Boy drifts a mile out to sea in rubber ring

A twelve-year-old boy was rescued a mile off the coast of Wales today when he drifted away from shore with only a child’s rubber ring to keep him afloat.

A lifeboat crew saved the boy as he suffered from hypothermia and was about to fall unconscious. If he had, the crew said, he would have slipped out of the floating ring and drowned.

The boy had been playing by the seaside and had been carried off by the current into the sea. He had been drifting about 45 minutes when the rescuers found him.

The UK’s National Health Service reports that lifeguards respond to more than 13,000 incidents a year on the UK’s beaches. Many of these incidents are due to rip tides, which are more common than most people think, the NHS says. Inflatables are easily pulled out to sea by currents and strong winds.

If you are going to the beach, follow these important beach safety tips. And parents, please watch your children. You don’t want them to become a news item.

[Photo courtesy Greg Yap]

Istanbul to get second Bosphorus with new canal project

The US may be all abuzz about President Obama’s birth certificate, but the big news in Turkey this week is the proposed Istanbul canal project to dig a second Bosphorus. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s self-proclaimed “crazy” project would connect the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea, making Istanbul a city of “two peninsulas and an island.” Details of the project are still unclear, but it is estimated that it will cost more than $10 billion and would be finished in time for Turkey’s centennial in 2023.

“Today, we are rolling up our sleeves for one of world’s greatest projects which cannot even be compared with Panama Canal, Suez Canal or Corinth Canal,” Erdogan said. “Istanbul is the only city on earth that a sea passes through. With this project, Istanbul will become a city that two seas will pass.”

Turkey’s cultural capital is already known for several historic bodies of water including the Bosphorus strait, which divides Istanbul between Europe and Asia, as well as the Golden Horn, the Sea of Marmara, and the Black Sea. The Bosphorus is one of the busiest and most important waterways in the world, with up to 50,000 passages per year with one-way traffic for tankers. The new canal would alleviate all of the commercial traffic and allow for additional ships to pass. The waterway would be around 30 miles long, 500 feet wide, and 80 feet deep and cut through the European side far west of the city center. The upside for vistors is that the crowded Bosphorus would be returned to sport and pleasure boats, making the classic Bosphorus cruise less polluted and crowded.

Photo courtesy Flickr user alinnman

Photo of the day – A day at the beach

Sometimes a perfect day at the beach isn’t all cerulean blue skies and crystal clear water. Sometimes it’s a windy afternoon, after the season is over, but you can enjoy the solitude and serenity of the ocean. Flickr user t2mujin took in such a scene on a March day in Lisbon, Portugal for today’s Photo of the Day. We might be looking at a fisherman‘s gear or just someone eager for summer, even if winter hasn’t quite made a final exit.

Care to share a favorite travel moment with us? Add your photo to our Flickr pool and we might use it for a future Photo of the Day.

Photo of the day – The Old Man and the Sea

Context is a funny thing. If this man were, say, working on his car in Passaic, New Jersey, we wouldn’t find him very romantic or interesting. But put him on a boat on the Adriatic Sea in Slovenia and he’s now a perfect travel photo subject, thanks to Flickr user SummitVoice1. He makes us sigh and think, “That’s the life. Just a man, a simple boat and the open water.”

He should still probably put on a clean shirt, though. Fare thee well, old salt, hope your day is smooth sailing!

Find a classic travel subject for your photos? Post your favorites to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may use one for a future Photo of the Day.

It’s time to end Indian Ocean “Adventures”

With news that seven Danish sailors, including three children aged 12 to 16, had been captured by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on Thursday, February, 24, it’s time to reevaluate the legacy of four Americans shot to death by pirates in those same waters off eastern Africa just two days before the Danes issued their distress call.

In the obituaries of the four Americans killed aboard their sailing boat in the Indian Ocean this week each was praised for being “adventurous,” “great sailors,” having a “zest for life” and “passion for the high seas.” They were not “thrill seekers” and “knew the risks involved and accepted them.”

While not wanting to intrude on the mourning of their friends and relatives, having spent time in the Indian Ocean at the height of pirate season two years ago, watching cargo boats and tourist boats being wrapped in broken glass and razor wire and armed to the teeth with mercenary gun crews, all I could wonder when I first read the account of the “Quest” and its crew being taken hostage was … What were they thinking?Apparently headed for Djibouti, the four sailors knowingly sailed alone – rather than in a pack or “rally” of private yachts, which they had previously joined – into the most dangerous waters on the planet. Two hundred and seventy five miles off the coast of Oman they were caught and boarded by a mother ship carrying 17 pirates. Despite the arrival of a U.S. Navy ship, within 24 hours the four were shot dead.

With monsoon season over, the Indian Ocean is calm again, making this prime time for piracy. The four sailors aboard the “Quest” could not have missed the news that ships are being hijacked in that part of the ocean on a weekly basis. There are currently more than 800 hostages still being held, most crewmen of freighters and oil tankers. Private yachts are increasingly being attacked; a British couple was recently released after one year in captivity and a $1 million ransom paid, raised by friends back home.

Private boaters have been warned repeatedly by the world’s navies to stick to designated shipping lanes and to travel in groups. At any given time there are 30 warships patrolling the northern Indian Ocean – from the European Union, the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India and other nations – and still the pirates are thriving. Sponsored by mafia-like gangs onshore, the mother ships and attack boats are manned by the equivalent of street gangs: Impoverished young men with little hope, armed with increasingly sophisticated electronics, boats and weaponry.

Catching them and putting them on trial, whether in Nairobi or New York City, doesn’t seem to be slowing them down.

Which brings me back to why did these four think they could skirt danger when so many before had failed?

I am the first to encourage “an adventurous life.” But good adventuring includes knowing your limits and possessing some kind of personal radar to help recognize the boundaries between adventure seeking and foolhardiness. That the “Quest” was heavily loaded with tons of Bibles, which the retired couple who owned and sailed the ship had been distributing at stops around the world during the past six years, was not enough to save them from an “adventure” gone very, very bad.

One of the four passengers was quoted as saying, “If anything happens to us on these travels, just know that we died living our dream.”

Really? That’s your dream? To sail into the most dangerous waters on the planet, be kidnapped by a gang of thug pirates and shot to the death in the galley of your sailboat? In retrospect, of course, the dream sounds far more like a nightmare.

[flickr image via Gui Seiz]