Saturday, April 12, 2014

Searching for monsters : Nazaré - Big Sunday

Nazaré - Big Sunday: As Big as it Gets! (02/02/2014)

Nazaré, Portugal was the spot on February 2nd, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

Challenge to Titanic sinking theory

This iceberg, with a red streak of paint along its side, may have been the one that sank RMS Titanic
The risk of sailing into an iceberg is far higher now that when the Titanic sank, a team of Earth systems scientists have said.
And it's only going to get worse.

From BBC by Paul Rincon

UK scientists have challenged the idea that the Titanic was unlucky for sailing in a year when there were an exceptional number of icebergs in the North Atlantic.

 The White Star Liner RMS Titanic, built by Harland & Wolff in Belfast, 4th February 1912, aided by four tugs preparing to leave for Southampton for her maiden voyage to New York on April 10th 1912
photo R. Welch

The ocean liner sank on its maiden voyage 102 years ago, with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.
The new analysis found the iceberg risk was high in 1912, but not extreme, as has previously been suggested.
The work by a University of Sheffield team appears in the journal Weather.
The iceberg which sank the Titanic was spotted just before midnight on 14 April 1912, some 500m away. Despite quick action to slow the ship and turn to port, it wasn't enough.
About 100m of the hull buckled below the waterline and the liner sank in just two-and-a-half hours.
Reports of unusually bad ice in the North Atlantic started to emerge shortly after the disaster.
At the time, US officials told the New York Times that a warm winter had caused "an enormously large crop of icebergs".
In the days leading up to that fateful night, the prevailing winds and temperatures, assisted by ocean currents, had conspired to transport icebergs and sea-ice further south than was normal at that time of year.

 The iceberg which sank the Titanic was spotted just before midnight on 14 April 1912 and was 1,640ft (500m) away.
Pictured is one possible path taken by the iceberg that sank Titanic over 100 years ago

All this has led researchers to seek explanations for a supposedly awesome flotilla of ice in the North Atlantic.
One US group has proposed that an unusually close approach to Earth by the Moon caused abnormally high tides in the winter of 1912, which in turn encouraged a greater than usual amount of ice to break off Greenland's glaciers.

In the latest study, Grant Bigg and David Wilton from Sheffield University's department of geography studied data collected by the US Coast Guard and extending back to 1900.
Observational techniques have changed over the years, complicating comparisons.
But the researchers say that a good measure of the volume of icebergs is given by the number that passed the circle of latitude at 48 degrees North, across an area of ocean stretching from Newfoundland to about 40 degrees West.
They found that the record showed great variation in the volume of ice from year to year.
And although the iceberg flux from Greenland in 1912 was indeed high, with 1,038 icebergs observed crossing the 48th parallel, this number was neither unusual nor unprecedented.
In the surrounding decades, from 1901-1920, there were five years with at least 700 icebergs crossing 48 degrees North.
And the coast guard record shows there was a larger flux of icebergs in 1909 than in 1912.

Prof Bigg told BBC News the flux was at the "large end" but "not outstandingly large" for the first 60-70 years of the 20th Century.
Using the coast guard record and other data, the researchers also developed a computer simulation to examine the likely trajectories of icebergs in 1912.
Using this model, they were able to trace the likely origin of the iceberg that sank the Titanic to southwest Greenland.
They suggest that it broke off a glacier in that area in early autumn 1911 and started off as a floating hunk measuring roughly 500m long and 300m deep.
Its mass by mid-April 1912 - as predicted by the computer model - agrees very closely with the size of an iceberg bearing a streak of red paint that was photographed by Captain William Squares DeCarteret of the Minia, a ship that joined the search for bodies and wreckage at the site of the disaster.

Links :

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hōkūle‘a: The dangers of sailing around the world

Over 1,000 years ago, the islands of Polynesia were explored and settled by navigators who used only the waves, the stars, and the flights of birds for guidance.
In hand-built, double-hulled canoes sixty feet long, the ancestors of today's Polynesians sailed across a vast ocean area, larger than Europe and North America combined.
To explore this ancient navigational heritage, anthropologist/filmmaker Sanford Low visited the tiny coral atoll of Satawal in Micronesia's remote Caroline Islands.
The Navigators reveals the subtleties of this sea science, transmitted in part through a ceremony known as "unfolding the mat," in which 32 lumps of coral are arranged in a circle to represent the points of the "star compass."
To master the lore of navigation was to attain great status in traditional Micronesian society. 

From National Geographic by Daniel Lin

For the past few months, I have been writing entries about the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s incredible Worldwide Voyage (WWV): a five-year journey to sail around the world aboard two Polynesian voyaging canoes, using non-instrument navigation.

The first year of the voyage was spent sailing around the Hawaiian Islands and in less than two months, the canoes will leave their home and begin the international portion of the voyage.

 Crewmember Attwood Makanani, or “Uncle Maka”,
handling some line at the edge of the bow while Hōkūleʻa passes through a squall in Kualoa.
(Photo by Kaipo Kīʻaha)

Why Take the Risk?

When people hear about the WWV, a question often arises around the risks involved with this 47,000-nautical-mile voyage.
Certainly, it goes without saying that a voyage of this nature is not always going to be idyllic or smooth.
But Pacific Island people have spearheaded these long-distance, open-ocean voyages of discovery for thousands of years.
Today, the Polynesian Voyaging Society believes that: “the Worldwide Voyage is a journey that charts a new course toward sustainability that Hawai’i and the world urgently need.”

 Sunshine after the rain.
Crewmember Haunani Kane holds on as Hōkūle‘a gets close to land.
(Photo by Daniel Lin)

For us, the opportunity to inspire current and future generations of leaders to care for the Earth–through outreach, education, science, and storytelling–far outweighs any risks.
Master Navigator and PVS President, Nainoa Thompson, puts it best when he says: “if you come from the lens of what the canoe is supposed to do … it will do nothing if we’re tied to the dock.”

Hōkūle‘a’s Worldwide Voyage: Island Wisdom, Ocean Connections, Global Lessons
from Hōkūle‘a Crew

Safety Training

Like during any voyage–sea, land, or air–weather is always one of the major considerations for traditional captains and navigators.
For this reason, crewmembers undergo rigorous training around personal safety and foul weather situations.

Hōkūle’a has traveled over 140,000 miles in the Pacific Ocean over her forty-year history of voyaging, enough miles to circle the world over five times.
Thompson says that the crew preparations and safety training were carefully planned based on past experience.
“With the Worldwide Voyage, we are more prepared than we have ever been on any previous journey,” he adds.

 Micronesian Stick Chart of the Marshall Islands with island key
and overlaid on Google Earth for scale / context

Sail Planning

In addition to rigorous crew training, perhaps the best ways to prevent encounters with challenges during the voyage is through thorough research and meticulous planning.
For example, the sail plan for the WWV is dictated almost entirely by weather, specifically with regards to avoiding hurricane and cyclone seasons.
The leaders of PVS have put a great deal of effort into understanding the weather patterns of the world with guidance and input from scientists, meteorologists, and other sailors.

 Just because the crew doesn’t use a compass, that doesn’t mean they don’t take rain gear.
(Photo by Sam Low)

In addition the normal preparations for voyaging, PVS must now pay careful attention to new issues associated with new regions of the world.
Although Hōkūle‘a has logged an incredible amount of miles over her storied lifetime, all of her voyages have taken place in the familiar waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The opportunity to sail across new oceans is exciting, but it also makes the planning process even more critical.
By carefully planning and timing each leg of the voyage, Captains ensure that their crews and vessels have the best chance for a smooth sail.

Sailing On

Over the next three years of this monumental voyage, there will inevitably be challenges that test the physical and mental fortitude of the crew.

 Hōkūle‘a crew looking towards the western horizon.
We sail with the hope for a more sustainable future for our Island Earth.
(Photo by Daniel Lin)

However, the PVS family, or ‘Ohana wa’a, know from experience that even the roughest storms will pass.
What we must do is to continue to prepare, train, believe in the mission, trust in each other, and sail on.

Links :

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Earth observation enters next phase

From Nature

Europe has launched the first satellite of what is heralded as one of the most ambitious Earth-observation programmes ever.
On 3 April, a Soyuz rocket dispatched into orbit the Sentinel-1A probe, the first craft of a planned constellation of six Sentinel families set to be launched by the end of the decade.
Together, the satellites will offer unprecedented long-term monitoring of the planet’s land, water and atmosphere.

The Sentinels will be the core of the €8.4-billion (US$11.5-billion) Copernicus programme, which is managed by the European Commission.
Copernicus will also draw in data from about 30 other satellites, and from ocean buoys, weather stations and air-quality monitoring networks.
“The Sentinels and Copernicus have the potential to become the world’s most comprehensive Earth-monitoring system,” says Zbynek Malenovsky, who studies vegetation using remote sensing at the University of Wollongong in Australia.

This  video was produced by the SWIFT project in 2011, when Copernicus was named GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) : this is an overview of the Marine Environment Monitoring Service of GMES, the Earth Observation programme of the European Union.

Copernicus was designed by the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA) to help the European Commission and EU member states to develop environmental policies and monitor the results.
Its data will be used to create services for myriad practical applications, including ice mapping, agriculture management, climate-change forecasting and disaster response.
The idea is to produce images, maps and models in near real time, much as is done with weather monitoring, but for many more variables.

Unlike most previous Earth-observation missions, the Sentinels will be replaced regularly as they age.
This will help to generate long-term cross-calibrated data sets of a variety of imagery and measurements, says Cathy Clerbaux, an atmospheric scientist at the LATMOS atmosphere and astro­physics research institute in Paris.
“It’s not easy to connect data series such as measurements of pollutants, ozone or greenhouse gases when you have different instruments, and gaps between missions,” she says.

The data will be free for anyone to access and use. (see myOcean interactive catalogue)
But researchers will enjoy formal user status alongside public authorities, and will thus have privileged access, including dedicated help desks and support.
“Scientists are now much more integrated into the user community, and not neglected as they have been in the past, when the focus was more on the operational side,” says Josef Aschbacher, head of ESA’s Copernicus office.
“I expect scientists to be the number-one user group.”

Accurate information about the environmental is crucial.
It helps to understand how our planet and climate are changing, the role human activity play in these changes and how this affects our daily lives.
Responding to these challenges, the EU and ESA have developed an Earth observation programme called Copernicus, formerly known as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, - a programme that becomes operational with the launch of Sentinel-1A.

Sentinel-1A is the first of two identical satellites; 1B is set to be launched in the next 18 months.
Both contain a radar system that can see in darkness and through clouds, unlike the optical instruments on many satellites.
This will allow them to continuously image cloudy areas such as tropical forests.
They will operate in tandem, cutting down the time between flyovers of the same point on Earth (known as revisit time), and enabling quick-succession imaging to measure, for example, ground deformation from earthquakes.

Sentinel 1 - Episode 1 of the Copernicus programme
Sentinel 1 comprises two radar imaging satellites which will transmit unprecedented around-the-clock imagery of environmental events (forest fires, landslides, receding ice sheets, etc.). It will also be used to assist the emergency response services when disasters strike.

Sentinels 2 to 5 will have different goals.
Between them, they will use optical sensors, radiometers and spectrometers to measure everything from sea temperatures to air pollution.
In addition, a Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite will be launched in 2016 to minimize the shortfall in atmospheric data-gathering following the 2012 loss of the European Envisat satellite.
A sixth Sentinel, a radar altimeter that will measure sea-surface heights, is also under discussion (see ‘Watchers in the skies’).
These diverse measurements of the major components of Earth systems will make the Sentinels very valuable, says Richard Anthes, emeritus president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
“A balanced suite of Earth observations is required for observing and understanding Earth as an interconnected system,” he says.

Sentinel-4, for example, will be one of the first satellites to monitor atmospheric pollutants from a geostationary orbit, notes Clerbaux — and the first to provide hourly measurements over a single area, in this case most of Europe and North Africa.

Sentinel-2, a pair of high-resolution imaging devices, is also causing excitement.
The satellites’ specifications are superior to those of Landsat-8, the flagship US Earth-observation satellite, with a spatial resolution down to 10 metres — three times finer than Landsat-8 — and shorter revisit times of just 2–3 days at mid-latitudes.
This opens up research into areas that update every few days, such as crop changes.

“Sentinel-2 should really change the face of Earth observing,” says Gregory Asner, an Earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California.
“This is the satellite that could revolutionize land-cover and land-use change monitoring and analysis.”

Scientists from Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 have been working together to make their data compatible and to develop joint archives.
It is a test of the concept of a virtual satellite constellation, says Mike Wulder, a scientist at the Canadian Forest Service in Victoria and a member of the Landsat science team.
“Satellite data products could be significantly improved if these were not limited to individual sensors but would combine complementary platforms across space agencies and sensor types.”

Compatibility, says Malenovsky, will be a key factor within the Sentinel fleet.
The fleet’s scientific value, he says, will be maximized if data from various crafts can be combined to create virtual, as well as practical, constellations.

Links :
  • BBC : Sentinel satellites promise data explosion

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

China unfettered: Redefining the rules of the seas

Model ship of Chinese Junk (on exhibit in the Quanzhou Maritime Museum)

From Forbes by Lee Kuan Yew

A rising China is seeking to assert its sea-boundary claims.
It is naive to believe that a strong China will accept the conventional definition of what parts of the sea around it are under its jurisdiction.
This should come as no surprise, but it has been uncomfortable for some of China’s neighbors and other stakeholders, including the U.S.

China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam are engaged in long-standing territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea.
The Philippines, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), has initiated international arbitration.
The arbitral tribunal is proceeding, even though China has decided not to participate in the hearings.

If a negotiated agreement can’t be reached, the ideal solution would be to resolve the dispute based on international law and legal principles, including UNCLOS, that have been established in many other such cases.
Can this be done through a juridical platform, such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ)?
Keep in mind that major powers, including China and the U.S., don’t generally submit to the jurisdiction of the ICJ or other such forums.
A resurgent China isn’t going to allow its sea boundaries to once again be decided by external parties.
Therefore, I don’t believe the Chinese will submit their claims, which are based primarily on China’s historical presence in these waters, to be decided by rules that were defined at a time when China was weak.
And China has judged that the U.S. won’t risk its present good relations with China over a dispute between the Philippines and China.

Why this sudden interest in some outcroppings in the South China Sea?
What gas or oil can be drilled or fish caught around these rocks?
Much more is at stake than rocks and resources.
China sees the South China Sea as one of its key interests.
A rising China is asserting its position by claiming historical rights to these waters.
And the disputes, which arise from claims based on different principles, are unlikely to be resolved.

One-third of the world’s trade passes through the South China Sea, a vital sea line of communications.
Many other countries also have important interests there.
These include the freedom of navigation and overflight, as well as the peaceful management of disputes.
Quite apart from preventing mishaps and incidents, a framework to manage the different interests should be established.

Looking to the Past

China’s reliance on historical claims necessitates considering what its fleets did in the past, way before Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas and Vasco da Gama arrived in India.
More than six centuries ago Emperor Zhu Di of the Ming Dynasty sent out a large fleet of trading ships to explore and trade with the rest of the world.
His choice to command the expedition was Grand Eunuch Zheng He (1371–1433).
Zheng He was born and raised a Muslim in what is now Kunming City in Yunnan Province.
He was captured by Ming Dynasty forces around 1381 and taken to Nanjing, where he was castrated and subsequently sent to serve in the palace of Zhu Di, who was then the Prince of Yan and would later become Yongle Emperor.

The Ming Empire without its "vassal states" under the Yongle Emperor
History and Commercial Atlas of China, Harvard University Press 1905

Over the course of nearly three decades (1405–33) Zheng He led seven westward expeditions, which were unprecedented in size and range.
They spanned the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, and reached as far as the east coast of Africa.
The ships used for these expeditions–more than 400 feet in length, based on archaeological evidence–were many times the size of those Columbus used to sail across the Atlantic.

These expeditions amply demonstrated the power and wealth of the Ming Dynasty.
More important, they left a lasting impact on the countries visited: Numerous masjids (mosques) in the region are named after Zheng He, commemorating his contributions to the local communities.

Early 17th century Chinese woodblock print, thought to represent Zheng He's ships.

If historical claims can define jurisdiction over waters and oceans, the Chinese can point to the fact that 600 years ago they sailed these waters unchallenged.

Links :

Monday, April 7, 2014

Canada CHS update in the Marine GeoGarage

As our public viewer is not yet available
(currently under construction, upgrading to Google Maps API v3 as v2 is officially no more supported),
this info is primarily intended to our B2B customers which use our nautical charts layers
in their own webmapping applications through our GeoGarage API.

30 charts have been updated (March 28, 2014) in the GeoGarage platform :
    • 1316 PORT DE QUÉBEC
    • 3001 Vancouver Island Île De Vancouver Juan De Fuca Strait To/À Queen Charlot
    • 3668 ALBERNI INLET
    • 3671 BARKLEY SOUND
    • 4422 CARDIGAN BAY
    • 6213A WHITEFISH BAY-1
    • 6213B WHITEFISH BAY-2
    • 6287A MINAKI TO/À KENORA - 1
    • 6287B MINAKI TO/À KENORA - 2
      So 690 charts (1665 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

      Paul Heiney: my journey to Cape Horn for the sailor son I loved and lost

      Father and son: 'In my head I could hear him telling me I had “done OK, Dad”.'

      From The Telegraph by Paul Heiney
      Family tragedy inspired an adventure to face one of the world’s most perilous nautical challenge.

      The moment I set eyes on the Beagle Channel, I knew that 9,000 miles of ocean sailing to the southernmost part of South America had been worth it.
      A moonlit night gave way to a misty dawn, a steady wind filled the sails and drew us onwards.
      The rise and fall of the ocean swell felt more a comfort than a threat, yet it was never far from my mind that this can be a dangerous place.
      This is where the weather quickly loses its temper and in fury hurls winds at you way beyond gale force.
      Storms here have destroyed big ships.
      It is only 50 miles north of the infamous Cape Horn.
      But this morning it offered me an overwhelming reward for my efforts.
      The blazing equatorial heat of months before seemed far behind as snow-clad mountains dipped to meet cold, green water and glaciers slithered their way to the sea.
      There were no signs of life, and even the faithful, following albatrosses had deserted us.
      I faced westwards and saw the splendour of this fabled natural highway linking the great oceans of the Pacific and Atlantic.
      It took my breath away.

       To the Horn ?

      Cape Horn was not far now.
      In the past few years, I have been on two great voyages.
      The first, this one to Cape Horn, was now becoming a dream finally realised; the other, coming to terms with the death of my son, Nicholas, at the age of just 23, and by his own hand, was something I would have given anything to avoid.
      The two are not unconnected.

      I was at sea in 2006, off the coast of Nova Scotia after a single-handed passage across the North Atlantic, when, in a bleak spot, I took the bleakest possible call by satellite phone.
      I was home within 24 hours.
      Although my wife, daughter and I were awash in grief, I soon found a force more powerful took control.
      There was a sense of deep peace and understanding, and no desire to play the pointless game of “what if…?”
      No guilt, no blame.
      Such things seemed disrespectful to Nicholas.
      He had made his choice.
      His startling mind, honed by the great love of poetry that took him through Oxford, had started to crumble, and an avalanche of profound mental illness was about to overtake him.
      He knew that, he sensed it coming at him like a rogue wave and chose to step aside.
      We could not blame him.
      The coroner declared: “He took his life while the balance of his mind was disturbed.”
      There is nothing more to say.

      As a family, we refused to be crushed.
      I determined that some good must emerge from the loss.
      Small things can become great comforts: we discovered – scribbled in secret and only pieced together after his death – a rich legacy of poems and reflections that were later published under the title, The Silence at the Song’s End, a book that has given comfort to many who contact us, inspired music, a short film, and a radio play.
      Much of those writings were reflections on being at sea gathered while on tall ships in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, both of which he had crossed by the age of 21.
      He was a proper sailor.

      Over the passing years, after I had read and reread it, I decided it was time to make a grand voyage of my own.
      It had to be a dramatic one and a testing one, too.
      And what presents more of a challenge than Cape Horn?
      I could have chosen any of the great adventurers whose books I had devoured and taken them as role models, but instead I chose Nicholas.
      The way he conducted himself at sea was something to which I now aspired.
      It is not unusual for sons to be inspired by their fathers, but in this case it would be exactly the reverse.

      Paul Heiney and his yacht, WIld Song, set sail for distant places. 

      Our boat would not look out of place on the Solent on a sunny, Sunday afternoon but I judged it up to the job.
      Whether I was fit for the task remained to be seen.
      For the intricate coastal passages, I would try and persuade a crew to sail with me, but on the open ocean I would sail alone.
      I was eventually to achieve 11,000 solo miles over the course of two years, with brief periods back home.
      Of course, I was never truly alone.
      Nicholas lurked, always in the shadows but ready to share a joke, to warn, often to inspire.
      That it was only in my mind seemed not to matter.

      Heading south is not difficult: the north-east trade winds are your best friends, until just north of the equator when they evaporate and leave you wallowing, idle as that painted ship upon a painted ocean. Calms are every bit as testing as storms.
      The boat rattles with no wind to fill the sails, there is no progress, and the cabin temperature rises as your temper shortens.
      For days I watched heavy squalls scuttling by but leaving me in peace. I didn’t want peace; I wanted out of this.

      Calm weather brings other dangers.
      It is easy to relax your guard and walk the side deck without clipping on your safety line.
      All it takes is a badly timed swing of the boom and you are over the side, and if there is any breeze at all the boat will be moving away faster than I could swim.

      In the tropics, food goes rotten fast.
      I would throw stuff into the pressure cooker, enough for two days, but it never lasted past the first.
      Even in the comparative cool of the night, a stew packed with luscious vegetables turned to putrid mush in hours.
      When the calms finally release you, and a fair wind blows, it feels like a true escape.

       Wild Song

      I marvelled at the intensity of tropical night skies.
      I would switch off all the lights, even the dim glow of the electronics, till my eyes adjusted to the heavens, and sit for hours in wonder.
      Sometimes, at dusk, when the horizon was still visible, I would take out my sextant and take measurements and plot my position.
      Some say the sight of such vastness makes them feel insignificant, but I felt the reverse.
      When you are navigating by the stars, the universe is working for you.
      You feel at the very centre of it.

      Landfall soon breaks the magic.
      Salvador, in Brazil, is a violent city and my joining crew and I spent hours walking the dimly lit and threatening docksides expecting every footfall to be our last.
      Life on land is far harder than life at sea, and many times I had to invoke the memory of Nicholas, and remember how bravely he faced the places he voyaged to – Mexico, Korea and Japan – often alone and still in his teens.
      With his help, I escaped Salvador unscathed.
      But not in Rio, where we were neatly mugged by a gang who pulled knives and shouted, “Money!”. Twenty quid and a small camera bought our escape.
      We told the police.
      They laughed.
      “We get mugged, too!” they said.

      But this voyage was about being at sea, not on land, and I was soon ready to leave the tropics for colder and stormier waters.
      In the Roaring Forties, the winds blow with malice.
      Often we would heave-to while the worst blew through by stopping the boat dead in the water and just sitting there, nervously bobbing up and down like a plastic duck.

      It grew colder and diesel was now in short supply and the cabin heater was rationed.
      We shivered a lot.
      The fresh food was finished and in the cold air I could not get the dough to rise in order to bake fresh bread.
      They were dank, grey days.

      Off the south-eastern tip of South America is Staten Island.
      It has seen many deaths.
      Beset by fast tides, violent winds and poor shelter, the old square-riggers gave it a wide berth. I chose, cautiously, to sail into the heart of it, however, to an anchorage like no other.
      Sailing through the narrowest of gaps between snow-topped mountains, surrounded by a dozen tumbling waterfalls, you find peace.
      It was like entering Narnia.
      The middle verse of one of Nicholas’s poems flooded my mind.

       The silence at the Song's End by Nicholas Heiney

      Some kind of song inside myself rose at the sight of the beauty of this lonely anchorage.
      If I saw nothing else, this would be reward enough.

      But the beguiling Beagle Channel was soon to follow, and then a dash in carefully chosen weather to Cape Horn itself: navigating in the dark, fearing every gust of wind that might hint at a pouncing storm.
      Cape Horn has a majesty, too, and others have chosen to pop the champagne at the sight of it.
      Not me.
      It seemed more like a battlefield where thousands lost their lives: a memorial, not a tourist attraction.
      I gave it due respect and sailed on.
      Rounding Cape Horn, strangely, no longer seemed the most important part of this journey.

      It was now 9,000 miles back to Devon.
      My last crew departed in Uruguay and I faced the remaining 7,000 miles alone.
      It was not easy.
      The winds failed to follow their predicted behaviour.
      The boat was becoming tired and so was I.
      North of the equator I met strong headwinds that tormented me for the remaining 3,000 miles.
      It was the toughest slog of the whole trip.

      Tired, mentally and physically, I made for the Azores, where I could take a break.
      But the weather only worsened and I found myself in a poor position with gales blowing, no diesel so no engine, water low, batteries almost flat and, eventually, a mainsail that was ripped in half by a violent gust of wind.
      After a monumental effort from which it took my arms months to recover, I sailed into sufficient shelter to make my first contact with land for 66 days, and was towed from there to safety by the helpful harbour staff on the island of Flores.

       In his last six years Nicholas Heiney sailed widely, crossing both the Atlantic and the Pacific as a deckhand aboard the square-rigged barque Europa, and training young Koreans in seamanship.

      Had I lived up to the example my dear boy had set?
      I hope so.
      In my head I could hear him telling me I had “done OK, Dad”.
      That will have to do.
      But how I wished he could have said it face to face.
      And now I am gathering my thoughts on paper, as he did, hoping they might come close to the intensity of his.
      If they should ever find a publisher, you will read how I have become certain that none of us voyage alone.
      We are guided by those we have loved whether they are with us in body or not.
      I know he wasn’t there, wasn’t in the cabin, wasn’t at the wheel.
      But that is not to say that he was nowhere.
      He is out there somewhere, amongst his ocean curls.
      And for a brief while I was able to be with him.

      Links :

      Sunday, April 6, 2014

      Malaysia missing plane search China ship 'picks up signal'

      Australian (AHS) nautical charts overlayed on Google satellite pictures.

      Note that the region of the search displays very recent satellite imagery, 
      taken between March 18 and 31, 2014 as part of the search for MH370.
      The dates are displayed in the status bar at the bottom of the app, and the imagery is credited to CNES/Astrium,
      which manages the SPOT satellite program

      Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01, searching for the missing Malaysian passenger jet MH370,
      detected a pulse signal with a frequency of 37.5kHz per second in southern Indian Ocean waters Saturday.
      A black box detector deployed by the Haixun 01 picked up the signal at around 25 degrees south latitude and 101 degrees east longtitude.
      It is yet to be established whether it is related to the missing jet.

      A Chinese ship involved in the hunt for a missing Malaysian jet reported hearing a "pulse signal" in the Indian Ocean on Saturday with the same frequency emitted by flight data recorders, as Malaysian officials vowed not to give up the search.
      Australian Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, head of the joint agency coordinating the operation, said in a statement the characteristics reported by the Chinese vessel are consistent with the aircraft’s black box.
      However, he cautioned there was no confirmation the signals are related to MH370. 
      A patrol ship first picked up the signal on Friday when it was detected intermittently for about 15 minutes.
      But Haixun, China's largest patrol vessel, picked up the signal again on Saturday, when it was detected every second for 90 seconds.

       The approximate location is just north of the designated search area west of Perth, 

      from JACC
      but close to the circumference of the original “ping arc” generated from the Inmarsat satellite, which shows a possible range of locations for MH370 when it last made contact on an hourly basis.

      April 5th, day 28 - "Pulse signal detected by Chinese Vessel Haixun 01"
      25.29°S / 101.59°E on Google Maps

       Update : OpenSeaMap with MarineTraffic positions of Haixun and HMS Echo in the area

      The pinger locator can detect a box’s signals, but only from 1.6 km away.
      The area where Haixun may have detected the black box has water depths of 4,000 to 5,000 m.

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