THIS ELETTER IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
The IPCC was set up jointly by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme to provide an authoritative international statement of scientific understanding of climate change. It consists of hundreds of scientists from dozens of countries around the world, so all points-of-view and agendas are addressed.
All the unabridged reports are available for free download or viewing at:
The IPCC's periodic assessments of the causes, impacts and possible response strategies to climate change are the most comprehensive and up-to-date reports available on the subject, and form the standard reference for all concerned with climate change in academia, government and industry worldwide.
And now, the eLetter:
The IPCC continuously examines data from countless methods and sources, and makes periodic assessments of the causes, impacts and possible response strategies to climate change. These are the most comprehensive and up-to-date reports available on the subject, and form the standard reference for all concerned with climate change in academia, government and industry worldwide. This information, albeit mighty complex and deeply detailed, is of course interesting to every person on earth; but a solid science background is necessary just to read the damn thing. I pride myself in having learned much about science starting at an early age; keeping up with new developments; and deepening my understanding of obtuse subjects when I can find the time. �
Through three working groups, many hundreds [thousands!] of international experts assess climate change in this Fourth Assessment Report. The Report consists of three main volumes under the umbrella title Climate Change 2007. I carefully read the THOUSAND PAGES of the scientific volume, "2007 Climate Change 2007 - The Physical Science Basis" word-for-word, studying the graphs and diagrams until I achieved an adequate modicum of understanding of each issue presented. This took a year & a half!
I will present a few items that should interest you. I am not sensationalizing the facts, but only mention stuff that is pretty impressive, some of which is happening, or going to happen "soon". Although I express the opinion that remedial action is required right now, nothing "totally catastrophic" is expected in the 21st Century. We haven't "destroyed our grandchildren's world"; but they will be called to the task of working to rectify what we and our ancestors have set in motion.
� (I have been reading Feynman, Penrose, Einstein, Thorne, Weinberg, Dyson, and their ilk for a few years to grasp the deeper theories of physics and math - don't worry, there will be NO eLetter about hyperbolic space or relativity!)
...from the current knowledge of individual forcing mechanisms the combined Anthropogenic [human-caused] Radiative Forcing is both positive and substantial (Best estimate: Annual increase of 1.6 Watts onto every square meter, per second).
The global mean surface air temperature has been forced to rise almost 2o Fahrenheit since the 19th Century; this during a time when evidence indicated a natural temperature cooling trend. The predictions for the 21st Century include another 3o to 7o F. increase. This would be a catastrophe for global climate.
Observed changes include the accelerated destruction of the cryosphere (ice covering both land and water) which resulted in a rise of mean ocean levels. The rate of increase of ocean height doubled in the second half of the 20th Century, over the rate during the first half.
Here's the kicker: Man's fossil fuel burning (and cement production) activity on this planet produces and expels over a half-million pounds of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere EVERY SECOND. Right now. Today. And it is only increasing at 3%/year. At this rate, the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere in the next twenty years will exceed the amount we have polluted it with since the beginning of time. Wow.
Carbon dioxide is a devastating reflector of long-wave radiation (infrared radiation) that is emitted by the Earth's surface [which is distinctly different than the short-wave radiation (UV) emitted by the sun, because the Sun is hotter].
This is a major cause of "global warming", along with increased water vapor, aerosols, methane, nitrous oxide, and CFC's caused by our activities.
Most of these effects are irreversible because man has also destroyed, or drastically altered, the "sinks" for these bad substances that cause the 'greenhouse effect' [through deforestation, over fishing, terraforming, etc.].
The domino effect is increasing the speed to our doom = as the glaciers melt, they reflect less heat back out into space so it gets even warmer and more glaciers melt . . . among other things.
[St. Mary's Glacier, where I once skied in Colorado every July, IS GONE FOREVER!]
We are slowly cookin' the planet, and there is no way to turn off the BBQ.
Changes in the circulation of the atmosphere and ocean are an integral part of climate variability and change. Accordingly, regional variations in climate can be complex and sometimes counter-intuitive. For example, a rise in global mean temperatures does not mean warming everywhere, but can result in cooling in some places, due to circulation changes.
For example, scientists understand the mechanisms of the Atlantic Gulf Stream [known scientifically as the MOC (Meridional Overturning Circulation)]:
It is a warm-water "river" flowing on the surface through the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, up the eastern Atlantic and across to the North Sea. The Gulf Stream is a heat conveyor of humongous proportions; it equalizes temperature differences due to the angle of the surface of the earth to the sun. It transfers excessive heat from the tropics to the east coast of the US and over to the UK.
It is entirely possible that as the polar ice caps continues to melt, the fresh water released will float out on top of the more-dense saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean, subjugating the Gulf Stream, forcing it down to mix with colder water and eventually stopping its flow. This cessation of heat transfer would cause the buildup of energy in the tropics, extending the length of the hurricane season and increasing its severity, and create 'ice age conditions' in normally temperate Ireland.
Although the shutdown of the MOC may take several centuries, the cessation of convection in the Labrador Sea in the next few decades, due to warmer and hence less dense waters that inflow from the Greenland-Iceland-Norwegian Sea, has been predicted in several computer models.
There has always been constant change in the earth's environment, but some of the rapid changes that have been forced by man's activities in our atmosphere and oceans over the past two centuries have exceeded the changes believed to have occurred over the past half-million to two million years.
We have disturbed the delicate balance of the world in grave ways.
But all recent climate anomalies are not the result of global warming (Anthropogenic [human-caused] Radiative Forcing):
"While changes in Atlantic SSTs (sea surface temperatures) have been linked in part to the AMO (Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation), the recent warming appears to be mainly associated with increasing global temperatures. [Warm SST is a major factor in tropical cyclone development.]
Tropical cyclone development is also strongly influenced by vertical wind shear and static stability. While increasing greenhouse gas concentrations have likely contributed to a warming of SSTs, effects on static stability and wind shear may have partly opposed this influence on tropical cyclone formation.
Thus, detection and attribution of observed changes in hurricane intensity or frequency due to external influences remains difficult because of deficiencies in theoretical understanding of tropical cyclones, their modeling and their long-term monitoring. These deficiencies preclude a stronger conclusion than an assessment that anthropogenic factors more likely than not have contributed to an increase in tropical cyclone intensity."
Multi-model projections give 21st century reductions in ocean pH three-times the amount of the decrease experienced since pre-industrial times. This ocean acidification leads to dissolution of shallow-water carbonate sediments and could adversely affect marine calcifying organisms. Shellfish of the 21st century will have problems growing their shells.
By disturbing the balance of nature, certain currently unknown "thresholds" could be crossed causing "abrupt" climate changes as opposed to the normal, progressive development of climate conditions usually experienced on the planet. These abrupt changes could trigger cascading effects across the entire climate system and result in enduring harsh conditions inhospitable to many forms of life.
One possible outcome is that several types of flora and fauna would endure the harsh weather conditions and increased radiation for the next 30,000 years; at about this epoch, the natural orbit changes and tilt of the earth will have moved into a cyclic oscillation that will herald the next ice age and "reset" the balance. Hopefully the human species can be one of the survivors.
Thousands of scientists are working in every country in the world gathering and analyzing data related to global warming. So it just isn't John Holdren, President Obama's Science Advisor, who is considering drastic measures to abate the adverse effects we have had on our environment.
Read all about it:
Being the "superpower", the US can afford sophisticated methods of data acquisition and has utilized many, many satellites over the years to monitor changes in conditions on our planet. These missions continue with evermore precise measurements and details. Later this year the most sophisticated device will be placed in orbit solely for the purpose of analyzing aerosols in the atmosphere and their effect on the energy balance of the Earth.
But these missions are not without risk, and earlier this year a failure of a simple component = the cover concealing and protecting the Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite during launch failed to separate, causing the entire unit to fall back to Earth and crash in Antarctica. Bummer.
Speaking of Antarctica, this just in from the European Space Agency [good thing NASA isn't the only game in town]:
After hovering in the balance for months, an area the size of New York City has broken off the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica.
"The retreat of Wilkins Ice Shelf is the latest and the largest of its kind. Eight separate ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula have shown signs of retreat over the last few decades," said David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey. "There is little doubt that these changes are the result of atmospheric warming on the Antarctic Peninsula, which has been the most rapid in the southern hemisphere."
In the past 50 years, temperatures in the Antarctic have risen by 2.5 degrees Celsius, about six times the global average. In the last 20 years, seven complete ice shelves have been lost. Wow!
Read all about it:
The scientists realize how important it is to understand the balance of energy of our world, and will continue to examine our effects on the health of the planet. Please pay attention to what the knowledgeable truth-seekers have to say and do not be influenced by the money-grubbing corporations in the government's military/industrial complex in their quest for personal gain. Historically, information has been both ignored and greatly exaggerated(!); this trend will surely continue, so you must be personally knowledgeable because you are ultimately personally responsible for your fate and that of your progeny.
I shall denote some of my activities in this section under headings organized by the movements of Windigo.
Around the middle of January, things began to slow down at the Sunsail / Moorings charter base in Tortola where I have been teaching. The economic trends had caused "common people" to stop booking sailing classes here in 2008, so my schedule was empty. The charter base also laid-off some local workers which in turn affects the work permit situation in the Department of Labour. I found my visa expiring without provisions to extend it.
So I went sailing with Klaus & Martha on the SwanVictoria out of Tortola to Peter Island and Virgin Gorda. We cleaned our bottoms and went hiking, did boat projects and went sailboarding. We were productive and had a good time. A highlight of our journeys was the sharing of our anchorage at Jost Van Dyke with the Maltese Falcon. It is a 290-foot, 1,240-ton, three-masted sailboat, one of the largest privately-owned sailing yachts in the world, that perform all its functions via computer. It requires a crew of ONE, and all she has to do is push buttons. Check out the website = it is quite amazing (and it's for sale!)
The SwanVictoria is a luxury charter vessel, and in February Klaus & Martha had to work, so I sailed down to St. Croix to be legal in the US and hang with Dan & Kimberly on Snark. Last year, you may remember that Dan & Kim were house-sitting, but the owners had returned and they were back onboard their sailboat - with Dan's daughter and fiance - 4 people living on a 31' boat.
I spent the month of February entertaining the kids during the week, and tagging along on family outings on the weekends. Sometimes, the family tagged along with me on geocache adventures. It was a good month in St. Croix as the weather was perfect and there was a steady schedule of festivals and events. Jump Up! is a quarterly Caribbean celebration in Christiansted that was quite large by island standards. Literally thousands of people spent the evening on the streets of town enjoying music, food, dancing, and all manner of social entertainment.
My friends Dave & April sailed the Shannon Glyn into Christiansted just in time for the 2009 St. Croix Agricultural Fair, the largest food fair in the Caribbean! It had elements of the typical State Fair, and was very impressive for an island affair.
Dave needed some electrical engineering on his boat, so kept me busy for a couple days and I made some $$$ ;-]
I scoped out many places on St. Croix = it is a great island to cycle around, has many historic sites and structures, a rum distillery, a botanical garden, lots of nice beaches, a mountainous rain forest, and great wind for sailing. I'll save the presentation of all this stuff for later when Karin & I return for a proper exploration of this very beautiful and interesting island (more on that at the end of the letter!).
When the kids got jobs during their extended island stay, things soon got boring for me! So I headed back to the Virgin Islands. I sailed directly to a tiny islet in the BVI to become the First-To-Find on a new geocache there, then proceeded to the USVI. This was Windigo's first visit to these anchorages on St. John and St. Thomas (I had visited while captaining charter boats), and it was fun exploring the nooks and crannies with the seven-foot draft.
Eventually, the SwanVictoria met up with me at the east end of St. Thomas, but the weather was turning nasty for that anchorage so I left them to their business and scampered off the safety of Road Harbour. While in Road Town, I had the chance to pick up my Christmas box from the Post Office (better late than never). Now I had a camera, so the pix will begin to flow once again!
After the weather settled, Windigo and the SwanVictoria met up once again at Jost Van Dyke for hiking and socializing. We must have had too much fun one night (and none of us drink!), for Klaus had come to the decision to enter the 2009 St. Thomas International Rolex Regatta, which began in a little more than a week. He told me he would only do it if I would crew on the SwanVictoria. I agreed, and race practice began immediately.
We spent a long day sailing the SwanVictoria, then relocated both boats to Cowpet Bay, the home of the crew of the raceboat SwanVictoria.JPG and the center of activity for the Rolex Regatta.
You must understand that although a Swan 48 is a marvelously sailing boat; but the SwanVictoria is 34 years old and Klaus & Martha have it fit out for luxury charters, not racing. It is one of the most beautiful boats I have ever seen, and does sail very efficiently, but we would be facing international competitors in the Rolex Regatta, some of them professional sailors. Their boats are sleek and modern, one of the boats in our class was a German Frers-designed 80-foot racing machine with THIRTY-TWO CREW! If we intended to be at all competitive there would have to be serious changes aboard the SwanVictoria. And so there was . . .
We unloaded almost 4,000 pounds of gear into a storage unit on Tortola, including removing two GIANT winches on the mid-deck used for a sail we wouldn't need for the race. Then once in Cowpet Bay, we stowed hundreds of pounds of additional gear on Windigo for the race. The SwanVictoria now at least looked as if she was a racing boat.
With three crew, we all had to pretty much be responsible for all aspects of crewing, but I took it upon myself to be navigator & tactician. I examined the racing rules and courses (CLICKING THIS WILL DOWNLOAD THE COMPLETE RACING RULES) for hours, and worked up the waypoints and routes for the 21 race courses they could possibly have us use (there were several other courses for the smaller racing cats and one-design boats). I reviewed the courses with Klaus & Martha, entered them on all the electronic aids, and these are what we practiced for the week leading up to the race. We roughly determined our sailplan polar charts; studied sea currents and island effects on wind; and made modifications to the SwanVictoria's running rigging to accommodate a short-handed racing crew.
The night before the first race day, we attended the captain's meeting and party ashore. Yeah, we partied about ten minutes, and then it was back to the boat to apply race numbers, decals and flags. There were last minute changes to the racing rules concerning courses, but it seemed that they just exchanged the possible courses to be used between Friday & Sunday [there were three days of racing, and each course would be announced moments before the starting gun]. We were anxious and ready!
Friday morning found us milling around the starting area with the 63 other boats in the Regatta. Everything was rather cool after a hectic week from hell. Then they announced the first race course for each class, "Non-Spinnaker Racing will follow the Dog Island - Six course". Klaus & Martha saw the blood drain from my face = PURE TERROR! They had announced a course that was to be used only by the beach cats! It was in a different area than we had practiced, and involved paths we were totally unfamiliar with. I had ten minutes to learn the course, program the electronic aids and formulate a strategy.
Looking back on those ten minutes, and the 'race' that followed, I realize that there is no other three people in the world that could have survived that scenario as well as we did. Oh, in the end, we DNFed (Did Not Finish) because of a graver error on my part as to the number of loops we were to make around the course. It turned out that we adjusted so well and sailed so fast, that we were ahead of anyone we could possibly follow to learn the proper completion route of the race. So we would have beaten several other boats [would've, should've, could've].
I was so upset at the time - I thought all was lost. But with unbelievable teamwork, we not only finished every succeeding race, we improved our average speed significantly EVERY TIME, sometimes developing unorthodox methods. At the end of the race series we bested FOUR other boats in our class; and even beat that 80-foot boat in TWO races, despite her THIRTY-TWO CREW!
So we didn't win any trophies or watches, but they were the most amazing days of sailing I have ever worked for. I was POOPED at the end, but we needed to change the SwanVictoria from a racing machine into that luxury cruiser again because Klaus & Martha had a charter - IN TWO DAYS!
The wind was a little too far south for me to make a run out of Cowpet Bay to St. Croix, so I waited a few days (I was exhausted and needed the rest, anyway!). Let me just say here that Cowpet Bay may be a nice place to stage for the Rolex Regatta, but it is the most God-Awful anchorage in the western hemisphere! The St. Thomas ferries to Tortola and St. John run past every fifteen minutes, generating ENORMOUS wakes that come broadside to the anchored boats. There is not enough wind to use my bridle trick, so the boat is rolled on her beam ends, continuously, all day. If the swell is a little south-of-east, the rolling continues all night. IF I ever need to stay there again, I will go through the hassle of anchoring bow & stern to eliminate the rolling [the pitching is easier to take when anchored that way, but I will avoid staying in that bay regardless!].
Finally, the wind backed to the east and I departed for St. Croix. I have made the run to St. Croix three times, and always depart and island to the north at midnight to make a comfortable mid-morning arrival in Christiansted. The nighttime seas are friendly, and I have sailed to my anchoring spot without the use of the engine each time.
Upon arriving and cleaning up Windigo, I visited the Snark and learned the kids were flying back to Oregon in a few days time. They were eager to fill their last days on the island with fun and adventure, so off we went on several expeditions and an afternoon of kite-flying.
During the weekend, we all hiked up the highest point on the east end of the island, above the VLBA telescope site I had discovered on my first trip here. On the opposite end of the island from the rain forest, the flatter east end is more desert-like, akin to the average islands in the neighborhood. I gave Vanessa & Adam a going away treat by creating two of my famous pizzas [an event soon to be repeated in Colorado . . . stay tuned].
The following Saturday, Dan & Kimberly also flew to Oregon for a 10-day visit to see grandbabies and Dan planned to increase his credentials at the US Coast Guard testing center and achieve his 200-ton license. He hopes to soon move up to the position of tugboat captain at HOVENSA where he currently works as a seaman. The refinery at HOVENSA is one of the largest in the western hemisphere, producing fuels from crude oil delivered from Venezuela. It is an impressive site, and employs a huge percentage of the islands residents; but I cannot look upon it without recalling all the facts from the IPCC report, and I will continue to endeavor to reduce the percentage of time I run the engine aboard Windigo. [Calculating the engine-run time compared to total time underway, I am currently under 15% for this year, the best I have ever achieved since moving aboard. I will work at reducing that figure to below 10% for 2009.]
After Dan & Kimber left, I spent most of my aboard, reading, organizing computer files, cleaning Windigo's bottom, performing boat projects, writing this eLetter, and the like. I attempted to be First-to-Find on a couple geocaches, but was unable to discover them. There has been a couple island events here, including the St. Croix Half Ironman Triathlon, considered one of the most famous venues in the sport. It includes "The Beast", a 27% uphill grade that I have cycled and photographed in the last eLetter.
Having a great i-net connection, I was able to communicate with Karin often. She was now absent from Windigo for almost a year (except for her October visit) and had accomplished all she had set out to do in the States. She was ready to return to the cruising life, probably influenced by the Wisconsin weather during the winter. (To think this is a street I often cycled along on the shore of Lake Geneva . . . WOW!)
She began shipping necessary belongings to our friend Bill Butler in San Juan . . .
Here are the anchorages used with coordinates and wireless i-net used. Conditions of each anchorage are apparent on the chart; i.e., if it looks like a well-protected, quiet place, then it is -- if you think it may be a bit rolly when swells are present, you are probably right. But each place was used in comfort for the time spent there, except as mentioned.
inner harbour mooring, Road Harbour, Road Town, Tortola, BVI - N18o 25.576' W064o 36.993'
the new wireless
system of the charter base [TUI]
Security and protection nearly all-around. Crowded.
Great Harbour, Peter Island, BVI - N18o 21.537' W064o 34.947' no apparent wireless
South Bay, Peter Island, BVI - N18o 20.318' W064o 34.254' no apparent wireless
Big Trunk Bay near The Baths, Virgin Gorda, BVI - N18o 26.298' W064o 26.665' no apparent wireless
St. Thomas Bay, Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, BVI - N18o 27.261' W064o 26.412' no apparent wireless
inner harbour mooring, Road Harbour, Road Town, Tortola, BVI - N18o 25.576' W064o 36.993'
the new wireless
system of the charter base [TUI]
Security and protection nearly all-around. Crowded.
Prickly Pear Island, Gorda Sound, BVI - N18o 30.273' W064o 22.257'
the green bench in front of the Reeftique at
the BEYC [Almond] is the best spot.
Christiansted Harbour, Protestant Cay moorage, St. Croix, USVI - N17o 44.916' W064o 42.383'
[linksys] at Anna's Cafe in Gallows Bay, but
you must go inland a few blocks to get there. [King's Alley Hotel], at Pleasant's
picnic table right in King's Alley north of the ice cream shop.
Sandy Spit, BVI - N18o 27.021' W064o 42.645' no apparent wireless
Swells present when large seas running.
Cruz Bay, St. John, USVI - N18o 19.963' W064o 47.772' no apparent wireless
Very crowded, but
there are places depending on your draft.
Red Hook [Muller Bay], St.Thomas, USVI - N18o 19.490' W064o 50.747'
[Tom Starkey], if
you are deep into the bay. No protection from the NE, and it can blow pretty
hard from the NE!
inner harbour mooring, Road Harbour, Road Town, Tortola, BVI - N18o 25.572' W064o 36.991'
the new wireless system of the charter base [TUI]
Security and protection nearly all-around. Crowded.
Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, BVI - N18o 26.576' W064o 45.119' no apparent wireless
Red Hook [Muller Bay], St.Thomas, USVI - N18o 18.460' W064o 50.683'
[Tom Starkey], if
you are deep into the bay & [linksys]. No protection from the NE, and it
can blow pretty hard from the NE!
Cowpet Bay, St.Thomas, USVI - N18o 18.967' W064o 50.445'
[linksys] rules when close to the houses on east end, St.Thomas Yacht Club has wireless over on the west end.
One of the most
uncomfortable anchorages I have ever experienced. HUGE SWELLS NEARLY ALL THE
Christiansted Harbour, Protestant Cay anchorage, St. Croix, USVI - N18o 45.943' W065o 43.103'
[Hotel Guest Network] has SUPERB, Hi-Speed signal, also [linksys]
A new anchoring spot for Windigo, isolated from most other boats. Adjacent to the mooring for the tall-ship Roseway. During this stay, all sea conditions were comfortable, including when the wind piped up to 20+ knots. Definitely preferred to dealing with all the assholes in the mooring field or being exposed in Gallows Bay. DO NOT ANCHOR TO THE SOUTH IN THE CABLE AREA OR TO THE EAST IN THE CHANNEL.
Stay tuned for "The Return of Karin" and more Caribbean sailing adventure aboard Windigo.
See where Windigo has been since Puerto Rico:
(and zoom in when it starts tracking)
[to see Windigo's anchorages from St. Pete to Puerto Rico, Enter the callsign: W3igo]
Where we are right now:
My permanent and EXACT address:
S/V WindigoIII - PMB 365
88005 Overseas Hwy. #9
Islamorada, FL 36033-3087
Text-only emailio addresses aboard Windigo, checked daily:
Karin's emailio address in Wisconsin:
emailio addresses checked when at a land-based computer
(infrequently, but good for attachments):
And of course, the Windigo Travelogue Catalogue: