Fun With AIS

My wife and I were driving south from Jenner towards Bodega Bay on Monday afternoon, and we saw a beautiful tall ship motoring up the coast in some pretty uncomfortable conditions.


The 108 ft Bounty

Winds (at the Bodega Bay buoy) were in the low to mid 30-kts, and the swells were about 10 ft. The ship was only a mile or two off the coast as she passed Duncan’s Landing, a rocky point locally known as “Death Rock”, after those who have been swept off the rocks by the sleeper waves while exploring the tidepools. We pulled off the road, to watch this ship force her way north. She was making very slow going of it and was pitching to where her upswept bowsprit threatened to submerge in the waves. I happened to have my camera with me, so I snapped a few shots and captured a bit of video.

As she was putting Death Rock abeam, the ship began turning to starboard, and finally began running downwind. Apparently the conditions were more than she cared to take on, and she continued to motor south, with her speed and motion much improved.

What does this have to do with AIS? Well, when we got home, which is on a coastal ridge overlooking Bodega Bay, I turned my home AIS receiver and continued to track this mystery ship as she sailed into Bodega Bay and apparently dropped anchor just outside the harbor breakwater. In this spot she would be well protected from the swells, being in the lee of Bodega Head. From her AIS signal I could see that she was the 108 ft long “Bounty”, and she had been heading to Port Victoria (I assume that this is Victoria, British Columbia, where the Bounty is scheduled to participate in a Tall Ships event). At this moment (00:48AM, Wednesday) the Bounty is still in Bodega Bay. I don’t know if she is waiting for conditions to improve, or if perhaps repairs are needed before she proceeds.

From the Bounty website ( ):
The Bounty was built in 1960 for MGM studios’ Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando. Since then, the new Bounty has starred in several feature-length films and dozens of TV shows and historical documentaries.

The studios commissioned the ship from the shipwrights of Smith and Ruhland in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to commission a new Bounty to be built from scratch. Completely seaworthy and built just the way it would have been 200 years before, the new Bounty was constructed from the original ship’s drawings still on file in the British admiralty archives.

The Bounty received a complete refit in 2006 and is now on a world tour which will include stops at Tahiti and Pitcairn Island (where the actual Mutiny on the Bounty took place in the late 1700′s).

Attached is a short (about 8.5 MByte) video showing the beating that the Bounty was taking before she turned around.


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