National Geographic : 1955 Dec
Sea and Cold Wind Batter Men and Ship on Weather Patrol No matter how fierce the elements, vessels of the United States and other nations keep constantly on the move in their 210-mile squares of ocean. Day and night they measure the weather and sample the atmosphere; findings, radioed to forecasters ashore, help make safer passages for ships and aircraft. Here the U. S. Coast Guard cutter Pontchartrain, wallowing in the trough of towering seas, battles the kind of blow encountered regularly on the North Atlantic's station Bravo. Seamen, struggling to secure gear on the ice-strewn bow, seldom venture away from lifelines strung along the deck. '. S. (oast Guard. Official speaker system, and the directives that always start with the strident "Now hear this!" were somehow reassuring. But at night it is difficult to borrow casual courage. Lying flat on your back in the dark ened bunkroom (you roll too much on your side), listening to a locker door creaking and banging and waiting for the booming forward and the long, unhealthy shudder, you find that pessimistic thoughts are hard to dismiss. If anything did go wrong, there would be no chance to launch lifeboats in these waves, even if the launching blocks and tackle weren't frozen and caked with ice. Average winter temperature of the sea water is 31°. A man adrift without special immersion gear-some thing considerably more special than my tweed jacket-could stay in it only five minutes and live. Any kind of human help was hundreds of miles away. The Coast Guard cutter was expected to take care of herself. Loran Aids Atlantic Navigators Up on the Half Moon's shadowy bridge the night of the storm, one of the sailors on watch made his way to the captain's chair and said, "It's midnight, sir." The cap with the gold braid bobbed. The pipe glowed briefly. "Aye," Commander Guill said, and moved back to the navigator's table. Lt. Albert Frevola juggled the tuning knobs of the loran set and then flipped the electronic navigator off. "Loran" is a contraction of "long range navigation." Powerful transmit ting stations in the loran chain are fixed on the mainlands and islands bordering the Atlantic. Navigators get their bearings by picking up signals from two of the widely spaced transmitters. The signals are translated into numbers which correspond to lines drawn on the loran map of the Atlantic area. The navigator finds one line from his first reading and an- other from his second. His position is where the lines cross. "We're still on station, Captain," Frevola said, after he had plotted his position on the navigation chart. "But I figure we'll be blown off in another hour." "What's the wind velocity?" "It's between 50 and 60 knots, with gusts up to 75. The waves are running up to about 40 feet, as nearly as I can tell." Commander Guill straightened. "Hold your course until morning if you can, Mr.