FYI: October 2004

FYI — October 2004
By Brad Dunn
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Monster Waves, Things We Like, and more
• Part 2: A Word With... Mark Buhler, and more

 Related Resources
• News/FYI Index

Monster Waves
Mariners have passed down legends of 100-foot waves rising up out of nowhere and destroying boats on the open ocean since the days of Homer. With little hard evidence behind them, however, most of these tales are dismissed as embellishments or flat-out lies. But science now has proof positive that freak, monster waves of biblical proportions strike far more often than statistical models ever predicted.

In July the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the stunning results of its MaxWave project, in which satellites randomly shot 30,000 pictures of the ocean over three weeks. In that period alone, scientists discovered more than ten rogue waves around the world that reached heights of more than 80 feet—tall enough to crush ocean liners and supertankers.

“Two large ships sink every week on average, but the cause is never studied to the same detail as an air crash. It simply gets put down to ‘bad weather,’” says senior scientist Wolfgang Rosenthal. This ground-breaking research shows that monster waves exist “in higher numbers than anyone expected,” he explains.

Coincidentally, enormous waves crashed into two cruise ships in the South Atlantic while the program was underway. The Bremen and the Caledonian Star ran into walls of water more than 100 feet high. The bridge windows on both ships were smashed; the Bremen was left drifting without power for two hours. Fortunately, no one was killed on either boat.

The incidents underscore the need for gathering more data about oceanic waves. To help captains prepare for such calamity in the future, the ESA plans to expand its research to determine how and when these freak waves rise out of ocean eddies, currents, and weather fronts. “The next step is to analyze if [rogue waves] can be forecast,” Rosenthal says.

But if the accuracy of most weather reports is any indicator, predicting when and where monster waves will strike will be no easier than forecasting a summer shower.

Billions of dollars granted to the U.S. Coast Guard in August to expand security operations at all major seaports, which includes the hiring of 8,500 additional active-duty personnel.

Things We Like
Finally, navigational charts you can grab as quickly as a cold drink. PMY editor-in-chief Richard Thiel discovered this clever design feature while testing the new Sealine T60. Although retrieving charts usually means leaving the helm and crouching over to access some arcane bottom drawer, on this cruiser it’s easier than ever. What looks like a drinkholder without a bottom is actually a convenient slot at the helm, the perfect place to stash whatever charts you need.

October Calendar
Sept. 30-Oct. 1. The Boston International In-Water Boat Show in Boston, Massachusetts. (978) 777-4439.
Oct. 14-17. The United States Powerboat Show in Annapolis, Maryland. (410) 268-8828.
Oct. 28 - Nov. 1. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (800) 940-7642.

Next page > A Word With...Mark Buhler, and more > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the September 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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