MT Pula in winter heavy weather Northwest Pacific Coast.

This 12 minute video is of the 600-foot product tanker Pula.  Built in 2006.  She is fully loaded on a winter voyage from the Cherry Point refinery in Washington State-bound for Guatemala. The storm lasted 4 days and resulted in a split in the bow. Fortunately, the next bulkhead held. Repairs were made in California before completing the voyage.

What is an ATB?

An articulated tug and barge unit joins a tug and barge together with a “knuckle joint”. A large contraption of big moving steel parts to move by wave action and controlled by powerfull hydraulic rams. It is not a new breed of ship. It is just another means of using a Tug to move a barge. Another a is ITB, (intigrated) which uses cables to do the job. More traditional means are lashing along side and most common, towing astern.

Not lost after all

More details are surfacing that bring more questions than answers. Turns out they were not lost at all. Just did not have the skills required to finish the voyage. This latest report shows they had a working GPS. In fact there were more electronic aids than on many offshore boats. An antenna malfunction was blamed for not being able to use any them. Huh, the three different transmitter systems would each have its own antenna. Part of having a “Ham” radio is having passed an examination on usage. The mast was stll standing. Photos show someone at spreader height so a jury rig could have been deployed.

The story headline should have been incompetent sailors fail in attempt to cross an ocean. This is not a new story and anyone who has spent time ocean voyaging will have at least one story to tell. Mine is of a California couple with a 13 year old son who dragged anchor in every port. Got lost in the tuamotu’s found their way out but lost the boat on Beverage reef . They then spent 54 days in a liferaft towing a dingy and a sailboard. Fetched up on an atoll near Fiji. They also lived to tell the tail.

Lost at sea

Today’s news has a story of two women sailors and two dogs lost at sea for five months. Mostly it deals with the rescue by the US Navy thousand of miles in the opposite direction (off Japan) from the stated destination (Tahiti). Wihout more information it is the “lost” part that bothers me. GPS, the global positioning system, has made it simple and skill less as a navigator to cross an ocean. If that is your choice it would be prudent to have a couple of spare stand alone units and a carton of batteries stored away in a waterproof box. Even a small jury rigged sail would have given some control over direction.

There has always been risk in crossing oceans in small boats. The skill is to mitigate them. The assumption has to be no one is going to rescue you. Plan for losing your mast or power or both. Oh yea, and in the 21st century satellite based emergency locators have world wide coverage and are registered with who you are and what you are doing. I really liked the part where losing a cellphone over the side first day out was a contributing factor.

More details are surfacing that bring more questions than answers


An interesting piece on hurricane velocity

Note that a category 5 at minimum is twice the force of a category 3 at minimum. A category 3 at minimum is 2.2 times a category 1 at minimum. Since Irma’s velocity squared at its 185 mph maximum of 3.42 is twice the category 4 value of 1.69, it would have achieved Category 6, if their was one.

A Hurricane story

Back in the South Pacific cyclone (hurricane) season of 1982-83 we were were avoiding the season by spending a extended time in Tahiti aboard our home, an Offshore Sailboat. Life was splendid. We were tied stern to the quay in downtown Papeete.

One fine morning a young official from the Port Captains office came by very agitated shouting “Big Storm Coming”. Little did we know that this was the start of a eventful few months.

We had 5 systems threaten us and 2 hits at full hurricane force. Both were spent at anchor. The first in Papeete harbour struck with the wind breaking from over the mountain peak, going from flat calm to in excess of hurricane force in mere moments. I watched in awe as huge sheets of corrugated steel panels flew through the air as they were ripped from the power station. They were flipping like leaves in a breeze. We weathered it gaining a new respect for the ferocity of nature. The second storm came closer, lasted longer and was much later in the season. The three in between gave us ample time to perfect what came to be known as the “death watch”. That extended time from first detection to will it get us or not. Our final encounter occurred in Cooks bay on the island of Moorea 12 miles from Tahiti. It was a direct hit at category 3. Thirteen hours of sheer terror. I had anchored in a small cove with a sloping sand beach between us and the coral reef beyond. The promatory of land was home to the beach bar of the adjoining luxury resort. To prepare, two 40 pound anchors each on 150 feet of chain attached to 90 pounds of lead cannonballs with another 300 foot single nylon rope leading to the boat. All this gear was to keep the anchor in the sand and the line from breaking (the physics of catenary). If it did break we would end up on that nicely sloped beach with a bar nearby. Within the first half hour the bar had blown away! You could not stand against the wind. Seeing or breathing required a mask and snorkle. The 3/4″ anchor line was stretched to the size of your little finger. I spent most of my time belly down on the foredeck easing out the line during a luĺl to keep it from cheafing through at the bow of the boat. Our anchors held. We returned to Tahiti where we were granted a six month extension on our visas to help in the repair of the 26 sailboats that blew ashore.

We later learned that getting these storms at all was because of an un-forecast extreem “El Nino” event.

Now back to Twitter to continue monitoring the 2017 season where Jose is starting a loop and maybe get us. Ah the “death watch”.