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195. Wait and Sea, the Tale of Poon Lim

1942, World War II was raging across the land and the oceans too. At this time Britain sent out a call for help, and many Chinese responded. One of these brave or foolish souls was Poon Lim. He was working as second mess steward on board the SS Benlomond and became quickly accustomed to life on board.

The SS Benlomond was a merchant steamer, unremarkable, and equally unarmed. German U-Boats scoured the seas for their metallic prey. Ready to shoot on sight. On November 23 1942 a German U-Boat sighted the SS Benlomond and contact was made. Contact in the form of two explosive torpedoes. That did not go down well.

SS Benlomond

2 hours after the sinking, Poon Lim happened upon a life raft and flailed in its general direction. I say ‘flailed‘ because during World War II, an ability to swim was not required to be in the Navy. This led to a surprisingly large amount of drownings among Navy staff throughout the war, even when rescue was swift on arrival. Eventually, after much uncoordinated splashing, he reached the side of the raft and hauled his soaking self on board.

Once he had recovered from the physical exertion he examined the raft. It was a ‘Carley Float Life Raft‘ and fairly well stocked. Among the supplies were some biscuit tins (complete with biscuits), a 10 gallon jug of water, flares, an electric torch and a bag of sugar lumps. More than enough for a short trip. Many things could be said about Poon Lim’s ensuing journey, ‘short’ is not one of them. In fact Poon Lim spent 133 days in the Pacific Ocean, a record of epic proportions.

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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in Articles

 

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155. AC/DC Sharks

RRROOOOOOCCKKK!!What is the best way to lure a great white shark? The typical response was ‘chum’ – essentially chopped up fish. It turns out the answer may be hard rock classics, such as those from AC/DC. The most effective song is the aptly named – ‘If You Want Blood’.

The use of sound is not totally new, it has been known for a long time that certain sounds can drive off sharks and other animals: in fact sonar from ships is so painful for animals that it is a big factor in causing the beaching of whales. What wasn’t known extensively until now was which sounds were liked by animals.It turns out that, after extensive trial and error, lower frequencies preferred by great white sharks. In particular AC/DC is their favourite, fitting in with their aggressive reputations.

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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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153. Holes in the Ocean

In the shallow blue waters of the Bahamas, Belize and others people often remark upon the brightness of the water; lit by the light reflecting off of the white sand beneath. However one can find deviations from the shallow norm, underwater pits where the land drops away. Circular anomalies which suddenly drill deep down, these deeper spaces filled with darker, and decidedly chillier water. This is a ‘Blue Hole.’

Their entrances can be anything from 25 metres to 300 metres across; their darkness is a result of the depths absorbing the light. These peculiarities of the ocean reach up to, or rather down 202 metres, a lengthy vertical cave. The depth and narrowness of these vertical caves also limits their flow. At the base of the blue holes the water has lost all oxygen, making it inhospitable to anything more complex than bacteria.

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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142. Sealand, The Unofficial Prinicipality

The Principality of Sealand is an odd case, it is an old World War II floating fort 10km off the coast of Suffolk, England. In 1956 the fort was abandoned, then in 1967 Major Paddy Roy Bates, along with his family and some associates occupied the fort, claiming it to be a new and separate principality. The Principality Of Sealand. Originally it was set up for the British Mr Bates to broadcast his pirate radio station. However it soon became more.

He crowned himself king. In 1968 some British workmen came to service a navigational buoy nearby. Paddy Bates claimed the waters to be part of his territory and his son Michal Bates, shot a rifle to scare them off. Then they went to court on firearms charges. The case could not proceed. A that time anything within 5km of the shore was part of the United Kingdom, and the fort fell just outside of that jurisdiction. It was in international waters and exempt from the rules. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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127. Can You Drown In The Dead Sea?

‘It is impossible to drown in the Dead Sea’, ‘No-one has ever drowned in the Dead Sea’ These are the words spoken by tens of thousands of people. Even ABC News, a fairly large news network in American, has published an article talking about the salty bowl of water. How cool, the perfect bathing spot. Well it would be, were it not for that they are all wrong. At best they not thinking about every type of drowning. Although that still makes them wrong.

This misconception arises from the fact that the Dead Sea is one of the most bizarre lakes (yes, LAKE) in the world. It is also the deepest hypersaline (salty) lake in the world. 420m below sea level. As well as being low, lying on the Jordan-Israel border it is also salty to a near excessive degree. Around 9 times as salty as the oceans of the world. The whole lake is 33.7% salt. This does of course, have side-effect.

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82. Gravity Glaciers

FACT: Sea levels are important, without them we would not be able to tell those in Holland that they live at the altitude of Salmon, it has its uses.

Unfortunately the seas of the earth are not smooth, in fact sea level is different in every place on earth, depending upon wind, tidal state, and the earths gravitational pull.

In addition there is that menacing issue of global warming, a big factor in our now constantly rising sea levels. Yet there is something else.

As you well may know, this global warming problem is to do with the glaciers melting, but there is more to it then that. More water will leave the poles then there is in the glaciers themselves, the question is, Where is that extra water coming from?

The answer is the bumpy sea levels, the water is already there, the seas at both poles are extremely deep, but the earth’s gravity isn’t strong enough to hold all of the extra water in its place, so there is some other force acting on the water. Actually it’s still gravity. As you know, the poles are covered in ice sheets, ice fields and glaciers. These are the source of the extra force.

The ice sheets at both poles are simply so massive, that they have pulled in the seas and oceans of the world, this excessive gravity means water is stacked extremely highly around the poles, leaving less water about the equator. When glaciers are gone, so is that gravity and we will all be visited by a not insignificant amount of extra water.

So let’s try to avoid melting the glaciers shall we?

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2011 in Articles, Trivia

 

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80. A Pirate is She

Awilda in full pirate attire.

FACT: The daughter of the 5th Century Scandinavian king, Synardus, Awilda(sometimes referred to as Alfhilda) was a fairly large handful when she didn’t get things her own way. Apparently her father arranged for her betrothal to the crown prince of Denmark, Alf. Unfortunately this did not sit well with Awilda.

Begrudging the decision she took action.

Awilda and some of her female friends dressed up as sailors and managed to successfully commandeer a vessel. They did on their way sail, until they came across a pirate ship with a captain who had recently suffered through theĀ  common ailment of ‘death’. So the captaining position was available. Being an enterprising woman she put herself forward for the position and was accepted.

So she and her friends were a pirates now, patrolling waters and ready to pounce upon vessels which did not have their wits about them. She and the crew went on many an adventure, and Awilda became a legendary Viking pirate. So great was the trouble they caused that action had to be taken.

To deal with these ‘irksome’ pirates Prince Alf and a navy vesselĀ  were dispatched to conquer the pirate ship. A battle did ensue and Prince Alf, along with his crew managed to gain the upper hand in battle. B0arding the ship and capturing those on board. So impressed was Awilda with the Prince’s bravery that she revealed her true identity to him and to the crew, then agreed to marry him. They were married on board and went on to become King and Queen of Denmark, living happily ever after.

That there… is true love.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2011 in Trivia

 

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