Saturday, August 12, 2023

Image of the week : the world’s largest freshwater wind farm

See those white dots? Those are wind turbines!
This is Windpark Fryslân, the largest freshwater wind farm on Earth!
It’s located in Lake IJssel in the Netherlands.
The array of 89 wind turbines, clustered within a hexagon shape, produces enough electricity to power about half a million homes in the Netherlands.
The 32-kilometer-long (20-mile-long) Afsluitdijk, which provides flood protection and separates the lake from the Wadden Sea, is also prominent in this #Landsat 8 satellite image.
Suffice it to say, the Dutch have a history with wind power.
So it may come as little surprise that the Netherlands is home to a modern, second-to-none wind energy installation.

Localization with the GeoGarage platform (NLHO raster & vector chart) 

Windpark Fryslân, an array of 89 wind turbines clustered within a hexagon shape, is the largest freshwater wind farm in the world.
In this image, acquired by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 on July 8, 2023, Windpark Fryslân’s precisely spaced turbines are seen rising out of Lake IJssel.
Their arrangement in a hexagon shape is intended to minimize how much the installation obstructs the view of the horizon.
The 32-kilometer-long (20-mile-long) Afsluitdijk, which provides flood protection and separates the lake from the Wadden Sea, is also prominent in the image.
The wind farm came online in autumn 2021 with the capacity to generate 1.5 terawatt hours annually.
This is equivalent to approximately 1.2 percent of electricity use in the Netherlands, or enough to power about 500,000 households.
In 2022, the installation produced 1.236 terawatt hours.
 Constructing the wind farm in Lake IJssel posed unique challenges, according to the company Van Oord, which was part of the consortium that built Windpark Fryslân.
A major constraint was the size of ships that could be used to transport construction materials and turbine components to the site.
The vessels had to both fit through the locks in the dike and operate in the shallow waters of the lake.
In addition, installing the rotors, which are 130 meters (430 feet) in diameter, required finding windows of relative calm in a naturally windy place.
One of the two sets of locks in the dike is located at Kornwerderzand.
Nearby, an artificial island that was created as a construction platform now serves as a nature reserve and bird sanctuary.
While the island is only 2 hectares (5 acres) in size, it is surrounded by 25 hectares (60 acres) of shallow water that provides habitat for fish.
Along with a new power source and wildlife habitat, the Dutch have found new recreational opportunities associated with wind project.
In October, Windpark Fryslân will be the site of the Windmill Cup, a sailing race that courses through the turbines. 
Links :

Friday, August 11, 2023

Geology giant ‘Gravity Hole’ in the ocean may be the ghost of an ancient sea

An image of Earth’s geoid produced from data obtained by the European Space Agency’s GOCE (Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer) mission.
Credit: Science History Images/Alamy Stock Photo

From Scientific America by Tom Metcalfe
A vast expanse of the Indian Ocean is a staggering 100 meters lower than the global average sea level because of a major dip in Earth’s gravity.
Scientists now think they know the cause

There’s a massive “hole” in the Indian Ocean, researchers say—but it’s not the kind that could drain away all that water.
Instead it’s a term geologists use to describe a spot where Earth’s gravity is lower than average.
And a new study may have finally revealed its origins: it appears to be caused by plumes of molten rock rising from deep beneath Africa at the edges of the sinking remnants of an ancient ocean bed.

In an ideal universe, Earth would be a perfect sphere, and its gravity would be exactly the same at every point on its surface.
But in reality, Earth is flatter than a true sphere around both the North and South Poles, and it bulges out near the equator.
Additionally, different regions exert a different gravitational pull depending on the mass of Earth’s crust, mantle and core beneath them.

Local gravity measurements taken by ground-based sensors and satellites can be combined to show what the ocean’s surface would look like from those varying gravitational tugs alone, stripping out other influences such as winds and tides.
This produces an exaggerated visualization of our planet’s gravitational high and low spots called the global geoid.
One of the most famous models of this is known as the “Potsdam gravity potato” (named for the tuber it resembles and the location of the German research institute where it was developed).

A pronounced dip in the geoid under the Indian Ocean—called the Indian Ocean geoid low (IOGL)—is the planet’s most prominent gravitational anomaly.
It covers more than three million square kilometers and is centered about 1,200 km southwest of the southern tip of India.
(Its enormity, as well as the fact that the ocean looks relatively flat at any given point, means the dip isn’t visible at the surface.
) As a result of the low pull of gravity there, combined with the higher gravitational pull from the surrounding areas, the sea level of the Indian Ocean over the hole is a whopping 106 meters lower than the global average, says the new study’s senior author Attreyee Ghosh, a geophysicist at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore.

This depiction of the observed geoid of the Earth shows gravitational highs (oranges and reds) and lows (blues), measured in meters.
The Indian Ocean geoid low can be see off the southern tip of India.
Credit: “How the Indian Ocean Geoid Low Was Formed,” by Debanjan Pal et al.
, in Geophysical Research Letters.
Published online May 5, 2023

According to the study’s lead author Debanjan Pal, an IISc doctoral student, the IOGL was discovered in 1948 during a ship-based gravity survey by Dutch geophysicist Felix Andries Vening Meinesz.
It has since been confirmed by other shipboard expeditions and by measurements from satellites.
But scientists didn’t know why it was there.

To answer that question, Pal and Ghosh compared more than a dozen computer models of how the region formed over the past 140 million years as Earth’s tectonic plates have shifted around.
Each model used different variables for the convection of molten material within the mantle.

The results, published in Geophysical Research Letters, indicate the IOGL is present because of a distinctive mantle structure, combined with an adjacent disturbance under Africa called a large low shear velocity province (LLSVP) that is more commonly known as the “African blob.
” “What we’re seeing is that hot, low-density material coming from this LLSVP underneath Africa is sitting underneath the Indian Ocean and creating this geoid low,” Ghosh says.

Pal explains that the African blob, which largely causes the IOGL, is probably formed by “Tethyan slabs” deep in the mantle.
Geologists think these slabs are ancient remnants of seafloor from the Tethys Ocean, which was located between the supercontinents of Laurasia and Gondwana more than 200 million years ago.
Both Africa and India were part of Gondwana, but what is now India moved north into the Tethys Ocean—creating the Indian Ocean behind it—about 120 million years ago.
“Plumes [of molten rock] arise when subducted slabs belonging to the old Tethys Ocean sink inside the mantle and reach the core-mantle boundary,” Pal says.
“We also show that the surrounding mantle structures play a role in giving rise to this low, in addition to these plumes.”

Geophysicist Shijie Zhong of the University of Colorado Boulder, who wasn’t involved in the latest study, says it is an interesting and careful effort to better understand the IOGL.
“We like to talk about the positive gravity anomalies, such as the superplumes over Africa and the Pacific,” he says.
“But the geoid low in the Indian Ocean is one of the most profound gravitational anomalies on our planet.”

Pal says the geoid low probably took its present shape about 20 million years ago, when the plumes started to spread within the upper mantle.
And it will probably last as long as mantle material flows along the plume from the African blob—which is likely to be many more millions of years.
But once those flows cease, so will the low.
“When the temperature anomalies causing this low geoid shift out of the present-day location,” Pal says, “the geoid low will start to dissipate.”

Links :

Thursday, August 10, 2023

James Cameron supports deep-sea mining. Scientists say it’s a huge risk. Who’s right?

A polymetallic nodule collector after successful trials in the Atlantic.
The vehicle is destined for the Clarion-Clipperon Zone in the Pacific later this year if the ISA gives the go-ahead for deep-sea mining.Photograph: The Metals Company

From The Guardian by Karen McVeigh
Better the seafloor than the rainforest, proponents argue, but marine experts beg to differ as authorities meet to decide the future of deep-sea mining

In an exclusive interview with Guardian Seascape last Saturday, James Cameron argued that it is “less wrong” to mine the deep sea than mining on land.
“I’ve seen an awful lot of seafloor,” said the Titanic director and accomplished deep-sea explorer.
“And while there are some amazing creatures, they tend to be clustered in small habitats.
What you mostly have is miles and miles of nothing but clay.”

His view, which he conceded made him “something of an outlier”, is disputed by scientists and environmentalists who claim the opposite: that the ocean floor is a richer and more biodiverse place than previously thought, with new species uncovered each time they look.
Deep-sea mining, said one, would result in “extinction on a vast timescale”.

Who is right?
That is a key issue at this week’s assembly meeting of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a quasi-UN body of 168 member states tasked with regulating deep-sea mining.

James Cameron … film director, ocean explorer and ‘outlier’ on the subject of deep-sea mining.
Photograph: Joanne Mcarthur/The Guardian

Last week, the ISA council – a smaller group of 36 nations that develops the mining rules – set itself the goal of allowing mining to proceed within two years.
But this week, a growing number of countries, led by France, Chile, Costa Rica, Palau and Vanuatu, is urging the larger assembly to discuss a long term “precautionary pause” on mining, with a key argument being a lack of knowledge.

For many decades, the abyssal plain – where sunlight cannot penetrate and organisms must adapt to cope with extreme pressure – was considered an underwater desert.
The main target of deep sea-mining firms is a particular area of the Pacific between Hawaii and Mexico called the Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ), which is scattered with rocks called polymetallic nodules.
They are estimated to contain more cobalt and nickel – key ingredients in electric batteries – than all known land deposits.

Mining firms such as the Metals Company argue that there is a global benefit to making these minerals available more cheaply, to hasten the transition to green energy and mitigate the climate emergency.

In the past three months, however, researchers have discovered the CCZ contains far greater biodiversity than previously thought.
One recent paper suggested there were more than 5,000 species new to science.
Scientists say not enough is known about them to gauge the effect of mining – or whether it might even wipe them out for ever.

“What we know is the tip of the iceberg,” says Muriel Rabone, a data researcher at the Natural History Museum, who found evidence of the 5,000 species.
Only six of the species, which includes a sea cucumber, nematode worm and carnivorous sponge, have been seen elsewhere.
“We only know a fraction of what we need to know about these species – their life, their ecosystem functioning, their traits, their reproductive status – to be able to predict what the impacts will be.”
At risk … a carnivorous sponge, Axoniderma mexicana, flourishes on the ocean floor in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.
Photograph: NERC/AFP/Getty

The nodules that mining companies want to bring to the surface take millions of years to form.
More than half the species found in the CCZ, which is mainly soft sediment, depend on the rocks as a hard substrate on which to survive.
As a result, much of the biodiversity and habitat loss by mining would be permanent.
The scientific consensus is that deep-sea mining would cause significant permanent damage to ocean ecosystems.

Lack of knowledge is the problem.
So far, exploration and research trips have been made only by mining companies, and scientists tend to rely on their surveys in this hard-to-reach zone.

Nevertheless, they have made strides in understanding the deep.
Following Rabone’s paper, a study this month found that, due to the impact of ocean warming on tropical tuna populations, some of the world’s most valuable fisheries may increasingly overlap with deep-sea mining operations in the CCZ.
We only know a fraction of what we need to know about these species to predict what the impacts will beMuriel Rabone, ecologist
There are also potential new discoveries.
Bacteria from corals and sponges on the ocean floor can beat superbugs and cancer, and scientists fear losing the vast potential of organisms that are not yet known.

Rabone says there is “massive potential in terms of not just the biodiversity but the value of the biodiversity”.
She adds: “What we might lose if we mine is an important part of the discussion.”

Cameron – who has discovered several new species on his own, self-funded expeditions – sees deep-sea mining as the lesser of two evils.
He notes that mining on land not only affects “highly diverse rainforest ecosystems” but also Indigenous populations.
“Society,” he says, “has a weird habit of blowing the wrong thing out of proportion.”
A nodule of the kind that has mining companies racing to exploit the seabed.
Photograph: Andrew Zuckerman/The Metals Company

His opinion echoes a recent editorial in the Economist, arguing that deep sea-mining is a less invasive way to get the minerals needed for a green economy.
Opponents counter that while Cameron is right about the impact of mining in rainforests, deep-sea mining is highly unlikely to reduce any mining on land.

“Saying it’s better to mine the seafloor than the rainforest is a straw-man argument,” says Rabone.
“In terms of what we don’t know, it’s not just the species that live in the habitat, it is the ecology, and [potential future] uses in terms of socioeconomic value.”

Nor is the deep sea a flat, homogeneous plain.
Recent topographical maps show it is punctuated by at least 14 undersea mountains, known as seamounts, between 200–500m in height.

”There is biology there,” says Dr Adrian Glover, a deep-sea biologist at the Natural History Museum and co-author of Rabone’s paper.
“If you look at macrofauna, the diversity is remarkably high.
Abyssal plains are high in diversity even if they are low in abundance.”

While we have “massively increased” our knowledge of the CCZ, a lot remains undescribed, he says.
“We don’t know their biology.
It’s hard to predict the extinction rate without knowing where things live.”

Scientists fear that noise pollution from mining equipment may affect larger marine life too.
Noise from mining equipment could radiate up to 500km(more than 300 miles), harming deep-diving marine mammals as well as ecosystems.

The latest research is published this week by a team of researchers from 13 institutions led by the UK’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC), which spent a decade examining data.
They reveal two distinct zones of deep-sea fauna.
Using autonomous underwater cameras, they found a surprising increase in diversity with depth, challenging a long-held belief that biodiversity is limited by harsher living conditions in deeper areas.

A sea cucumber discovered in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.
Photograph: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research

“Muddy abyssal seafloors were initially considered almost ‘marine deserts’,” says Dr Erik Simon-Lledó, a deep-sea ecologist at the NOC, because of “the extreme conditions for life there – a lack of food, high pressure, and extremely low temperature.
“But as deep exploration and technology progressed, these ecosystems keep unveiling a large biodiversity, comparable to that in shallow water ecosystems, only found on a much wider spatial spread.”

Deeper areas of the plain were dominated by soft anemones and sea cucumbers, they found, while the shallower area was full of soft corals, molluscs and brittle stars.
Any future mining regulations will have to take into account that the spread of animals across the area is “more complex than we thought”, says Simon-Lledó

Above all, scientists warn that new discoveries are constantly being made, which means that the true impact of mining has been understated, particularly given the millions of years it has taken the seabed to evolve into its current form.
“This is a habitat that has been stable for millennia,” says Rabone.
“We know there’s likely to be extinction on a vast timescale.”
Links :

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Antarctic sea ice levels dive in 'five-sigma event', as experts flag worsening consequences for planet

The extent of sea ice around Antarctica is falling off a cliff this winter, with Australian scientists now concerned it may not recover.
Ice levels have not returned to the Antarctic over winter — and experts are very concerned.

From ABC by Alexandra Alvaro
Antarctic sea ice has usually been able to recover in winter.
But this year, sea ice has not returned to expected levels during winter
What's next? Experts say if the sea ice trend continues, it will accelerate the warming of the planet

This winter has confirmed what scientists had feared — the sea ice around Antarctica is in sharp decline, with experts now concerned it may not recover.

Earlier this year, scientists observed an all-time low in the amount of sea ice around the icy continent, following all-time lows in 2016, 2017 and 2022.

Usually, the ice has been able to recover in winter, when Antarctica is reliably dark and cold.

But this year is different.
For the first time, the sea ice extent has been unable to substantially recover this winter, leaving scientists baffled.
'Five-sigma' event unfolding

Physical oceanographer Edward Doddridge has been communicating with scientists and the community about the drastic changes happening around Antarctica.

He said vast regions of the Antarctic coastline were ice free for the first time in the observational record.
"To say unprecedented isn't strong enough," Dr Doddridge said.
"For those of you who are interested in statistics, this is a five-sigma event.
So it's five standard deviations beyond the mean.
Which means that if nothing had changed, we'd expect to see a winter like this about once every 7.5 million years.
"It's gobsmacking."

Edward Doddridge says of the ice returning next winter: "We can hope.
I don't know that it will." (ABC News: Jordan Young)

Sea ice is important for a number of reasons.

First, it helps regulate Earth's temperature through something called ice-albedo feedback, where the ice reflects the Sun's heat back into space, helping to regulate the temperature of the planet.
"If there's less ice, then the sunlight that hits the ocean's surface is absorbed instead of being reflected out into space," Dr Doddridge said.
"That accelerates the warming in that area, and that warmth then gets carried around to the rest of the world."

One expert says a further change in the balance could trigger a tipping point, and that "we might end up in a new state".
(Supplied: Australian Antarctic Division)

Second, the annual cycle of freeze and melt drives global currents that transport nutrient-rich water into the rest of the ocean, feeding ecosystems.

The ice is also a habitat for animals such as penguins and seals, and is essential for smaller creatures such as krill, which feed on the algae underneath the ice during winter.

One scientist says if the sea ice downward trend continues, it will be "difficult to reverse the trajectory".(Supplied: Australian Antarctic Division)

Scientists are now scrambling to work out what is causing the dip.
Is it natural variability? Or is climate change responsible?

Dr Doddridge said it was more likely the latter.

"There are people saying it could be natural variability," he said.
"Absolutely we can't conclusively rule it out yet. But it's very unlikely."
"It is most definitely a window into the future.
"We know that this is what the world is going to look like as it warms.
"It may be that next winter it comes back. We can hope. I don't know that it will."

On top of that, scientists do not know where the change is coming from — the seas or the atmosphere.

Dr Doddridge believes it is due to changes in sea temperatures — but Petra Heil, a sea ice physicist from the Australian Antarctic Division, is of the opinion it is due to a combination of both changes in the atmosphere and warming seas.
"The whole system that we are looking at, we know it's strongly coupled," Dr Heil said.
"Any change in any of the components, even in a region far away or it might be close by in the region that you are studying, is coupled to the whole system.
"We know that there's a lot more energy at the moment in our weather systems, so they obviously can contribute extensively to moving the sea ice and also be bringing different thermodynamic regimes to the sea ice."

Sea ice physicist from the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Petra Heil.
(Australian Antarctic Program: Petra Heil)

But Dr Heil agreed with Dr Doddridge that the root cause most likely originated from human activity.

"The consensus statement at the moment would be that this is largely anthropogenic forces that have caused the ocean to warm, for the atmosphere to be highly disturbed and to affect the sea ice," she said.

Either way, she fears a further change in the balance could trigger a tipping point from where it's difficult to reverse the trajectory.

"We might end up in a new state," she said.
"That would be quite concerning to the sustainability of human conditions on Earth, I suspect.
"I think a lot of people have the time line too long out, saying this won't affect them.
I'm pretty convinced that this is something my generation will experience."
Links :

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Edward Allcard, sailor and adventurer

The explorer was the first person to single-handedly sail both directions across the Atlantic

From The Independant by Harrison Smith

Sailing alone aboard a 35-foot yacht, a wooden ketch named the Temptress, Edward Allcard crossed the Atlantic Ocean – travelling from Europe to New York and back again – using only the stars and a sextant, surviving on packaged water and meagre rations of canned food, cubes of bouillon and the occasional potato.

Allcard’s two-part voyage, which came to an end when he tied up at Plymouth, on 13 July, 1951, made him the first person to single-handedly sail both directions across the Atlantic.
He was pursued by sharks, nearly shipwrecked by a hurricane and became an international celebrity when he landed in Casablanca with a stowaway, a 23-year-old Azorean woman who had sought passage to England to become a poet.

Allcard in the cabin of Temptress, August 1949 
Yet in a life at sea that spanned more than seven decades, Allcard surpassed his Atlantic expedition with a solo journey around the world.
His slow-paced, 16-year voyage included a 12-month exploration of the treacherous waters off Patagonia, in Argentina, and – after taking time off to meet the woman who became his wife -– the birth of his second daughter.

​Allcard, a thick-bearded adventurer whom Boating magazine once described as “the dean of loners”, died on 28 July at a hospital near his home in Andorra, in the Pyrenees, where he eventually traded sailing for skiing.
The cause was complications arising from a broken leg.
He was 102, had sailed until he was 91, and continued writing memoirs of his seafaring life until shortly before his death, publishing Solo Around Cape Horn and Beyond in 2016.

Allcard was considered the last surviving member of what sailing historian John Rousmaniere has called the “the Ulysses generation,” a group of men and women who took to the sea – often alone – in the aftermath of the Second World War.
Sailors such as Allcard, his friend Peter Tangvald and the Canadian couple Miles and Beryl Smeeton “were genuine sea gypsies,” says John Kretschmer, a writer and sailor.
“But they were in search of something different from just beautiful or tropical things.
They were in search of profound individual experience, and willing to risk their life in pursuit of it.”

Allcard, who once described sailing as “practically a religion,” was six when he learned to sail, and 23 when his boat sank off the coast of Ireland, forcing him to swim to shore.
(As on later voyages, he had no life raft or emergency radio with which to call for help.) He completed his first major solo sailing trip, from Scotland to Norway, in 1939, and a decade later embarked on his trans-Atlantic expedition.
It took him 81 days to travel from Gibraltar to New York.

It was an astonishingly slow cruise by modern standards, but undertaken without the kind of automatic self-steering systems used by his spiritual descendants.
Allcard recalled the trip in a pair of popular memoirs, Single-Handed Passage (1950) and Temptress Returns (1952), which chronicled his tumultuous return journey, including a hurricane near the Azores and his subsequent discovery of the stowaway Otilia Frayão.

The woman, described by one newspaper as a “raven-haired Portuguese poetess,” had offered to help Allcard clean his boat when he landed in the Azores, and hid inside the hold just before the moment of departure.
He discovered her two days later, technically spoiling what was intended to be a single-person journey.

Edward Cecil Allcard was born in Walton-on-Thames, a London suburb, on 31 October, 1914.
His father was a stockbroker and collegiate rower, and a grandfather encouraged an early interest in sailing, eventually giving him his first boat.
“When I was young I liked long walks alone in the country, and with sailing you just take the house with you,” Allcard once told the Sunday Express.

After schooling at Eton, he worked as a naval architect in Scotland, designing air-sea rescue craft during the Second World War.
Poor vision kept him from serving in combat, he said, though it failed to keep him off the water.

Allcard’s solo journey around the world, a less-direct version of the trip that Joshua Slocum pioneered in the late 1890s, began with a race against Tangvald.
Allcard, aboard a 36-foot ketch he named the Sea Wanderer, lost the 2,800-mile race from the Canary Islands to Antigua by two days.
Tangvald, for his efforts, won an agreed-upon prize of $1.

Edward Allcard (left) and young Peter Tangvald in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
@ DR
When Tangvald died in a shipwreck in 1991, Allcard became the foster father to Tangvald’s 15-year-old son, Thomas.
The younger Tangvald was declared lost at sea in 2014.

Allcard’s circumnavigation was highlighted by a rare westbound trip around Cape Horn, through a region that the sailor and writer Charles Doane described as having “the worst weather in the world.” While rounding the Horn, Allcard later wrote, he faced “quite the roughest ride of my life,” a storm that led him to tie himself to the wheel.
“Without the lashing I would have been immediately catapulted overboard.
Blisters over two inches across formed on my backside; but we were winning.”
He eventually untied himself, he wrote, to take photos of killer whales that began following his boat.

​Allcard was at sea when he received a fan letter from Clare Thompson, an Englishwoman some 30 years his junior.
They eventually married in 1973, after Allcard finished his trip around the world, and settled down in a relatively room 69-foot trading vessel, the Johanne Regina, before moving to Andorra.
A previous marriage ended in divorce.
Additional survivors include a daughter from his first marriage, Dona Mackereth; a daughter from his second marriage, Kate Krabel; four grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

Allcard at times expressed wonder at the forces driving him to travel alone for so many years, largely without any kind of safety net.
In Temptress Returns, he recalled riding out the hurricane near the Azores when “one overtaking wave towered above me,” showing the silhouettes of three sharks, waiting for the kill: “These beasts swimming with such nonchalance and ease in their element beneath the crests, as safe in that weather as in a flat calm, made me think, ‘I don’t belong here.
Man was never meant to go to sea in this weather.
It is only his ingenuity which allows him to achieve the seemingly impossible and survive.’ Or was it really some atavistic urge?”

“Having largely divorced himself from Nature,” he continued, “it becomes a battle between him and her.”

Links :

Monday, August 7, 2023

I gave up my tech job in Seattle to live on a sailboat. I've fought off pirates at 3 a.m. and it was terrifying — but I'll never go back to my old life.

Brian Trautman lives on a 53-foot sailboat with his wife and their daughter. 
photo : Brian Trautman

From Business Insider by Brooke Morton
  • Brian Trautman has spent the past 14 years living on a 53-foot sailboat, sailing to 46 countries.
  • He quit his tech job and sold his house to embark on his journey, where he met his wife.
  • The couple fund their adventures by creating content about living on the boat.
This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed interview with Brian Trautman, a 47-year-old sailor and content creator who lives aboard a sailboat with his wife and daughter.
It has been edited for length and clarity.

I started working for Microsoft after graduating with a degree in electrical engineering in 2002.
I quit to start a software-development company with friends in Seattle.

During this time I stumbled upon a book about how to cross an ocean in your own boat.
That idea, though seemingly unattainable, stuck with me as an amazing thing to do.

Trautman has sailed through the Caribbean on the boat where he married his wife.
photo : Brian Trautman

One morning in the late 2000s I was stuck in traffic on my commute when it hit me that my favorite part of the day was staring out of this bus window.
It was the only time I wasn't consumed by the thoughts of customers and developers.

I immediately knew I didn't want that life.
I gave my business partners my year's notice in 2008 and started selling everything to buy a sailboat.

I had some experience sailing.
I'd owned a small boat that I took out on a lake many afternoons — but that wasn't much to prepare me for crossing an ocean.

Starting my lifelong sailing adventure

I bought SV Delos, a 53-foot Amel Super Maramu sailboat, for $390,000 in 2008.
I sold my house in Redmond to make a down payment and got a marine mortgage to cover the rest.
The boat was eight years old at the time, so it was cheaper than buying new.

I set off on my sailing adventure in August 2009 with enough money to last 18 months.
My initial plan was simply to make it to New Zealand.

The SV Delos.

I figured that by then I'd be mentally prepared to return to work in Seattle, sell my boat, and reenter my previous life.

But by the time we landed in New Zealand, I'd fallen in love with sailing.
When the initial money ran out, I took on engineering work on superyachts to refill the coffers.

Auckland is a big refit center for yachts based in the South Pacific, so it was a great place to make several hundred dollars a day working on engines and troubleshooting electrical problems.

We also took on crew members who paid a share of our expenses to be part of our next sail to Fiji.

Four months into my time in New Zealand, I met Karin, my future wife, who eventually joined me sailing full-time.
I've now traveled to 46 countries on the boat.

Karin, Trautman's wife, diving off the sailboat.

We work up to 4 hours a day creating content to finance our travels

We finance our travels by relying on crowdfunding and Patreon support and on our YouTube.
We have 832,000 subscribers.
We also sell SV Delos merch.

But some of the best times we've had on the boat were at the beginning when we had no money.

When we couldn't afford fuel, we had to sail everywhere, and that led to adventure.
We've had times when we traded magazines for lettuce and tomatoes, and we learned to make our own beer.

Trautman has sailed to 46 countries on the Delos.

Now our days are spent creating content for our YouTube channel, which we launched with regular content in 2012.
The channel wasn't profitable until 2015.
During that time we used savings to fund the journeys and keep us afloat financially while we filmed and edited content.

On any given day it's a mix of filming and giving notes to video editors.
I also do behind-the-scenes work like invoicing vendors and paying bills.

If you exclude boat maintenance, I work three to four hours a day, as does Karin.
We have plenty of time to spend afternoons enjoying the beach.

The Trautmans working aboard their sailboat.

We also now have a remote team of seven employees who help produce videos.
They also ship Delos merch.

What does it cost to keep the boat running?

We're paying $10,000 a year to insure the boat.
Fuel costs vary widely from year to year depending on how far we travel.
On average, fuel costs us $3,000 a year.

The living area inside the 53-foot sailboat.

Our monthly costs for food and living run about $3,500 to $4,000.
Generally, anchoring a boat is free.
If there's a big storm coming that requires us to lift the boat out of the water, it'll cost $1,200 to get it out and back in.

The bedroom and storage.

The boat's kitchen.
We do have some luxuries on board, like 2,000 watts of solar power and lithium batteries, a freezer that can store enough meat to last us four months, and stills to make our own moonshine.
We make our own fresh water and take hot showers.

The bathroom on the boat.

Starting a family onboard

The couple adjusted to life onboard with a baby.

Karin and I had been sailing for nine years together when we found out at the start of 2019 that Karin was pregnant.

Karin's from Sweden, where there's great free public healthcare.
We left the boat with my brother and his girlfriend, who continued to sail Delos across the Atlantic to Antigua.

Karin and Sierra Trautman.

Karin and I flew from Florida to Sweden for Sierra's birth in August 2019.
When she was 4 months old, all three of us flew back to Antigua to reboard Delos and sail the Caribbean.
We got married in Antigua that year.

Trautman's daughter has lived on the boat since she was 4 months old.

Sailing the world has highs and lows

One of my favorite memories on the boat was after we'd just sailed 3,000 miles in 19.5 days from Mexico to the island of Fatu Hiva, part of French Polynesia.
We were so excited just to be walking on dry land.

We met a local who gifted us bananas and grapefruits.
His generosity was so touching.
We then went swimming under a waterfall — it was a perfect day.

The SV Delos at sail.
Sailing can also be dangerous.
Our boat has been boarded illegally three times — in the Solomon Islands, western Papua New Guinea, and Madagascar — always at about 3 a.m.
It's terrifying when this happens, but we scream bloody murder and the thieves flee.

This happened in 2011, long before Sierra was born.
Karin happened to be away at school.
Before that, we never locked anything when we were off the boat, and we'd sleep with the doors open.
We've since been more careful, including instituting night watches with a spotlight when sailing in areas where we felt uncomfortable.

We keep machetes and fire extinguishers as weapons in the event of another emergency.
But so far, having that spotlight to signal that people are awake and vigilant has been enough to deter criminals.

The hardest part is acknowledging this is not a wise financial decision

A boat is a depreciating asset.
But with our YouTube channel, we've found a sustainable way to make money along the way.

For us, this choice has been well worth it.
This is our life now, and we plan to keep living on the water indefinitely.

The Trautmans.
Brian Trautman

To anyone who's considering taking on an adventure like ours, or any adventure whatsoever, I say: Go before you're ready.
You'll never be 100% prepared for any journey.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

The secret weapon that sank Russia’s warship

How did Ukraine’s virtually non-existent navy sink the Moskva, the most advanced Russian vessel in the Black Sea?
 Destroying the Moskva helped secure Ukraine’s coast from invasion 
Links :