Saturday, July 29, 2017

Learning: Stay Gold

For a Navy Chief about to become a naval officer, a trip from Gig Harbor, Washington to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in a 36-foot sailboat "Stay Gold" became a lifetime adventure. Brian Bugge ("Boogie") and his crew mates Beau Romero, Willy Kunkle and Chris Ryder completed the journey this week, a journey and learning experience made possible because of the love and support of Brian's wife, Ashley. Anna General, editor of Navy Region Hawaii's "Ho'okele" published a three-part series about the team's adventure, "From Gig to Pearl," available at Of course, Navy Reads focused in on what was on the crew's reading list. Here are some excerpts of Anna's series:

by Anna General

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Brian Bugge received orders to transfer to Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet Hawaii and will be promoted to an Ensign Limited Duty Officer on Aug. 1.

(Courtesy Stay Gold)
Prior to receiving his orders to transfer, Bugge had purchased a 36-foot sailboat which now gives him an opportunity to sail across the Pacific Ocean with his crew members Beau, Willy and Christopher.

After a year and a half of planning and preparing to get the crew physically, emotionally and financially ready, the boat (Stay Gold) was ready for its voyage to Hawaii.

“We decided to sail to Hawaii because it has been a lifelong dream of mine,” Bugge said. When the Navy said I could work in Hawaii and we just bought a boat that was capable of the journey, it seemed like the perfect thing to do.”

Ashley Bugge said, “Brian has put countless hours  literal blood, sweat and tears into making this dream come true for himself and it is the best feeling to be a part of this accomplishment for him. This is something he will look back on for the rest of his life and be able to say ‘I did that. I made that happen for myself and I'll have it forever.’”

(Photo from NOAA)
Although they have faced some challenges along the way, the crew encountered a wondrous sight as they sailed from Seiku to Cape Flattery, Washington at sunset.
“That night we passed through a massive pod of humpbacks, we even had two within a few feet of the boat! Yesterday, we had Pacific white-sided dolphins riding our bow wake for over an hour. Pretty amazing sight,” Bugge said.

Overcoming and tackling obstacles along the journey has been an adventure for the four-man crew as they approach Hawaii at average speeds. As they face the challenges of the open sea, their journey continues to their destination — Pearl Harbor.

“I think the most stressful part of being at sea so far away from anyone else is the total trust you develop in your fellow crew members and the boat,” said Brian Bugge, skipper of the Stay Gold crew.

“I’m really impressed with everyone’s cool heads and ability to solve problems under pressure. I feel like sailing is just a series of problems that require solving, along with some wind and sails,” he said.

With minimal sleep, dead batteries and a malfunctioning backstay (part of the sail rigging), they always keep their spirits high and work as a team to keep the boat moving.

Along the voyage, they spot a few albatross — said to be a sign of good luck and favor to the Sailor.

“It’s believed that the albatross holds the heart of a Sailor and they bring good omen,” Bugge said. “Let’s hope so.”

After their first week out to sea, their voyage has been more relaxing.

For tracking the weather conditions and communication, the crew uses an IridiumGo and Predict Wind to stay connected with the world while they are out to sea on the boat. This allows them the ability to post updates to their Facebook page, blog and have access to email.

As they motored on in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the time under the motor has given them the opportunity to relax, change batteries and catch up on reading despite having to shout to talk to someone four feet away.

“Beau (who hadn't decided what to pick from Stay Gold's library) finally picked 'John Adams' by David McCullough. I’m working through 'True Spirit' by Jessica Watson (the story of an Australian teenager's around-the-world sailing adventure)," Bugge said. 

"Willy is reading 'Blood Meridian' by Cormac McCarthy and Chris is reading 'Adventures at Sea in the Great Age of Sail,' edited by Captain Elliot Snow.

Earlier in the afternoon that day, the crew comes across a pod of dolphins and whales.

“It was hard to tell. We thought they were orcas at first but after they came closer they seemed like really big dolphins,” Bugge said.

As weather conditions continue to change and the wind started to pick up, they make it to the middle of the Pacific — closer to Hawaii.

While the tradewinds picked up, they reach 70 miles in the last nine hours.

“That’s quick for a 36-foot sailboat; we were able to keep a layline for Hawaii. The boat and crew are holding up well and we are in good spirits enjoying the ride.

The night before was magical as they witness the bioluminescence in the water.

“As the hull cut through the waves it would leave a trail of brightly shimmering creatures on the waters surface. You could look out from the boat, in the pitch black, and see the crests of the waves as they disrupted the water surface what would normally be white water glowed in the dark,” Bugge said.

“It looked like something out of a children’s book or another world even! So beautiful, it just reminds me how much there is to discover about the world we live in and how much of it is right in front of our eyes.”

As they made progress towards Honolulu, they were all getting anxious to get off the boat and get some downtime, take a good shower and sleep in a clean bed…

“We’ve seen a few aircraft flying overhead…first signs of civilization after venturing through 1500 miles of uninhabited badlands. The ocean is huge, it really makes one feel insignificant,” Bugge said.

Brian Bugge arrives in Pearl Harbor July 27. (Photo by MC1 Hinton)
(Stay Gold arrived safely in Pearl Harbor early on July 27, 2017.) This voyage has been a lifelong dream for Bugge and his crew as motivation drove them to take on this Pacific adventure.

“I had to do this voyage, I’ve recently realized, because I needed to know who I am,” said Bugge as he continues to share what motivated him.

“Ashley has encouraged me to live my life to the fullest, not anyone else’s. I didn’t even know what that was until recently. We have kids now, bills, houses and cars. Surely it wouldn’t be possible to undertake something as massive as crossing an ocean in a 36-foot sailboat. Her encouraging spirit has sparked my inner vision for who I am and what I want from life,” Bugge said.

“I can say with confidence — I am a Sailor. Through and through.”

(From Stay Gold's blog: "Ashley is a big reason why we are here ... To see this dream realized is almost too good to believe. I’ve laid awake at night thinking what it will be like to sail in the middle of the ocean, with nothing around but the stars and the sound of the waves to keep company – without Ashley and her tireless efforts, this endeavor would have never occurred. A debt I can never repay but I’ll spend the rest of my life trying.")

[Learning: Also on Brian's reading list: "Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation" by Thich Nhat Hanh, Thich Nhat Hanh, Penguin Random House (1999)]

Sunday, July 16, 2017

'Tides' Turn

St. Mary's lighthouse, Whitley Bay, Northumberland.
Review by Bill Doughty

"Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean" by Jonathan White (Trinity University Press, 2017):

"Although we think of ourselves as sailing across the ocean's surface, we are also sailing down the low tide's valleys and up the high tide's mountains."

"Large or small, the tide is always on the move, swelling against one coast while shrinking from another. It never begins and never ends."

Can we fully understand the mysteries of time and tides?

Aristotle was mesmerized and "perplexed" by tides and currents. Maori of New Zealand believed a woman-god who lived on the moon caused the rise and fall of the tides. Ancient Chinese saw the Milky Way as a great waterwheel that filled the oceans, and the tides as "caused by a sea serpent slithering in and out of its cave."

For the Mayans, a giant crab stirring caused the tides. Plato believed the earth was a large animal and "the tides were the sloshing of its inner fluids."

Superstitions ruled the world before the age of enlightenment, when science began to explain some of the mysteries of the universe, including the nature of the planets and the powerful relationship between our planet and its moon.

Newton discovered the "ghostly force called gravity" as the unseen cause of the tides.

Leonardo da Vinci (and recently Adm. James Stavridis) compared the oceans to lungs, vital to life on earth.

In "Tides" Jonathan White explores the history, science and study of tides, with short detours to examine Newton's death mask, contemplate gifted Polynesian navigators, listen to acoustic resonance in the ocean, observe a coming-of-age ceremony in the Caribbean, and jump in for discussion of big-wave surfing at Mavericks, California. 

He examines treacherous tides, rapids and passages, including Vancouver's Ripple Rock, which claimed the U.S. Navy steamer Saranac in 1875. "A crewmember wrote, 'Here the contending currents take a vessel by the nose and swing her from port to starboard and from starboard to port as a terrier shakes a rat.'" Over the decades Ripple Rock killed at least 144 people, until the rock was blown up and obliterated in 1958.

Rene Descartes
The quality of White's prose and his exploration of science are a joy for readers. Books/authors in epigraphs and text include:

  • John Steinbeck's "The Log from the Sea of Cortez"
  • Sir Walter Scott's "Redgauntlet"
  • The Bible -- story of Moses [in Bruce Parker's "The Power of the Sea"]
  • James Frazer's "The Golden Bough"
  • Pliny's "Natural History"
  • Benjamin Franklin's observation about wind and waves
  • Newton, Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Hugo, Bacon, Milton, Laplace, Whewel, Harris, "and scores of others" who championed science in the face of religious persecution

Some of the interesting science revealed in "Tides":

  • Four zones of tidal exposure
  • Grunion runs in southern California and northern Baja
  • The fact that the Atlantic is tied to the moon, and the Pacific is tied to the sun (Tied tides?)
  • The Bay of Mont Saint-Michel, off France's Normandy coast, with its 45-foot tidal range
  • Qiantang River bore-watching in China, where the tide comes in not in six hours but in six seconds.
  • One can be killed fighting a tide
  • The tide always turns.
  • Friction and energy run deep:

"Through friction, (the tide) loses energy – lots of it. Some is absorbed in the ocean floor as heat, but most of it exerts a torque on the earth's rotation, slowing ever so slightly the length of our days and, in turn, causing the moon to speed up and spiral away. Thus, the moon, which causes the tide, is in turn pushed away by the tide. What we witness when we sail through narrows is friction at work. Every whirlpool, every eddy, every dimple of tension is evidence of energy moving from the moon to the water and back to the moon."
White explores the potential of renewable energy and the future possibilities of tide, wind and wave energy.

The Kennedy administration examined tide energy possibilities in the early 1960s in coordination with Canada to address the energy needs of New England. 

"Harnessing the energy of the tides," Kennedy said, "is an exciting technological undertaking ... Each day, over a million kilowatts of power surge in and out of he Passamaquoddy Bay. Man needs only to exercise his engineering ingenuity to convert the ocean's surge into a great national asset."

According to White, "Kennedy's bold advocacy of tide energy ended abruptly with his assassination in November 1963, just four months after his groundbreaking speech at the White House." That speech included this insight from former naval officer President Kennedy: "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need people who can dream of things that never were."

Does a nautilus shell transcribe the nature of tides?
White explores not only the evolution of nature as discovered by Charles Darwin, but also the nature of evolution in dynamic environments, including the early formation of life. "What if we were born in a tidepool and our attraction to the sea is a coming home."

He asks: Can evidence of the earth's rotational history be found in coral and nautilus sea creatures? Can accelerating climate change be stopped in time to prevent increasing rises in sea level?
"Sea level itself is a slippery concept – not at all easy to distill into definitive measurements or predictions. The sea, in fact, is not level. It doesn't lie flat like undisturbed water in a bathtub or pool but piles up in one place and retreats from another. The western Pacific is about three feet higher than the eastern Pacific (due to the northeast trade winds), and the eastern Pacific is ten inches higher than the Atlantic. On the U.S. Atlantic coast, sea levels slope downward from south to north by four or five inches. Different landmasses, due to variations in density and gravitational pull, force seawater this way or that. The oceans are lifted by the Himalayas and Andes and sucked downward by undersea mountain ranges. In the Pacific during El NiƱo years, when the trade winds relax, seawater that had been pushed westward sloshes back eastward, bringing higher ocean levels to the U.S. west coast."
Kircher's 1646 "shadowdial" shows the yin and yang of moon phases.
White takes us from Alaska and the Arctic, to India and China; from France and UK, to Suriname and Venice; and to oceans, rivers and bays, including the Bay of Fundy in Canada. 

Science and spirit: He examines how tides were described by ancient monks and scholars, including in "The Selenic Shadowdial or the Process of Lunation" from Athanasius Kircher's "Ars Magna Lucis et Umbrae" (1646). And he contemplates how the tides influence biology.

The book begins and ends with what can be revealed in the life, bodies and "internal clocks" of mudshrimp, Corophium, that are the size of rice grains. These translucent organisms' lifecycles are tied to tides, as is are the lives of the sandpipers who feed on the tiny shrimp. 

Marine animals and birds aren't the only ones influenced by the tides; "More than half the world's population lives on or near the coast, and there is no coast or ocean without a tide," White writes.

"The economic and scientific, social and biological dynamics at play here are also at play for billions of people across our watery planet."

White concludes: The tide teaches. The tide vibrates. The tide lives. And the tide can kill.

The Kuna Yala people in Panama are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. (Courtesy Jonathan White)

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Stavridis on 'Sea Power,' Service

by Bill Doughty

Retired Admiral James Stavridis told NPR's Steve Inskeep last month, "You know what you see when you look out the bridge of a ship? You see eternity."

He spoke about being a young ship handler coming into Pearl Harbor for the first time, and seeing the experience as a lesson in not being “overly impulsive,” not acting unilaterally, and instead relying on the power of teamwork. “It's a powerful metaphor for almost everything in life.”

In a talk to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Policy on June 5, Stavridis says, "Sea Power is at the heart of American Power":

We are a maritime nation in an ocean-reliant world.  

Stavridis, a surface warfare officer and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, takes readers on a personal journey at sea and on the world stage, reflecting how the seas have shaped who we are today.

The author of "Sea Power" (Penguin Press, 2017) has a wide and long vision. His book is subtitled, "The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans."
He calls the oceans the "lungs" of the earth. He notes that 95 percent of the world's trade is by sea. And, he shows that today's potential conflict flashpoints are tied to the waters: western Pacific (North Korea), Arctic (as climate change creates new sea routes), Indian Ocean ("a space of geopolitical criticality), South China Sea (with key sea lanes), eastern Mediterranean Sea (which "has seen more war than any other sea space on earth").
He looks at the Caribbean as a region shared by many people "of the America's" and a zone of partnership. And he singles out India as a hopeful beacon for the future of democracy. He is an advocate of humanitarian missions as good investments for a more peaceful world.

Earlier this year Stavridis served as a keynote speaker at West 2017, where he spoke about what we need for interconnected global and national security:

He facilitated a discussion with the chiefs of the sea services, too, posing and leading questions with the commandants of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard and with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson:

In April 2017, he presented the commencement address at Dickinson College and spoke about education, political diplomacy, humanitarian medical care, entrepreneurial spirit, freedom of the press, and volunteerism. The theme is the importance of service, exemplified by the Greek general Themistocles and his army/navy in defeating Xerxes and the Persians in 480 BCE:

In a fascinating talk at the Naval War College in 2014, Stavridis, who is now Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, spoke about the importance of building bridges in the modern world:

In his "Sea Power," Stavridis brings the legacy and insights of Mahan into the 21st century, expanding Mahan's critical thinking to include not only history, but also literature, environment and future-focused thinking – including the role and threat of cyber warfare. We look forward to reading and learning more.