Friday, May 9, 2008

The end of Ripple Rock, the worlds largest non-nuclear explosion.

The worlds largest tides are found in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia on the Atlantic Ocean. The tide fills the Bay of Fundy from the entrance, it flows to the back of the bay, then sloshes back to the entrance just as the next tide is coming in. The interference of the tide going out meeting the tide coming in causes the water level to change as much as 52' (fifty-two Feet). It sloshes like a bath tub, and it is called the worlds largest bath tub.(Bay of Fundy link)

The Bay of Fundy is at about the same latitude as Alaska. That latitude is where the largest tidal effects take place. Ketchican, where my cousin Jim lived on his boat, has as much as a 24' (twenty-four foot) tidal change, with no bay to cause the sloshing action. South of Alaska along the coast of British Columbia, there is what is known as the inland passage to Alaska. The surge through the passage is one of the strongest ocean currents in the world. In the middle of this passage is a place called "Seymour Narrows" where the water swirls so strongly that it has been known to suck boats down into the abyss. Sailors dread the passage and even the largest ship has to wait for the right conditions to make a passage. (Seymour Narrows Link)

In the middle of those narrows was a rock called "Ripple Rock" That had two sharp peaks that stuck up to about nine feet below the surface. Just the right depth to gut even the mightiest ship. It sunk 119 ships and killed 114 people. On April 5th 1958 they blew the rock out of the water with the worlds largest non-nuclear explosion. Its' worth the time to load and watch the clip. To make it full screen click on the Snowflake looking symble in the lower right corner. It will go back to normal when it ends. The End of Ripple Rock


Eel River Ernie said...

Darn you Ernie! I really had better things to do today but your post is so interesting I ended up following the links and learned a whole bunch, facinating stuff.

Ernie Branscomb said...

It's only fascinating if you understand how incredible some of this stuff is.

I went through Seymour Narrows on a cruise ship. We had to wait in the wide part of the passage until the tide stopped flowing, Then we pussy-footed through the gap. Cruise ships are fully controllable. They can go forward, backward, side to side, or spin left or right in place. So they are fairly safe in mild currents. But we could still feel the ship being moved about in the currents. There were places that there were large upwellings and other places that had sucking eddies. It was not a place that you would want to be swimming. Plus the water was ice cold.

Did you read the part about how they finally blew the rock up?

The Captain of the Cruise ship was also fascinated with the Narrows, and he gave a long narration of how the passage was dangerous to early sailors, and how it is still impassable unless the tide is right. He gave a complete description of how the rock was removed.

Of course I looked it all up on the internet when I returned. There is no safe way to get to Alaska in a boat. A fisherman or a Sailor really has to know what he is doing up there. One little mistake will kill you. Going outside can put you into treacherous seas with no harbor for miles. And to go inland you have to be careful not to get caught in the current that flows through the passage.

Carol said...

Hey, Ernie, off topic, but I called and left a phone message for you at Branscomb Center. Did you get it?

Carson Park Ranger said...

What a blast.
Oh, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Ernie, I have a book about this gal and kids that went through the Inside Passage back in the 30's or 40's in a small boat and she talks about some neat times and I'm sure she mentioned Seymour Narrows and camping out on an island waiting for the tides to be in her favor. I will dig that book out of my storage and bring to you.
My friend Mike was a power troller and told stories of the currents on the West side of Prince of Wales and sometimes they had to wait for tide changes as his boat only did 7 knots at top end. Mike bought his troller in Washington so had to take it up to K-Town and there was one spot that he said he was getting nervous because he saw a whirl pool suck a log down and he was making little headway. Don't worry, he lived through it.

Strange Guy

Ernie Branscomb said...

Strange Guy, 7 nauts is not to impressive when the current sometimes moves at 15 nauts. That's not a good place to be making any oversights. Even the logs that get sucked down can ram you like a torpodo when they come up again

Carol, I didn't go to the Store today. I was busy at a Rotary Golf Tournament. (Working not playing) I’ll go scratch through the paperwork tomorrow and get back to you. Estelle has my number though. If you need to get in touch with me.

Unk John said...

Sorry I am so late to comment on this.

When Ripple Rock was blown up, I was a teenager living in Tacoma. Since there were many fishermen in the Seattle-Tacoma area who traveled the inside passage often, a big deal was made of it and they showed the blast live on TV. I watched it, as it turned out, many times. They showed it I don't know how many times over the next several days. I also saw it used in a hollywood movie, although I can't remember which one. It was easy to recognize.

I don't know if your links give any information on the previous attempts to do away with the rock, but I remember reading about that somewhere. I'm not sure, but I think the first attempt was somewhere around 1900.

Anyway, the whole thing was interesting. Thanks for bringing it back to my mind.

Silky Pearce said...

Hi.. I live at Seymour Narrows and see these currents everyday. You are correct about the Cruise Ships veing cautious in these waters ans this area, they waite for slack tide and use a special captian to navigate through these waters. At my beach there are gigantic wirl pools that start out like little dimples and create a hug wirl pool that stops all navigation coming and going. It's georgous here, and my beach is perfect for sitting and watching all of this activity. I have no idea how I came to your web site, but glad I did. Come and visit some time. It's fun to watch the Cruise Ships this time of year, they come in so close it disturbs my view. SO you went right pass me and did not wave. see my beach at the narrows Silky

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