Storms, Violence, Volcanoes and The Captain!

One Point Zero
Howard Fairbank
Sat 10 Sep 2016 05:11

ANL Bindaree's position today:      26:25.90S 175:08.40W

'From the Bridge'
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                                         Powering through the swells!                                                             Man against Nature!

What a difference a day makes….!  Just after I finished yesterday’s blog, the Bridge told me that 6m seas and strong headwinds were forecast for the next day - Today!  Enjoying the Trade Winds and mostly pleasant weather, I’d not paid attention to upcoming weather!  Anyway we are in that weather now - the maximum wind recorded has been 50 knots and the ship is ‘rockin and rolling’ quite nicely.  The sea looks quite a bit different. We are heading into New Zealand weather territory, and I know it can be all over the place! 

Just 800 miles to go to Auckland now, and just under 48 hours we are scheduled to be there!  These ports work on tight schedules and we are scheduled to have the Auckland pilot join us at 6am on Monday, and they tell me that I should be through with Customs and Immigration by 8am.  All this precision hey, with many, many emails flying around each day managing this whole logistics monster.

We are now very close to crossing The Tonga Trench. This is a deep fissure in the ocean floor that runs no more than 60 miles wide from just south of the Samoa’s at 14 degrees past Tonga, right down south of south-west to the almost ‘East Cape’ of New Zealand at 37 Degrees South.  This trench has depths of 10 000 metres so Everest (from sea level) would ‘fit in there’ and its peak would still be about 1000 m below the surface!  With fissures like this around and then all the volcano cone seamounts spotted all over, it’s not surprising that NZ’s too pieces of rock in the Southern Ocean are still in Nature’s, "work in progress", workshop! 

Human created Violence Un-nerves Me

Back to yesterday:  It was the monthly engine test and I found out by feeling my unusually high vibrating cabin interior!  On checking with the bridge, I found that the engineers were testing the engine.  One hour at 95% of maximum revolutions and lots of measurements recorded.  Down in the engine room the noise was significantly louder than usual, but everyone seemed as ‘cool’ as usual including the engine!  Outside the ship was speeding along at a fast 20 knots, spray peeling off the bow, and I wanted to see the picture at the propeller end. 

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                                                                                                  Hard to see The Violence? 

Well standing all alone on a 50 cm gangway right above where the propeller pushes out its ‘jet stream’ with just a ‘frail’ railing preventing me from going overboard I had a strange experience for a ‘seasoned seaman’!  

The increased speed of the ship is very obvious from the stern as the wake disappears rapidly to the horizon, but the violence at the point where the propeller was discharging was awesome brutal power.  I have seen powerful rivers and rapids but with the engine almost on maximum this was ‘high violence’!  The gangway I was standing on was shaking vigorously, covered in a film of water, the wind was significant and I had this unnerving thought run through me:  What if I fell overboard now?  Nobody would know, and if I survived the 'violent river' imagine the feeling of just seeing the ship race away towards the horizon!  I have faced the same situation on yachts many times having a pee over the back or whatever, but although the same thought of being left behind has come up, it never scared me. 

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                                                                                         Nature powered Freedom and Serenity!

I concluded that sense, the sheer power and violence of it all, took me away from an, ‘At One with Nature’ feeling that I have on the yacht.  The ‘un-natural’ word “violence” just came out as I wrote this above but now I see why it did….. This was not synergy with Nature, this was like Man made destruction of Nature type stuff, and it felt unnerving!  There we go, I haven’t made this up:  Just sharing with you what was simple yet quite profound from an Environmental Identity perspective!  The engine passed its test by the way!  

Volcanoes at the Captains Table

Having Sailor’s ‘instinct’ in me, I was up at 3am when the wind must have come through and the waves started changing the motion of the ship. Excitedly, I went down to the galley to get some milk for my wake up coffee, and there I bumped into the Captain sitting at ‘Our Table’ taking a snack!  I hadn’t brushed my hair, and I sensed he felt slightly embarrassed with his also ‘just woken up’ hairdo!  Once over that, I could sense he wanted to chat, and what an interesting 2 hours we had together:

Breaking the ice, he vented off his total frustration with a 1am e-mail a few hours earlier ‘suggesting’ that he should change course to ‘miss the 6 metre waves’ and ‘only have 5 metre ones’!  This would add 50 miles to the total trip, but would reduce the risk of cargo damage.  To which I added: “Helicopter damage” and he just smiled.  For those that don’t know, we have a $25 million helicopter in the aft hold.  I could feel the frustration of The Captain as he explained to me how their Charter Head Office ‘suggestions’ are virtual orders and while he is totally comfortable with the ship managing the 6 m waves, and saving the 50 miles, its politically correct to follow the ‘suggestion’!  What flowed was a venting off of how a captain’s decision making freedom has been so eroded in 15 years that he is almost a conduit for orders from Charterers, yet he still has total responsibility for crew, ship and cargo safety. 

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We somehow moved to One Point Zero, and ‘The Captain’ was very interested in the whole initiative and its consequences for the World. The subject moved around The Swiss ‘One point Zero’ Referendum on the 23rd September and the issue of one’s Environmental Identity and how that will be key to whether people vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.  To help him understand the concept, I used a Hindu example and a Christian example and how the two religions contextualize the Nature / Human relationship so differently.  The generally accepted view is that Hindu is a total ‘Without Nature we are Nothing’ relationship, and the Christian one is almost void of earthly spiritual relationship context, other than an anthropocentric, ‘God gave the planet for Humans to Use for themselves’. 

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Whose Planet is this?  What do you believe?  What is your Environmental Identity?  Is One Point Zero a necessary condition?  Or is being a Taker from Nature OK?

Being a devout Catholic he admitted he was very unhappy accepting that Environmental Identity, and that he did ‘care about The Planet'.  I said I was just giving examples of types of ‘Nature / Human Relationships’ and not pushing one or the other religion.  It was just to help explain the personal ‘Environmental Identity’ concept and its range of options so he can work out ‘who he is’ with respect to Nature?  I left it at that with him wrapping it all up by saying: “You have really challenged my thinking and I wonder how Poland looks on the One Point Zero scale?   I said I’d show him the One Point Zero picture for Poland later on the day.

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                                                            Poland’s Footprint Demand (top) and Bio Capacity Available (bottom) 

I have just come back from an hour in his cabin, where the calmest of Captains, visibly got ‘angry’ as he saw the Poland graph from Global Footprint Network going back to 1970:  On the Ecological Footprint ‘global hectare demanded’ line, Poland has one of the most ‘peak and trough’ ones of any country.  He looked at the troughs and pointed to the causes being revolution / political instability periods and I saw him emotionally connect to the struggle of those times.  He then moved to the more recent smooth upward ‘demand trend’ as the country has moved to capitalism and is embracing Western ideology…. Joining the trend of the developed countries…..

Poland is a ‘net Taker of Nature’, demanding quite a bit more of Nature’s bio-capacity than it currently has available.  He questioned how that can be when Poland has so many poor, simple living people, the majority?  He pointed out that there is a very small middle class, and this then put the spotlight on the likely existence of a One Point Zero Gap problem.  Following capitalism a wealth Gap has developed creating a One Point Zero Gap where the new elite and followers of the new "in fashion" ideology, with their increasing affluence are driving the rising demand for unavailable bio-capacity.  I showed him the Footprint Network’s Shocking Development Facts, and I saw the man get angry as he saw where the blind pursuit of Western Success is taking his country!  There was a silence, and I sensed best I leave his private space:  I said:  “Captain, I hope I haven’t messed up your day?”  He said: “No Thank You, I found this very, very interesting and useful”.      

If you missed the blog on one’s personal ‘Environmental Identity’ you can read it here.   Page down after the ‘From the Bridge’ section

The Sunset in the East / Sunrise in the West Mystery 

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                                                      Arctic Sun Dogs…. 86 degrees North -55 Degrees C there are ice crystals in the air!

Following from yesterday’s blog ‘mystery’...........

Well of course the sun ONLY sets on the western horizon and ONLY rises on the eastern Horizon.  Wherever we are!  (Well give or take 66 degrees north or south of true west and true east, but don’t let that confuse us now!)  The Greenwich Meridian connecting ‘around the other side’ with the 180 degree meridian (The International Date Line) bisects the planet east / west into the Eastern and Western hemispheres, which we shorten to ‘The East’ and ‘The West’.  So yesterday we crossed The Date Line and supposedly I crossed from The West to The Eastern hemisphere.  In the West I see the sun rise and set in ‘The West’, and in ‘The East’ I see the sun rise and set in The East!  Because that’s the hemisphere where I am….  

OK that one was easy… 

But yesterday although we crossed The International Date Line, I didn’t cross hemispheres!  I’m actually still today in the Western Hemisphere and although I lost a whole day overnight, and it’s now Saturday instead of the Friday it should be, I saw the sunrise in The West again this morning! That’s all because The International Date Line doesn’t line up with 180 degree longitude around Tonga in the South and Alaska in the North.  It squiggles around them as far away as 172 degrees west, for local time ‘synergy’ and ‘convenience’. 

We still have another 400 miles to go before we cross the 180 degree meridian ‘hemisphere divider’ and I then I will see the sunset in The East! (That’s around 31 Degrees South, just past the Kermadec Islands.)  

We ‘should’ remember that all these ‘lines’ around our Earth are ‘Human made’!  My little friend from yesterday ‘The Tern’ doesn’t know they exist nor does ‘it’ need them, and ‘it’ travels across the oceans. (Sometimes with the help of a container ship!) Neither did the Maoris / Polynesians etc… There is currently a traditional Polynesian sailing catamaran sailing around the world, with a Polynesian navigator, and no sextant, GPS or compass!  Maybe we westerners are less developed’ having to use lines and take so long to find our bearings!  

As I hinted in the beginning of this Sunrise mystery section, there is still more about sunrises ‘not being in the East'…:

When we started off in Long Beach the sunrise was in the south of the direct east horizon ie. In a south east position.  Each day it moved closer to due east, and by about the time we hit 8 degrees North latitude it was rising Due east of us.  Today the sun rose almost 30 degrees north of due east ie. North east of us.  So in the duration of our voyage ‘the place’ where the sun rises, would appear to have moved, more than 60 degrees around the due east line.  ‘We’ all probably know this, but just to experience this movement in two weeks has been special! 

Apologies if you knew all this, and even more!  Think about applying for a role as a One Point Zero partner.  I’d love that!

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I thought the above was appropriate as we pass by -  My friend from Tonga in 2014!   How do pets fit into YOUR Environmental Identity?  Mike Berners Lee’s figures indicate that a medium size dogs could have an Ecological Footprint almost ¾ of that of a One Point Zero human?  Would you rather go without electricity?  A Car?  No Flying, or have your pet Dog?  Or is your Environmental Identity one of "I can have them all"?  I loved that boy above!  But did he love me?  Without humans what is his purpose??  All damn tough stuff hey?