A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Brad Morris
Date: 2012 Nov 18, 23:38 -0500
With all due respect, there are buoys all up and down the east coast. They all report on an hourly basis. They show all sorts of pertinent data like wind speed, wind direction, wind wave amplitude, wind wave period, swell wave amplitude, swell wave period and many others. These are important to mariners as well as other communities, like surfers.
When the buoys show 26 feet 16 seconds, those are not the biggest waves, nor are they isolated. Thats the predominant swell for that instant. So expect bigger isolated waves. In fact NOAA has a category for that, its called significant wave height (for which no period is given).
Storms to the south of us are almost always stronger, so I could go fetch data from the buoy historical record that would show larger than presented and most likely for the day Bounty set off.
Just as a random example, Buoy 41013 Frying Pan Shoals NC, on October 27 at the 9AM buoy report, we see 32 feet at 16 seconds. Remember, thats not the significant wave, just the swell amplitude at that period.
When a hurricane is in a basin, we can even calculate WHEN those swells will hit you as a function of wave celerity and great circle distance. But why bother with that fine calculation when Sandy was 1000 Miles across. Forget the track of the center, Sandy set the whole basin up.
So yes, the captain of the Bounty was foolhardy to ignore all the warnings to mariners and warnings to the public. Sandy was a huge hurricane and Bounty was a small, replica ship, with antique hull design and sea keeping to match.
I'll put it a different way. Would you have sailed her out into the Atlantic knowing there was a hurricane out there? That's mighty risky business, with your life at stake. I dare say that the Bounty's captain paid with two lives and endangered the lives of the parajumpers who had to go rescue those sailors.
Better to have stayed in port right next to all those other fine ships you noted. The data and warnings were available to all. All the captain had to do was access it.