Preparing For the Worst

How Safe Would a Boat Be During a Tsunami?

I recently completed an article about the possibility of using a boat in place of a vehicle for your BOV. In the same article I stressed that one of the major downfalls of this idea was the possibility of Tsunami's occurring. Since this possibility is a real threat I thought it would be best to follow up and discus this issue in a bit more detail.

The NOAA has stated that since tsunami activity is greatly increased in the open seas there are certain precautions you should observe. As a pilot aboard an ocean vessel you should never attempt to return to your home port or any port for that matter if you are already at sea and the authorities have issued a warning in your area. The problem with Tsunamis is that they can quickly change the water levels and produce unpredictable and dangerous currents within boat docking areas. As the owner of a boat it would be in your best interests to maneuver your vessels further out towards the sea assuming there is time to do so. Usually people are forbidden from remaining on their boats when notification are issued for an approaching tsunamis.

Do not be misled by thinking that this ocean phenomenon only occurs in places such as the Asian theater or the surrounding locations of the Indian Ocean, for you would be falsely assuming. During the 1985 mainland earthquake that devastated Mexico City a tsunami was generated shortly after. In Nicaragua in 92 the town of Popoyo was completely wiped out along with 300 deaths as a result of a tsunami. The town of Pisco in Peru has been destroyed at least four times in the last five centuries by tsunamis. This tells me that no place is safe from a possible tsunami.

Several governmental agencies including FEMA and NOAA have increased their awareness of the possibility of a tsunami appearing along the United States coastal areas. It was this concern that initiated the program intended to predict the tsunamis arrival. As the tsunami begins crossing the ocean it passes over a series of sensitive recorders located on the sea floor. These instruments measure the various pressure changes felt in the ocean waters overhead. This information is then relayed to data satellites and extremely transmitted to NOAA warning centers.

Even though we have all this sophisticated equipment a person still has to use common sense in making decisions. As an individual, in the event that you receive word of an exceptionally strong earthquake occurring in your vicinity do not remain there and wait for the official tsunami warning. Immediately get out of the way. If you are on land move to higher ground. If at sea in your boat you should do your best to reach some sort of shore however in the event that is impossible move to a safer location afloat and hold on tight.

Accounts from the logs and interviews with ship captains who have sailed over a particular region when an earthquake occurs have reported that they felt as if their ship had been hit by a pile of rocks. although in reality the ship was thousands of feet above the water. There were consistent reports of violent shaking as well as loud sounds of booming. This is a result of energy being radiated from the center of the earthquake in the form of what is called compression waves. These waves are similar to sound waves but as the compression waves strike the bottom of the vessel they bounce off and cause shaking.

In the event that you are a good distance from the earthquake you can expect that the tsunami was actually generated and you will always be hit by it. This results in your boat being at the mercy of the rising and falling of the sea current level. If you are at your dock the boat may hit the bottom of the sea or on the other hand float up until your anchor line is stretched to its max. Therefore the safest place would be in deeper water of sometimes 150 feet or more.

I have kindly touched upon the subject in this short article and recommend that you contact your local coast guard unit for additional learning material. The USGS has published a pamphlet entitled "Surviving a Tsunami, the Lessons from Chile, Hawaii, and Japan" which is well worth reviewing.

How safe would a boat be during a Tsunami?
By Joseph Parish

Copyright @ 2010 Joseph Parish

Source by Joseph Parish

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