HAMNET Report 28th August 2022

Tropical Cyclone MA-ON 22 was announced on Monday this week, brushing the Northern-most tip of Philippines and travelling due West, to hit mainland China on Wednesday the 24th at 06h00 UTC. Wind speeds of up to 140 km/h were expected in the following 5 days, 19 million people were in its path of destruction, and Vietnam was the next country in its focus after China.

Fortunately, by Thursday the 25th, the storm’s maximum wind speeds had reduced to 120 km/h, though still threatening a huge number of people at the periphery of the storm’s path. Not much news has come to light of damage or injury so far.

Well known Agulhas radio amateur Trevor ZS1TR was involved in the search and rescue attempts, as the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, the NSRI, and Cape Town Radio (CTR) tried to find the yacht Panacea and her lone sailor, somewhere between Cape Town and Mossel Bay last week and overdue in Mossel Bay..

Though not in very good seaworthy condition, Panacea had set sail from Cape Town on 12th August, and, by 18th, not yet arrived in Mossel Bay. The sailor’s family was naturally very worried and contacted CTR to initiate a search.

Trevor alerted his coastal radio contacts to keep a listening watch, but, by nightfall on 18th, nothing had been heard in the way of distress signals. At around 10h30 Central African Time on the 19th, an ocean-going vessel, the Solin reported a possible sighting of the yacht, but communications were poor, and a language barrier between Trevor and the Solin’s operator made confirmation difficult. A vessel nearby called Monsoon started to act as “interpreter”, relaying information between the Solin, Trevor, and Cape Town Radio.

MRCC subsequently directed a third vessel, a 276m tanker called Front Clipper, to divert from her course and head to the coordinates received from
Solin and Monsoon. Front Clipper found the yacht, positively identified it with photographs, and stood by, while the NSRI at Hermanus and Stilbaai was activated to try to recover the yacht. Front Clipper had seen no sign of life on the yacht.

Seeing that the NSRI was on its way, Front Clipper was released to carry on its journey, and NSRI at Agulhas was also activated to head to the area. Arriving in the dark, and in adverse weather, the NSRI vessels were unable to locate the yacht, and so stood down until the morning of the 20th.

On Saturday the 20th, MRCC dispatched a SAAF Oryx helicopter from 22 Squadron, with airborne sea rescue, to continue searching, together with the NSRI vessels.

The Panacea was finally found on Saturday afternoon, as well as the lifeless body of the lone sailor. The Stilbaai rescue craft of the NSRI attempted to tow the yacht back to Stilbaai, but in deteriorating weather, was forced to release the tow.

Eventually, the deep sea rescue craft Spirit of Safmarine lll was launched from Mossel Bay early Sunday morning, and managed to connect a towline to the yacht, and install a water extrication pump. Before a second pump could be installed and 12 nautical miles from Mossel Bay, the yacht Panacea sadly sank, taking her sailor to a watery grave.

Attempts will be made to raise the yacht, and hopefully retrieve the body of the sailor. Our condolences are extended to his family, and our thanks go to Trevor, ZS1TR, in his experienced role as maritime communications specialist, and the NSRI, MRCC and Cape Town Radio for their valiant attempts to reach the yacht and its occupant.

Thank you to the NSRI headquarters, reports from Trevor, and HAMNET Western Cape, for this summary of events.

In an attempt proactively to reduce the impact of weather disasters in the area, the United Nations (U.N.) announced its plans to establish a disaster preparedness hub in the Caribbean earlier this month. Located at the international airport in Bridgetown, Barbados, the hub will support air and sea operations to accelerate responses to natural disasters in the region.

“The Caribbean islands are right on the frontlines of climate change. As hurricanes become more frequent and severe, we need to be fully prepared so that lives are saved, livelihoods are defended and hard-won development gains are protected,” said World Food Programme Chief David Beasley when announcing plans for the hub.

It’s something that’s desperately needed in a region that is notoriously hard hit by natural disasters. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions regularly have an impact on the Caribbean, making the need for a preparedness hub long overdue.

When small islands with fragile economies are hit by multiple hurricanes in a year, the economic impact can be overwhelming. Many of the Caribbean islands rely on tourism as a large part of their economy. Hurricanes not only cause immediate damage but also deter tourism until clean-up and restoration is complete.

A supplied logistics hub in the Caribbean will reduce response and coordination times when disaster strikes.

When there is proper preparation for a disaster, the effects of that disaster are reduced substantially. It might sound like common sense, but even still it has been difficult to get funding to prepare for disasters. Having the supplies ready to go, staff trained, and transport vehicles available to dispatch when a disaster strikes, such as is being constructed in Barbados, will save money and lives.

The planned hub in Barbados is a step in the right direction to alleviate the effects of natural disasters in one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions.

Thank you to triplepundit.com for these excerpts from their report.

Phys.org reports this week that an area of the brain specifically involved in putting in effort to help others out has been pinpointed by scientists at the University of Birmingham and University of Oxford.

The research, published in Current Biology, shows that effortful altruistic behaviour – choices people make that help others – takes place in a different part of the brain from that used to make physically demanding choices that help oneself.

Understanding more precisely what goes on in the brain when these decisions are made could help clinicians to develop approaches for treating psychopathic behaviours. It could also be useful for better understanding why people are willing to perform everyday effortful helping behaviours like voluntary work, recycling waste to slow global warming or stopping to help strangers.

Let’s hope we’ve all got that piece of brain functioning at full throttle.

This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.