University of Exeter in England.
Plumbing the edge of Antarctica's ice sheets — more than 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) thick — for exiting water plumes is hard to do even with modern survey equipment. Ice sheets are attached, or grounded, to land, while ice shelves float on water.
"These channels provide a tool to investigate something that is happening beneath the ice that we couldn't otherwise study," Le Brocq told LiveScience.
But researchers are keen to know whether the meltwater under the grounded ice flows like a sheet or in an organized fashion, like streams and rivers or even swamps.
Predicting how these massive ice sheets will respond to global warming is difficult for climate modelers because there is little direct evidence of the key characteristics at the ice sheets' base, such as topography and water flow.
Still, clues are mounting that Antarctica hosts many kinds of drainage networks, even occasional massive floods, depending on where one looks.
"You don't see these channels on every ice shelf," Le Brocq said.
"We don't know the reason why."

Location of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in West Antarctica

Clues to channels

Le Brocq and her colleagues used satellite imagery and airborne radar surveys to find meltwater channels in the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in West Antarctica.
The study confirmed that the meandering lines on top of the ice shelf match up with meltwater channels carved upwards into the bottom of the ice.

Giant channels discovered beneath Antarctic ice shelf
The 250 metre high channels will help predict future of Antarctic ice.
Scientists have discovered huge ice channels beneath a floating ice shelf in Antarctica.
At 250 metres high, the channels are almost as tall as the Eiffel tower and stretch hundreds of kilometres along the ice shelf.

One channel was nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower — about 820 feet (250 meters) high and 985 feet (300 m) wide.
The team's next step was to create a computer model to predict how the ice would respond to an underground, streamlike water flow where it transitions from land to sea.
The modeling results suggest that long, linear features like the meltwater channels would appear, Le Brocq said.
"We need to think about water flowing under the ice sheet in more focused channels than in a thin layer," Le Brocq said.
"Because these features meander, we can also see how the nature of the exit point moves over time."
While scientists agree that the meltwater channels in ice shelves are long-lived features, the level of detail available in the Antarctic surveys used in the study leaves a lot of uncertainty, said Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., who was not involved in the study.
"We can see a few of the big channels, but the maps are still very crude," Rignot said.
"We really don't have the level of detail of the bed beneath the ice sheet to say much about water flowing at a steady rate. I think they've put their finger on the case a little more strongly, but they still come a little short in proving it."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Canada CHS update in the Marine GeoGarage

29 charts have been updated (September 29, 2013) :
    • 2200 LAKE HURON
    • 2300 LAKE SUPERIOR
    • 4279 BRAS D'OR LAKE
    • 4381 MAHONE BAY
    So 689 charts (1663 including sub-charts) are available in the Canada CHS layer. (see coverage)

    Note : don't forget to visit 'Notices to Mariners' published monthly and available from the Canadian Coast Guard both online or through a free hardcopy subscription service.
    This essential publication provides the latest information on changes to the aids to navigation system, as well as updates from CHS regarding CHS charts and publications.
    See also written Notices to Shipping and Navarea warnings : NOTSHIP

    The most detailed visuals of Hurricane Sandy, revealed

    In this 3-D map of potential temperature, relatively cool air wraps around Sandy's core near the surface (purple and blue colors), while air parcels gain heat from moisture condensing into clouds and precipitation as they ascend through the storm’s core.

    From ClimateCentral (by Andrew Freedman)

    Scientists have recently developed awe-inspiring visualizations of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states a year ago.
    The visualizations, created using state-of-the-art computer models, provide some of most detailed looks at any hurricane to date.

    Scientists based at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., used an advanced hurricane computer model to create mesmerizing images and animations that almost succeed in making the destructive and deadly storm appear to be a beautiful work of art.
    The hurricane went through multiple phases.
    After rumbling through the Caribbean and striking Cuba, it veered north-northeastward just off the East Coast.
    The storm was officially classified as a post-tropical cyclone as of 7 p.m. EDT on Oct.29, 2012, only an hour before it made landfall, and after hurricane force winds had already begun buffeting the New York and New Jersey coastlines.
    Climate Central posted the initial round of visualizations from this team in January.
    But now, a team including NCAR's Mel Shapiro, the National Center for Computing Applications (NCSA), Cray Computing, and the U.S. Office of Naval Research has produced addition simulations at even higher resolution.

    The visualizations show how Sandy’s life cycle was unique — going through multiple tropical and non-tropical phases as it interacted with the jet stream and surface weather features, such as a cold front draped along the East Coast.

    Ultra-fine-scale simulations of Sandy’s near-surface winds (upper right) and cloud-top temperatures (lower right) closely resemble the observations derived from satellite data (at left).
    Credit: UCAR.

    Robert Henson, a meteorologist and science writer with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder published a story about the new data, explaining the many never-before-seen atmospheric interactions that it reveals.

    “As Sandy moved northeast, contrasting air masses created a pseudo-frontal system along the edge of the Gulf Stream’s warm water. The vorticity, or circulation, along this frontal zone (picture an atmospheric rolling pin oriented along the Gulf Stream) was gradually ingested by Sandy and tilted into vertical vorticity (now picture the rolling pin standing on one end),” Henson wrote.
    “This helped the storm’s core to intensify, tighten, and regain its Category 2 status. It’s roughly similar to the smaller-scale process by which a supercell thunderstorm can ingest, tilt, and concentrate spinning air to produce storm-scale circulations (some of which can generate tornadoes).”

    This intensification came as the storm was shoved westward into the U.S. by an area of blocking high pressure in northeastern Canada and a huge dip in the polar jet stream.

    Life cycle of Hurricane Sandy: Potential Temperature. Credit: UCAR.

    Henson makes an important point about Sandy’s winds, writing, “Even while Sandy was still a full-fledged hurricane, its circulation was so large that its northern edges were more akin to an extratropical (nontropical) cyclone. About 24 hours before Sandy made landfall, cool air began to wrap around its warm core, eventually surrounding it. Although this process meant Sandy was doomed as a tropical storm, it also may have intensified Sandy’s low-level winds.”

    On a highly technical level, Henson notes that Sandy developed a rare “warm seclusion,” which typically occurs in strong winter storms over the ocean when pockets of warm air form within their cold cores.
    As a hurricane, Sandy had a warm core, meaning that temperatures near the storm’s center were warmer than the surrounding air, but colder air eventually worked its way into the center of the storm.
    “This is the first time such a dramatic warm seclusion has been documented in a landfalling U.S. hurricane,” Henson wrote.

    NCAR’s Shapiro worked with the NCSA to create the most detailed simulations of Sandy.
    In the computer model runs, each horizontal grid point was separated by just 1,600 feet, a far more fine-scale presentation than the typical grid boxes used in most operational computer models used for weather forecasting.
    For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) highest-resolution operational hurricane forecast model, known as the HWRF, is currently being run at a resolution of 27 kilometers, meaning each horizontal grid point is separated by nearly 17 miles.

    Life cycle of Hurricane Sandy: Surface Wind Speeds. Credit: UCAR.

    The calculations required 58 hours of time on a supercomputer known as “Blue Waters.
    “ Since the model includes 150 vertical layers, that means that weather conditions were calculated at more than 4 billion points for each second in a 96-hour simulation,” Henson wrote.
    On a related path, NCAR researchers Tom Galarneau, Chris Davis and Mel Shapiro have analyzed Sandy through a separate round of high-resolution simulations and published their analysis in a scientific journal.
    The researchers are seeking ways to incorporate their insights into operational forecasts through NOAA's Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program, which runs through 2019.
    That program is aimed at dramatically improving forecasters' ability to anticipate changes in tropical storm and hurricane intensity, which currently lags far behind their ability to accurately forecast a storm's eventual track.

    Links :

    Sunday, October 6, 2013

    Hot - the Summer of Racing

    San Francisco's Summer of Racing came to an action-packed conclusion - the climax was the biggest comeback in sports, as ORACLE TEAM USA won 8 straight races to beat Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8.