Showing posts with label Pacific Ocean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pacific Ocean. Show all posts

Video: Explore the Underwater Kaleidoscope of Cortes Banks

Located 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, Cortes Banks has become a refuge for a stunning array of wildlife. In this video, we travel to that place, and dive with underwater explorer Brian Skerry, who takes us into this amazing place of vibrant colors and beautiful sea creatures. It is an extraordinary spot that few people ever get the chance to see, but you can spend three minutes there with his video.

British Explorer to Attempt Solo, Non-Stop Row Across Pacific Ocean

We haven't even reached 2017 yet, and we already have news about a major endurance challenge set to take place in 2018. That's when British adventurer and endurance athlete Ness Knight plans to set out on a solo row across the Pacific Ocean, where she hopes to become the first woman to make that crossing non-stop.

The current plan is to depart from the San Francisco in May and begin the 7000 mile (11,265 km) journey across the Pacific with the goal of finishing in Sydney, Australia. Knight says she expects the entire crossing to take between 180 and 270 days to complete, which means she could be looking at upwards of six months, completely alone out on the water.

Some of the challenges she expects to face along the way include large waves – possibly 40 feet (12 meters) tall or higher – and massive storms. She'll also face the same problem that nearly ever ocean rower has – malfunctioning water makers. Every rower carries more than one of these devices that helps convert salt water to something that is drinkable, but it is a known issue that they break down often. Ness will also have to carry all of her supplies with her on the boat, so she'll have to ration her food to make through the entire journey as well.

Of course, Knight isn't the first woman to cross the Pacific Ocean solo. Roz Savage did that by completing her Pacific Row back in 2010. But, when Roz made the trip she did it in stages over successive years beginning in 2008. Ness plans to push on through in one go, which will indeed be a first for a female rower.

But before this daunting expedition can ever get off the ground – or leave the harbor if you will – Ness first needs to raise funds to help get her out on the water. With that in mind, she has recently launched a campaign to find sponsors to help lend a hand. If anyone out there is interested in assisting her efforts you can find out more about the possibilities by downloading and reading this sponsorship document which is in a .pdf format.

While May of 2018 seems like an awfully long way off at this point, it will likely be here before we know it. At that point, we'll of course be following Ness' Pacific Row closely. But before she ever gets underway, I'm sure we'll have some more updates to report.

Good luck Ness!

Did Amelia Earhart Survive Her Crash in the Pacific?

One of the most compelling missing person's stories of the 20th century may have just gotten even more interesting. A member of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) now claims that aviator Amelia Earhart not only survived her crash in South Pacific back in 1937, but she lived for days on a remote island, where she continuously called for help from her aircraft's radio, with those calls being picked up by amateur radio operators all over the world at the time. 

In recent years, TIGHAR has put considerable effort into searching for the remains of Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan, and their aircraft. The group has made several expeditions to islands in the Pacific searching for evidence of what may have happened to her. They have found some compelling clues, but nothing that definitively says whether or not she or Noonan survived the crash, or even made it to one of the sites they have examined at all. 

But according to Ric Gillespie, a member of TIGHAR, Earhart's calls for help were heard by a woman in Melbourne, Australia; a housewife in Texas who claims to have recognized her voice, and perhaps most intriguing of all – a teenager in Florida. 

What makes the Florida teen's story so fascinating is that she scribbled notes based on what she was hearing, transcribing what was allegedly Earhart's broadcast. The teen wrote several times "New York, New York," seemingly referencing the city. But Gillespie believes that Earhart was actually saying "SS Norwich City," which was a ship that was abandoned on Nikumaroro island in 1929, the place that  TIGHAR believes the aviator set down. 

Today, we take flying around the world for granted, as thousands of aircraft take off from airports all over the globe each day. But back in 1937, it was still difficult to imagine circumnavigating the globe in a small aircraft. That was exactly what Earhart and Noonan were trying to do when they went missing. The pilot and navigator had set out from Lae Airfield in New Guinea the plan was to fly to Howland Island. But somewhere along the way they got off track, and couldn't find their destination. 

Eventually they ran out of fuel and crashed somewhere int he Pacific, but exactly where has long been a mystery. After examining the flight plan, listening to radio broadcasts, and plotting potential courses, TIGHAR has come to believe that Earhart and Noonan landed in a shallow bay off the shore of Nikumaroro, which has been the subject of their searches in recent years. So far, they've come up with nothing, but they hope to return next July – the 80th anniversary of Earhart's disappearance – to look for her Electra aircraft. The group believes that the tide has carried it out to sea, and that they'll be able to find it using a submersible.
Over the years, here at The Adventure Blog we've followed various attempts to locate the missing aircraft that Earhart was flying when she went missing. So far, it has remained elusive, as finding an 80 year old aircraft in the middle of the Pacific is not going to be easy. But, I have to admit TIGHAR has made some interesting finds over the years, including a piece of scrap metal that has been positively linked to the aircraft she was flying. Will they be able to finally substantiate their claims? We'll just have to wait until next summer to find out. 

California Dreamin' - Adventures in Santa Rosa

If you saw my post from a few days back, you probably already know that I'm in California for the week spending some time in Santa Rosa and exploring all of the travel options it has to offer. The city  is nestled in the heart of wine country, and is surrounded by a landscapes of rolling hills and lush grasslands. But best of all, it has plenty of things to offer the adventurous, active traveler too, including outstanding mountain biking, road cycling, and much more.

I arrived in Santa Rosa late Tuesday afternoon after flying into San Francisco, grabbing a rental car, and hitting the road. It took about an hour and a half to drive to town, where I first checked into the Flamingo Conference Resort & Spa, my base camp for my stay in the region. The Flamingo is a unique hotel to say the least, which a retro chic design that is both charming and fun. Sure, there are plenty of other places to stay in Santa Rosa, but I'd wager few of them have the character of this place.

After getting settled at the Flamingo, I had to run across town to the Trek Store of Santa Rosa to pick up a mountain bike for a planned ride the following day. The friendly and very helpful staff at the bike shop hooked me up with a Trek Fuel EX 8, and plenty of great suggestions on trails to ride in the area. Their knowledge and experience would come in handy when I would hit trail in Annadel State Park on my second day there.

On a side note, if you want to check out a fantastic bike shop when visiting the area, the Trek Store is one of the best I've seen. They have a great selection of bikes both for sale and rent to meet the needs of just about any kind of rider. There is also plenty of cycling apparel, accessories, and other items too. If you have some time to kill while in Santa Rosa, it's worth a stop even if you're not going to be riding.

After collecting my bike, I rounded out my first day by grabbing dinner at The Pullman Kitchen, a trendy and tasty bistro in downtown Santa Rosa. The menu included some light, healthy options, along with a good selection of local wines. After all, vino is what this part of California is best known for.

On my second day in Santa Rosa would definitely be a more active one. After grabbing a light breakfast, I drove over to Getaway Adventures, a local outfitter that specializes in organizing cycling and kayaking tours of the area. Getaway has been around for more than 25 years, and offer customers such options as the Velo 'n Vino wine tour and Pints and Pedals for beer lovers. But on this day, the company's owner – Randy Johnson –  took me on the Jenner Coastal Kayak tour, a paddling excursion that takes travelers to the place where the famous Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Jenner is a small town located about 45 minutes from Santa Rosa. It overlooks the river and the scenic Northern California coastline. The paddling is easy and relaxed, with plenty of wonderful things to see along the way. The highlight of the trip is watching the Pacific Harbor Seals sun themselves on the beach. And since it is early spring, they have started to give birth to their babies. Were able to spot a couple of the pups from the water as they mingled with the rest of the herd.

As we paddled along the edge of the river, the curious seals came closer to our kayaks, occasionally bobbing their heads above the water to get a closer look. It was clear that they wanted to know who we were, and what we were doing there, but we were careful not to start too close to the main group, as they are easily startled and will quickly dash into the water.

At one point of the tour, we pulled our kayaks onto the beach and got out to take a look around. The beauty of the California coast was on full display, with rocky outcroppings, towering cliffs, and roaring waves crashing against the shore. It was worth the entire trip out Jenner just to take in the view.

Sadly, our paddling excursion had to come to an end, and after grabbing a quick lunch in town, we were back on the road to Getaway Adventures' headquarters in Santa Rosa, where they had other clients waiting and it was time for me to move on. For me, the tour was over far too quickly, but my day was far from over. After saying goodbye to Randy and his very helpful crew, I was off to Annadel State Park for the mountain biking portion of my tour.

This magnificent outdoor playground sits just 15 minutes drive out of Santa Rosa, and yet it has miles of trails for every type of rider. Whether you like twisty and technical single track, smooth and wide fire roads, or something in-between, Annadel has you covered. There are grueling climbs, and breathtaking drops. White knuckle descents and rocky routes can all be found there, with some fantastic views to be had along the way too.

I stared off by going up the North Burma Trail, a difficult climb that left my legs and lungs screaming out for relief. Near the top, it levels out nicely and become easier, but if you want an easier ascent, I'm told that South Burma is the way to go. Eventually I made my way over to the Lake Trail, which circles Lake Ilsanjo, one of the park's hidden gems. After that, I pedaled over to the Canyon Trail for a fun and fast – albeit rocky – descent back to the parking lot.

All told, I spent about two hours riding around Annadel, and came away very impressed. Not only is the riding fantastic, but there are trails for every style and experience level of riders. Best of all, the proximity of the park to Santa Rosa makes it easily accessible to anyone living in or visiting the town. We should all have such a wonderful natural resource so close to where we live.

After my ride, I zipped back into town, dropped off my bike at Trek Santa Rosa, and returned to the Flamingo for a quick shower. As you can imagine, my busy and active day helped me build up quite an appetite, and it was time to refuel. What better way to do that than with a big steak and a glass of local wine? I'd heard that Stark's Steakhouse was the best in town, and after one meal there it's hard to argue with that. The prime rib was delicious, especially when paired with the restaurant's truffle fries. Following a long and busy day, it definitely hit the spot.

Following a good meal, it was back to the Flamingo for some rest. Tomorrow is another busy one filled with more adventures, and I'm already looking forward to seeing what else Santa Rosa has in store for me.

All-Female Rowing Team Completes Pacific Crossing

On Monday of this week, a team of women rowers completed an epic crossing of the Pacific Ocean, arriving in Cairns, Australia after spending more than nine months at sea. The Coxless Crew, as they are known, set out from San Francisco back in April of 2015, and although they took longer than expected to complete their journey, they did manage to set a couple of records along the way.

The team's boat – named Doris – was designed for a four-person crew, and three of the members of the team stayed aboard for the entire crossing, while three others rotated in and out three different legs. The permanent members of the crew included Laura Penhaul, Natalia Cohen and Emma Mitchell, with Isabel Burnham, Kizanne van Vuuren, and Meg Dyos, each taking a turn at the oars. Burnham rowed from San Francisco to Hawaii before giving way to van Vuuren, who was part of the team from Hawaii to Samoa. Dyos took over from there, and was with the Coxless Crew when they arrived in Australia this week.

As is typical with a four-person crew, two members were at the oars at all times. In this case, they would row in two-hour shifts, and sleep 90 minutes at a time. In this way, they were able to cover the 14,800 km (9200 mile) journey, although it did take about three months longer than they had anticipated.

I first wrote about the Coxless Crew back in 2012 when they were planning to depart the following year. Obviously they hit a few road bumps along the way, delaying their start and changing their plans a bit. But they stuck with their goals and pushed forward with the challenge they had set for themselves despite adversity. Pernahul in particular was keen to take on the Pacific, and she seems to be the only member of the original crew who made the crossing.

By arriving in Australia on Monday – 257 days after the set out – the ladies became the first all female crew to cross the Pacific, and the first four-person team to do so. Along the way they faced massive storms, crushing waves, encounters with whales, and extreme heat in the South Pacific. Their adventure wasn't just for the challenge however, as they also raised funds for the Walking with the Wounded and Breast Cancer Care charities.

Congratulations to the six ladies who worked together on this fantastic achievement.

Kon-Tiki2 Looks to Follow in the Footsteps of Thor Heyerdahl

An epic sea journey got underway this past weekend in South America, where a team of sailors from around the world have set off on two rafts made of balsa wood in an attempt to sail from Peru to Easter Island. The crew hope to explore possible migration patterns for early Polynesian cultures, which may have migrated to the remote South Pacific islands on similar craft centuries ago.

The two rafts – dubbed Rahiti Tane and Tupac Yupanqui – were built from wood that was gathered in Ecuador. They'll now attempt to follow a similar journey to the one that was famously completed by Thor Heyerdahl and his team back in 1947. Heyerdahl had hoped to prove that his theory of early sailors setting out from South America to the South Pacific was true, and in the process he sailed more than 8000 km (5000 miles) from the mainland to the Tuamotu Islands. He later wrote a bestselling book about his adventure entitled Kon Tiki, which was the name of his raft, and the inspiration for this modern journey as well.

The crew of the Kon-Tiki2 expedition left Lima Peru on Sunday and are now making their way across the Pacific Ocean. They'll sail more than 3757 km (2334 miles) to reach their destination, but unlike Heyerdahl, the plan is to also sail back. This will make the journey even more perilous, as no one has been able to successfully complete a return voyage as of yet. The entire round-trip is expected to cover more than 10,000 km (6200 miles).

The research opportunities go beyond just studying possible migration patterns in the Pacific however. The team also hopes to survey the amount of pollution and waste that is found in the water as well, and observe the population levels of certain species of Tuna too.

Heyerdahl's expedition took 101 days to complete, but the Kon-Tiki2 will likely last longer. Not only are the two rafts traveling longer distances, they are also making a return trip in very different wind patterns and ocean currents. How long the crew will be at sea remains to be seen, as some days they will probably cover long distances, and on others they'll drift more slowly.

You can follow the expedition as it unfolds on the official website and Facebook page. Good luck to the crew! It should be interesting to see how it all plays out in the days a

American Woman Ends Bid to Row Across the Pacific

An American woman has ended her attempt to row solo across the Pacific Ocean just eight days into the attempt. Sonya Baumstein launched her bid back on June 7, departing from Choshi, Japan with the intention of reaching San Francisco, covering a distance of 6000 miles in the process. But last weekend she put out a distress call after her boat experienced several mechanical failures that put the entire journey into jeopardy.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Baumstein began her Pacific row by first experiencing sea sickness. That kept her close to the shore for a few days as she acclimated to her conditions. After that, she was able to find the Kuroshio current, which crosses the Pacific west to east, and would have aided her progress. At that point, all seemed to be going according to plan.

On Saturday, June 13, Sonya sent out a distress signal calling for assistance. At that point she was 250 km (155 miles) from shore. That is about the limit for a Japanese coast guard boat to conduct a rescue, and as she started to have issues with the boat, Baumstein decided it was too dangerous for her, and potential rescuers, to continue.

At some point early on the steering system on her row boat failed, and she was facing a very long journey without precise controls. Furthermore, the weather forecast looked ominous as well, so it seemed that the better part of valor was for her to pull the plug altogether. A passing freighter picked up her distress call and hauled her out of the water, and later handed her over to the coat guard.

As of Monday, Baumstein was on her way back to Japan. There is no word yet on whether or not she'll have another go at the crossing.

It should be noted that a number of reports indicated that Sonya was attempting to become the first woman to row across the Pacific solo, which we all know isn't true. Roz Savage completed that feat back in 2010, although she traveled east to west, and made the crossing in stages along a longer route.

Long Distance Swimmer Prepares to Attempt Pacific Ocean Crossing

Back in 1998, long distance swimmer Ben Lecomte became the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean without using a kick board, covering 3716 miles (5996 km) in 73 days. That was a grueling exercise in endurance and determination that cemented his place in the record books. But now, Ben is looking to take on an even more impressive challenge. In July, he'll set off on an even longer swim, as he attempts to become the first person to swim across the Pacific Ocean, a journey that will cover more than 5500 miles (8851 km) between Tokyo and San Francisco.

The Longest Swim, as Ben has aptly named this project, will be undertaken to help raise awareness of climate change. In order to accomplish this feat he'll need to swim 8 hours a day, 7 days a week for 180 days, burning as much as 10,000 calories per day. A support will be with him at every stage of the journey of course, and he'll rest and take his meals aboard that boat as he progresses. In a recent interview with Red Bull, Ben says that his boat will be a special one too. Made completely out of wood, and 24 meters in length, it was built back in 1940, and fits well into his mindset of protecting the environment and recycling.

In that same interview, Lancomte talks about how he trains for such a long distance swim, how he manages to keep pushing himself forward for hours on end, and for days at a time, and what his goals are for the project. Namely, he hopes to attract as much attention to the challenges our planet faces due to climate change, and he thought the best way to achieve that was to undertake this massive challenge.

The Longest Swim is still a few weeks away from getting underway, and Ben will wait for the optimal conditions before he starts. You'll be able to follow his progress on his website, through Twitter, and on Facebook. It should be quite the journey to say the least.

Has the Mystery of Amelia Earhart's Disappearance Been Solved?

The disappearance of Amelia Earhart somewhere over the Pacific Ocean back in 1937 created one of the most compelling and enduring mysteries of the 20th century. The pioneering aviator, along with her navigator Fred Noonan, were attempting to fly around the world at the equator when they vanished while searching for a fuel stop on Howland Island. What became of them has been open to speculation for more than 77 years. Now, with the help of a piece of scrap metal, researchers believe they have solved that mystery at last.

Yesterday, The International Group of Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) reported that they had successfully linked a piece of scrap metal discovered on the island of Nikumaroro with Earhart's plane. The piece of metal in question is 19 inches wide (48.2 cm) and 23 inches (58.4 cm) long, and was installed on her aircraft on a layover in Miami. It was part of a modification to the Lockheed Electra aircraft that would have allowed the pilot to be able to look out her window more easily so that she could navigate by the stars at night.

According to the TIGHAR report, the piece of metal was originally found on Nikumaroro, an island in the Republic of Kiribati, back in 1991. Researchers claim that by studying the part, they have determined that it not only matches the size and shape of the one added to Earhart's plane, but it made up of the same type of metal, fits consistently with shape of the Electra, and has the same unique rivet pattern as the infield modification. Those variables virtually ensure that it is a part from the missing aircraft.

Historians know that Earhart and Noonan were running low on fuel when they were approaching Howland Island. Somehow, they got off course and could not find the airstrip, but instead were forced to put down on Nikumaroro, which is about 350 miles from their intended destination. It is widely believed that they not only survived the landing, but existed on the island for a time, most likely eventually dying from dehydration. Nikumaroro has very little fresh water, and is said to be a harsh environment with extreme heat, little shelter, and not much to eat.

Examinations of radio records also show that Earhart most likely used the radio on her Electra to try to call for help, but the signals were ignored or not properly heard at all. The aircraft was most likely pulled out to sea by rising tides, which not only hid it from future search teams, but also removed the only resource that Earhart and Noonan would have had at their disposal. TIGHAR researchers believe that the plane is still there, on the west end of the island somewhere.

A few years after she crashed, a British colony was established on Nikumaroro, and existed there into the 1960's before it was abandoned due to a lack of resources. During that time, colonists discovered human bones on the island, which some now believe may have belong to Earhart or Noonan. The box of a sextant was also found there, and it was consistent with one that Noonan would have used for navigating as well. Over the years, these clues have disappeared however, so it is unlikely that they can be used to further establish a link to the final resting place of the aviator and her navigator.

TIGHAR researchers are hoping to return to Nikumaroro in the future, and search for more clues to the mystery. The group is currently seeking funding to mount another expedition, even though they have visited the island on multiple occasions in the past. Until they discover the Electra itself, there will likely always be some speculation as to the ultimate fate of Earhart. But this latest clue seems to give us the most likely ending to her historic flight.

Great Pacific Race Update: Rowers Arriving in Hawaii

It has been a few weeks since I last posted about the Great Pacific Race, and over that period of time, the crews aboard their boats have been making steady progress towards the finish line in Hawaii. In fact, the first teams began arriving there last week, becoming the first to complete the inaugural edition of the race, which promises to become one of the most challenging endurance events on the planet moving forward.

For those who haven't been following along with the race, it began back on June 7, with 13 teams setting out from Monterey, California for Honolulu, Hawaii. Ahead of them sat 2400 mile (3862 km) of open ocean, with choppy seas, big swells, and difficult storms to overcome. A few of the entrants didn't make it very far, dropping out of the race while just a few days in, but others have pressed forward. Now, nearly 50 days into the race, two boats have come home, a third should arrive today, and the remaining rowers continue pressing on.

Last Tuesday, the first team reached finish line when the four-man crew known as Uniting Nations arrived in Hawaii after 43 days on the water. Two days later, the second team, named Battleborn, also wrapped up their row. That squad, which is also a four-person crew, arrived on July 24. The third team, Noman Is An Island, is expected to arrive sometime today.

That leaves five teams still out on the water, with most expected to arrive over the next few weeks. All of them are making great progress towards their goal, although on solo rower, Elsa Hammond, seems to be struggling to get her boat out into the ocean currents that will help carry her to Hawaii. She is far behind the others, and will undoubtedly be the last rower to reach the finish line.

Considering that this is the first ever GPR, it seems that the race has been a remarkable success so far. Despite a rocky start due to some poor weather, the crews have made excellent progress crossing the Pacific. This bodes well for future editions of the race, which looks to be the Pacific's version of the Talisker Atlantic Challenge. While there are no plans to hold the event again next year, race organizers are already gearing up for another edition to take place in 2016.

Congratulations to everyone who has already finished their Great Pacific Race, and good luck to those still out on the water.