MMAwave picture space picture February 02, 2001
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At 0800 Atlantic Standard Time, the Training Ship Empire State was underway and heading for St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She was located at 17 degrees and 38 minutes North Latitude and 070 degrees and 03 minutes West Longitude.Punta Palenque, Dominician Republic was 36 nautical miles to the north. She was steering course 079 degrees true at a speed of 14 knots. The weather was pleasant; air temperature 79 degrees and water temperature 78 degrees Fahrenheit; skies were partly cloudy; winds were from the East at 15 knots; barometric pressure was 1017 millibars. Seas were at 4 to 6 feet. The depth of water beneath the keel was 3000 meters.


If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

Frederick Douglass

Shortly after I transmitted yesterday's report the environment turned a bit sour and the soft breezes and gently rolling seas that I described rapidly intensified. Consequently, we made the bumpy jump from the land of the peculiar "Inertial Force" to the domain of the predictable Beaufort Force. Given our northerly course, the emergent Force Six strong breezes and growing easterly seas struck squarely on the beam... and the party began. This Grand Ole' Lady is partial to dancing and when Mother Nature strikes up a lively tune on the Beaufort Scale she loves it. The waves fetched to 12 feet and with a partner like that she really rocks and rolls. She has become notorious for making everyone uncomfortable with her impetuous hoedowns, as those who followed Sea Term last year will remember.

Many of the inexperienced (green) aboard were just beginning to think that they had this sailor thing whipped, but most aren't quite so brash this morning. Nothing like an E-ticket ride on Neptune's Caribbean Express to change a few minds! Sea Sickness, Air Sickness, and common, ground pounder's Motion Sickness, are very different maladies, indeed. Our "sailors" know that now. And, oh yes, little green people do exist, and some big green people, too. I have difficulty telling them apart. I don't know why, but they seem to enjoy hiding their faces in trash bags.

Once again, advances in technology and medicine are making this traditional right of passage a thing of the past. No sooner had the rocking begun than the band-aid brigade appeared. Scopolamine patches sprouted from behind many an ear. Given the reactions to our first "rough" weather I feel certain that these latter day "poultices" will remain until the first swims of summer wash them away. When does one's natural resistance to the "mal de mer" become a way of life? Old salts want to know.

Often, I reference topics that are second nature to life at sea and move to the next paragraph without second thought. I did that today when I briefly described the weather conditions as Beaufort Force six. That tells the mariner everything, but unless the uninitiated are weather channel fanatics, it says nothing. So, permit me to explain.

First, the Beaufort Scale is not a product of modern technology or a meteorological break through. Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort devised it in 1805. The Admiral entered the Royal Navy at age thirteen, and after 48 years of at sea experience developed the scale when he commanded the war ship Woolrich. Then it was a force scale without mention of wind speed. For example, he described "gentle breeze" as that in which a man of war with all sail set would go in smooth water from 3 to 4 knots. Very practical and indispensable to the captain of the sail powered war ship but of limited use in the age of steam. The fact that the scale survived is probably due to the Royal Navy making it mandatory in 1838. We know how difficult it is to change established traditions; especially British Naval traditions.

Today, the Beaufort force descriptors range from Force 0 up to Force 12 and include wind speed with the resulting conditions. When I write Force O, that means wind speeds are less than 1 knot and conditions are calm; the sea is like a mirror. Force 6 represents wind speeds of 22 to 27 knots, a strong breeze, the sea exhibits large waves approximately 3 meters, and probably some spray. Force 12 describes wind speeds of greater than 64 knots, a hurricane with waves at 14 meters, and the air filled with foam and spray, and bad visibility. So, now you know. When I write, conditions are Force 6 all will know what I am trying to convey. I won't mention how the force affects the ship but you will know how it affects the passengers.

Well, folks we must be vigilant, mountaintops are visible to the north, we have an active training day planned, and we must prepare to enter port tomorrow. See you tomorrow from downtown St Thomas.



PSIA = depth x .445 + 14.7

PSIA = 44.05

PSIG = 66 x .445 = 29.37 PSIG

The pressure gauge is calibrated to zero at the ocean surface. However, the earth's atmospheric pressure is approximately 14.7 PSIG there.


Three factors that affect atmospheric density are Temperature, Water vapor, and Elevation.


St. Thomas is in the U.S. Virgin Islands.


During World War I, the United States purchased St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John from Denmark to prevent the establishment of enemy outposts. The islands were bought for $25 million in 1917. They have been American territories since then.