Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Little Known Naval History *

The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) as a combat vessel carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (fresh water distillers). However, let it be noted that according to her log, "On July 27, 1798, the USS Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum."

Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping." Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Then she headed for the Azores, arriving there 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November, she set sail for England. In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchantmen, salvaging only the rum aboard each. By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless, and though unarmed, she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Her landing party captured a whiskey distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home.

The USS Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February 1799, with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, NO rum, NO wine, NO whiskey and 38,600 gallons of stagnant water. Now these guys knew how to drink!

* Possibly an urban legend...but who cares, it's a good story anyway.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dolphins Playing with Bubbles

Check out this amazing video of dolphins playing with bubble rings. The control they have over the rings is remarkable.

Apparently, both dolphins and certain whales are known to blow bubble rings. Two ways of creating such rings have been reported: one way is by letting a ring out of their blow hole, the other by creating a water vortex ring and blowing air in the vortex ring.

There are few ways that bubble rings can be created:
  1. Rings can be created by letting air escape through an orifice that is opened and closed abruptly. A bubble-blowing diver falls in this category.
  2. Rings can be created by letting a fixed amount of air escape through an orifice that is permanently opened. The bubble machine of David Whiteis falls in this category
  3. Dolphins create bubble rings by blowing air in a water vortex ring. They create a vortex of water by flipping a fin. They then blow air in the ring. The air goes to the center of the vortex ring. When air and water move in a circular path like they do in the vortex ring, air and water are separated due to the centripetal force. Since the density of water is larger than air, water moves at the outside, while the air ends up in the middle.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Crash of the Week: The Kursk

K-141 Kursk was a Russian nuclear cruise missile submarine which was lost with all hands when it sank in the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000.

The Kursk sailed out to sea to perform an exercise of firing dummy torpedoes at Pyotr Velikiy, a Kirov class battlecruiser. On August 12, 2000 at 11:28 local time (07:28 UTC), the missiles were fired, but an explosion occurred soon after on Kursk. The only credible report to-date is that this was due to the failure and explosion of one of Kursk’s new/developmental torpedoes. The chemical explosion blasted with the force of 100-250 kg of TNT and registered 2.2 on the Richter scale. The submarine sank to a depth of 108 metres, approximately 135km (85 miles) off Severomorsk, at 69°40′N, 37°35′E. A second explosion 135 seconds after the initial event measured between 3.5 and 4.4 on the Richter scale, equivalent to 3-7 tons of TNT. Either this explosion or the earlier one propelled large pieces of debris far back through the submarine.

Kursk was eventually raised from her grave by a Dutch team using the barge Giant 4, and 115 of the 118 dead were recovered and laid to rest in Russia.

A particularly scary image...I think this is the collapsed nose cone of a torpedo:

I don't think even Tim Zim could make this look pretty again...even with some wood cladding:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Poetry Corner

In response to Carol Anne's challenge to write a poem about "Where I'm From" based on the model provided by the poem of that name by George Ella Lyons:

I am from Matchbox cars,
from Marmite and conkers.
From emigration and immigration;
I am from the beach and the lake,
from duckweed and stone walls,
oak trees and ski poles.

I'm from home cooking and gardening,
from George and Joan, Geoffrey and Beth.
I'm from do-it-yourself and make-it-look-easy.
From "only boring people get bored" and "do what you're told."
I'm from C-of-E schools, Our Father, and hymns;
science and logic won out in the end.

I'm from Turpin's Green,
cheese-on-toast and toad-in-the-hole.
From a stonemason, his shed full of tools,
and an Australian with two bionic knees.
From the munitions factory, West Africa in the War,
and a Lincolnshire lad with a Cambridge degree.

I'm from the boxes of slides, sorted and labeled.
Memorized stories of mountains and campsites.
Two boys and their Mum;
Dad behind the camera planning the fun.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pull that Halyard Up!

If you are going to motor sail...at least pull your main all the way up. Reefing is for sissies.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Warm Day

It is unseasonably warm today in Boston; 66 degrees Fahrenheit in the city. I took a break from work and went for a walk near my office in the Seaport area. Here are some photos I took with the camera on my phone:

A tanker being pushed by a tug.

Sailboats moored near the Boston Harbor Sailing Club

Fishing boats at the Fish Pier

Another view of the fishing boats at the Fish Pier with the white tent of the Bank of America Pavilion in the background