From Susan Casey, bestselling author of The Devil’s Teeth, an astonishing book about colossal, ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out.
For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dismissed these stories—waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea—including several that approached 100 feet.
As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of people as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100-foot wave.
In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast.
Like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.
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SUSAN CASEY, the author of the New York Times bestseller The Devil’s Teeth, is the Editor-in-Chief of O, the Oprah Magazine, and has also served as creative director of Outside magazine.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
57.5° N, 12.7° W
175 MILES OFF THE COAST OF SCOTLAND
FEBRUARY 8, 2000
The clock read midnight when the hundred-foot wave hit the ship, rising from the North Atlantic out of the darkness. Among the ocean’s terrors a wave this size was the most feared and the least understood, more myth than reality—or so people had thought. This giant was certainly real. As the RRS Discovery plunged down into the wave’s deep trough, it heeled twenty- eight degrees to port, rolled thirty degrees back to starboard, then recovered to face the incoming seas. What chance did they have, the forty-seven scientists and crew aboard this research cruise gone horribly wrong? A series of storms had trapped them in the black void east of Rockall, a volcanic island nicknamed Waveland for the nastiness of its surrounding waters. More than a thousand wrecked ships lay on the seafloor below.
Captain Keith Avery steered his vessel directly into the onslaught, just as he’d been doing for the past five days. While weather like this was common in the cranky North Atlantic, these giant waves were unlike anything he’d encountered in his thirty years of experience. And worse, they kept rearing up from different directions. Flanking all sides of the 295-foot ship, the crew kept a constant watch to make sure they weren’t about to be sucker punched by a wave that was sneaking up from behind, or from the sides. No one wanted to be out here right now, but Avery knew their only hope was to remain where they were, with their bow pointed into the waves. Turning around was too risky; if one of these waves caught Discovery broadside, there would be long odds on survival. It takes thirty tons per square meter of force to dent a ship. A breaking hundred-foot wave packs one hundred tons of force per square meter and can tear a ship in half. Above all, Avery had to position Discovery so that it rode over these crests and wasn’t crushed beneath them.
He stood barefoot at the helm, the only way he could maintain traction after a refrigerator toppled over, splashing out a slick of milk, juice, and broken glass (no time to clean it up—the waves just kept coming). Up on the bridge everything was amplified, all the night noises and motions, the slamming and the crashing, the elevator-shaft plunges into the troughs, the frantic wind, the swaying and groaning of the ship; and now, as the waves suddenly grew even bigger and meaner and steeper, Avery heard a loud bang coming from Discovery’s foredeck. He squinted in the dark to see that the fifty-man lifeboat had partially ripped from its two-inch-thick steel cleats and was pounding against the hull.
Below deck, computers and furniture had been smashed into pieces. The scientists huddled in their cabins nursing bruises, black eyes, and broken ribs. Attempts at rest were pointless. They heard the noises too; they rode the free falls and the sickening barrel rolls; and they worried about the fact that a six-foot-long window next to their lab had already shattered from the twisting. Discovery was almost forty years old, and recently she’d undergone major surgery. The ship had been cut in half, lengthened by thirty-three feet, and then welded back together. Would the joints hold? No one really knew. No one had ever been in conditions like these.
One of the two chief scientists, Penny Holliday, watched as a chair skidded out from under her desk, swung into the air, and crashed onto her bunk. Holliday, fine boned, porcelain-doll pretty, and as tough as any man on board the ship, had sent an e- mail to her boyfriend, Craig Harris, earlier in the day. “This isn’t funny anymore,” she wrote. “The ocean just looks completely out of control.” So much white spray was whipping off the waves that she had the strange impression of being in a blizzard. This was Waveland all right, an otherworldly place of constant motion that took you nowhere but up and down; where there was no sleep, no comfort, no connection to land, and where human eyes and stomachs struggled to adapt, and failed.
Ten days ago Discovery had left port in Southampton, England, on what Holliday had hoped would be a typical three-week trip to Iceland and back (punctuated by a little seasickness perhaps, but nothing major). Along the way they’d stop and sample the water for salinity, temperature, oxygen, and other nutrients. From these tests the scientists would draw a picture of what was happening out there, how the ocean’s basic characteristics were shifting, and why.
These are not small questions on a planet that is 71 percent covered in salt water. As the Earth’s climate changes—as the inner atmosphere becomes warmer, as the winds increase, as the oceans heat up—what does all this mean for us? Trouble, most likely, and Holliday and her colleagues were in the business of finding out how much and what kind. It was deeply frustrating for them to be lashed to their bunks rather than out on the deck lowering their instruments. No one was thinking about Iceland anymore.
The trip was far from a loss, however. During the endless trains of massive waves, Discovery itself was collecting data that would lead to a chilling revelation. The ship was ringed with instruments; everything that happened out there was being precisely measured, the sea’s fury captured in tight graphs and unassailable numbers. Months later, long after Avery had returned everyone safely to the Southampton docks, when Holliday began to analyze these figures, she would discover that the waves they had experienced were the largest ever scientifically recorded in the open ocean. The significant wave height, an average of the largest 33 percent of the waves, was sixty-one feet, with frequent spikes far beyond that. At the same time, none of the state-of-the-art weather forecasts and wave models—the information upon which all ships, oil rigs, fisheries, and passenger boats rely—had predicted these behemoths. In other words, under this particular set of weather conditions, waves this size should not have existed. And yet they did.
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Book Description Doubleday, 2010. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: "[Susan Casey] examines big waves from every angle, and goes in deep with those who know the phenomenon most intimately.Casey makes a convincing, entertaining case (nifty cliffhangers and all) that there is a heretofore little-known monster in our midst.She pushes the scientists on the big question.Casey is fluent in ''gnarly'' and proficient in ''wonk,'' and she writes lucidly so the rest of us can come along for the ride. Her wonderfully vivid, kinetic narrative.offers a prescient vision of watery perils--and sometimes, bittersweet triumphs.Amid the images of demolition, Casey hangs on to the magic and beauty of waves."-- New York Times Book Review "You think Jaws made you fear the ocean? In this adrenaline rush of a book, Casey.describes ''nature''s biggest tantrum''.Her eerie, majestic descriptions.make THE WAVE an unsettling thrill ride that''s as terrifying as it is awe inspiring."-- People "Immensely powerful, beautiful, addictive and, yes, incredibly thrilling.takes the reader into the hearts and minds of the world''s renowned surfers.Through the eyes of the surfers, readers get a remarkable sense of how they choose their waves, the skill that it takes to rocket across them, what it feels like to fall, what happens when surfers and Jet Skis are flung into coral reefs, what it''s like to be rolled and pounded by tons of water, and what it is like physically and psychologically to be held under for too long - how some surfers make it back to the surface, and others drown. But "The Wave" is far more than a book about surfing. Casey''s quest is also to understand the characteristics of giant waves and rogue waves. She explores the impact giant waves have on ships, oil rigs, fishing boats and passenger ships.Casey explains the science of waves in a straightforward but always engaging manner.Casey also illuminates recent mind-boggling discoveries.Casey unlocks the mysteries of waves in her fascinating and enlightening book. And like a surfer who is happily hooked, the reader simply won''t be able to get enough of it."-- San Francisco Chronicle "Susan Casey''s white-knuckle chronicle -- which follows the surfers pursuing the waves and the scientists struggling to understand them -- delivers a thrill so intense you may never get in a boat again."-- Entertainment Weekly "[A] thrilling tale"-- Time "Casey does an exceptional job of explaining the natural forces (winds, currents, ocean-bottom shape) that create these daunting, at times fatal, surfing spots.Casey''s account of the impromptu adventure is terrific"-- Wall Street Journal "Gripping.we are thankful she included us on the ride."-- The Washington Post "The book dives deeply into the world of top-level surfers.Casey does a commendable job of surveying the broader problems confronting wave studies.compelling and wonderfully detailed.engrossing.Casey adroitly moves beyond what we think we know about big-wave surf culture and churns out a series of action chapters that are not for the faint of heart."-- Los Angeles Times "Reading the ''The Wave'' is almost like riding one, paddling in the expositional surf of vivid imagery and colorful description, thrown at you in ever-escalating surges"-- Cleveland Plain Dealer "Extraordinary.fascinating, heroic, dazzling, terrifying, amazing, unbelievable, mesmerizing, instructive, enlightening, superb. This is the Dragon Tattoo , Moby Dick , Into Thin Air for our time; a powerful, articulate ride into a world you never knew existed but that you will never, never forget. I am honoured to write this review. Bravo, Susan Casey.-- Globe and Mail (Canada) "Utterly engrossing"-- Salon "A fabulous page-turner" -John Hockenbery, NPR "[A] captivating hybrid--an intro to the mind-melting physics of waves and a ride-along with the scientists and surfers who chase after them.Fascinating" -- Men''s Journal "[A] breath-snatching thrill ride" -- Elle "Casey pursues.with tenacity. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_0767928849
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Book Description Random House USA Inc, United States, 2010. Microfilm. Book Condition: New. 239 x 147 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. From Susan Casey, bestselling author of The Devil s Teeth, an astonishing book about colossal, ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out. For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dismissed these stories waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea including several that approached 100 feet. As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of people as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100-foot wave. In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast. Like Jon Krakauer s Into Thin Air, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780767928847
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