A new seminar by the Ocean Navigator School of Seamanship is offering voyagers a novel approach to hurricane avoidance strategy. The seminar’s instructor, Michael Carr, a 10-year veteran of Ocean Navigator seminars, explained that hurricanes still represent a real threat to voyagers because of a misunderstanding of these powerful storms.
“Hurricanes, like most tropical systems, are dismissed by too many mariners as non-issues and not threats because these systems are often thousands of miles away. Many sailors perceive that, since few hurricanes occur each year, compared to the hundreds of low pressure systems, that all or most tropical systems are not a concern,” Carr said. “However, more vessels are damaged or sunk and more mariner lives are lost due to hurricanes, or the so-called remains of hurricanes that have moved into the mid-latitudes, than all other weather systems combined.”Carr pointed to several recent incidents, including the loss of two yachts to the remnants of Hurricane Mitch in the North Atlantic and the loss of the cruise ship Fantome in the same hurricane in the Bay of Islands area off Honduras, as the impetus for the new seminar. Both incidents are detailed in the new book (reviewed in this issue on page 12) The Ship And the Storm: Hurricane Mitch and the Loss of the Fantome, by Jim Carrier. In fact, Carr is a source in the book and was Carrier’s instructor for a similar course.
Carr said the seminar aims to help students recognize tropical waves and understand how they grow to become tropical storms and hurricanes. The seminar centers on an understanding and application of several theories of storm avoidance, specifically the 34-knot wind radius rule and the 1-2-3 rule.
The so-called 34-knot rule refers to a radial distance from a storm that includes winds greater than 34 knots. And the 1-2-3 rule refers to plotting “areas to avoid” – defined by inherent error in hurricane track prediction of 100 miles for each 24-hour forecast period – in distances of 100, 200, and 300 miles from the known center of the storm.
“To be on the safe side, mariners must be able to calculate certain storm-avoidance methods, including wave formation and propagation, conditions for synchronous rolling and pitching, vessel stability and free-surface effect, determination of effective fetch regions, and using significant wave height forecasts for routing decisions, since it is sea state, not winds, that is the major concern for all vessels experiencing sustained Force 11 and 12 conditions,” Carr said.If any of these terms send shivers right into your seaboots, be sure to attend Carr’s seminar, Hurricane Detection & Avoidance, offered March 3 and 4 in Baltimore, Md., at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies, where Carr is a full-time member of the faculty.