Posted on 23 February 2009
This sweeping photo-mosaic of the schooner Walter B. Allen was created by Tamara Thomsen, an underwater archaeologist with the Wisconsin Historical Society, by manually arranging 120 still images.
Researchers from the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory at Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution and the historical society’s Maritime Preservation and Archaeology Program maneuvered a small 3-D HD camera system on a “diver propulsion vehicle” to make overlapping passes to document the wreck. The 136-foot ship sank in Lake Michigan off Manitowoc in 1880 in a gale. The crew was rescued. www.wisconsinshipwrecks.org; www.maritimetrails.org
Ranger Tugs R29 is a couple’s cruiser
The R29, the third model from Kent, Wash.-based Ranger Tugs, will excel as a practical, comfortable, fuel-efficient cruiser for couples who want to explore coastal waters, according to the company.
An extensive list of standard equipment includes a 4-kW generator, bow and stern thrusters, a Garmin 5215 radar/chart plotter/depth sounder, fiberglass swim platform, exterior sink and convection/microwave oven. Major options include air conditioning/reverse cycle heat, a diesel-powered heater and an electric barbecue for the cockpit convenience center. A starboard-side pilothouse door provides access to the side deck and bow.
The forward stateroom has an island berth and a separate head and shower. The midships stateroom has a double berth with a privacy door. The cockpit, saloon and helm station are all on the same level, and there’s a short step up from the saloon to the forward stateroom.
The semidisplacement R29 will cruise at around 17 mph with its single 260-hp Yanmar diesel, and top end is around 23 mph. Fuel capacity is 150 gallons (120 gallons main tank, 30 auxiliary) for an estimated range of 300 to 350 miles.
The R29 has a solid fiberglass bottom and hull sides and a cored deck for weight savings. The builder uses vinylester resin for protection against osmotic blistering. Base price is $239,997. Visit www.rangertugs.com for information.
— Chris Landry
Upgrade your EPIRB
The Coast Guard is encouraging mariners to make the switch to digital 406 MHz EPIRBs. As of Feb. 1, only distress signals transmitted on the 406 MHz frequency will be detected by search-and-rescue authorities. Satellites will no longer process EPIRB signals transmitted on the 121.5 or 243 MHz frequencies.
The 406 EPIRB’s signal is 50 times more powerful than the 121.5, shrinking a search area to about 100 yards and pinpointing the position of a distressed mariner in minutes. Also, the number of false alerts with digital beacons is significantly lower than analog beacons because they are registered with authorities to a specific person and address.
EPIRBs can be registered (in the United States) online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov or by calling (888) 212-7283.
In Our Wake
On March 31, 1909, the keel of the RMS Titanic is laid at Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. The ill-fated 882-foot “unsinkable” ship was launched May 31, 1911. On her maiden voyage April 14, 1912, she struck an iceberg and sank, taking more than 1,500 lives and marking one of the worst maritime disasters in history.
Harnessing wave power
The British firm Orecon is banking that its MRC (multi-resonant chamber) wave-energy conversion buoy — six years in development — will solve the problems that have hindered previous wave-energy devices.
The simplicity of oscillating water column technology has long made it a favored solution for wave-energy conversion applications. However, the OWC’s major weakness has been its low efficiency. Orecon claims to have made a technological breakthrough with MRCs: multiple oscillating water columns that drive air turbo-generator sets. The buoys are about 130 feet in diameter and rise more than 16 feet over waves. All machinery is above water.
Orecon says the MRCs are designed to be tension-moored to the sea floor and operate on site for at least 25 years. A 1.5-megawatt generating capacity delivers grid-compatible power ashore. The company plans to deploy a full-scale device in the summer of 2010, then move on to a commercial rollout of the technology.
In the United States, the Canadian firm Finavera Renewables plans to begin powering 1,500 Northern California homes with wave energy by 2012. More than a dozen wave-energy projects are being researched and developed on the West Coast, according to the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, with many more under development in Europe. Another British firm, Pelamis Wave Power, established the world’s first commercial wave farm last September off Portugal. www.orecon.com
This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue.