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New Software Could Warn Sailors of Rogue Waves 131

Posted by kdawson
from the that's-no-wave dept.
Reservoir Hill writes "Sailors have been telling stories for centuries about monstrous ocean waves that tower over a hundred feet in the air and toss ships around like corks. While these were once dismissed as nautical myth, but a few years back synthetic aperture radar from ESA's ERS satellites helped establish the existence of these 'rogue' waves and study their origins. Such waves were far more common than anyone had expected. Now a researcher in Madrid has developed software that can detect rogue waves from radar images, with the possibility of providing advance warning to ships at sea. The software uses a mathematical model to evaluate and process the spatial and temporal dimensions of waves inferred from the interaction between the radar's electromagnetic energy and the sea surface. The result is displayed in a color-coded image."
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New Software Could Warn Sailors of Rogue Waves

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  • by 3waygeek (58990) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @06:23PM (#21465697)
    Rogue Wave Software [roguewave.com] has existed since 1989.
    • by Gyppo (982168)
      Their software is crap. Their music [roguewavemusic.com] is much better.
    • by spectral (158121)
      Having had to deal with their stuff, I really wish something had been around to warn me back then.
    • by aduzik (705453)
      And Rogue Wave is also a pretty badass band, too. I clicked on this post just to make this comment.
  • Avasta, SP1, me mateys! Shiver me timbers, look at that wave! Arrrrr!
  • Eddie Aikau [wikipedia.org] - he's still out there you know. Riding those mutthas.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowskyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday November 24, 2007 @06:40PM (#21465801) Homepage Journal
    The subtext of this article is amazing. Basically, sailors have been out there getting killed by giant waves for decades, but a bunch of scientists decreed that such waves could not exist, and therefor, everything from safety standards, to engineering, to the ships themselves, were all designed in line with what was predicted, but not what was observed. During this entire time, numerous eye witness reports were ignored, and even the odd photograph was dismissed as a fluke.

    I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution with any matter of policy, regarding climate, when, 2 ships a week have been sinking now for decades (on average), that, there's eyewitnesses that have said what caused these sinkings, and instead, ignored them. If there's a smoking gun that says that scientists find what they want to find, and its not necessarily the truth, then this is it, and the only way to save science is to demand that science must act scientific.
    • by theNote (319197) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @06:49PM (#21465865)
      Obligatory rogue wave video from Deadliest Catch on Discovery channel:
      http://youtube.com/watch?v=l_8hOai9hGQ [youtube.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jcr (53032)
        Oh, my god. If I ever saw something like that at sea, I'd have a hard time facing a swimming pool after that.

        -jcr

        • by thejuggler (610249) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @02:50AM (#21468945) Homepage Journal
          I used to be in the US Navy. I did face a wave like that and bigger. We took a 70+ foot wave, bow first thankfully, while riding the front of a massive January storm somewhere off the coast of Oregon. I was on an FFG which can handle a wave that size much better than a fishing boat, but it was still one heck of a ride.

          A few years back I was watching an episode on one of the Discovery network channels about some oceanic researches. Their research ship was hit by a rouge wave. It was then when scientists actually got hit by one that they started thinking of sailors accounts of rouge waves as credible. Damn pointed head morons. It took slapping them in the face with a giant wave for them to believe they existed.
          • by jcr (53032)
            Thank you for your service, sailor. Glad you made it home in one piece.

            My grandfather worked at the shipyard at Sparrows' Point in Baltimore. He told me about one repair job they had where the bow of a Navy ship, (I forget what type exactly; not a battleship but bigger than a destroyer) had been bent by a wave. A smaller vessel would have pitch-poled, but this one basically got the bow crunched down several feet. The shipyard cut the bow off and replaced it.

            -jcr
    • But isn't that exactly what happens everytime you complain about a problem to a doctor? "Nope, not possible, just diet and exercise."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The scientists made their decisions on objective data but weren't convinced by anecdotal evidence. In other words science worked just as it's supposed to work.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jarjarthejedi (996957)
        And yet at the same time science is supposed to investigate anecdotal matters, or at least that's where most of our scientific understanding has come from. Most leaps forward are not preceded by large quantities of statistical evidence, but rather one or two anecdotal happenings that someone gets curious about and decides to investigate. Sure, the scientists did all that was expected of them, they examined their evidence and found that these waves were impossible according to what they'd observed. However f
        • by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @07:37PM (#21466143) Journal
          My recollection may be poor, but I don't remember scientists actually saying rogue waves can't exist. I do remember they said they couldn't model them using the linearized CFD simulations that had become popular, and when processing power finally grew to the point where they could cross fewer terms off of the ol' Navier-Stokes equations, they found something that resembled rogue waves in the results.

          I suspect this is a case where one group of scientists or engineers misinterpreted or exaggerated the results of another group of scientists and engineers.
      • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @09:39AM (#21470621)

        The scientists made their decisions on objective data but weren't convinced by anecdotal evidence. In other words science worked just as it's supposed to work.

        Dismissing observations - any observations - because they don't fit the current model is not scientific. This is especially true when the observed phenomenom is so rare that systematic scientific study is not possible.

    • by Splab (574204) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @06:58PM (#21465933)
      What about numerous UFO observations, Loch Ness etc? are you suggestion those should be regarded as proof of existence since there have been numerous observations and murky photographs? Science works by being skeptical, yes it can take decades for something to be acknowledged and that might be bad but taking every observation as proof would be worse.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jarjarthejedi (996957)
        Last time I checked there aren't 2 deaths a year from UFOs, or reportedly from UFOs. Sure there's somewhat of a correlation, but when people are dying semi-commonly (I figure 2 deaths a year means 1 ship sunk every 5 years or so) that's when you should be looking into the subject, not simply ignoring it and saying it's not possible and that the photos are proof of nothing.

        The scientists aren't fully to blame for the fact that these waves were so long thought impossible, but neither are they completely blame
        • by ricree (969643) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @08:00PM (#21466299)

          they were so set in their ways that they couldn't see any way such a wave could exit
          Except that scientists actually looked at the evidence and eventually found that they did exist. So how exactly were they "set in their waves". They did what they were supposed to do. They looked at a reported phenomenon and skeptically investigated it until they were able to determine one way or another whether it actually existed. Then once there was actually something to study, they set out to understanding what was actually going on. Please tell me what exactly they should have done differently here.

          Would saying "ok, I believe you" without any evidence or understanding actually have saved any of the lives lost?
          • by mazarin5 (309432)
            Listen here, Mister Smarty-Man...

            Quick! Look behind you!
          • by tjstork (137384)
            Would saying "ok, I believe you" without any evidence or understanding actually have saved any of the lives lost?

            Why do you need a scientist to prove something exists? Really, I would the burden on science would be to prove that it doesn't exist. That's one thing that's lost in this process. A scientist tells me that I didn't see a rogue wave, when I saw it, then, he needs to prove that it doesn't exist. Really, its the same sort of thinking over and over again... there's a theory, says something couldn
            • by yndrd1984 (730475)
              You do realize that eyewitness accounts are among the least reliable types of evidence, right? And sometimes it takes a long time to do things the right way (with solid proof) as opposed to the easy way (believing what others tell you), especially when the evidence is so sparse.
              • by tjstork (137384)
                You do realize that eyewitness accounts are among the least reliable types of evidence, right?

                Science is nothing more than eyewitness accounts. You claim to witness something, then, I can witness it too. In the best and strongest case, you create a model that will allow others to predict what they will witness, then, below that, you can just give a set of procedures to witness something, and finally, you can say that you witnessed something and then make up a story about it.

                Ultimately, the whole academic
                • by yndrd1984 (730475)
                  Science is nothing more than eyewitness accounts.

                  You're using the word 'witness' in a much broader sense than I was. People that see rare events, and are unprepared for them, very often perceive things quite differently than more objective observers. As things get more systematic and repeatable, things do get better, as you pointed out.

                  Right now, from the public perspective, its not as much as one might think, and that's really why superstition is making a comeback.

                  That I have to agree with.

        • I would be very weary of any scientist that says "That's Impossible!" when referring to a system as large, complicated, and chaotic as the ocean.

          Simply put, although I'd peg rogue waves as being extremely improbable, I could easily see how all of the factors could hypothetically lead to several waves constructively interfering to create a single massive wave. I *am* surprised, however, to see that these rogue waves are observed as frequently as they are, however.

          To be fair, scientists have also admitted th
      • by Dunbal (464142) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @07:25PM (#21466097)
        What about numerous UFO observations, Loch Ness etc? are you suggestion those should be regarded as proof of existence since there have been numerous observations and murky photographs? Science works by being skeptical, yes it can take decades for something to be acknowledged and that might be bad but taking every observation as proof would be worse.

              Especially since the original perpetrator of the "Loch Ness Monster" hoax publicly admitted to it about 20 years ago in the UK, just before dying. Along with his admission was an apology, and what made him cough up the truth was seeing all the boats gathered with sonar equipment to finally, once and for all, put this myth to rest. He said he was ashamed that so many people had invested so much money for this.

              But people love to believe bullshit, and even though this made the news in the UK at the time (I watched it), people still perpetrate the "Loch Ness Monster" BS. Don't even get me started on UFOs.
        • the original perpetrator of the "Loch Ness Monster" hoax publicly admitted to it about 20 years ago in the UK, just before dying...
          The story of Nessie goes back hundreds of years. Even the researchers who proved that the photo you are referring to was a fake (one year before the admission) believe the monster to be real. More info here. [wikipedia.org]
      • by bogjobber (880402)

        What about numerous UFO observations, Loch Ness etc? are you suggestion those should be regarded as proof of existence since there have been numerous observations and murky photographs?

        Those are different in that it's usually one person alone, and can be accounted for by other effects.

        Rogue waves are much different. Most ships on the open ocean have large crews. Even if it's only four or five people that's enough to move it out of the "crackpot with severe mental issues" category. And these are/wer

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Colin Smith (2679)

      I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution
      Don't tell me. You're still younger than 25 years old.

       
    • by eebra82 (907996) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @07:14PM (#21466043) Homepage

      [..] therefor, everything from safety standards, to engineering, to the ships themselves, were all designed in line with what was predicted, but not what was observed.
      I think you're missing the point. It's not about altering ships to handle huge waves, but instead to warn them in advance. For instance, crew could get off the deck in time and the captain would have time to change its direction to match that of the wave.

      I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution with any matter of policy, regarding climate, when, 2 ships a week have been sinking now for decades (on average), that, there's eyewitnesses that have said what caused these sinkings, and instead, ignored them.
      Ignored what exactly? The article states that "severe weather has sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 200 metres in length during the last two decades. There's no data on how many of these ships actually sunk from a super wave. In fact, the number could be so small that it's not even worth our time. More importantly, most of these accidents happen to really old boats.

      Last but not least, there are many eyewitnesses who claim to have spotted UFOs, been exposed to abductions, seen the Loch Ness monster and whatnot. You need credible evidence before you start spending billions of dollars on altering ship designs.
      • There was evidence though, it's just that no instrumentation had directly detected the waves until recently. There was a Discovery channel show "Killer Waves" or the like that showed pictures of massive damage to several huge ships but the sailor testimonies were ignored despite the type and scope of damage to the ship.
      • by tjstork (137384)
        There's no data on how many of these ships actually sunk from a super wave. In fact, the number could be so small that it's not even worth our time. More importantly, most of these accidents happen to really old boats.

        Last but not least, there are many eyewitnesses who claim to have spotted UFOs, been exposed to abductions, seen the Loch Ness monster and whatnot. You need credible evidence before you start spending billions of dollars on altering ship designs..


        I would think sailors would be credible. That'
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by eebra82 (907996)

          I would think sailors would be credible. That's the thing. You put sailors into same camp as UFO believers, but really, they are subject matter experts when it comes to the water. Really, that someone never went and bothered to really check the sailor's claims of giant waves for decades just tells me that "credible evidence" as you call it is just an excuse for laziness in the discipline.

          You don't have to be an expert to know that you're being probed anally by an alien. Same goes for enormous waves - you'd have to be pretty stupid not to recognize that a 100 foot wave is something out of the ordinary. My point is, sailors should be trusted as much as UFO believers until there is credible evidence. And by credible evidence, I am not saying eyewitnesses, but documented facts and material to analyze. For example, we must know how often they occur, where they occur, how fast they travel, how f

          • by tjstork (137384)
            Point is, how can you as a scientist tell who's who?

            Your argument has the premise that scientists are the people whose job it is to separate fact from fiction. By allowing them to accept or reject what the sailors say, you argue that scientists should be in a position to judge the credibility of other people, and, in fact, in today's society, they are. However, what's happened here is that you have two groups of people, scientists and sailors, and ultimately, the sailors were right, and the scientists wro
            • by eebra82 (907996)

              Your argument has the premise that scientists are the people whose job it is to separate fact from fiction. By allowing them to accept or reject what the sailors say, you argue that scientists should be in a position to judge the credibility of other people, and, in fact, in today's society, they are.

              You seem to ignore what I'm saying and merely reduce all my points to "how can you tell who's who". It's not easy to debate with someone who chooses to see what he wishes to see, but here goes.

              Science comes from the Latin scientia, knowledge. If you cannot separate fact from fiction, your job as a scientist is sort of pointless. Let's say that you're a scientist who is developing a new car. If you put it your way, the scientist is supposed to - at least in some cases - go for fictional "facts". Maybe he

              • by tjstork (137384)
                So when you indicate that scientists should not be in position to judge the credibility of people, who should? Do you now suggest that scientists should believe that God exists, solely because a lot of people with credibility do so? Or that aliens exist, because some pilots and a bunch of other folks say so? And as a scientist, would you actually consider to allow yourself not to judge people when you're doing your job? Explain to us all how that would work, because I am curious.

                Maybe the pilots did see a U
                • by eebra82 (907996)
                  Please read my posts all over again. I don't think you're reading the same page as I am because you're messing things up. For example, you've previously stated that scientists ignored the sailors' experiences with giant waves. Then you go on by saying that they should "stick to what can actually be measured, instead of trying to argue against something simply because it can't". Point is, they haven't been able to measure it because all they've had was stories about giant waves and no data.

                  Then you go on
      • Speaking of those design changes, I've got to wonder exactly what changes you could make to make a 100 foot high wave survivable.
      • by smoker2 (750216)
        I think you're the one missing the point. The idea of this software is to warn of these massive waves, but there is also scope for improving ship design, now that the very existence of such waves is accepted. And turning the ship to face the wave is not a solution. google MV Derbyshire for such a story. The ship is so long that it bridges the waves and leaves the middle section unsupported, and the effect is to break the ship in half. You can't take a massive wave broadside or you'll capsize. And BTW, the D
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by m2943 (1140797)
      Basically, sailors have been out there getting killed by giant waves for decades, but a bunch of scientists decreed that such waves could not exist, and therefor, everything from safety standards, to engineering, to the ships themselves, were all designed in line with what was predicted, but not what was observed

      Yes, engineering and safety standards are based on objective evidence, not anecdotal reports. That is the way it should be. Sometimes people's hunches and anecdotes are proven right in retrospect,
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
        I'm sorry you don't understand the purpose of academic or scientific institutions; you are not supposed to "trust" them, you are supposed to look at their evidence and conclusions and then rationally formulate a policy based on it.

        Yes, that's how it's supposed to work, but the GP is right that in practice, we are asked to base policies on our trust of them. Remember, people like Al Gore say, "Do this policy, because the scientific consensus in this area." He does not say,

        "Do this policy, because this grou
        • by Rakishi (759894)

          Yes, that's how it's supposed to work, but the GP is right that in practice, we are asked to base policies on our trust of them.

          Which is irrelevant, you fly on planes that you rarely understand the basic principles of much less the engineering. You drive on cars whose inner working are sometimes trade secrets. You eat food whose origin is a mystery in most cases and whose composition you never even try to check.

          We trust a lot of things which means very little. Nothing is perfect and often there is a bloody good reason for that. Claiming something will make it better is usually how you make things much much worse.

          • Which is irrelevant, you fly on planes that you rarely understand the basic principles of much less the engineering

            It's certainly relevant to the point I was making. The antecedent of "them" in "our trust of them" was "the scientists proposing the theories." Airlines and cars are not built based on trust of scientists proposing these theories, but on rigorous real-world testing that confirms they hold true, and on insurers who put their own money on the line based on their estimates of the probabilistic s
        • by m2943 (1140797)
          Remember, people like Al Gore say, "Do this policy, because the scientific consensus in this area."

          Yes, and Al Gore is correct. Saying "there is scientific consensus" doesn't mean "trust these people blindly", it means "you can check the results if you want to".
          • Except you can't, because the alternate statement isn't true. There is no such website; there is no such documented prediction trial of global climate metrics.

            Oh, you can certainly look up the journal articles, which discuss how nasty the computer models say it will be ... but that's not the same thing.
            • by m2943 (1140797)
              Except you can't, because the alternate statement isn't true. There is no such website; there is no such documented prediction trial of global climate metrics.

              You make no sense; all data and models have been published and discussed at length. If you disagree with any of them, publish a paper.

              You also seem to be starting from the wrong assumption that the burden of proof is on people claiming that global warming is happening and carbon emissions are dangerous. Quite to the contrary: given the potential ris
              • by yndrd1984 (730475)
                I agree with most of what you say, but:

                You also seem to be starting from the wrong assumption that the burden of proof is on people claiming that global warming is happening and carbon emissions are dangerous. Quite to the contrary: given the potential risks, the burden of proof is on people arguing that continued massive carbon emissions are safe.

                In science, the burden of proof always lies with the person making the claim. When global warming was just a new hypothesis, the burden of proof was on thos

                • by m2943 (1140797)
                  In science, the burden of proof always lies with the person making the claim

                  Sure. And it's fine to say that you'd like more proof for the claim "Anthropogenic global warming is occurring." But that claim isn't relevant for policy decisions about carbon emissions. At best, it's relevant for identifying nations responsible for the consequences of global warming.

                  The claim that's relevant about carbon emissions is "Massive carbon emissions are safe for the environment and climate.", and that claim is largely
              • You make no sense; all data and models have been published and discussed at length. If you disagree with any of them, publish a paper.

                "You make no sense; all astrological analysis has been published and discussed at length. If you disagree with any of their predictions, public a paper in any leading astrological journal."

                The whole point of science (as opposed to groupthink) is that it's robust against individual bias. If you're saying someone can only contest a "scientific" claim if he can convince an eli
    • by Swampash (1131503)
      Yeah, I can see the conversation.

      Engineers: "The peak wave height ever recorded in the area is 15 metres, so we're going to design and build the platform to withstand 30-metre waves."

      Beancounters: "Do you have any scientific basis for that recommendation?"

      Engineers: "Well, no, but we heard this old sailor telling stories one day..."

      Beancounters: "YOU'RE FIRED".

      • by tjstork (137384)
        Beancounters: "Do you have any scientific basis for that recommendation?"

        Engineers: "Well, no, but we heard this old sailor telling stories one day..."


        Realistically, its more like this:

        Sailor: "A giant wave knocked off the bow of my ship."
        Engineer: "Sorry, but that wave couldn't have existed, because my computer model didn't predict it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 0xdeadbeef (28836)
      I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution with any matter of policy, regarding climate,

      And don't forget evolution! Those scientists, with all their theories, undermining honest God-fearing values! Have they ever seen anything evolve? No!
      • by tjstork (137384)
        And don't forget evolution! Those scientists, with all their theories, undermining honest God-fearing values! Have they ever seen anything evolve? No!

        This isn't about saying that science should be replaced by religion. It is about saying that science should not become a religion, and, in this case, it was a religion about wave theory that hindered science. Had someone gotten off their ass, gotten onto a boat, and looked for some of these rogue waves, instead of just saying that it was impossible, then, we
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ozbird (127571)
      When you look at some of the flag-on-convenience rust buckets plying the oceans, the fact that some never make it isn't too hard to believe without invoking rogue waves, kraken etc. - Occam's razor.
    • "During this entire time, numerous eye witness reports were ignored, and even the odd photograph was dismissed as a fluke."

      I guarantee there are more eyewitness reports and photographs of alien abductions and lake monsters than rogue waves.

      How can elitist scientists ignore this mountain of evidence at our peril? //sarcasm

    • by syousef (465911)
      The subtext of this article is amazing. Basically, sailors have been out there getting killed by giant waves for decades, but a bunch of scientists decreed that such waves could not exist, and therefor, everything from safety standards, to engineering, to the ships themselves, were all designed in line with what was predicted, but not what was observed. During this entire time, numerous eye witness reports were ignored, and even the odd photograph was dismissed as a fluke.

      Note that once all you have to rely
    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Sunday November 25, 2007 @05:12AM (#21469621)
      Speaking as a scientist, and as a sailor with a couple decades worth of experience on the North Pacific, go to hell.

      Yeah, science is pretty far from perfect. We scientists can be arrogant, quick to trust our theories and to disregard experience, and we make mistakes. We are, in other words, human. But scientists have also given us vastly improved navigational technology. Radar lets you see where the land is, through darkness, rain, and fog, to avoid hitting coasts and other ships. Loran, and now GPS, gave ships the ability to see precisely where they are. Ship-to-ship radio communication made it possible for ships to radio for help when they were in distress. EPIRBs (emergency position indicating radio beacon) allow ships to send distress calls over a satellite network to the Coast Guard and send precise information on their location.

      The end result? Being on the water isn't safe, it never has been, and it never will be. The ocean is an unpredictable and dangerous thing. But thanks to these scientific advances, it's much, much safer today than it was just twenty or thirty years ago.

    • Mainstream science,is very conservative and defends its dogmas and knowledge with near-religious zeal.This is not surprising.
      E.g. meteors before 1833 were considered a meteorological event http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonids [wikipedia.org]
      And only a strong Leonid meteor shower changed it.
    • by Trogre (513942)
      Where I live we recently had a bad rainstorm where much of the citys drainage infrastructure failed resulting in flooding. But it's okay, we don't need better drainage systems because this was a freakish 1 in 150 year event.

      The problem?

      We've had one of these every year for the past three years.

    • by Tom (822)

      Basically, sailors have been out there getting killed by giant waves for decades, but a bunch of scientists decreed that such waves could not exist, [...] I find it amazing that anyone would blindly trust an academic institution with any matter of policy,

      What's amazing about that? Mankind has been working that way for thousands of years, only worse. Millions upon millions of people have died because the church said diseases were a punishment from god and praying, not hygiene or medicine, was the proper way to do something about it. Same with almost everything else that kills people. As a species we've been living on the "someone important said it, so it must be true" meme for most of our existence, and are only very slowly struggling to free ourselve

  • But there's a couple basic gotchas with any scheme to detect rare phenoms:
    • Even a small ( 1% ) false positive rate is waaay too large, it swamps the real ones.
    • It's really boring to debug software when the relevant data only comes in every once in a long while.
    • Even a small ( 1% ) false positive rate is waaay too large, it swamps the real ones.

      i'll take those odds. the thing about a rouge wave detector is that if it works, and you avoid the wave, you may never see it. you don't really know what the false-positive rate is. but if only 1% of your avoidance maneuvers (for a rare event) are for naught, there's not much time or fuel being wasted. the way you can determine if it works or not is if the number of lost ships decreases, or eyewitness accounts start m

      • by atomico (162710)
        That "1% false positive rate" is a not too well defined figure. 1% of what? Of "potential rogue waves, as detected by the radar algorithms"? Anyway, false positives can destroy confidence in the system: imagine you are commanding a huge supertanker where each maneuver costs big $$$ in fuel and time. Each two days, a warning comes telling you to change course because a rogue wave might be coming. I bet you would be disabling the 'rogue wave warning appliance' in a few weeks.
        Another problem is that you cannot
  • "attention cargo ship... an incoming rogue wave is fast approaching. we just thought we'd warn you of impending doom, rather than have it sudden."
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @06:50PM (#21465877) Journal

      The entire trick to surviving these waves seems to be not catch them from the side. If this warning comes in enough time to turn the ship to face the wave at the safest angle then the ship stands a better chance.

      Even if the ship is destined to sink, this might give the crew more time to get to the liveboats, some modern ones are almost like subs so that no matter the wave, they can survive because they always right themselves and are closed so they can't fill with water and are to small to be broken up.

      I have no idea exactly how much warning a ship can get with this, but as you can see from the pictures supplied and the stories in the article these waves can be survived. Perhaps a person with some experience can tell if the sudden sinkings could be down to the ship catching the wave at the wrong angle.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sanat (702)
        When I lived in Sydney, Australia area, i visited a friend in Lower Templestow near Melbourne and she and i and about five or six others went with a friend in a large cabin cruiser out past the breakwall at Portsea into the near ocean area and we were laughing, drinking and doing some fishing and all of a sudden a wall of high water was coming at us. Fortunately the engines were on and the captain immediately turned into the wave as well as he could do in the few seconds we had.

        We were picked up and tossed
      • "Tsunami in the middle of the pacific"...this is THE story my dad has. Every dad has one, the one story he'll tell his kids and grandkids...and this one is his.

        Fresh out of Politechnika Gdaska (Gdansk University of Technology) my dad took a job as a communication's officer on a fishing boat that did fishing in the pacific, and they were away for 18 months.

        In 1978 between November 10th & 17th, about 60 miles west of Vancouver island, a rogue wave hit my dad's 150m(524') fishing ship. The wave came from
        • one that was rolling over itself... breaking wave
          top part where you steer the boat... bridge or pilot house

          If the wave hit them from the side, there would be an extreme danger of rolling over (capsizing)
          Facing a wave head on also has a danger of flipping.
          An angle as opposed to head-on or from the side probably has the best chance of riding through it.

      • by ManxStef (469602)
        Indeed, even a small wave can sink a vessel if it hits it on the beam (side on). The general guideline is that a wave that's over the height of the ship's beam (its width) can capsize it if it hits side on.

        I'm sure there are careers dedicated to stability in ship design, but most sailors would do well to learn the basics of the Angle of Vanishing Stability (AVS - the higher the better), which is what's taught on the RYA Yachmaster course:
        http://www.sailtrain.co.uk/stability/vanishing_stability.htm [sailtrain.co.uk]

        Manufactur
  • by jnguy (683993)
    Yay for better surf forecast!
  • by JimMarch(equalccw) (710249) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @07:04PM (#21465977)
    More people get killed along the Pacific NorthWest coast by rogue waves than by sharks.

    I was 12, picking mussels along the coast about 20 miles south of San Francisco - "Sail Rock" just south of San Francisco. It was a very low tide and a smaller rock just off the main one was accessible when the water flowed out between major waves. This smaller rock was about 2ft wide, 10ft long and about 10ft high, and the top 4ft was bone dry, higher than even the spray patterns let alone wave action.

    My dad and kid brother (age 8) were on the main rock. I had made it out to the smaller rock and was filling a bucket with the biggest mussels I'd ever handled. I had my bucket mostly full when I glanced up.

    I'd been warned about these things and I knew the 20-ft tall wall of water coming at me was a killer. They pick people up, smash 'em on the rocks behind them then drag them out to sea unconscious...or sometimes grab people right off sandy beaches.

    My dad spotted it around the same time and pulled my kid brother further up the main rock (about 70ft tall). I don't know how far up they made it - my dad got seriously wet and had to cling to my brother while assuming I was toast.

    My only chance was to straddle the smaller rock like a jockey on a horse and hand on. I remember thinking about options while the whole world slowed down, and then doing the straddle and grab number. When the wave hit it was like being flushed down a giant toilet. The water peaked out around 4ft over my head. As it washed out, my dad said the sight of me doing my best imitation of a big funny-lookin' barnacle was the best sight he'd ever seen.

    It dragged the glasses off my face, never saw that bucket or hammer again, hands were cut up but I made it.

    That thing was well over 10x the size of the normal waves coming in.

    My dad wasn't upset with me. He knew I'd thought I was going to die and knew I'd always, always keep an eyeball on that ocean when near it.

    Heh. It was my mom that freaked out worse when we got home but she too understood I'd had enough problems.
    • by MtViewGuy (197597)
      If I remember correctly, rogue waves often happen when there is really bad weather in the ocean or when you have a really strong current near the shoreline. Given that the North American west coast is on the east end of the North Pacific Drift current splitting to the Alaska Current and California Current, that's why there are many reports of rogue waves up and down this coast from Mexico all the way up to the Aleutian Islands.

      A particularly bad place for rogue waves is the so-called Bermuda Triangle, where
  • I for one, welcome our new rogue tsunami overlords. May they forever bless us with their water.
  • by lancejjj (924211) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @07:56PM (#21466261) Homepage
    I was about 18 years old when I was putt-putting around in a small 20-foot motor boat in Narragansett Bay of off Rhode Island with some friends.

    We were fishing and otherwise having a good time, when I noticed a large wave coming towards us in otherwise calm waters. In panic, I quickly pointed it out my friend Bruce who was piloting the craft. "No problem", he said, who calmly started to turn the boat into the wave. I don't think he quite understood how huge the wave was - maybe he was thinking it was the wake from another boat.... clearly its size didn't register with him.

    But I sure did recognize the size of this wave, and it was considerably higher than 10 feet. I ducked and covered and held on for dear life, but it was faster or closer than I thought.

    Before I was ready for it, the wave threw up the boat and slammed it back down at an unnatural angle. We were all knocked around. I was thrown from the bow to the stern of the boat, getting my body knocked on the windshield, my friends, and the seats (in that order). Bruce landed in the water, and someone helped him back on board.

    The boat was flooded, but no one was seriously hurt. We checked out our bloody scrapes, put equipment back in place, and mopped up all the water in the boat.

    It was weird - just this one big wave in a calm bay on a calm summer morning.

  • rogue (Score:5, Funny)

    by odo graphic (1187229) on Saturday November 24, 2007 @07:58PM (#21466275)
    There are no rogue waves, only Chuck Norris swimming laps.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, 2007 @08:00PM (#21466291)
    Wiki has a good article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_wave_(oceanography) [wikipedia.org]

    For the entirety of my career (33 years) scientists have accepted the existance of rogue waves. The problem is that there were few measurements. That is remarkable given the number of instruments we put into the water every year. As the Wiki article points out there are several competing theories of how the waves happen. It is possible that more than one of these theories is correct depending on local conditions. For instance, in the middle of the ocean, such waves might be caused when waves coming from several directions all achieve maximum amplitude at the same place and time. Nearer to shore, they may be caused by the shoreline focusing waves like a parabolic reflector.

    I'm not a scientist but I have spent a lot of time working with them and I have never heard one deny the existance of rogue waves.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...I hope you drown.
  • just use STL already!
  • Certain oceans are a lot more prone to rogue waves than others. What bothers me is that the US Navy surely had a lot of information concerning
    rogue waves and that information was not shared with commercial shipping or with yachtsmen around the world. One rogue wave actually ripped the end of
    the flight deck off of an aircraft carrier and those decks are quite far above the waters surface.
    So just why was the world kept in the dark over these waves? Appa
  • All of the comments I'm seeing about first-hand experiences with rogue waves all seem to have a common thread: they happen within a few hundred metres near shore. This *might* imply that these waves are being affected by ground features, coral formations, etc. Look, even the article discusses rogue waves that were ONLY seen during periods of weather stress: a large wave during a hurricane? No shit! A large wave near South Africa -- this isn't news -- the cape of SA is a known dangerous spot as is the C

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