Monday, January 12, 2009

How can you Spot Anything in 10 to 20 Feet of Vertical Movement?

Almost done with that "Act 2: A Closed Class of One (Part 5)" on 'need' or lack thereof.

Larry Geller had a good post today "Is the Indonesian ferry disaster a warning for Hawaii’s interisland ferry?" in the early afternoon.

In the late afternoon today the company announced they are going into 'annual drydock' Feb. 2 - Feb. 17, as reported here. That's President's Day/Valentine's week, one of the top 5 busiest weeks in the state for travel. Seems like before or after that week might have been better for business...unless there were other considerations.

The combination of Larry's post and the above announcement got me thinking about something. There is suppose to be a large swell Wednesday afternoon through Friday. Consistent waves of at least 14 to 18 feet are expected on northshores of Maui county, and up to 20 feet on northshores of Kauai and Niihau. It was disclosed in the RRA that the vessel should not operate in waves of 6 meters (19.7 ft) by Coast Guard regs. and that the vessel is suppose to slow down according to the following wave heights:

Significant Wave Height (M)--Maximum Allowable Speed (kts)
6.0+M------[=19.7ft]--------------Seek shelter [not operate]

Indications have been seen of greater speeds than these at these wave heights.

As Larry questions, there also is the concept of "rogue waves" that can be significantly higher than the prevailing and predictable wave heights at any given time, esp. in the channels here.

But what I got to thinking about today, and the point of this post, is about operating in the above wave heights of say 10 to 19 feet during the Whale Season.

First of all, in waves of say 4 meters or 13 feet or more, your whale lookouts likely cannot be outside, all whale lookouts would have to be on the bridge. Then everybody is looking through glass. On top of that you are bobbing up and down with vertical movement of anywhere from 10 to almost 20 feet, and probably everyone on the bridge has to be strapped into their seat. (Furthermore, often in the Winter going east, the southern route through the Whale Sanctuary is going to be less turbulent than the northern route, so it is more likely to be taken.)

So, how in the hell are people on the bridge, strapped into their seats, looking through water-sprayed glass, going through 10 to 20 feet of rapid vertical movement (with their line of vision going through many hundreds of feet of verticle movement) going to be able to see whales (much less baby whales near the surface) 500 to 1000 yards or meters up ahead? And even if they did see a whale, is there enough control over the vessel in THESE kinds of waves to definitively avoid the whale without creating undue stress on the vessel's steering mechanisms and on the passengers? How can the "Whale Avoidance Policy" actually be followed when the vessel is bobbing up and down through 15 to 20 feet of verticle movement?

The preceeding exact three questions I do not recall being asked nor addressed in neither E.O. 07-10, nor any the OTF Reports, nor the RRA, nor the Act 2 "EIS," nor Coast Guard regs. Is this what the State paid $1.5 million to not study? I find it incredible that nobody in the Governor's Office, nor DOT, nor Belt Collins thought to ask these specific questions and expect realistic answers to them.

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