Saturday, February 27, 2010

Panic on the Low Seas

This morning an 8.8 offshore earthquake rocked the South American country of Chile, triggering an international tsunami alert. The morning cruiser's net, a casual and chatty affair usually, was not broadcast because many of the boat owners were hauling anchor and a** to get their boats out into deep water.

One woman, whose husband/captain was off in New Mexico, was pleading for help to get her boat out of the lagoon. I contacted her on the radio and assured her that the tsunami would be knocked down to nothing by the time it had traversed the several thousand miles of open sea, and was blocked by the huge Barra headland, then squeezed into a 20 foot wide channel in the opposite direction to the wave. But, those around her were scattering and running to open sea and she would not be dissuaded.

Several hours later I had returned from the mechanics shop with my car (he had it for two days and still failed to install the shocks and struts on the vehicle- which is why he had it), I started unloading my provisions for the shakedown cruise I have scheduled for tomorrow. Another woman came hurrying down the dock looking for her husband, out with his friends in their runabout looking for fish. He was, as it turned out, just motoring up the canal so she waited, fidgeting, while he approached. Then she turned to me and said "the tsunami is due here now and it's going to be 2 meters! I saw it on the internet!" It was almost exactly 3 pm.

I looked around and we were at low tide (a minus 2 feet) and saw that 6 feet would put us right about where we were at high tide. So I said, "well, looks like we have room for it..." and she thought that was very unfunny. She had her husband and friends tie up the runabout and ran up (the very steep) walkway out of the marina.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not picking on the women, here. I also overheard men on the radio trumpeting their success in getting their vessels out to sea before the disaster struck, one of them a close friend.

I thought it was time to fire up my laptop and see what was really going on. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency had the goods, as I thought they might.
This from the NOAA site:

We are 6 hours behind Zulu time, so at a little after 12 noon, Manzanillo, 20 miles to the south, was clobbered by a 1 foot wave. And then again, 24 minutes later.

It's a wonder anyone survived.


1st Mate said...

I was getting emails from Oregon asking if I was still above water, here in San Carlos. I admit, I almost didn't want to leave the dogs alone in the house, wondering how high the water might get. Lots of disinformation floating around, especially among those still smarting from Jimena's smackdown.

Mic said...

Gotta say ...You are so entertaining LOL

Allan S said...

Don't forget, a lot of folks get their news from Fox and CNN. Fox will find and angle to blame the left for it and CNN is superb at using the "What if...?" lead for a lot of articles. For example I can see Wolfe in my mind saying;

"What if the terrorist set off a large explosion under the sea..."

One has to go to a sensible news station to get fairly accurate.

Just this moment there are 4 deaths on Robinson Crusoe Island and its heading towards Australia.

Chrissy y Keith said...

The speculation was incredible. That the whole reason for the Tsunami bouys. Why was everyone just guessing when these things are measured? cu it makes for good news.