Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Hilton Head Island: a 78'/23.8 meter wave: a quote from Herman Melville

        Although reference to this wave was made today at Sailing Anarchy, Jim  sent me a link four days ago that I neglected to post.  I thank him.
        What is most interesting to me is that this giant wave was created by only 65 knot wind, barely hurricane force.
        I have been in that much wind and more at least eight times and never seen a wave I thought to be more than 30’-40’.  Measurements of waves in storms I have been in recently near New Zealand and South Africa tend to establish that I underestimate wave height; but I have certainly never seen anything like a  78’ wave.  That would be a sight to go out on.
        There is grandeur in such Southern Ocean storms.  I remember vividly thinking so at the time, when THE HAWKE OF TUONELA was being blown at hull speed under bare poles in front of more than 65 knots of wind on a passage from Cape Town to Fremantle that saw eight storms of gale force, four that reached  Force 10, and two Force 12.  In one of those Force 12, great trains of mile long waves rolled through, crests breaking and foaming.  It was a magnificent spectacle.  
        I was glad when that passage was over.  I am glad I made it.


        Bobby sent this photo of a plaque he saw last week in Mazatlan, Mexico.  I thank him.
        I don’t completely share Herman Melville’s sentiments.  Forbidden seas.  Yes.  Though by whom or what forbidden except self-imposed limitations?  Landing on barbarous coasts.  No.  I’d rather not land at all.  
        Today because of neurotic neighbors there was an impulse to get on GANNET and sail away forever.  It passed.  But I believe there are a few lines in STORM PASSAGE written forty years ago in which I imagined lifting off from the sea and sailing into space endlessly.  Not toward the nearest star, but the farthest.
        If I could, I would.
        But you already knew that,