Photo of the Day – Copenhagen canal

As we noted earlier this week, Summer is a glorious time in Scandinavia. The region’s normally chilly temperatures have mellowed, and activities like cycling, boating and swimming are in full swing. If you need more visual proof, just check out this idyllic scene captured by Flickr user justchuckfl, in the Danish city of Copenhagen. Like many Scandinavian capitals, Copenhagen is an urban center inextricably tied to the sea and its many canals. If you find yourself walking the streets of this colorful capital, you’re likely to encounter a scene much like this one – a scenic canal ringed by brighly-hued buildings and bobbing sailboats.

Taken any great photos during your own travels? Why not add them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.

Cell phone signal helps rescue five American sailors

cell phone signal rescues sailorsAfter missing for more than a week, five American sailors are safe today. Their sailboat, the Pineapple, developed engine and communication problems after running into bad weather off the coast of Guam. They were lost at sea. A massive search produced no results. Finally one of those on board was able to grab a cell phone signal long enough to call for help.

Relatives and friends of the crew, four male and one female, had reported them missing when the 38-foot catamaran failed to arrive in the Philippines by January 18. Coast guards and rescue authorities from the Philippines, United States, Palau, and the Northern Marianas all searched for the missing sailboat with no results. Yesterday the one female on board managed to contact her husband using her cell phone when the vessel drifted within signal range. The husband called rescuers in Guam to give the boat’s coordinate and the US Coast Guard took it from there.

“The husband confirmed the vessel ran into bad weather and suffered a rudder and radio casualty.” said a statement from the US Coast Guard, adding “This delayed the Pineapple’s voyage but it was never in danger of sinking.”

It sounds like they were pretty lucky though. After searching for 63 hours, the US Coast Guard had found nothing on it’s own. It turns out that the rescue attempt could have been made much easier with some advance planning on the part of the Pineapple’s crew.

“I’m elated for the family and friends of the Pineapple, but compelled to point out that this voyage was made without taking basic, common-sense precautions.” warned Captain Thomas Sparks, U.S. Coast Guard Guam commander.

Apparently no one bothered to file a comprehensive sailing plan which is not required but customary on long sea voyages. Also, the ship had no long-distance communication or emergency distress equipment, also standard on world-class voyages.

They did have a good cell phone signal though.

It is hard not to ask “So, who was service provider?” and/or “What brand was that phone?” Neither have been identified. You can bet we’ll see that one on a future Gadling Gear review though.

Flickr photo by smith

Confused whale nearly sinks whale-watching boat

The goal of a whale watching trip is self-explanatory: you’re hoping to get up close and personal with some whales. But that isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes whale watchers get more than they bargained for – like when a confused whale leaps out of the water and falls directly onto your boat. That’s exactly what happened to Paloma Werner on a recent whale watching trip near Cape Town, South Africa.

Ms. Werner and her partner Ralph Mothes were in the midst of a pleasant whale watching cruise, floating alongside a nearby Right Whale for nearly an hour. Suddenly the whale surfaced dangerously close to their boat, its huge bulk breaching the surface, and leapt directly onto their small yacht, cracking the ship’s mast before sliding back into the water. Though the whale caused over $10,000 in damages to the ship, it remained seaworthy, and the crippled whale watching vessel used its small engine to taxi back to shore. Ms. Werner and Mr. Mothes were startled but unharmed by the incident.

Is it possible the normally gentle whale had malicious intent? It sounds like it was simply having a bad day. As Paloma speculated in interview following the incident, it’s possible the beast simply made a navigation error. Whatever the reason, Ms. Werner refuses to blame her watery assailant for her misfortune. As she told her interviewers, “I still like whales.”

[Photo credit: Shayan (USA)/Flickr]

Sailor makes epic 1,152 day voyage without touching land

American sailor Reid Stowe just finished an endurance test that beats pretty much anything on the high seas.

He set off in a sailboat on April 21, 2007 and didn’t touch land again until he returned to port in Manhattan on Tuesday. That’s 1,152 days at sea.

His girlfriend Soanya Ahmad, who had no previous open ocean sailing experience, joined him for the expedition but had to return to land after ten months because she was feeling seasick. That “seasickness” turned out to be morning sickness, and the first thing Stowe got to do once getting home was to greet his 23-month old son Darshen. Ms. Ahmad says she and Stowe agreed that he would continue the trip. Ahmad told the BBC that he would have gone back to sea sooner or later anyway.

That’s one understanding woman, Stowe. You better keep her.

Stowe had to fight hard to make his dream come true. He originally wanted to leave in 1992, but he had trouble finding funding. One of the reasons for the expedition was to simulate the isolation and stress of a Mars mission, which would take a similar amount of time. The original plan called for a crew of six to eight, the number generally agreed upon to make an effective interplanetary team. It seems Reid had trouble convincing others to join him so he set off with only his girlfriend. Reid kept his sanity by practicing yoga and writing a book. Maintaining a ship for that long without refitting took a major effort too.

The Guinness Book of World Records is checking his claim and if verified, he’ll certainly become a new entry. Considering that he was tracked by GPS, things are looking good for Mr. Stowe.

Rescue ships reach Abby Sunderland

A French fishing ship reached 16-year old American Abby Sunderland in the Indian Ocean earlier today, bringing a sigh of relief to her friends and family back home in California, who have been waiting for news on her rescue for the past two days. The girl, who had been attempting to sail solo around the world, was feared lost at sea on Thursday when contact with her home team was disrupted during a major storm. Later she would set off two emergency locator beacons, and on Friday, an Australian commercial aircraft few over her position, confirming that she was alive and well, but adrift in the frigid ocean waters.

Abby’s remote location in the Indian Ocean made it difficult to make a quick recovery. She was more than 2000 miles from both Africa and Australia, which made the use of a helicopter impossible. The French ship was the closest to her position, but was still 40 hours away when she ran into trouble.

As of this morning, the decision was still being made as to where to take the teenager. The ship could sail for Reunion Island, which is the closest land, but is in the middle of the Indian Ocean and quite remote in its own right. Or they could make a course for Australia, where Abby will have more resources at her disposal for getting home or repairing her own vessel. The fishing boat may even rendezvous with another ship, which could start a relay of sorts delivering the girl to safety.

Also unknown as this time is whether or not Abby will continue her attempt to sail around the world. Her boat, the Wild Eyes, has suffered a broken mast, and her sails are in tatters, with further damage a possibility. The Wild Eyes will have to be towed into port for repairs before she can go anywhere again, which will require time and money. For the near term anyway, Abby will be able to think carefully on what her next move is.

[Photo credit: Al Seib / L.A. Times]