Archive for 10/07/2011

Lienster leader – 

Forget your fig rolls, your jaffa cakes or your custard creams. When it comes to biscuits, arctic explorer and Kilkea native, Ernest Shackleton’s biscuits top the lot. It may not have a chocolate topping, figs or orange filling, but this 104 year-old biscuit fetched a whopping E1,250 at a Christies auction in London last week.

However, this is not the most valuable biscuit Shackleton had in his rations. A partially eaten morsel, which was the last biscuit he ate on his journey to the South Pole sits on display at the Athy Heritage Centre. In fact this was the biscuit that was found in his pocket. That tasty ration was bought for 7,637 pounds in 2001.

Seamus Taafe, Director of the Shackleton School in Athy, which is based at the Heritage Centre explained: “Even though the one that was sold at Christies was more intact, the one we have is of more historical significance. That biscuit was one of many thousand they brought on their trip. The one in Athy is the one that he had left in his pocket. It was towards the end of his journey and they were crossing the mountains of South Georgia. It was the last biscuit he ate and it ended up in his pocket,” he explains.

The half eaten biscuit was kept in a cigarette box and was passed down through the generations of the family before it came up for auction. 

“At the time we were very lucky to have a very generous supporter so we were able to buy it,” added Mr Taafe.

Full story…

Katherine Calos –

A small vial of water from the James River went with Mary Lou Hayden to Belize this year. As she emptied it into the Caribbean Sea, she read the names of 17 friends who died there 10 years ago in the deadliest accident in the history of recreational scuba diving.

Hayden was almost one of them.

She escaped with two other Richmonders who happened to be below deck when Hurricane Iris slammed into Belize and flipped their live-aboard dive boat upside down on Oct. 8, 2001.

The rest of the group from the Richmond Dive Club was up in the main deck salon after dinner. When the Wave Dancer broke away from its dock and capsized in 12 feet of water, they were immediately immersed without life jackets. None of them escaped alive.

On Saturday, the dive club will remember the lost divers at Lake Rawlings, a former quarry that’s favorite training site in Brunswick County.

“We’re calling it a celebration of their lives. We’re not using the word memorial service,” said Dave DeBarger, 67, who also escaped with fellow club member Rick Patterson. Six of the nine crew members survived, including the captain.

The year after the accident, the club constructed a training platform in Lake Rawlings and dedicated it to the 17 lost divers. This year, they will attach a plaque with the names of those who died.

“One of the things we owe the divers we lost is to never forget them, DeBarger said, “but also to go on and live our lives in ways that would make them proud.

Full story…

gCaptain – 

The 236-meter Liberian flagged container ship M/V Rena aground on Astrolabe Reef yesterday about 6 nautical miles from the nearest harbour.

The vessel is currently leaking oil, taking on water and contains hazardous and explosive cargo. Rumors of alcohol being involved in the collision have alarmed local reporters, and local authorities have not been able to board the vessel to administer alcohol and drug tests to the crew.

Local fishermen remarked that the reef was “well marked on charts and the first or chief officer would have had to have created a track around the reef and had it confirmed before setting off”.

AIS data confirms that Rena was doing a steady 17 knots (31 kmh) when it ran aground at around 2.30am yesterday.

The local Coast Guard authority, Maritime New Zealand (MZN), believes the vessel is carrying 2017 containers and some have been identified as carrying dangerous goods. The agency continues to monitor the stability of the vessel via overflights of the scene and reports that the bow is damaged and taking on water but the vessel’s pumps appear to be keeping up with the inflow of seawater. MZN also reports that a “light sheen” of oil was observed surrounding the vessel.

Maritime Executive reports that a controller for the incident, Renny van der Velde, said that although it does not pose an imminent threat, oil spill response teams are on standby just in case something is to go wrong during the salvage efforts.

Two cargo holds on the Rena have been flooded, and currently pumps are being used to eradicate the water aboard, as well as fuel on port side being transferred to starboard.

Full story…

John Konrad – 

In the early 1970s, while Cat Stevens was riding the success of his song Moon Shadow, researchers proposed that the Moon’s shadow during a solar eclipse could set off waves of upper atmosphere air movement.

They hypothesized that the waves, caused by the temperature difference between sections of under the shadow and those under direct sunlight, could build up in strength as the shadow moves across the earth’s surface. 

If true, the result would be slow-moving waves breaking in front fo the shadow, similar to the way in which waves break on a ship’s bow.

Computer simulations supported the theory but it was not until the total solar eclipse of July 2009 that scientists where able to directly measure the effect.

The Institute of Space Science in Taiwan reports that: Using a dense network of ground-based GPS receivers, scientists tracked the influence of the 2009 eclipse as it passed over Taiwan and Japan.

The researchers looked for changes in the total electron content in the ionosphere and find acoustic waves similar to those observed off the bow of ships, waves with periods between 3 and 5 minutes traveling around 100 meters per second (328 feet per second) that originated from the leading edge of the shadow.

They also looked at  the trailing edge of the shadow and found waves similar in composite to stern wakes.

Full story…

Hydro International –

Earlier this summer, 2011, Orkney-based Scotrenewables launched their prototype floating tidal turbine, the SR250, designed to minimise the installation and maintenance costs of tidal energy compared to seabed-mounted tidal turbines.

The 33-metre long, 100 tonne SR250 is fixed to a mooring turret which is tethered to the sea floor. The construction of the turret allows the turbine to move with the direction of water movement positioning itself automatically for optimal energy capture in much the same way that windmills turn to face the oncoming wind.

Harnessing the renewable power is just one part of the process, it also needs to be exported to the grid onshore through a medium voltage cable. The Scotrenewables design, that combines a dynamic turbine mounted on a tethered turret, can put significant strains on the riser section of the export cable.

Designing the right cable and connector infrastructure system was important from the outset to ensure that power harnessed by the turbine could be reliably fed to the onshore grid. Scotrenewables chose MacArtney to provide the infrastructure for its 250kW prototype and its design is a result of close cooperation between engineers from both companies.

Infrastructure that connects dynamic systems to static cable anchoring needs to be carefully designed to reliably maintain power and signal contact as the turbine moves horizontally with the tide as well as vertically with wave movement. The SR250 turbine has a turret and a vertical swivel.

At the turret, a 6.6kV wet mate connector acts as a stab plate. As the turbine turns about this axis to face the water flow, this swivel turret holds the dynamic unit on the anchoring and the swivel ensures that the signal and power connections in the cable remain intact and prevent them from twisting during the 360° movement.

Full story…