Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Benchmark - New Year's Eve 2013

My new workbench.  72x24x32. In my cave where it was built.
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Monday, December 30, 2013

Blizzard Halts Icebreaker’s Bid To Rescue Stranded Ship Off Antarctica | gCaptain ⚓ Maritime & Offshore News

The MV Akademik Shokalskiy is pictured stranded in ice in Antarctica, December 29, 2013. An Antarctic blizzard has halted an Australian icebreaker's bid to reach a Russian ship trapped for a week with 74 people onboard, rescuers said on Monday. REUTERS/Andrew Peacock
Blizzard Halts Icebreaker’s Bid To Rescue Stranded Ship Off Antarctica | gCaptain ⚓ Maritime & Offshore News: "by Maggie Lu Yueyang

SYDNEY, Dec 30 (Reuters) – An Antarctic blizzard has halted an Australian icebreaker’s bid to reach a Russian ship trapped for a week with 74 people onboard, rescuers said on Monday.

The Aurora Australis had to return to open waters about 18 nautical miles from the stranded Akademik Shokalskiy because of poor visibility, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is co-ordinating the rescue, told Reuters.

The Australian vessel had reached as close as about 10 nautical miles from the trapped ship before turning back."

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Icebreaker fails to rescue Antarctic voyagers || Guardian

Antarctic rescue mission fails to reach trapped ship http://gu.com/p/3yfyn

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cave dwelling

Snowy Owls at Jones Beach // Carl Safina

Snowy Owls: Carl Safina:
1 of 10
Every few years an unusual abundance of Snowy Owls starts to show up across the United States in early winter. Probable cause: an unusually high lemming year in the Arctic results in unusually good owl chick survival, then as winter comes the birds drift south in their bid for less brutal weather and continued survival. This is one of those "invasion" years but it's more like an explosion this year! I usually see one snowy owl every few years. Today Pat and I saw one about every 10 minutes, at Jones Beach, Long Island. If you go, easiest thing is to look for birders with tripods and big lenses. Keep your distance and don't disturb the owls. They may be the most magical bird we get--and all birds are magical. - CS

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Woodies: classic motor lifeboats

This is a wood 36 foot former Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat, photographed recently by Will Van Dorp on Staten Island.
Government Boats 28 | tugster: a waterblog:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cold Comfort

Elvin's wharf, Salt Pond Road

mud flats, St. George River, Thomaston

Ice fishermen, the Creek, Thomaston

sunrise December 26, 2013
early morning

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

24 hours of happy - the last one to know

How far from the popular culture mainstream am I?  Only when I gets to the NY Times home page will I (maybe) notice.  That's how I found out about Gangnam Style.  So here's the Times capsule version of 24 hours of happy.  I'm posting it for those who are on other continents or in orbit. - gwc 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holding Ground - Peter Ralston

I love the image and the metaphor, as year's end approaches.  The mastery of Peter Ralston continues to hold my imagination.  We all have to hold our ground.  Until that unpredictable day when we no longer can.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Temple: goodbye student athletes

If its name ain't football or basketball, forget it. Whatever happened to mens sana in corpore sano?- gwc
Temple University is severing ties with that rich tradition. In a decision announced this month, less than 72 hours before final exams, university officials decided to cut the men’s and women’s crews and five other varsity sports, a move that affects more than 200 student-athletes. The savings for the university will be $3 million to $3.5 million a year, a small slice of the university’s $44 million athletics budget.Gone, starting July 1, will be the men’s gymnastics team, which has the highest grade point average of all teams on campus and the 2013 senior male athlete of the year. The program started in 1926. Gone also will be baseball and men’s track and field (indoor and outdoor), along with women’s softball.

Druid ruins in the Bronx at the winter solstice

click to enlarge

Bound is boatless man

This I know: she deserved better. She was created for better. She was repeatedly promised better. Boats are alive. They have souls. I know this—like a saint knows Jesus. She was supposed to be the star in my life’s journey, not a footnote.A man remembers the boat he built, sailed around the world with his wife, raised his daughter aboard, returns to where it lies in ruins.  All at sea

Mt. Rainier from Crystal Mountain

Jesse took this picture of Mt. Rainier yesterday from the top of Crystal Mountain in the Cascades.

100 Years Ago Congress Flooded Hetch Hetchy - the other Yosemite Valley

Painting of Hetch Hetchy Valley by Albert BierstadtOur "three gorges" were two - Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy.  100 years ago Congress passed and Woodrow Wilson signed the Raker Act.  It permitted the flooding of Hetch Hetchy to supply water for San Francisco.  That act of environmental destruction made possible today's San Francisco.  Should we have done it? Can we "undo" it?
Prof. Richard Frank (UC Davis Law) discusses the issues at Legal Planet:

"Contemporary accounts–including those of John Muir–attest to the stunning beauty of the Hetch Hetchy Valley. (Muir wrote: “Hetch Hetchy Valley is a grand landscape garden, one of Nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.”) In its natural state, Hetch Hetchy was considered an ecological twin of the world-renown Yosemite Valley that lies, relatively undisturbed, a few miles to the south.

San Francisco’s construction of the O’Shaughnessy Dam on the Tuolumne River flooded the Hetch Hetchy Valley under 300 feet of water, turning it into a municipal reservoir. Public access to this portion of Yosemite National Park has been limited for decades and, compared to its natural state, there’s not a lot see or enjoy there in any event. John Muir considered the destruction of the Hetch Hetchy Valley to be his biggest political failure, and a national tragedy. "

Frank goes on to discuss current debates about whether the dam should be dismantled and Hetch Hetchy restored.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The first Whitbread RTW race 1973-1974 Remastered

Thanks to the Volvo Ocean Race people for this remastering.  The next rendition will be a one-design in the new Volvo 65's.  Makes sense to me.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Poor old cod | TLS

Richard Shelton reviews The Mortal Sea by W. Jeffrey Bolster in the TLSAnother review of University of New Hampshire professor and mariner W. Jeffrey Bolster's award-winning  The Mortal Sea. - gwc

Poor old cod | TLS:

by Richard Shelton

W. Jeffrey Bolster 
Fishing the Atlantic in the age of sail 
378pp. Harvard University Press. £22.95 (US $29.95).
978 0 674 04765 5

At the time of writing, scientists agree that the numbers of many of the commercially exploited fish and shellfish species in the North Atlantic are at record low levels. Many scientists also point to deleterious structural changes in the ecosystems which support them, changes driven by a combination of excessive fishing effort, high levels of discarding, damage to the seabed and the intensive cultivation of carnivorous fishes such as the Atlantic salmon. So far, attempts at scientifically based regulation have been dogged by the perceived short-term costs of the necessary measures and concerns about the allocation of fishing rights among nations. The realization that intensive fishing has effects that extend far beyond the species targeted has caused some scientists to ask whether the effects of fishing are best understood not in isolation, but within the wider study of predator–prey relations. It is a branch of biological science in which understanding the natural history of the predator is as important as that of its prey. It has long been known that the rate at which a predator can secure sufficient surplus energy to grow to maturity and sustain its reproduction is ultimately linked to the abundance of its prey. Through this “feedback loop”, the prey controls the population size of the predator, the fineness of the control being linked to the complexity of the food web of which both are a part and in association with which both have evolved. Bolster’s fishery-dependent Mi’kmaks and Malacites were subject to just such control through energy acquisition, but once serious commercial fishing by Europeans began, such control as there was became dependent on the rate at which money could be acquired. The greatly increased fishing effort that ensued was exerted not by men alone but by fishing vessels, voracious alien predators even in the days of sail, which, although developing in rapacity through technical innovation, had not evolved alongside their prey.
The unit value of a fishery resource is positively linked, like any other good, to its relative scarcity rather than to its abundance. It follows that, in a laissez-faire culture, it can make short- and even medium-term economic sense to continue to build new and more powerful vessels even when their prey populations are reduced. Ultimately, of course, the prey reasserts its control because, as has happened to the cod fishers of the North West Atlantic, no fleet can make money when its target stocks have collapsed. However, such is the complexity of marine ecosystems that the recovery of severely depleted cod populations is taking decades longer than simple theory would suggest. The Mortal Sea is a beautifully written chronicle of what lay before this latest catastrophe and much earlier dire outcomes of poorly regulated fishing. As an authoritatively written natural history of the developing fishing communities of the North West Atlantic, it makes an important contribution to fishery science as well as to social history.

Richard Shelton is Chairman of the Buckland Foundation and a Research Fellow at the Scottish Fisheries Museum. His most recent book is To Sea and Back: The heroic life of the Atlantic salmon, which appeared in 2009.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Waiting for ice and a cold breeze

Ah for the good old days. - gwc

Waiting for ice and a winter breeze - NY Times
by Samantha Storey
A century ago, when cold winters could be relied upon, the sport was particularly popular, especially on the Hudson River. The Times first reported about ice yachting in 1874, referring to new sailing regulations that made “the wild sport perfectly safe.” Of course, a couple of years later, it unsurprisingly reported that two ice yachts had collided, with one destroyed but no one hurt.       

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Stanley Paris - 76 y.o. round the world attempt

I get interested in competitive round the world races - like the Volvo (formerly Whitbread), and Vendee Globe (single-handed, no outside assistance, non-stop).  But the oldest, the youngest, etc. don't catch my eye.  But Stanley Paris (who hopes to be the oldest) caught my eye.  His boat Kiwi Spirit was built at Lyman Morse, just across the river from Jeff's Marine, Thomaston, Maine where my power boat is maintained.
Paris - an endurance athlete (Ironman, etc.) can be followed at his blog.  Right now he is nearing Bermuda where the attempt (Bermuda - Bermuda) will start.Home

Star Sailors League Championships

The Olympics have ditched the Star in favor of extreme sailing events.  I don't object to kite sailors, and windsurfers, and multi-hulls.  But that's not a reason to ditch the Star - a great 100 year old keel boat one-design with the best sailors in the world - skippers like Paul Cayard.  This is sailing - at the Star Sailors League championship in the Bahamas this week. Or follow them on their Facebook page. - gwc
Paul Cayard - Whitbread champion, AC veteran - and Star sailing star

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

2014 winter shrimp season canceled

We won't be waiting for the Margaret E to come in, low in the stern, heavy with shrimp on a snowy winter evening.  Not this year - and perhaps not for several years to come.  We will be waiting to see if the shrimp reproduce in the Gulf of Maine, or move to different waters. - gwc
ASMFC Northern Shrimp Section Establishes Moratorium for 2014 Fishing Season 
Portland, ME – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section approved a moratorium for the 2014 northern shrimp fishing season. The results of the 2013 Assessment Report for Gulf of Maine Northern Shrimp indicate the northern shrimp stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. 
Northern shrimp abundance in the western Gulf of Maine has declined steadily since 2006. Current biomass (500 mt) is the lowest value in recent history, estimated at 5.2% for the biomass reference period (1985-1994), and well below the biomass threshold of 9,000 mt and the biomass limit of 6,000 mt.   Additionally, there has been recruitment failure for the past three years. The Northern Shrimp Technical Committee considers the stock to have collapsed with little prospect of recovery in the near future. 

“Given the overwhelming evidence of recruitment failure and stock collapse, and continuing unfavorable environmental conditions, the Section felt it was necessary to close the 2014 fishery to protect the remaining spawning biomass and allow as much hatch to take place as possible,” stated Northern Shrimp Section Chair Terry Stockwell of Maine. “When environmental conditions are poor, the ability of the stock to withstand fishing pressure is reduced. With the stock at all time lows and only failed year classes to come, there is even greater loss of resilience for this stock.” 

The 2013 season, which was classified as a “do no harm” fishery, still resulted in a fishing mortality rate (0.53) above the target (0.38). This was despite the fact that only 49% of the total allowable catch was harvested (307 mt of 625 mt). Since the fishery targets 4- and 5- year old females, the 2013 fishery targeted the 2008 and 2009 year classes. Projecting this forward, the 2014 fishery would fish on the 2009 and 2010 year classes, with the 2010 year class representing the first year of failed recruitment in the fishery. The Section noted that due to this recruitment failure, it is possible that the moratorium could extend beyond one year. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A North Atlantic Mystery: Case of the Missing Whales by Rebecca Kessler: Yale Environment 360

A North Atlantic Mystery: Case of the Missing Whales by Rebecca Kessler: Yale Environment 360:

Endangered North Atlantic right whales are disappearing from customary feeding grounds off the U.S. and Canadian coasts and appearing in large numbers in other locations, leaving scientists to wonder if shifts in climate may be behind the changes.

by rebecca kessler

Every summer and fall, endangered North Atlantic right whales congregate in the Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to gorge on zooplankton. Researchers have documented the annual feast since 1980, and well over 100 whales typically attend, a significant portion of the entire species. Only this year, they didn't. Just a dozen right whales trickled in — 
Breaching North Atlantic Right Whale
New England Aquarium
Right whales were not found in their usual numbers this summer in the Bay of Fundy.
a record low in the New England Aquarium's 34-year-old monitoring program. And that comes on the heels of two other low-turnout years, 2010 and 2012. 

Numbers of the critically endangered marine mammal have been ticking up in recent years just past 500 individuals, so no one thinks the low turnout in the Bay of Fundy augurs a decline in the species as a whole. The right whales must have gone elsewhere. But where? And more importantly, why? 

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Thanksgiving in Maine

Back River
Elwyns wharf, Salt Pond Road

Elwyn's traps

More on "The Mortal Sea - Environment, Law, and History

Another review of Jeffrey Bolster's The Mortal Sea - which restructures the ecological history of the north Atlantic in a sophisticated and careful analysis of the ideological and material matrix that led to the disastrous state of our ocean fishery. - GWC
More on "The Mortal Sea - Environment, Law, and History:

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