storm pretty well, although the wind was blowing so hard we got some leakage around those stainless steel frames we put on the wheelhouse windows.”
I remembered the two times I made the crossing between Oahu and Kauai in the Kuu Huapala, with Captains George Paxton and Karl Adams, on our way to fish for marlin around Kauai and Nihau. We ran all night to get across in seas 6 to 8 feet high—no storms, just the normal sea state for the Kauai Channel. To the north and south of the islands the depth is more than 2,000 fathoms, while in the channel the bottom rises up and is only 400 or 500 fathoms deep and the islands act to funnel big swells from the northeast into the channel. It seems it is always rough out there. At one point we had a big ice chest with a couple of hundred pounds of ice. It got loose as the boat rolled in the seas and gave new meaning to the term “loose cannon,” until we were able to get it lashed down again. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be in the Kauai Channel in a storm, much less in a hurricane! I thanked Gallimore and Blinsinger for their time, and wished them good fishing and good weather.
“Don’t run into any rogue waves,” I told Gallimore. “Yeah, right,” he said. “Once in a lifetime is enough.”
Not long after my visit, a damaged ship limped into Honolulu. It was the 590-foot-long cruise ship M/V Explorer, with 700 college undergraduates on board—really a floating college, complete with a library, nine classrooms, and a computer lab. The vessel departed Vancouver on January 18, 2005, en route to South Korea. In the early morning hours of Thursday, January 27, it was about 565 nautical miles south of Adak, Alaska, when it was hit by a rogue wave 50 to 70 feet high, according to various news reports.15 The wave rocked the vessel, tossing students from their beds, causing computers to fall, and dumping books from the library shelves. It hit the bridge and pilothouse, broke windows, flooded the bridge, and injured two crew and several passengers. As in the case of the Bremen, saltwater shorted out the instrumentation and controls and left the vessel without power for a period of time. To determine how high the wave really was, I contacted officials at the Semester at Sea Program and was told that the top of the bridge was 85 feet above the waterline, the floor of the bridge about 75