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Author Topic: Trip to Nikumaroro  (Read 53529 times)

Monty Fowler

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2014, 10:17:07 AM »

What is one of TIGHAR's maxims? Oh, yes - Adventure is what happens when things go wrong.  ;D

LTM, who already has a shark knife,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 CER
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JNev

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2014, 10:35:30 AM »

Moving right along …..

We've heard back from the folks at Betchart Expeditions who are putting together the 2015 cruise to Nikumaroro.  As you may recall, they were asking for expressions of interest from the public to see if there was enough demand to justify the excursion.  They are flabbergasted.  The response has been greater than they have ever gotten for any proposed trip.  Needless to say, they are moving forward with setting up the logistics and getting ready to start accepting bookings.

They are looking at several ships, all very nice, ranging from 60 to 130 in the number of passengers they can accommodate.  At this point they're projecting 3 full days and two half days at Nikumaroro. Tom King and I are now trying to figure out how in the name of Nei Manganibuka we're going to give upwards of a hundred people a meaningful and rewarding experience at Niku.  Just getting people ashore safely will be a challenge.  The landing channel can be treacherous, especially at low tide with surf running - and our guests will not be carefully selected and hardened TIGHARs.  This is going to take some careful planning.

Floating the portly would give new meaning to the term 'portage' I suppose... and one supposes you'd have fewer to worry about getting back aboard after playing craps with the sharks, sho' nuff.

As to 'what to do on the island' - maybe you and Tom King can figure a way to mount some sort of survey of a meaningful area - a 'FOD walk-down' of sorts, let them 'survey' for scraps.  Of course that many un-trained folks might also hopelessly churn the potential finds, but mother nature has already had a lot of time ahead of them.

Cool opportunity, in a warm place, of course.
- Jeff Neville

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Karen Hoy

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2014, 07:13:33 PM »

Could you divide everyone into smaller groups and rotate them around? Group 1 on the ship, Group 2 on the island, Group 3 reenacting "Jaws." Then the survivors trade places.

I requested a packet from Betchart.

LTM, who thinks group work is the best kind

Karen Hoy #2610CER
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JNev

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2014, 07:51:05 AM »

...well now, cutting scaveola - there's an idea...

"Hey, watch that machete and pass the loppers... say, have you see my eyeball?" 

"Bounced through a minute ago right by Tom's thumb... is that it, lying next to my kneecap on the coral?" 

One can easily see that the leadership will have its hands full to make this safe and meaningful for a bunch of uninitiated tourists - yikes! 

Maybe seasoned TIGHARs can be broken out to lead various smaller groups... but it's getting clear, the 'broader' you make this mission, aka making it attractive to folks at the 'tour' level, the more stretched the resources for the serious research part of it can get. 

Big challenge - kind of an Orient Express exercise - somebody has to safely run the train cross-continent while the murder-mystery party goes on.  One nasty coral cut on some fat guy in horn rims and Bermuda shorts will demand some good medical attention fast, too.  That is probably up to the tour company to provide for, one guesses - otherwise it's yank the brake cord and off the train for Suva or wherever it is they sail from, I guess (only twenty hours to Honolulu by Cigerette Boat over open seas, if calm...). 

Seriously, it is a big deal to make this happen well, that much I can truly appreciate.
- Jeff Neville

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2014, 08:12:07 AM »

We're definitely looking at smallish groups led by veteran TIGHARS.  Amomg the biggest concerns are ship-to-shore transitions. The ship is always on the high seas - never in sheltered water.  And the landing channel is a bit tricky under the best of conditions. 

I've put three short videos up on YouTube to illustrate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_RCQMhQQf8&list=UUBmR8Pp9vdb_1YvOIrLAWog&feature=c4-overview
This first clip shows us disembarking from the skiff at the landing channel on a calm day when the tide was high enough to cover the edges of the blasted-out portion of the channel.  These are pretty much ideal conditions and, as you can see, disembarking is easy - although you still have to be careful on the slippery reef surface.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_auGra-8Jkg&list=UUBmR8Pp9vdb_1YvOIrLAWog&feature=c4-overview
The next clip shows landing on a day with mild swells when the tide is low enough to expose the edge of the channel.  A little trickier.

Sometimes the tide is low enough that the skiff is below the edge of the channel and you have step up onto the reef surface. If there is also a significant swell running it can be hairy. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6iD1sqFxfI&list=UUBmR8Pp9vdb_1YvOIrLAWog&feature=c4-overview
This clip shows coming back aboard Nai'a under choppy sea conditions.  Not for the faint of heart or the clumsy.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2014, 08:15:26 AM »

Quote from: Ric Gillespie link=topic=1413.msg29541#msg29541
Among the biggest concerns are ship-to-shore transitions.

You need some Mulberries.
LTM,

           Marty
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« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 08:48:26 AM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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John Ousterhout

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2014, 08:35:49 AM »

Helicopter?  Is there a reasonable landing area on shore?  Maybe as emergency backup?
Cheers,
JohnO
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2014, 10:12:46 AM »

Helicopter?  Is there a reasonable landing area on shore?  Maybe as emergency backup?

Lots of good places to land a helicopter.  There are long-liners out of Samoa that carry a little Hughes 500 but they're not passenger vessels and a 500 carries only three passengers. We would need  a passenger ship big enough to carry a helicopter.  Ain't no such animal in the Southwest Pacific.

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Greg Daspit

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2014, 10:18:29 AM »

From the videos, it looks like strong team members helping the others disembark. Maybe profiles of the applicant’s physical abilities and experience could be made  so each team assembled could have enough strong members.  However it's kind of hard to plan for that without knowing who is going and what the conditions will be like.
A bollard at the end of the channel would help secure the boat, disembarking and climbing back on the boat.
Or rig one boat with hand rails and steps, anchor it well at the end of the channel (may be even temporarily sink it) and leave it there for the other ferry boats to dock to.
3971R
 
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 10:53:47 AM by Greg Daspit »
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2014, 10:35:46 AM »

A bollard at the end of the channel would help secure the boat, disembarking and climbing back on the boat.
Or rig one boat with hand rails and steps, anchor it well at the end of the channel (may be even temporarily sink it) and leave it there for the other ferry boats to dock to.

The problem is that the landing channel is so dynamic.  The place you disembark changes with the state of the tide.
The best solution might be an amphibious tracked vehicle like the amtracks the Marines used at Tarawa in '43.  Of course, we would then need a ship that could transport and deploy such a vehicle.   I wonder if there is an amphibious launch that could carry at least 10 people and could be carried as deck cargo and launched by crane.  There are amphibious off-road vehicles but they're not seaworthy enough for this job. It's not unusual to have three to four foot seas to deal with on the trip from the ship to the entrance of the channel.
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Monty Fowler

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2014, 10:40:09 AM »

Marty's comment about the Mulberries and D-Day rings true for me after watching those three clips. Sure, you can make a landing pretty much anywhere and anyplace you want, but you have to accept the fact that the winds, seas and tides are in charge, not you. I'm not sure how that fits into the structure of a "cruise" as opposed to an "expedition." I'm guessing that some of the people on the "cruise" might not be terribly understanding about Betchart's inability to control and/or influence Mother Nature.

On the other hand, nothing like a sea voyage to cure what ails you.

LTM,
Monty Fowler, TIGHAR No. 2189 CER
Ex-TIGHAR member No. 2189 E C R SP, 1998-2016
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2014, 10:56:06 AM »

We can caution people about the level of fitness that will be required if they are to participate in all activities offered on the cruise, but I have learned from many years of conducting our Field Schools that some people have an amazing capacity to kid themselves about what they can handle.
That video of coming back aboard Nai'a in choppy weather looks fairly matter-of-fact and the people all look calm and professional - which they were - but everybody knew that the price of even a small mistake could mean a crushed foot or worse. 
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2014, 11:00:32 AM »

Maybe there's a size of hovercraft that would work, from small
to medium
to large
to OMG!
LTM,

Bruce
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2014, 11:03:43 AM »

I like the yellow one.  I wonder if a hovercraft is a real possibility.  On a fairly calm day a hovercraft could go ashore over the reef pretty much anywhere.

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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Trip to Nikumaroro
« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2014, 11:08:58 AM »

I like the yellow one.

The webpage for the manufacturer of the yellow one mentions that it is "designed specifically for the tourist and transport industries," and that it "comfortably seats 25 passengers plus 1-crew"
LTM,

Bruce
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