The Scuttlefish

Love the Ocean. Wish you were here.

Category: man vs sea

“I was Screaming Sea Shanteys and Shoutin’ at the Gods!” A Glimpse Inside John Lennon’s Sailing Diary.

LennonSailing

John Lennon. Bermuda Bound. Photo Source: Unknown. 

When I was a kid, I was a Beatles fanatic. I was turned onto the band, by my mom of all people, who for some reason gave me the album Magical Mystery Tour when I was maybe nine years old. For some reason too deep for my young mind to fathom, I literally wore out the vinyl grooves pondering its dense layers of sound and meaning. Yellow Submarine and Revolver would have the same effect. The band’s legend was always writ a little more large for me because my aunt lived in a building called the Oliver Cromwell, right across the street from the Dakota, which was home to John Lennon and Yoko Ono. She caught occasional glimpses of the pair ducking in and out of their home right there in front of Central Park. I always craned my neck when we walked by the Dakota, but never got my own glimpse. When Lennon was shot, 35 years ago yesterday, I remember my aunt telling me how for days it was nearly impossible to leave her building for of all the mourners. Even though I was only in eighth grade, I wished I could have been among them.

Today, Scuttlefish commodore Brian Lam hipped me to something I didn’t know about Lennon. He actually became a pretty hardcore sailor late in life. In fact, he credits a hairball journey in June, 1980 from Rhode Island to Bermuda with curing a debilitating bout of writer’s block. It was a voyage that inspired “Watching the Wheels,” “I’m Losing You,” and an early version of “Woman.”

john-lennon-1-800x450

John Lennon and his son Sean. Photo source: Unknown. 

Read more»

Holy Hell. This is Why Giant Waves are the Greatest Show on Earth.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.27.47 PM

That’s gonna hurt. In fact it might just kill you. A frozen moment of carnage at Jaws.
All frame grabs courtesy: World Surf League. 

Yesterday I had the honor of reporting on the the inaugural Big Wave World Tour Pe’ahi Invitational for Surfline.com. Holy hell. The. Most. Insane. Surf. Contest. Ever. Watching it live in my living room on, and wondering if Greg Long, Billy Kemper, Carlos Burle, Shane Dorian and a slew of other madmen were going to even survive this cerulean gladiator pit was a wild, stomach clenching ride – even from the safety of the couch.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.22.43 PM

Shane Dorian. Will he make it? Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

At the end of the line, feel free to give my Surfline story a click, and comment on whether you agree with my prognostications, or whether I’m missing something altogether. — CD

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.22.02 PM

A view from the contest HQ. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.23.17 PM

Maui Local Albee Layer. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.24.11 PM

Helicopter Pilot Don Shearer gets his cameraman a drone’s eye view. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.24.40 PM

The ski would end up a casualty of the wildest surf contest in history. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 5.25.31 PM

Greg Long. Maybe the biggest wave ever paddled into at Pe’ahi. At least Jaws guru Dave Kalama thought so. Frame grab courtesy: World Surf League. 

Read more»

This Great White Feeding Will Give you Something to Ponder On Your Next Swim to Alcatraz.

SharkAttackAlcatraz

Very crimson water, courtesy of a Great White, San Francisco Bay. Screen Grab from video by Chris Hindler. 

With the caption “Guess we know what happened to the few escapees…” YouTube user Chris Hindler captured the lingering fear of every swimmer who ever rounded Alcatraz Island or every surfer who ever paddled out at Fort Point. Yes, that’s a Great White shark eviscerating an unfortunate seal or sea lion near Alcatraz – inside San Francisco Bay. This may well be the first documented feeding of this kind in these waters, and it will probably give pause to the brave people who do this.

SharkFestSwimAlcatraz

Photo: Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim

Read more»

Making the Underwater World Accessible to Disabled.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 1.43.06 PM

Screen shot from the Facebook video posted by Городская жизнь

This beautiful video, shows the serenity of being underwater – unconstricted, floating and exploring in a wheelchair. This video seemed to spark a debate amongst viewers in its comment feed, with some arguing that if you are wheelchair-bound, you would not need it underwater, as long as you could float.

Personally I have no basis to judge that claim, but from experience, many feel that traditional scuba diving gear can be constrictive and claustrophobic. Anything that makes a person comfortable underwater; either mentally or physically, is to me, the power behind this short film. New ways of allowing people of all shapes, sizes or abilities – to experience the magic of the sea, should be a shared and collective goal, for all us. Enjoy!-CS

Life in Salt: Tom Neale – A Look Back at his Sixteen Years on a Deserted Island in the South Pacific

tomwithfish

Tom Neale. Image from his book An Island to Oneself.

In 1952, a man left his life of wanderlust to settle down. At fifty years old, it was time to lay some roots. After all, Tom Neale had been traveling the South Pacific for close to thirty years. But his new, domesticated life would be far from typical. Rather than a house in the suburbs and a white picket fence, Neale intentionally ‘stranded’ himself on an uninhabited coral atoll in Suwarrow, Cook Islands. He lived there, on and off for sixteen years.

The idea of living on the deserted Anchorage Island was seeded by an American travel writer, Robert Frisbie whom Neal had met while bouncing around the South Pacific. Frisbie had written extensively about Polynesia and the South Pacific. After years of living in Tahiti and then losing his wife, he and his five children fulfilled his lifelong dream by calling the tiny Anchorage home.

the island

Anchorage Island in the Suwarrows today. Screen grab from the video compilation on the life of Tom Neale. Video by Hajnács Tamás

The family spent a year on the island and their story of surviving a typhoon by lashing themselves to tamanu trees that bend, rather than break, became serialized in The Atlantic Monthly as The Story of an Island: Marooned by Request in 1943 and later in the novel The Island of Desire.

ckcolor

Map of the Cook Islands. Image from World Atlas.

Read more»

On the Shoulders of Giants. Honoring Sean Collins, Larry “Flame” Moore and the Greatest Big Wave Discovery of the 21st Century; Cortes Bank

CortesSurfline2001

A couple of months ago, Surfline’s editorial director Dave Gilovich reached out and asked if I’d be interested in helping put together a big feature that honored our friends Sean Collins, the late, great founder of Surfline.com, and Larry “Flame” Moore, the late, great photo editor of Surfing Magazine. The idea was to create a narrative web and film-based feature on Sean and Flame’s proudest moment – the first successful big wave expedition to surf of the titanic waves of the Cortes Bank. The mission dropped the collective jaws of the surfing world, led to the first of Mike Parsons’ two world records, and left surfers wondering what the hell else is out there over the horizon?

Read more»

Last Man Off: Author and Shipwreck Survivor Matt Lewis Discusses Disaster, Survival and Regret in the Southern Ocean

image description

Above: Likely the last (recoverable) photo taken of the Sudur Havid. All of Mr. Lewis’ photos from the voyage lie beneath the South Atlantic, somewhere to the west-northwest of South Georgia Island.

In April of 1998, a 23-year-old marine biologist named Matt Lewis boarded the Sudur Havid, a commercial fishing vessel headed for the Southern Ocean in search of Patagonian toothfish (better known for its more common market name, “Chilean sea bass”). He was to be a scientific observer, documenting the vessel’s catch. It was his first job out of school.

The vessel was to spend several months at sea between the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties and the Screaming Sixties, great conveyor belts of wind and current, named in reference to the almost constant 40-60-knot winds and 40-60-foot seas that occur within those southern latitudes. It was an adventurous gig – the kind of thing a young, freshly lettered bachelor is supposed to get himself into.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 9.01.30 PM

“With my mum and sister in Somerset before the trip, 1997. I know: bad hair, dreadful beard, but I was young.” Photo courtesy of Matt Lewis.

Two months into the excursion, the Sudur Havid was off South Georgia Island in a heavy storm, possibly overloaded, but continuing to fish, per usual, when the ship’s factory (where the fish are processed and frozen) began to take on water. The inboard pumps, which were used to drain the factory, became clogged, and stopped working. Slowly, the ship began to list, and the reality that she would have no chance of making port set in amongst the crew. South Georgia Island was 170 miles away–too far for helivac–and South Africa and South America were both well over 1,000 miles away.

Now it was a nightmare.

The ship, which Lewis, junior amongst the crew, had assumed was prepared for such an emergency, was carrying unserviced life rafts and no survival suits. The water over the rail was as good as freezing, about 32.5° fahrenheit (~0.25° celsius)–a temperature at which even a healthy human body can last no more than 45 minutes.

“When you’re in trouble, you pull together, fight together, try to laugh and keep your spirits up. But there’s only so much you can do when the water is so cold.”

Read more»

Do Humans Have a Future in Deep Sea Exploration? My Newest Story in The New York Times Story Poses the Question.

15SUBSCOVER1-master1050-v2

Terry Kerby, the head of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, peers through the porthole of a Pisces V research submarine. Photo: Kent Nishimura for The New York Times. 

This past Spring, I was honored to spend some time with a most remarkable oceanographer. Terry Kerby is the director of the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. The admiral of HURL’s Pisces deep-sea submersible program, Kerby is arguably the most experienced submariner the face of the earth. The discoveries he and his crew have made with the help of the of bug-eyed, mantis-armed Pisces submarines, have re-written the very history of World War II and changed our very understanding of the life on earth. Yet the future of Kerby’s operation is uncertain, thanks to budget cuts – and robots.

Read more»