Coming soon to stretch of horizon near you. The U.S. Navy has just announced that it has successfully launched an aerial surveillance drone from a submerged submarine. The way it works is this: a) the drone is inserted inside a "Sea Robin" launch vehicle, which in turn is inserted into a Tomahawk missile canister; b) the Tomahawk canister is placed inside a torpedo tube and fired off; c) once outside the sub, the Sea Robin is released from the Tomahawk canister and bobs to the surface, where it looks like a common spar buoy; and finally d) the aerial drone (known as an Experimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System, or XFC UAS, in Navy-speak) shoots off into the air from the floating Sea Robin (as seen in the photo above).
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Yowza! You don't see something like this every day. This was shot in May, when a team of divers went down 30 meters to a sunken oil-rig service tug that capsized off the coast of Nigeria. The mission was to recover bodies, but it turned out one body wasn't dead yet. The ship's cook, Harrison Okene, who had gone to the head and was wearing only his boxer shorts when his world turned upside down, survived three days in an air bubble and found some Coca-Cola to drink to keep himself alive. Harrison heard the divers when they came into the tug and grabbed one, scaring the bejesus out of him. The close encounter starts at about 5:30.
I'm not sure what to make of this, but it sure is fun to look at. Click through to this Ocean Surface Currents Map website, and you'll see this image is actually animated. It just covers areas around the United States, but still gives you a very good idea of just how dynamic the ocean really is.
Off the East and Gulf Coasts anyway. What most surprised me is how little current action there is off the West Coast.
My last post about All is Lost, perhaps the worst sailing movie ever made, has garnered so much attention, I thought I better point to what I consider to be a most excellent sailing movie. True, Hold Fast, a documentary released in 2007, is not fiction, but it could be. It tells the story of a skinny white guy with dreads named Mike (aka Moxie Marlinspike) who cruises from Florida to the Dominican Republic with an all-girl crew of post-punk anarchists in a decrepit Pearson 30.
Finally got a chance to see this over the weekend, so now I can throw in my two cents. Problem is if you're a sailor, you spend the whole film scratching your head, wondering what the hell is going on. Just how much did this annoy me? O, let me count the ways:
We all know how this goes: the very worst thing you can have on a boat--worse than women, bananas, or priests even--is a schedule. Yet most of us sail to a schedule, for various reasons, and sometimes suffer as a result. This fall has been particularly interesting, as the usual gamut of cruising rallies here in the U.S. and shorthanded ocean races over in Europe have sought to evade the clutches of the coming winter.
Ever since the days of Bernard Moitessier, it has been a tired cliche that French liveaboard cruisers are dumpster-diving freeloaders who have no respect for authority and believe the world owes them a living. I have met many French cruisers in my day, some of whom have poked fun at this cliche, but I've never met any who actually lived up to it. But then I've never met Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann, who have been living aboard their red steel ketch Primadonna in Oriental, North Carolina, for over a year now, though I have been reading about them on the local community website.
I stopped at Oriental years ago on a trip down the ICW and found it to be one of the most cruiser-friendly towns in all of North America. We're talking hospitality with a capital H. Now, perversely, it seems the town is being punished for its generous attitude.
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