Saturday, April 10, 2021
Friday, April 9, 2021
From CNN by Nick Paton Walsh
Russia is amassing unprecedented military might in the Arctic and testing its newest weapons in a region freshly ice-free due to the climate emergency, in a bid to secure its northern coast and open up a key shipping route from Asia to Europe.
Weapons experts and Western officials have expressed particular concern about one Russian 'super-weapon,' the Poseidon 2M39 torpedo.
Development of the torpedo is moving fast with Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting an update on a "key stage" of the tests in February from his defense minister Sergei Shoigu, with further tests planned this year, according to multiple reports in state media.
The device is intended to deliver a warhead of multiple megatons, according to Russian officials, causing radioactive waves that would render swathes of the target coastline uninhabitable for decades.
In November, Christopher A Ford, then assistant secretary of state for International Security and Non-Proliferation, said the Poseidon is designed to "inundate U.S.coastal cities with radioactive tsunamis."
Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense
Experts agree that the weapon is "very real" and already coming to fruition.
The head of Norwegian intelligence, Vice Admiral Nils Andreas Stensønes, told CNN that his agency has assessed the Poseidon as "part of the new type of nuclear deterrent weapons.
And it is in a testing phase.
But it's a strategic system and it's aimed at targets ...
and has an influence far beyond the region in which they test it currently." Stensønes declined to give details on the torpedo's testing progress so far.
Satellite images provided to CNN by space technology company Maxar detail a stark and continuous build-up of Russian military bases and hardware on the country's Arctic coastline, together with underground storage facilities likely for the Poseidon and other new high-tech weapons.
The Russian hardware in the High North area includes bombers and MiG31BM jets, and new radar systems close to the coast of Alaska.
The Russian build-up has been matched by NATO and US troop and equipment movements.
American B-1 Lancer bombers stationed in Norway's Ørland air base have recently completed missions in the eastern Barents Sea, for example.
The US military's stealth Seawolf submarine was acknowledged by US officials in August as being in the area.
A senior State Department official told CNN: "There's clearly a military challenge from the Russians in the Arctic," including their refitting of old Cold War bases and build-up of new facilities on the Kola Peninsula near the city of Murmansk.
"That has implications for the United States and its allies, not least because it creates the capacity to project power up to the North Atlantic," the official said.
Correction: A previous version of this graphic displayed an image from 2016 instead of 2020.
This has been fixed.
Graphic: Henrik Pettersson, CNN
The satellite images show the slow and methodical strengthening of airfields and "trefoil" bases -- with a shamrock-like design, daubed in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag -- at several locations along Russia's Arctic coast over the past five years.
The bases are inside Russian territory and part of a legitimate defense of its borders and coastline.
US officials have voiced concern, however, that the forces might be used to establish de facto control over areas of the Arctic that are further afield, and soon to be ice-free.
"Russia is refurbishing Soviet-era airfields and radar installations, constructing new ports and search-and-rescue centers, and building up its fleet of nuclear- and conventionally-powered icebreakers," Lt.
Col. Thomas Campbell, a Pentagon spokesman, told CNN.
Credit: Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation
Campbell also noted the recent creation of a Quick Reaction Alert force at two Arctic airfields -- Rogachevo and Anadyr -- and the trial of one at Nagurskoye airfield last year.
Satellite imagery from March 16 shows probable MiG31BMs at Nagurskoye for what is thought to be the first time, bringing a new capability of Russian stealth air power to the far north.
High-tech weapons are also being regularly tested in the Arctic area, according to Russian officials quoted in state media and Western officials.
Campbell added that in November, Russia claimed the successful test of the 'Tsirkon' anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile.
The Tsirkon and the Poseidon are part of a new generation of weapons pledged by Putin in 2018 as strategic game changers in a fast-changing world.
At the time US officials scorned the new weapons as technically far-fetched and improbable, yet they appear to be nearing fruition.
The Norwegian intelligence chief Stensønes told CNN the Tsirkon as a "new technology, with hypersonic speeds, which makes it hard to defend against."
On Thursday, Russian state news agency TASS cited a source in the military industrial complex as saying there had been another successful test of the Tsirkon from the Admiral Gorshkov warship, saying all four test rockets had hit their target, and that another more advanced level of tests would begin in May or June.
The climate emergency has removed many of Russia's natural defenses to its north, such as walls of sheet ice, at an unanticipated rate.
"The melt is moving faster than scientists predicted or thought possible several years ago," said the senior State Department official.
"It's going to be a dramatic transformation in the decades ahead in terms of physical access."
Graphic: Henrik Pettersson, CNN
US officials also expressed concern at Moscow's apparent bid to influence the "Northern Sea Route" -- a shipping lane that runs from between Norway and Alaska, along Russia's northern coast, across to the North Atlantic.
The 'NSR' potentially halves the time it currently takes shipping containers to reach Europe from Asia via the Suez Canal.
Russia's Rosatom state nuclear company released elaborately produced drone video this February of the 'Christophe de Margerie' tanker completing an eastern route across the Arctic in winter for the first time, accompanied by the '50 Let Pobedy' nuclear icebreaker for its journey in three of the six Arctic seas.
Campbell said Russia sought to exploit the NSR as a "major international shipping lane," yet voiced concern at the rules Moscow was seeking to impose on vessels using the route.
"Russian laws governing NSR transits exceed Russia's authority under international law," the Pentagon spokesman said.
"They require any vessel transiting the NSR through international waters to have a Russian pilot onboard to guide the vessel.
Russia is also attempting to require foreign vessels to obtain permission before entering the NSR."
The senior State Department official added: "The Russian assertions about the Northern Sea Route is most certainly an effort to lay down some rules of the road, get some de facto acquiescence on the part of the international community, and then claim this is the way things are supposed to work."
This might yet transform global shipping, and with it the movements of 90+% of all goods globally."
The State Department official believes the Russians are mostly interested in exporting hydrocarbons -- essential to the country's economy -- along the route, but also in the resources being uncovered by the fast melt.
The flexing of their military muscles in the north -- key to Moscow's nuclear defense strategy, and also mostly on Russian coastal territory -- could be a bid to impose their writ on the wider area, the official said.
"When the Russians are testing weapons, jamming GPS signals, closing off airspace or sea space for exercises, or flying bombers over the Arctic along the airspace of allies and partners, they are always trying to send a message," the official added.
Russia insists motives are peaceful and economic
Russia's foreign ministry declined to comment, yet Moscow has long maintained its goals in the Arctic are economic and peaceful.
A March 2020 document by Kremlin policymakers presented Russia's key goals in an area behind 20% of its exports and 10% of its GDP.
The strategy focuses on ensuring Russia's territorial integrity and regional peace.
It also expresses the need to guarantee high living standards and economic growth in the region, as well as developing a resource base and the NSR as "a globally competitive national transport corridor."
Putin regularly extols the importance of Russia's technological superiority in the Arctic.
In November, during the unveiling of a new icebreaker in St. Petersburg, the Russian President said: "It is well-known that we have a unique icebreaker fleet that holds a leading position in the development and study of Arctic territories.
We must reaffirm this superiority constantly, every day."
Putin said of a submarine exercise last week in which three submarines surfaced at the same time in the polar ice: "The Arctic expedition ... has no analogues in the Soviet and the modern history of Russia."
Among these new weapons is the Poseidon 2M39.
The plans for this torpedo were initially revealed in an apparently purposeful brandishing of a document discussing its capabilities by a Russian general in 2015.
It was subsequently partially dismissed by analysts as a 'paper tiger' weapon, meant to terrify with its apocalyptic destructive powers that appear to slip around current treaty requirements, but not to be successfully deployed.
Russia's state news agency, RIA Novosti, cited a "source" on Monday saying that tests for the Belgorod submarine, especially developed to be armed with the Poseidon torpedo, would be completed in September.
"It is absolutely a project that will be used to scare, as a negotiation card in the future, perhaps in arms control talks," Zysk said.
Thursday, April 8, 2021
The USS Johnston has been relocated, surveyed and filmed at a depth of 6,456m in the Philippine Sea
A submersible has dived to the world’s deepest-known shipwreck.
The vessel reached the USS Johnston, which lies 6.5km (4 miles) beneath the waves in the Philippine Sea in the Pacific Ocean.
Explorers spent several hours surveying and filming the wreck over a series of dives.
The 115m-long US Navy destroyer sank during the Battle off Samar in 1944 after a fierce battle with a large fleet of Japanese warships.
Victor Vescovo, who led the expedition and piloted the sub, said: “The wreck is so deep so there's very little oxygen down there, and while there is a little bit of contamination from marine life, it's remarkably well intact except for the damage it took from the furious fight.”
The remains of the USS Johnston were first discovered in 2019, and parts of the destroyer were filmed with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).
But a large part of the wreckage lay deeper than the ROV was able to reach, so for this expedition a submersible called the DSV Limiting Factor was deployed.
The vessel has a 9cm-thick (3.5in) titanium pressure hull that two people can fit inside, and it is able to descend to any depth.
It took several dives to relocate the wreck of the USS Johnston, but then Victor Vescovo, along with engineer Shane Eigler on one dive and naval historian Parks Stephenson on another, were able to spend time surveying and filming the destroyer.
“The gun turrets are right where they're supposed to be, they're even pointing in the correct direction that we believe that they should have been, as they were continuing to fire until the ship went down,” he explained.
“And we saw the twin torpedo racks in the middle of the ship that were completely empty because they shot all the torpedoes at the Japanese.”
The team is now working with naval historians in the hope of shedding more light on the World War Two battle.
The relatively small USS Johnston was heavily outnumbered by the Japanese fleet, which included Japan’s largest battleship, but was awarded for its courage under heavy fire
Of the crew of 327, only 141 survived the battle.
No human remains or clothing were found during the expedition, and the team laid wreaths before and after the dives.
At one point in March, 220 Chinese ships were reported to be anchored around the reef.
From NYTimes by Steven Lee Myers and Jason Gutierrez
After building artificial islands, China is using large fleets of ostensibly civilian boats to press other countries’ vessels out of disputed waters.
The Chinese ships settled in like unwanted guests who wouldn’t leave.
As the days passed, more appeared.
They were simply fishing boats, China said, though they did not appear to be fishing.
Dozens even lashed themselves together in neat rows, seeking shelter, it was claimed, from storms that never came.
Not long ago, China asserted its claims on the South China Sea by building and fortifying artificial islands in waters also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Its strategy now is to reinforce those outposts by swarming the disputed waters with vessels, effectively defying the other countries to expel them.
The goal is to accomplish by overwhelming presence what it has been unable to do through diplomacy or international law.
And to an extent, it appears to be working.
“Beijing pretty clearly thinks that if it uses enough coercion and pressure over a long enough period of time, it will squeeze the Southeast Asians out,” said Greg Poling, the director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, which tracks developments in the South China Sea.
China’s actions reflect the country’s growing confidence under its leader, Xi Jinping.
They could test the Biden administration, as well as Beijing’s neighbors in the South China Sea, who are increasingly dependent on China’s strong economy and supply of Covid-19 vaccines.
The latest incident has unfolded in recent weeks around Whitsun Reef, a boomerang-shaped feature that emerges above water only at low tide.
At one point in March, 220 Chinese ships were reported to be anchored around the reef, prompting protests from Vietnam and the Philippines, which both have claims there, and from the United States.
The Philippine defense secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, called their presence “a clear provocation.” Vietnam’s foreign ministry accusedChina of violating the country’s sovereignty and demanded that the ships leave.
By this past week, some had left but many remained, according to satellite photographs taken by Maxar Technologies, a company based in Colorado.
Others moved to another reef only a few miles away, while a new swarm of 45 Chinese ships was spotted 100 miles northeast at another island controlled by the Philippines, Thitu, according to the satellite photos and Philippine officials.
“The Chinese ambassador has a lot of explaining to do,” Mr. Lorenzana said in a statement on Saturday.
The buildup has inflamed tensions in a region that, along with Taiwan, threatens to become another flash point in the intensifying confrontation between China and the United States.
Although the United States has not taken a position on disputes in the South China Sea, it has criticized China’s aggressive tactics there, including the militarization of its bases.
For years, the United States has sent Navy warships on routine patrols to challenge China’s asserted right to restrict any military activity there — three times just since President Biden took office in January.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken expressed support for the Philippines over the presence of the Chinese vessels.
“We will always stand by our allies and stand up for the rules-based international order,” he wrote on Twitter.
The buildup has highlighted the further erosion of the Philippines’ control of the disputed waters, which could become a problem for the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte.
The country’s defense department dispatched two aircraft and one ship to Whitsun Reef to document the buildup but did not otherwise intervene.
It is not known whether Vietnamese forces responded.
Critics say China’s disregard for the Philippine claims reflects the failure of Mr.
Duterte’s efforts to cozy up to the Communist Party leadership in Beijing.
“People need to hear from the commander in chief himself, a coward to China but a bully to his own people,” said Mr. Duterte’s staunchest political opponent, Senator Leila de Lima.
Mr. Duterte has not publicly addressed the matter, though his spokesman suggested that quiet efforts to defuse the situation were underway.
China has brushed off the protests.
A spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, said that Chinese fishermen “have been fishing in the waters near the reef all along.”
Whitsun Reef is part of an atoll known as Union Banks, about 175 nautical miles from Palawan, a Philippine island.
The Philippines, China and Vietnam each claim that the atoll lies within their country’s exclusive economic zones, but only China and Vietnam have established a regular physical presence there, giving each a secure, if not legal, advantage in asserting control.
Vietnam has occupied four islets in the atoll since the 1970s, while China has built two outposts on previously submerged reefs as part of its program, underway since 2014, to dredge up seven artificial islands.
Two of the outposts — Grierson Reef, occupied by Vietnam, and Hughes Reef, occupied by China — are less than three nautical miles apart.
An international tribunal convened under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ruled in 2016 that China’s expansive claim to almost all of the South China Sea had no legal basis, though it stopped short of dividing the territory among its various claimants.
China has based its claims on a “nine-dash line” drawn on maps before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
A Philippine patrol first reported the large number of ships at Whitsun Reef on March 7.
According to Mr. Poling, satellite photographs have shown a regular, though smaller, Chinese presence over the past year at the reef.
By March 29, 45 ships remained at Whitsun, according to a statement on Wednesday by the National Task Force-West Philippines Sea, an agency that reports to the Philippine president’s office.
The task force counted 254 ships as well as four Chinese warships that day in the Spratlys, an archipelago of more than 100 islands, cays and other outcroppings between the Philippines and Vietnam.
The task force said the 254 ships were not fishing vessels, as Beijing claimed, but part of China’s maritime militia, an ostensibly civilian force that has become an integral instrument of China’s new maritime strategy.
Many of these boats, while unarmed, are operated by reservists or others who carry out the orders of the Coast Guard and People’s Liberation Army.
“They may be doing illicit activities at night and their lingering (swarming) presence may cause irreparable damage to the marine environment,” the task force’s statement said.
The presence of so many Chinese ships is meant to intimidate.
“By having them there, and spreading them out across these expanses of water around the reefs the others occupy, or around oil and gas fields or fishing grounds, you are steadily pushing the Filipinos and the Vietnamese out,” Mr. Poling said.
“If you’re a Filipino fisherman, you’re always getting harassed by these guys,” he said.
“They’re always maneuvering a little too close, blowing horns at you.
At some point you just give up and stop fishing there.”
Patrols and statements aside, Mr. Duterte’s government does not seem eager to confront China.
His spokesman, Harry Roque, echoed the Chinese claims that the ships were merely sheltering temporarily.
“We hope the weather clears up,” he said, “and in the spirit of friendship we are hoping that their vessels will leave the area.”
The Philippines has become increasingly dependent on Chinese trade and, as it fights the pandemic, largess.
On Monday, the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Manila from China with great fanfare.
As many as four million doses are scheduled to arrive by May, some of them donations.
China’s ambassador, Huang Xilian, attended the vaccines’ arrival and later met with Mr. Duterte.
“China is encroaching on our maritime zone, but softening it by sending us vaccines,” said Antonio Carpio, an outspoken retired Supreme Court justice who is expert in the maritime dispute.
“It’s part of their P.R.
effort to soften the blow, but we should not fall for that.”
- NYTimes : China Fires Missiles Into South China Sea, Sending U.S. a Message / U.S. Says Most of China’s Claims in South China Sea Are Illegal / Duterte Plays Down Chinese Ramming of Philippine Fishing Boat
- Maritime Executive : "Illegal Structures" Spotted at Contested S. China Sea Reefs
- AMTI CSIS : Vietnam shores up its Spratly defenses / Force majeure : China's Coast Guard law in contect
- QT : Under the radar: China is 'gaslighting us' with sly move
- GeoGarage blog : China’s claims on the South China Sea are a warning to Europe
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
From Cape Cod Times by Doug Fraser
When Michael Campbell first traveled on trans-Atlantic merchant vessels in the 1980s, they still used tools similar to those on board Columbus’ ship to find the angle of sun, moon and stars and calculate the ship’s position when it was out to sea beyond the range of the radar used for coastal navigation.
At 56, Campbell doesn’t consider himself an ancient mariner, but the cadets he takes on training cruises are more comfortable with the computer screens on the ship’s bridge than the sextant, the spanner or the chart room maps.
NOAA is beginning the process of phasing out printed nautical charts in favor of electronic chart displays, such as the one to Lyndell's right.
“Every ship I was on prior to coming to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy used a combination of paper and electronics,” Campbell said.
“We’d put our position down on paper charts and keep them up to date.”
But he knows the next generation of cadets will likely not traverse the campus with a rolled-up chart under their arm, or plot a course at sea with a spanner and pencil lines on a chart table.
“In the future, we’ll get to where those paper charts go away,” Campbell said.
That future begins this August when the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration quietly turns the page on a 170-year history of printing nautical charts.
When NOAA retires Lake Tahoe’s paper chart No. 18665, it will be the first in a planned phase-out of their entire library of 1,000 paper nautical charts by 2025.
“It’s going to (fade away),” said James Deal, an instructor at New England Maritime for 25 years.
The Hyannis-based school offers maritime instruction and Coast Guard captain's license courses.
It’s part of an international movement away from the charts that have been guiding mariners since 13th Century Mediterranean seafarers committed so-called "sailing instructions" and geographical renderings to stretched calfskin, with lines between ports that corresponded to wind and compass direction.
In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard allowed commercial ships to use electronic charting systems instead of paper charts in U.S. waters.
By 2018, the International Maritime Organization required that most commercial vessels on international trips use electronic maps and navigation systems.
“Do I feel nostalgic? Absolutely, but I understand the value of technology and the safety and economy it brings,” Deal said.
Sales of paper charts on the decline
The decision is driven by twin realities.
Merchant ships like the Ever Given, which got stuck in the Suez Canal recently, have gotten progressively bigger and require much more sophisticated and up-to-date information to navigate in areas where their margin of safety has correspondingly shrunk.
And the general boating public now relies almost exclusively on electronics.
“While most people are aware that keeping paper charts on board is a really good idea, I would guess that the vast majority of boaters don’t,” said Scott Zeien, owner of the Kingman Yacht Center in Cataumet.
The yacht center sells very few paper charts or chart books, he said.
NOAA data shows that electronic chart sales have doubled in the past decade to where over 900,000 were bought in the U.S. in 2019 and 2020, while paper chart sales were cut in half from just over 200,000 in 2010 to around 100,000 last year.
Paper charts can still be ordered through private map printing services, although NOAA will no longer update the traditional charts, only the maps printed from electronic ones.
But overall, fewer and fewer people will use them.
“Electronics have made it so easy," Zeien said.
"I keep a chart on my boat, but have I looked at it twice in the last five years? Probably not.”
But maps and the information they provide have power, said Robert Zaremba, co-owner of the Chatham store Maps of Antiquity.
They were the first things pirates grabbed when they boarded a vessel because the maps opened up harbors and trade routes to sailors who might otherwise have little local knowledge.
“If you can’t envision another part of the world without going there, you don’t have any power,” Zaremba said.
He likes the idea of maps that would correlate data he’d find useful, such as the areas where drunk drivers are most often stopped or cancer hotspots.
Modern electronic mapping does just that, with overlayed layers of information available at the push of a button.
Modern merchant vessels and cruise ships almost have too much flooding the electronic screens on their bridge, and even less need for paper maps, explained David Mackey, who chairs the Marine Transportation department at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
They use what is known as an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS).
Computer-driven, it melds GPS information with radar, depth finders, automated ship identification beacons, known hazards, navigational aids such as buoys and lighthouses and other navigational information onto one screen.
Coastal changes and new hazards can be updated quickly without having to wait for printing.
“ECDIS has so much data on so many pages with sub-pages and sub-menus, that mariners are required to take courses in general ECDIS training,” Mackey said.
There's so much data, the successful navigator needs to find the right mix so that the screen is useful, not cluttered.
It's no longer possible to walk onto a ship’s bridge with just paper chart navigation skills, he said.
“Every device has its time to be important,” Zaremba said.
His business is selling maps and charts, but it’s purely nostalgic.
“They are not using them on their hikes or on their boats.
People are framing them and putting them up on their walls,” he said.
But the past still has its place, experts say.
“There is value in knowing the feeling and mechanics of fixing a ship’s position,” Deal said.
Deal joined the Coast Guard at 18 and spent 30 years on active duty and in the reserves.
Satellite navigation was still in its infancy and celestial navigation and paper charts were an everyday routine.
“You can stare at a computer screen, but you have to fully interpret and comprehend what the system is telling you,” he saidl.
“A commercial airliner can fly itself, but a pilot needs to understand why the plane flies because there’s always a worst-case scenario that can occur.”
Even though the systems are supposed to have backups, computers crash and electronics fail.
When you get into trouble, you have to know where you are and how to get to where you need to be.
Mackey, who is 63, teaches electronic navigation at the maritime academy, but can appreciate the reams of yellow legal paper he went through using spherical trigonometry to calculate a fuel- and time-saving Great Circle Route across the Atlantic.
He also knows the value of having eyes on the water, noting landmarks and the seamarks.
It all feeds into a knowledge base that can help future mariners truth-test the information they are getting from computer programs.
“They are far better than I am at manipulating (the ECDIS),” he said.
But he brings what he calls the “essence of navigation.”
“How do you not just rely on what it’s spitting out,” Mackey said.
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Because of its importance, commercial shipping relies on strategic trade routes to move goods efficiently.
These waterways are used by thousands of vessels a year—but it’s not always smooth sailing. In fact, there are certain points along these routes that pose a risk to the whole system.
Here’s a look at the world’s most vulnerable maritime bottlenecks—also known as choke points—as identified by GIS.
Despite their convenience, these vital points pose several risks:
- Structural risks: As demonstrated in the recent Suez Canal blockage, ships can crash along the shore of a canal if the passage is too narrow, causing traffic jams that can last for days.
- Geopolitical risks: Because of their high traffic, choke points are particularly vulnerable to blockades or deliberate disruptions during times of political unrest.
In 2019, 252 million long tons of goods were transported through the Panama Canal, which generated over $2.6 billion in tolls.
The Suez Canal is an Egyptian waterway that connects Europe to Asia.
In an effort to mitigate risk, the Egyptian government embarked on a major expansion project for the canal back in 2015.
The area is also known to have problems with piracy—in 2019, there were 30 piracy incidents, according to private information group ReCAAP ISC.
Historically, it’s also been a site of regional conflict.
Like the Strait of Malacca, it’s well known as a high-risk area for pirate attacks.
Due to the strategic nature of the region, there is a strong military presence in nearby Djibouti, including China’s first ever foreign military base.
Monday, April 5, 2021
I paused for a moment to take it all in.
Six days earlier, Liberte had been high and dry.
After paying all those dues in boat bucks and labor (one boat buck = $1,000), I relished my first evening on the hook.
Now in the dark I waved at Peter’s boat as I passed; nobody stirring at this hour.
Onward, then, trimming the main to the new wind as I cleared the point, looking back at the lights of shore, just once, then ahead into trackless waters, pretending I was bold Joshua Slocum off to hurdle the globe.
A beam wind now, and I could unfurl the jib and shake out the main.
Just days ago, these sails were in bags, lines bundled, Liberte lonely and landbound.
Now was as good a time as ever for dread.
What would my mentor Gartly do?
So I did.
How beautifully she purred along! I knew better than to touch a thing.
The wind was remarkably steady, the right choice made to sail today on the tail end of a norther, between too much wind yesterday and none tomorrow.
The sun paced me lazily behind clouds.
The north wind was a steady companion, and Liberte ticked off 1 nautical mile after another.
And then, there it was, the intended harbor, and I performed the rituals of arrival.
The sunset was transcendental.
At Isla Danzante, near Loreto, I was tickled to find my favorite anchorage open: a one-boat corner of Honeymoon Cove.
I saw huge schools of baitfish flashing in the clear water, with roosterfish hitting them from below while pelicans dived from above.
As I chugged toward nearby Marina Puerto Escondido the next morning, I saw that I had come full circle.
This harbor was the first place I’d ever stepped foot on a cruising boat.
As a young man, I’d coaxed a battered Toyota pickup down Highway 101, stacked it high at San Diego’s chandleries, and hauled my contraband south to meet Gartly’s Cal 34, Marlin, at this very seawall.
“Back to the scene of the crime,” I said out loud to nobody.
I realized it had been a while since I’d talked to anyone but birds and dolphins.
After several seasons of East Coast cruising, David Kilmer and Liberte are back in Pacific Mexico.
- The Guardian : Whale watching in Mexico - in pictures
Sunday, April 4, 2021
Oceanbird, a large retractable sail freighter to transport 7,000 cars at 10 knots
This comes in handy when passing under bridges or if the surface area of the wingsails needs to be reduced due to strong winds.
To be able to get in and out of harbours – and as a safety measure – the vessel will also be equipped with an auxiliary engine.
Powered by clean energy, of course.
The first vessel will be a cargo ship, but the concept can be applied to ships of all types, such as cruise ships.