Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rogue Giants at Sea

Register for the New York Times web site and you can click and read a very interesting article published yesterday concerning "rouge waves." As anyone who has been offshore recognizes, rougue waves are amongst the many hazards that mariners have endured for centuries. As the article points out, sailors and seamen who lived to tell the tale of a giant wave were often met with a healthy degree of skepticism when safely regaling their audience at the local marina watering hole.

But (capital "s") Science has now confirmed what we all suspected..."rougue" waves are not quite as rougue as you might like to think. In fact, they can be tracked and measured and even, holy shit, predicted (eventually). We have the technology! Or will in a decade.

Truly, encountering a 90 foot wave on the 3:00 AM watch is nothing to make light of. So take a few minutes to read William Broad's very well written and thoroughly researched article. It won't necessarily comfort you, but those of us who choose to sail offshore do so voluntarily...and with a certain resignation to the fact that we may be squashed like a bug. It's part of what makes it fun, after all.

“I never met, and hope I never will meet, such a monster,” said Wolfgang Rosenthal, a German scientist who helped the European Space Agency pioneer the study of rogue waves by radar satellite. “They are more frequent than we expected.”

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