Friday, March 4, 2016

OK this officially bothers me

NASA photo shows the Bering Strait choked with ice.


Alaska is a place where lots of adventurers like to challenge the elements and set off on outrageous expeditions, often underestimating the challenge. In the old days they just never came back. But now, in the days of GPS, SPOT locaters, satellite telephones and several agencies set up to rescue those people, the ones Darwin's theory might have separated from the herd, when they call for help, often requiring heroic efforts by rescuers, and make it back, only to try again if they haven't learned a lesson.

A perfect example occurred in the last couple of days. These two guys decided they would challenge the Bering Strait in late winter, attempting to trek from Wales on the Alaska mainland to Little Diomede, an island out in the middle somewhere. They had skis and kayaks to make their way across ice and open water, in the dynamic ocean environment of winter storms and shifting ice floes.

Thursday the Coast Guard had to fly two helicopters and an fixed wing aircraft all the way from Kodiak to pick them up. It turns out the ice was too thin to walk on and there was too much of it to kayak through it. Imagine that. So they activated their emergency locater beacons and waited for the cavalry.
NASA satellite image of Bering Strait without ice. Cape Dezhnev, Russia
is on the left, the two 
Diomede Islands are in the middle, and 

Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska is on the right.

The Coast Guard rescue crews stationed in Kodiak are loved in Alaska. Watch the movie "The Guardian" some time. They risk their lives constantly rescuing mariners in trouble along Alaska's coast which is longer than the coastline of the rest of the United States combined, literally from Ketchikan to Barrow and that's about to be extended all the way around to the Canadian border in the Arctic Ocean. Year after year we experience or at least read about these people who go out in the worst weather in their helicopters of all things and pull fishermen and sailors off their sinking vessels. That is their job and they consistently perform admirably.

What's wrong here is this time they had to rescue two guys from a misguided adventure as in "hey look at this map of the Bering Strait, I bet we could ski and kayak across it in winter; I bet nobody has ever done that." There's probably a real good reason nobody has done that, if in fact it has never been done.

So the end result is two Coast Guard helicopter crews plus others are sent in hazard to rescue these yokels from a whim of an adventure that didn't have to happen. It's not the first time and it won't be the last. And from the Guard's point of view, you can't really ignore them and leave them out there. You think of the families of the crews whose fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers face death in their helos just to pluck these people from their own mistakes. Besides the danger, imagine the cost to taxpayers of flying two helicopters and a fixed wing and their crews about 500 miles each way to extract adventurers from the Bering ice. In recent years some agencies have begun charging the people they rescue. It's the least these guys could do to pay for their foolishness. They are damned lucky to be alive to pay it.

A bit of an aside here. If you read this blog, you know I use a Spot locater. And while I know I could  use it if I ever got into trouble, the main reason I bought it was a couple times I was a day or two late getting back and some people almost reached the point of calling for a rescue or at least a check on me. My daily check-ins with the Spot prevent anyone from calling an unnecessary rescue on me. Now THAT would be an embarrassing situation.

So, the end result is the Coast Guard in Alaska has pulled off another rescue, two adventurers are all smiles as they ride in a helo from the middle of the Bering Strait to Nome and a warm flight home while the Guard flight crews head back to Kodiak, check and repair and restock their gear in order to be prepared for the next call, all in a day's work, in this case a day's work that didn't really have to happen.

Coast Guard rescues two men stranded in Bering Strait (Anchorage Dispatch News)
British explorers describe their rescue from the Bering Sea

1 comment:

  1. My brother, who is a volunteer fireman, once did a cliff rescue where the guy he rescued kept telling my brother what a superior climber he (the rescued) was to my brother (the rescuer).

    And when my sister was working on the ambulance, she and her partner stopped to tell someone in a Zodiac not to take it out on the open sea. They did it anyway, and guess who got to save their sorry asses?

    People are idiots.

    ReplyDelete

Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

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