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    Sable Island, was: Da Lurk
    From: Trevor Kenchington
    Date: 2003 Feb 10, 09:48 -0400

    Fred Hebard wrote:
    > There was a link to a picture posted here not long ago about a boat
    > fetched up on an island off Canada due to the great circle/rhumb line
    > referred to in other posts here.
    Exactly what caused that yacht to be where she was seems a bit unclear,
    except that gross incompetence must have been involved. Sable Island and
      the shallow bars extending from each end represent an "obstruction to
    sea room" (as the IYRU racing rules used to put it) some 50 miles in
    length -- an obstruction which has been well known to mariners voyaging
    in the northwest Atlantic for the better part of 500 years. Since the
    island lies very close to the Great Circle route from Nantucket Shoals
    to the English Channel, it is hardly an obscure feature, tucked well out
    of the way.
    It isn't so difficult to make a landing on North Beach of Sable, if you
    pick your weather. There is even something of an anchorage there, albeit
    in an open roadstead, with a degree of shelter from any wind with some
    southerly component. However, the yacht in question went ashore on South
    Beach and nobody has any business getting any kind of vessel close
    inshore there -- save for the old rescue lifeboats which were sent out
    from the beach, in days before helicopters, to take off the unfortunate
    crews of ships that did run too close in. South Beach faces the open
    Atlantic, without even much of the continental shelf outside it to sap
    energy from the largest waves. It has a series of shallow bars beyond
    the tideline, on which the ocean swells break continuously, even when
    the wind is in the north.
    A fine playground for the seals, which are plentiful, but no place for
    yacht or ship. Whether it was a confusion of Great Circle with rhumb
    line or simply a blindness to features clearly shown on the chart,
    getting anywhere near that beach was a major blunder.
    Trevor Kenchington
    Trevor J. Kenchington PhD                         Gadus{at}iStar.ca
    Gadus Associates,                                 Office(902) 889-9250
    R.R.#1, Musquodoboit Harbour,                     Fax   (902) 889-9251
    Nova Scotia  B0J 2L0, CANADA                      Home  (902) 889-3555
                         Science Serving the Fisheries

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