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Scratched Again.

June 20, 2012

Day two of departure and have not departed.

Woke to find that NOAA predicted 30 to 40 knot NE winds for all Hawaiian waters. Not sure I believed that. The weather buoys north of here only showed to 25 knots, but the very low sky obscuring the mountains and reaching dark, witchy fingers to the water top convinced me otherwise.  The day consisted of rain and prolonged periods of zero visibility. I sat under the hood most of the morning pondering possibilities and threw in the towel at noon.

Having made the decision, I took the day off. After lunch I napped, read from Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia, repaired my foul weather gear, shampooed my hair and beard in a bucket of salt water (we’re on sea rations now), and watched the day from the cabin.

Winds in Hanalei Bay were light.  Rain came in squalls, sometimes heavy. When cloud cleared, six separate waterfalls on Waialeale could be seen with the naked eye, tumbling white streams churning their thousands of feet to the valley .  The main fall, the one that runs most every day, gushed thick and white and bullish, like an elder river in fury at finding itself suddenly, inexplicably without bottom.

“You’re such a tease,” said the wife. “How am I supposed to get you home if you don’t ever leave?  There’s no magic carpet, you know.”

I know. Each day of delay gets me no where.  But winds should turn east tomorrow.  Tomorrow…

Also received debris observation instructions from the University of Hawaii.  I mentioned in most recent post that cruisers passing north through the Japanese tsunami debris field are being asked to report what they see.  Am appending below the UoH instructions as some readers may find them as interesting as I do.


June 18, 2012


Thanks for your help in collecting data on tsunami debris in the North Pacific.

Probably Jim on THIS BOAT has mentioned to you we are trying to collect as many reports as possible since there are almost no direct observations of debris and tsunami debris in particular. Your planned route would take you directly across our projected field of the tsunami debris.  If Jim has not given you our instructional pamphlet, the information summarized below:

1) Date (preferably GMT) of each debris sighting.

2) Lat/Long coordinates of sighting.

3) Description of debris.

4) A brief statement regarding the weather and sea conditions.

For the description of the debris please note the type of the debris, e.g. household type of objects, or fishing gear, shapes, colors, estimate as to the bio-fouling, estimate of what percentage of the object is submerged.  Also it would be appreciated if you can spot any markings on the debris which could help identify its origin. Equally important are observations of no debris. If you happen not to see any debris in the area where it should be anticipated, please note that too. Please, if possible take photographs and once on land and fast internet email is available, send them to us.  While at sea only short email messages are possible, which still will be wonderful.

As to the collectioh of sea water samples, it is better to have fewer in number of a larger volume. As the radioactive substance are of extremely low concentrations it takes a much larger larger volume of water for them to be detected accurately. Three or four gallons is about the right size per sample; please if you could collect 2 – 3 samples each of a three or four gallon volume and note the time and lat/long. The best location to start collecting would be once you cross the 42 deg. N latitude.  Once on land we can arrange the shipping here.

If you happen to collect some unusual debris that would be fantastic; however, only if safe and convenient for you to do so.

Regarding to the map on your webpage it is based on our older model which takes into account only the currents. It assumes that debris are carried by currents only and that there is no direct effect of surface wind. However, as you can imagine lighter types of debris are floating on the water and exposed to the force of wind. That allows them to move faster and some have already reached the West US Coast (e.g. derelict fishing ship, large floating dock).  Just recently we have included the effect of the wind into consideration and the schematic map is on our leaflet.

Just in case you do not have it, based on our computer modelling the heavy debris are most likely along 40 deg.N between 170E and 150W, the light type of debris is east of 140W and stretched along the West Coast from Oregon to Alaska coastlines, as displayed in the attached map.

In the map, contours of various colors indicate the most likely location of tsunami debris with the effect of wind at  0, 1 , 2 , 3 and 4 % . In other words the speed of floating debris is ocean currents + 0, 1, 2, 3 , and 4 % of the actual wind.  The percentages are based on various observation of actual objects floating in the water done in the past.

From the map it follows that the lighter types of floating debris are already reaching the West US Coast, and the heavy debris are trailing behind. The large squares denote the center of the debris mass. If the large squares are connected by a line that would indicate the most likely path of the tsunami debris ranging from heavy to light.  The red line along the West Coast is the area most likely affected by the tsunami debris.  However, the actual impact on the coast line will depend on locations, as some places are more prone to receive marine debris than others.

Regarding the sea water sampling  the radioactive isotopes from Fukushima power plant would closely follow the water currents, which would correspond to our model calculations for windage 0 %, that is the red contours. That would be the best place to collect samples, that is once you cross 42 degrees N.  The exact locations are not important as long as you record time and lat/long.   Probably the best is to collect your one 4 gallon jug at one location (or two jugs if you will have enough empty ones), and a few samples as you transect the area outlined roughly by the red 0% windage contour.

Randall, wishing you safe and pleasant voyage.  We all here at IPRC will be happy to receive your emails and reports, as well as follow your progress on your blog page.

Thanks !

Jan Hafner (IPRC/SOEST U. of Hawaii) with Nikolai Maximenko and Gisela Speidel

  1. June 20, 2012 8:20 am

    Dear Randall
    Hope you get to read this before you actually take off, so you can bring our fair wind wishes with you across the sea.

    We are back in Norway for June and July, earning some hard cash before returning to Bika in Baja. Henrik paints houses and works on his writing (new novel being published this fall!), while I am back in my old job as an environmental engineer, working in the waste industry. Meaning I am a waste nerd galore, and VERY interested in the project UoH have, engaging cruisers for marine tsunami debris samples. Thanks for adding the info below your text, if you have any other info about it I’d love to read it.

    Safe passage, buddy.
    Read only good literature enroute 🙂
    Nina and Henrik, Bika

  2. Unintended permalink
    June 20, 2012 3:11 pm

    Congratulations on your new employment as a debris spotter!

  3. June 20, 2012 4:21 pm

    Drat. Wishing you balmy weather and gentle winds tomorrow so you can finally hit the road, er, high seas!

  4. Lawrence Killingsworth permalink
    June 20, 2012 5:21 pm

    I feel your pain, Randall. Our voyage from Charleston to Boston on Liberty Clipper was delayed, first, by Tropical Storm Alberto and right afterwards by Tropical Storm Beryl, which banged up and down the South Carolina coast for days and days. The ship was 6 days late leaving Charleston, but without me. By that time, I had to be back at my hospital duties.
    So, wishing you better luck with the WX than I had.

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