WANDERING POLE

This dramatic movement of the North Pole is a significant event for almost everyone, never mind it’s impact on charts we sailors use.

Richard A. Lovett in San Francisco

for National Geographic News

December 24, 2009

Earth’s north magnetic pole is racing toward Russia at almost 40 miles (64 kilometers) a year due to magnetic changes in the planet’s core, new research says.

The core is too deep for scientists to directly detect its magnetic field. But researchers can infer the field’s movements by tracking how Earth’s magnetic field has been changing at the surface and in space.

Now, newly analyzed data suggest that there’s a region of rapidly changing magnetism on the core’s surface, possibly being created by a mysterious “plume” of magnetism arising from deeper in the core.

And it’s this region that could be pulling the magnetic pole away from its long-time location in northern Canada, said Arnaud Chulliat, a geophysicist at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in France.

Finding North

Magnetic north, which is the place where compass needles actually point, is near but not exactly in the same place as the geographic North Pole. Right now, magnetic north is close to Canada’s Ellesmere Island.

Navigators have used magnetic north for centuries to orient themselves when they’re far from recognizable landmarks.

Although global positioning systems have largely replaced such traditional techniques, many people still find compasses useful for getting around underwater and underground where GPS satellites can’t communicate.

The magnetic north pole had moved little from the time scientists first located it in 1831. Then in 1904, the pole began shifting northeastward at a steady pace of about 9 miles (15 kilometers) a year.

In 1989 it sped up again, and in 2007 scientists confirmed that the pole is now galloping toward Siberia at 34 to 37 miles (55 to 60 kilometers) a year.

A rapidly shifting magnetic pole means that magnetic-field maps need to be updated more often to allow compass users to make the crucial adjustment from magnetic north to true North.

Wandering Pole

Geologists think Earth has a magnetic field because the core is made up of a solid iron center surrounded by rapidly spinning liquid metal. This creates a “dynamo” that drives our magnetic field.

(Get more facts about Earth’s insides.)

Scientists had long suspected that, since the molten core is constantly moving, changes in its magnetism might be affecting the surface location of magnetic north.

Although the new research seems to back up this idea, Chulliat is not ready to say whether magnetic north will eventually cross into Russia.

“It’s too difficult to forecast,” Chulliat said.

Also, nobody knows when another change in the core might pop up elsewhere, sending magnetic north wandering in a new direction.

Chulliat presented his work this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.


RAW FAITH

I debated posting this story. This, for me is a boat that should never have been, regardless of the good intentions. Glad everyone is safe.

UPDATE: Maine-made tall ship, Raw Faith, sinks. Crew safe

Raw Faith, built to be an escape for children with disabilities, took on water off Nantucket, officials say.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

10:40 a.m.

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A mast of the 88-foot sailing vessel Raw Faith protrudes from the water as the boat sinks in approximately 6,000 feet of water about 166 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Mass., Wed., Dec. 8, 2010. The crew of the Kittery, Maine, Coast Guard Cutter Reliance remained on scene until the vessel sank. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Cutter Reliance crew.

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U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer Randall Rice escorts rescued mariners from a HH-60 Jay Hawk Rescue Helicopter at Air Station Cape Cod, Dec. 7, 2010. The mariners were rescued after the sailing vessel Raw Faith became disabled 100-miles

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The Maine-built sailing vessel Raw Faith, abandoned by its owner Tuesday after it began taking on water in heavy seas, sank this morning off Nantucket, Mass.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Connie Terrell said the 118-foot, three-masted ship went down at about 7:30 a.m. in approximately 6,000 feet of water.

“It’s not considered a hazard to navigation and there are no plans for salvage since it’s so far down,” Terrell said.

The Coast Guard Cutter Reliance remained on the scene through the night and left the area after Raw Faith sank, Terrell said.

Terrell said she was “not sure” of the whereabouts of ship owner George McKay and a crew member who were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter after abandoning ship Tuesday night.

1:00 a.m.

The captain and crew of the Maine-built sailing vessel Raw Faith were rescued Tuesday off Nantucket, Mass., after the ship started taking on water in rough seas.

Coast Guard spokesman Luke Clayton said Tuesday night that the 118-foot wooden, three-masted ship was unable to move under its own power.

Its captain, George McKay, and an unidentified male crew member had to jump off the ship into the ocean, where Randall Rice, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, loaded the men into a basket.

A Coast Guard helicopter raised the basket into its cockpit and both men were taken to the Coast Guard station on Cape Cod. They were evaluated for injuries and released, Clayton said.

A message left on McKay’s cell phone Tuesday night was not returned.

“The seas were pretty rough,” Clayton said. “I believe the ship was taking on water and became unstable. Bigger boats like this one tend to tip over or roll over when they’ve taken on a lot of water.”

Raw Faith was built and designed by McKay to look like a 16th-century English galleon. He planned one day to provide free sailing adventures for children who use wheelchairs and their families.

He was inspired by his daughter, who has Marfan syndrome, a rare hereditary disorder that requires her to use a wheelchair. In August 2003, Raw Faith was launched from the Down East fishing village of Addison.

In 2004, it spent several months in Rockland after being damaged by stormy seas. And in May 2006, Raw Faith lost all three masts in strong winds off Mount Desert Rock. The vessel was rescued by the Coast Guard.

Raw Faith came to Portland Harbor in October 2009. Phineas Sprague, who owns Portland Yacht Services, offered McKay a berth while the vessel underwent rudder repairs.

Sprague said McKay spent the winter in Portland before departing for Boston this summer.

Sprague said he has since lost touch with McKay, but heard that he may have been offering some type of pirate ship tour at a location near Boston Harbor.

“It’s too bad. There has never been anyone I’ve met who has worked harder at making something out of nothing,” Sprague said.

Clayton, the Coast Guard spokesman, said he did not know where Raw Faith was heading when McKay called for help.

The vessel, which does not have an engine, may have to be towed to shore, Clayton said.

McKay and his crew member had to jump off the ship because the Coast Guard helicopter could not safely lower its basket and avoid the ship’s masts or rigging.

Coast Guard vessels were expected to remain with the ship overnight to prevent any collision with passing vessels.

The incident remains under investigation. McKay could face fines. Clayton said the vessel was equipped with only one submersible suit, though two people were on board.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: dhoey@pressherald.com

IT’S THE JET STREAM

The movement of the Jet Stream to the south is responsible for the deep freeze we are experiencing here on the East Coast of the United States; and the record cold and snowfall covering most of Europe. Many of the areas were not prepared to deal with snow, never having faced the problem before. This snowfall was the worst since 1869 in the Loire River Valley.

Weather to date is the one thing over which humanity has no control. It effects everything we do, everything.  I worry that we are so desperate to exert control over everything in our lives that we may cause real problems in an attempt to control our environment

WIND POWER, STILL CONTROVERSIAL

wind power on the Elbe River

Somehow we are still a long way from solving this problem. I will confess that I am not well informed, but I embrace the concept of wind power. Everyone I have ever spoken to admits that wind power is not yet financially practical.

HRIS BEDFORD: Yes, there is a wind shadow. It can extend miles downwind
from a single large wind turbine and modeling shows the shadows extending
hundreds of miles downwind in the case of large wind farms. There is no such
thing as free energy. Taken collectively, all the world’s wind farms will
have an impact on the global climate in much the same way that burning
fossil fuels does. Other so-called Green Energy “solutions” – such as wave
and tidal power – also have environmental impacts. The only true green
“solution” is to reduce energy consumption.

* How capable are these structures of withstanding extreme wind speeds?

CHRIS BEDFORD: Wind turbines are designed to withstand extreme wind speeds.
Since they are often installed in locations known to have strong winds, this
is a standard requirement. In fact, most turbines shut down during strong
winds in order to protect the equipment from damage. However, like any
engineered structure, there are limits. There are most definitely cases of
turbines failing during storms which exceed design limits or due to control
system problems. Such failures are becoming less common as design,
manufacturing, installation and maintenance techniques improve.
Unfortunately, with the number of installations increasing all the time, the
news of failures will never go away in much the same way that airplanes
still crash from time to time.

* Is that why there are none existing or planned for the Caribbean?

CHRIS BEDFORD: There are wind farms in the Caribbean, however few large wind
energy plants. The main reason has to do with transmission to the users. It
is cheaper and more environmentally sound to build wind farms close to where
the energy is used. So a balance must be struck between building wind farms
where there is wind AND where there is infrastructure to get the power
produced to where it is needed. As is often the case, it comes down to
economics.

Hurricane Earl, waiting for the other shoe to drop

Earl is coming, The Stamford-Vineyard race start has been postponed until Saturday morning. A prudent decision, however how many opportunities does one have to sail in challenging conditions.  That said let’s hope Earl keeps his distance.

Another slightly random remark. I like Sailing Anarchy. They do an outstanding job of covering the sport of sailing. They amuse me as well. I do have a criticism however, The gratuitous use of foul language; for me totally unnecessary and mildly offensive. It is unfortunate that this has managed to get them into trouble (they are being sued by Dan Meyers)  I do not see that there is an upside for either party.

TRACKING EARL

TRACKING EARL
Hurricane Earl, the second major hurricane of 2010, began to menace the
eastern United States Tuesday, stirring up seas and promising a soggy and
potentially dangerous Labor Day weekend. To help affected U.S. residents
follow Earl’s progress is Sailing Weather Service (SWS), which recently
helped Ericsson 4 win the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race and BMW Oracle Racing win
the 33rd America’s Cup.

“We’ve opened a public page for folks to track Earl using data that is
normally available only to US Sailing Members,” said SWS Chief Meteorologist
Chris Bedford. “There are 1-hour time step images of our proprietary model
forecast along the U.S. east coast for the next 3-5 days. Some zoomed model
graphics are available over the Chesapeake and New England. Our plan is to
keep this open until Earl (and maybe Fiona) have passed. With a little luck
we won’t need it again, but to be honest, I’m not too optimistic about
that!”

The 2010 Hurricane Season in the Atlantic Ocean began on June 1, 2010, and
will end on November 30, 2010. The Sailing Weather Service Model Data can be
viewed here: http://www.sailwx.com/HURRICANE/

  The America’s cup update  It is looking more and more like the next America’s Cup will be in 72 foot catamarans, in Valencia.

WORLD METROLOGY DAY

Today is world metrology day, celebrating the standardization of measure. How important is that? I will add here that when lofting “Courageous” S&S chose to give us the offsets in centimeters. They felt it would produce a more accurate set of lines. Remember this is 1973, It was not obvious where we would get tape measures in centimeters; we had to special order them. To further complicate things I seem to recall that  the keel design was delivered to us in tenths of an inch. We had to order yet another set of tapes.

500 mb and the Gulf Stream

Today was the last day of class with Lee Chesneau, we discussed the 500 mb charts in weather. We had a guest speaker, Frank Bohlen who has spent most of his life studying the Gulf Stream. It is such a large feature and contains so much energy, it has a very real impact on weather.

  We only scratched the surface on these subjects, but it points us in the right direction to learn more

I have been stopping each time I return to newport crossing the bridge to check on the progress of the Ospreys that are nesting near the marsh. splendid creatures. I cannot wait to see the offspring.