Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ahoy! Sailors wanted

Ahoy! Sailors wanted


The Whitsunday Sailing Club needs some help to run races this year starting off this weekend, so it is a great time to get out on the water and see what sailing is all about.

A variety of races will tempt and test sailors this weekend with a longer race around a few of the islands on Saturday. On Sunday two races on Pioneer Bay in front of Airlie will decide the Home Hardware series with the usual rum skylarking, re-racing and hind-casting at the club afterwards.

If you would like to try something different and get out on the water, give Whitsunday Sailing Club Sailing Development Officer Tim Parker a call and check out the club on Friday night where there will be a briefing at 7 pm. You never know what might happen.


Sailing Gold


Australia's Olympic and Paralympic sailors will be given more support to aim for gold and chart a course to success with the upgrade of the National Training Centre at Middle Harbour Yacht Club.

The $1.3 million redevelopment funded by a Federal Government grant will improve training facilities for our sailors and fully integrate the Olympic and Paralympic programs.

"Our sailors achieved outstanding results at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games and this redevelopment will ensure they remain on course to win gold in Rio and pursue continued success on the water," Senator Lundy said at the launch.

 "The team's outstanding achievements at the London Games were a direct result of the hard work and determination of our athletes, coaches and support staff. But we know that there's still room to give our sailors a boost on the water and ensure smooth sailing to Rio in 2016.

Phase two will include a large rigging deck space and crane access to provide disability and wheelchair access allowing for the Olympic and Paralympic athletes and coaches to fully integrate.

Improvements will also enable the yacht club to run community Sailability disabled sailing programs, expand its youth dinghy training and Learn to Sail programs.


Endurance success


After a harrowing three day climb across South Georgia's mountainous interior, expedition leader Tim Jarvis and mountaineer, Royal Marine Barry Gray were exhausted, severely weather beaten but elated to reach the old whaling station at Stromness on February 10 where Shackleton and his men raised the alarm that the crew of the Endurance needed rescue, almost 100 years ago.  

Their arrival marks the achievement of "the double" for the intrepid crew of Shackleton Epic, the ocean crossing 800 nautical miles from Elephant Island to South Georgia and the mountain climb across South Georgia which Shackleton completed in 1916.

In late January the 'Shackleton Epic Expedition' shoved off from Elephant Island in the lifeboat Alexandra Shackleton, in an attempt to re-enact the incredible 1916 voyage of Ernest Shackleton and his six man crew in a decked-over lifeboat, across 800 miles of the Southern Ocean to South Georgia Island. 

During the expedition, the team have braved Southern Ocean swells in excess of eight metres, gales packing 50-knot winds, sleep deprivation, seasickness, dehydration and hunger, being constantly wet and cold in the Antarctic's freezing temperatures and having no room to move or stretch out while cramped aboard their 22.5' lifeboat.

"These early explorers were iron men in wooden boats; I hope we've been able to emulate some of what they achieved. There's no doubt in my mind that everyone has a Shackleton 'double journey' in them and I hope we've inspired a few people to find theirs," Jarvis said.


Marine radio change


With 58 per cent of VHF marine radio owners unaware that a radio operator's certificate is mandatory, it would appear that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been unsuccessful in properly informing the community of radio operator certification requirements to date.

It is intended to implement an Australian Waters Qualification (AWQ) for recreational boaters operating their radios within Australian Territorial Waters.     

The introduction of the AWQ represents the first significant change to the Radiocommunications (Maritime Ship Station - 27MHz and VHF) Class Licence since it was introduced in 2001 that removed the requirement to register VHF ship stations on recreational boats.

It will be interesting for users of marine radio to follow progress. The VHF AWQ will not be recognised overseas where hiring a boat especially in Europe will still require the full qualification.


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Reef suffers from cheap oil


Reef suffers from cheap oil


Ship sourced garbage, marine debris, oil, sludge, sewage, toxic runoff, and plastic, fishing ghost nets, ship groundings and natural cyclonic events.


These all contribute to a toxic brew that presents a serious downside to continued life of the world's largest living thing; our Great Barrier Reef.


While we can't do much about cyclones, tackling the others on the list could just mean enforcing current laws. Oh, hang on; that hasn't worked. Even thought it has been illegal to dump plastic at sea for some considerable time. Ocean dumping is controlled by international law, The London Convention (1972) and MARPOL 73/78 – a convention designed to minimize pollution of the seas, including dumping garbage and plastic, oil and exhaust pollution.


Not to mention Nurdles. Also known as "mermaids' tears", Nurdles are broken down plastic pellets, typically under five millimetres in diameter, that are a major component of marine debris.


One change looming on the horizon is a switch to gas ships. Two new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered container ships are to be built in San Diego USA and a contract is signed to convert two existing roll-on/roll-off ships to LNG fuel.


These ships will be the largest ships in the world powered primarily by LNG and raise the question – is LNG the fuel of the future for shipping? Would gas ships be cleaner and impact the environment and our Reef less? Consider that with the amount of coastal development along the Queensland coast, shipping will vastly increase.


For roughly the past hundred years, since shifting over from coal, most ships have burned "residual fuel."  Known by various names; 6 Oil, Bunker C, and heavy oil; it is dirty and cheap.


Or was cheap, but it has gotten no cleaner.  A few years ago, a headline appeared international newspapers "How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world." The headline was an overstatement but was accurate in at least one regard – residual fuel is very dirty and ships that burn residual fuel produce a lot of sulphur dioxide and particulate pollution.


Natural gas, by comparison, is relatively clean. For the same amount of energy, when burned it releases about 5% of the particulates, 30% of the sulphur dioxide, 35% of the nitrates and around 65% of the CO2. 


Natural gas is the "cleanest" of all fossil fuels available today, which is why so many power plants have shifted from coal and residual fuel to natural gas that is also cheaper.


The problem with natural gas is that it is not easy to transport except by pipeline. If turned into a liquid it is 600 times denser and can be carried in insulated tanks. Currently there are fewer than 50 vessels in-service or on order world-wide that operate on natural gas. The majority of these are car and passenger ferries and virtually all of them operate in Norway or the Baltic or North Sea.


Garbage Island


The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and North Atlantic Garbage Patch have some new competition from the south, where scientists have discovered evidence of a new floating garbage island off the coast of Chile.


Record set


Around the world Vendée Globe rookie François Gabart sailed MACIF across the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne, western France on Sunday after just 78d, 2h, 16m, setting a new solo monohull circumnavigation record. At 29, he's also the youngest winner of one of the most difficult races on the planet.


Mariner notices


Navigational hazards - Mariners are advised that due to recent flood events in North Queensland, semi-submerged logs and debris has been reported drifting in various locations within the Great Barrier Reef.

Mariners are advised to navigate with extreme caution when transiting the area.


Whitehaven Beach, Whitsunday Island - Mariners are advised that the north cardinal mark at the southern end of Whitehaven Beach has been reported damaged and is leaning to one side. The beacon is reported to be submerged at high tide which may be a hazard to navigation. AUS charts 252 & 253.


"One of the advantages of being Captain is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it." Captain James T. Kirk

Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan


Storm wreckage on waterfront


Storm wreckage on waterfront


"It feels like a death in the family," said the owner of the venerable lugger Margherita I.

"I tried to make it out to her, but the conditions turned so bad, so quickly. When she hit the rocks, I felt as if she had been murdered."

"In the water I saw items I could identify as they floated in the stormy seas whipped up by the cyclonic winds. I knew she was gone. I knew it was the end of an era."

So Margherita owner Norman Hore told the Whitsunday Coast Guardian this week relating his loss of this historic Queensland ship he had owned for sixteen years, just one of about thirty affected by the storm.

"I was planning my last cruise on her. I had a lot of work done and was getting ready for the cruise I can't now have," the heartbroken sailor said.

Margherita was built 1955 as 'Briton' by Alf Hansen in Cairns and later was also named Paladin.


Aussie Day MCG


Taking backyard cricket out onto the street is the rage in Jubilee Pocket with the Penticost Street neighbours conducting their Aussie Day match for some years now inspiring others.

Around the corner a quiet cul-de-sac became the new MCG (Maeva Cricket Ground) for the day.

Various marine crews joined in closing the road with young and old in attendance to carry on the traditional game.

Staging his cricket comeback was veteran Guardian colleague and SeaFM/4TO/Sky Sports rugby league commentator Jason Costigan MP who made a competitive showing with the willow.

Jason showed that the Member for Whitsunday was happy to mix it with the waterfront marine crew who found a few hot bowlers keen to bowl him out. Alas, a change of bowler lacking the honed skills of the experts, read an eight-year-old girl, bowled a bouncer through to the green wheelie bin stumps to end Jason's dominance of the bitumen crease amid cries of 'Ow's Zhat!"

Cap'n Square Leg is calling on marine crews for a replay next year at the Jubilee MCG.


History making


In the Antarctic winter of 1916, Ernest Shackleton and a crew of five sailed in a decked over lifeboat from Elephant Island to South Georgia. They were on a desperate rescue mission across 800 miles of the roughest ocean in the world, seeking help for the rest of the crew of the expedition, which had spent two years on the Antarctic ice. Now almost 100 years later, the Shackleton Epic Expedition set off January 24 from Point Wild on Elephant Island to recreate the extraordinary voyage in a replica 6.9-metre (22.5') lifeboat, named the 'Alexandra Shackleton', in honour of the explorer's granddaughter


Give me a sign


Meech Philpot morning presenter on ABC Radio Tropical North posed a question just before the rain started last week.

"Judging by the activity of green ants at our place I am confident that we will see some fairly heavy rain in The Tropical North in the next few days. Have you noticed anything around your property that suggests rain is coming?" Meech wrote,

So a few comments followed that show that some are not in much need for the weather person. Comments included;

"The hippy lookin' guy next door is building an Ark' and my two guinea pigs have gone missing"

"An abundance of black cockies, flying ants, normal ants on move and Bloodwood trees flowering.

"Yep my aching bones" and "The frogs r going off"

"My partner's pushbike has been sporting some neat looking mudguards since Sunday afternoon. Generally that means a drought is coming but this may be an exception to the rule."

"Yes I have noticed something. I bring the dry washing in from the clothes line when I think it will rain! Sorry, couldn't resist being cheeky."

"Yes my Cactus flowered last week never fails to rain around a week later. The more flowers the more rain and it was covered with flowers

"Yep...my big toe has started to swell up again...sure sign of rain

And finally, "Definitely rain on the way, our cows are lying down!"


Mariner Notice


Pioneer Bay - Mariners are advised that as a result of recent weather events, floating debris has been reported in the vicinity of Abel Point Marina, Whisper Bay and Pigeon Island. Sunken vessels may also be present within these areas. Mariners are advised to take extreme caution when navigating in these areas. AUS charts 253 & 268


Fair winds to Ye!

Cap'n Dan