Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Lost At Sea - Rory Gallagher

Back to reality today as I left the tranquillity and company of Emsworth early this morning after just one (all too short) full day with Paul and Tess. The trap was active both nights of my stay in their well appointed
where 3 new species for the year were secured.


a 'light' version plus

a 'dark' specimen of
In addition there was a most 'weird' Insect which turns out to be
the only LEAFHOPPER species to exist in the whole of Europe.
Back at the Ranch, and I bumped into another 2 interesting creatures.
The Spider and the Fly
“Will you step into my parlour?” said the spider to the fly;
“’Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy.
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I have many pretty things to show when you are there.”
“O no, no,” said the little fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
Mary Howitt (1799 - 1888)
of the family (Salticidae) which contains more than 500 described genera and about 5,000 species, making it the largest family of Spiders with about 13% of the world's species. They have some of the best vision among invertebrates and use it in courtship, hunting, and navigation. Though they normally move quietly and fairly slowly, most species are capable of very agile jumps, notably when hunting, but sometimes in response to sudden threats.
Both their book lungs and the tracheal system are well-developed, and they use both systems (bimodal breathing). Jumping Spiders are generally recognised by their eye pattern and all have four pairs with one being their particularly large anterior median eyes. Info thanks to Wikipedia.
Further to this, I watch this splendid arachnid for a full 10 minutes and noted the distance it was able to jump, which set me on a mission. About 1/8th of an inch in length (smaller than a garden pea) it was estimated to jump about 4 inches in a single leap, 16 x its own body length! So, over to 6 feet 2 inches Olympic Gold Medalist Longjumper
who 'inch for inch' could only manage 27 feet 3 inches at best.
To out do our Jumping Spider, pro-rata body length, he would need 
to achieve nearly 99 feet! A FEAT in itself. 
PS - I do hope the maths are right!
and the FLY? Almost forgot about that!
Maybe a FRUIT FLY Sp and quite an attractive little creature.
An e-Mail from former 'shipmate' Paul (Andy) Knapp inspired me to publish his account of one of 'many' marine rescues carried out by the 'much maligned' Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service a Nation Wide organisation, in essence a support force to the Royal Navy. I say maligned as in all port where the RMAS existed it was referred to as Sleepy Valley by most 'shore-side' workers as to them it seemed we did little in the way of work. There was of course an element of jealousy as sea-going crews were paid far more than those who were content to work sociable hours and go 'home to Mum' every night. Having spent some 48 years at sea, I feel well placed to make a formative judgement and will state that the crews of these mighty vessels were among the 'FINEST' Seamen it has been my pleasure to work alongside. I'm sure Andy will not mind when I dedicate the story that follows to all of them! 

Paul Knapp
Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service Ocean Tug 'Confiance'
(crossing Portland Harbour)
The Star Lyon, a 9,000 ton Cypriot coaster was rescued “just in the nick of time” as she drifted within two miles of the Chesil Beach early yesterday morning. The incident happened as gale-force winds strength eight to nine, battered the south coast. RMAS Confiance, a Portland Naval Base Ocean Tug, managed to get a towing cable aboard the stricken vessel in the very rough sea conditions. The Star Lyon which had just unloaded a cargo at Castletown Pier, within Portland Harbour, was in ballast and returning to Teignmouth for a cargo of china clay, and was being blown towards the shore.
The Weymouth Lifeboat stood by, whilst the tug battled with very rough seas whipped up by the 50 mph winds. It was only the superb ship handling by the tugs Captain, Jack Clark, and the endeavours of the towing deck crew, which eventually enabled the tow to be passed to the Star Lyon.
The Royal Navy Duty Officer said, “The alarm was raised at about 5am, we called the tug’s crew in, and RMAS Confiance was out to sea by 07:00. She met up with the Star Lyon at 09:30 and six hours later brought her safely back to harbour”.
“A towing hawser was secured into the coaster just in time as she was drifting at a rate of one and a half knots towards Chesil Beach, forced on by the gale force winds. She was just two miles from the beach off West Bexington when the tug managed to get the tow onboard. Portland Coastguard reported, “the Star Lyon’s captain radioed just after 4am, saying that he was in trouble six miles off Portland Bill and was being blown towards the shore and being 'in ballast' (empty of cargo) was so light he had very little control over his ship”.
Weymouth Lifeboat coxswain, Mr Alf Pavey commented, “Conditions were atrocious, the Star Lyon was making no headway at all against the sea”. “I told the skipper I couldn’t do anything for him, only standby, if we got any closer to the beach, I would have to have taken the crew off". Then the tug arrived and managed to get a towing hawser aboard. Once the tow was attached the Lifeboat and the tug fought their way back through the rough seas, bringing the Star Lyon safely back to Portland Harbour.
A spokesman for the tug’s crew explained the difficulties of passing and attaching the tow. "The ship handling by the tug’s Captain was crucial to the whole operation in these very difficult conditions, he managed to hold the towing deck just below the rising and falling bow of the coaster, close enough in fact, so that the tow-deck crew, sometimes up to their waists in water, could pass the messenger (a lighter rope) to the vessel’s foredeck above. The crew of the Star Lyon were exhausted and had difficulty in hauling in the messenger as it was only at the third attempt that they managed to haul in enough line to attach it to their winch, and subsequently pull in the larger towing wire".
Due to the shallow water around the coast, the towing wire had to be kept short. If too much wire had been paid out there was a possibility of it snagging the seabed. This led to the wire snatching regularly with the danger of parting the tow. The engineer on the towing winch had to constantly veer the wire out and then before it bottomed out, reel it back in again. The tow-deck crew were in attendance all the time checking the state of the wire. The sea conditions were very rough and the seas broke over the towing deck continuously, were the crew were in waist deep water most of the time.
Finally we rounded Grove Point and got some respite from the seas and eventually returned the Star Lyon back to where she started out from, safe and sound in Portland Harbour, and seeing that it was Christmas Eve, we wished them “A Very Happy Christmas”!
Able Seaman (AB), Boatswain, Chief Officer (Mate) and Captain
of RMAS CONFIANCE during my time
this is an image of a previous crew.
(far back) Dougie Baker - Chief Stoker, George Greenwood - Cook, (middle) Jack Lock and Terry Williams - Stokers, Kevin Kirton, Gary Cluett and Richard Brooks - AB's, (front row) Dennis Westcott - Chief Engineer, Albert (Curley) Hanger - Captain, Moi - Mate, Steve Garnett - Cabin Boy, Jim Creasy - AB, Stan Roberts - Boatswain and Conrad McCautrie - Second Engineer. I feel this will bring back a few memories to a number of our readers!
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We are likely to be 'laid-up' over the next few days, circumstances beyond our control, which may put constraints on Posts. At the very best items from the archive will be on view, but if we should miss a day normal service will be resumed soon after!
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