Line of bubbles

I was up on the bridge today, minding my own gauges, and Skipper says, “What is that?”

That is a serpentine line of bubbles that crosses from the shore of the inlet out over the bay. Its weird, like halfway between foam and bubbles. The water is flat. Me and the old man, we study it. Its off on the starboard bow a little ways, sort of parallel to our course, towards the bay mouth. Then we cross over it, and our speed drops. “Its the tide,” he says, “maybe something to do with the low pressure system that’s coming in.” I can see it now, its almost like a subduction zone, the up-bay water seems to be diving under the down-bay water, or maybe the other way, I can’t make up my mind. Maybe its my imagination. Then a skiff crosses the line ahead of us. Its small and light, and when it crosses the line, its like it has hit a speed bump, it bounces up and down and slows right down. This line is all the way across the bay: sharp and clear. I say, “Skipper? that’s such an obvious feature. There must be a name for it.” He doesn’t know. I say, “I will ask the sages on gCaptain.”

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I’d say this is on the right track. Currents are three dimensional but we only see two. The boundary where a current goes sub-surface is often visible, a line of debris, a slight change in the appearance of the sea, ship might change speed through the water and/or go off course a degree or two while passing through the boundary.

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Bore tide-ish.

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The line will show up on radar sometimes.

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I’ll watch for that.

I was talking to the purser about it. He says its called a tide rip. Something about the tide and the current being opposed. He says you see it more often in the summertime. Super interesting. I wonder if the curvyness is driven by the bathymetry, or the shore line or…? Do you see it in the midocean, ever? the line was basically stationary while we watched it, and you could still see it faintly in about the same place when we crossed back the other way a couple of hours later. What’s the connection to the low pressure system, though?

On the inside passage a tug captain used to refer to it as “fast water” and “slow water”. Tug and barge both in the same OK. Tug in fast water, barge in slow water OK. Tug in slow water, barge in fast water no good.

On big tides sometimes filled with log washed off the shore.

Can be seen in the open ocean as well but not as obvious.

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Then there is this: Langmuir circulation


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Wah! That looks just like the magnetic fields around parallel wires, doesn’t it?

The foam line should form at the top of the vertical line. Assuming there is a surface.

yes. now the only question is: magnetic foam or electric foam? And the only answer is: No-ah! Its spacetime foam.

oh that reminds me… next topic.


It could be what they call a SOLITON WAVE. It happens when the tidal and current conditions are just right. It is a type of a standing wave. I was on a research vessel that studied this phenomena.
It is a pretty fascinating thing to see when you know what you are looking at.


On a big ship you can have the bow in fast water and the stern in slow water (or vice versa) and you better be on your toes. The ship will take off in a new direction.

AH! That’s amazing. I love this… They’re everywhere, too. Magnetics, fiber optics, proteins, clouds, the cosmos. There must be a sonic manifestation, too, but I don’t see it in the wiki article. This is the best thing since the double vortex.

Sounds like a tide line, or rip.
Water is strange it doesn’t mix easily. Like Kenebeck says. You often watch the water here on the west coast.
You will often take a sheer when you cross. A tide line. Or when turning you will need more helm. You can ride it when favourable or try try and stay out of it.
The difrence is sometimes quite noticble if there is even a little bit of wind. If a lot of wind even quite a hazard to smaller vessels.

The sea is neat.
Good spot for fishing, spotting wild life. You can see the divide out from Fraser sometimes right to the Gulf islands. I have been known to tell people it’s the border.

Some places like of Port Townsend there is a cold upwelling. Consequently poor vis. Some places the old fishermen will tell you the fog will go out with the tide. It works. Water temp changes.

Back in the day. I knew we were of the Amazon a couple of hundred miles out. The water colour. If you head offshore the Labrador current is pretty obvious. It gets cold. Sea temp drops, The sea state changes. Same with the Gulf Stream.

Even though I have a fully enclosed air con bridge I like to watch these things. It’s part of why I enjoy what I do.

My office has the best view in the world. I have the best job. I just drink cofffee and look out the window.

My third grade teacher would be really impressed. Much to her surprise I 50 years later really did find a job where all I have to do is nothing but look out the window all day. And I still enjoy it.


… and that right there is the answer to what makes a real Mariner as was asked in another thread in my opinion.

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I knew it! I’ve been teasing the deck cadets about this for years. Consider yourself quoted. I found a sign on one bridge once that said, “Please unplug the boiler when finished.” Unplug it? Is it plugged? When finished? Finished with what? The sign was taped over the kettle. I also like staring at the water, but I wait for my coffee breaks to do it. A coffee break is a special time when you stop working and drink coffee.


They let you come upstairs? Or are you talking about the boiler sight glasses? :wink:

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Sometimes. When I’ve been a good monkey.

To thee I dedicate McAndrew’s Hymn (R. Kipling) Tune: The Church’s One Foundation.

Lord, Thou hast made this world below the shadow of a dream,
An’, taught by time, I tak’ it so - exceptin’ always Steam.
From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy Hand, O God -
Predestination in the stride o’ yon connectin’-rod.
John Calvin might ha’ forged the same - enorrmous, certain, slow -
Ay, wrought it in the furnace-flame - my “Institutio.”
I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard to please;
I’ll stand the middle watch up here - alone wi’ God an’ these
My engines, after ninety days o’ race an’ rack an’ strain
Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bangin’ home again.
Slam-bang too much - they knock a wee - the crosshead-gibs are loose;
But thirty thousand mile o’ sea has gied them fair excuse…
Fine, clear an’ dark - a full-draught breeze, wi’ Ushant out o’ sight,
An’ Ferguson relievin’ Hay. Old girl, ye’ll walk to-night!
His wife’s at Plymouth… Seventy-One-Two-Three since he began -
Three turns for Mistress Ferguson… an’ who’s to blame the man?
There’s none at any port for me, by drivin’ fast or slow,
Since Elsie Campbell went to Thee, Lord, thirty years ago.
(The year the ‘Sarah Sands’ was burned. Oh roads we used to tread,
Fra’ Maryhill to Pollokshaws - fra’ Govan to Parkhead!)
Not but they’re ceevil on the Board. Ye’ll hear Sir Kenneth say:
“Good morrn, McAndrew! Back again? An’ how’s your bilge to-day?”
Miscallin’ technicalities but handin’ me my chair
To drink Madeira wi’ three Earls - the auld Fleet Engineer,
That started as a boiler-whelp - when steam and he were low.
I mind the time we used to serve a broken pipe wi’ tow.
Ten pound was all the pressure then - Eh! Eh! - a man wad drive;
An’ here, our workin’ gauges give one hunder’ fifty-five!
We’re creepin’ on wi’ each new rig - less weight an’ larger power:
There’ll be the loco-boiler next an’ thirty mile an hour!
Thirty an’ more. What I ha’ seen since ocean-steam began
Leaves me no doot for the machine: but what about the man?
The man that counts, wi’ all his runs, one million mile o’ sea:
Four time the span from earth to moon… How far, O Lord, from Thee?
That wast beside him night an’ day. Ye mind my first typhoon?
It scoughed the skipper on his way to jock wi’ the saloon.
Three feet were on the stokehold floor - just slappin’ to an’ fro -
An’ cast me on a furnace-door. I have the marks to show.
Marks! I ha’ marks o’ more than burns - deep in my soul an’ black,
An’ times like this, when things go smooth, my wickudness comes back.
The sins o’ four and forty years, all up an’ down the seas,
Clack an’ repeat like valves half-fed… Forgie’s our trespasses.
Nights when I’d come on deck to mark, wi’ envy in my gaze,
The couples kittlin’ in the dark between the funnel stays;
Years when I raked the ports wi’ pride to fill my cup o’ wrong-
Judge not, O Lord, my steps aside at Gay Street in Hong-Kong!
Blot out the wastrel hours of mine in sin when I abode -
Jane Harrigan’s an’ Number Nine, The Reddick an’ Grant Road!
An’ waur than all - my crownin’ sin - rank blasphemy an’ wild.
I was not four and twenty then - Ye wadna judge a child?
I’d seen the Tropics first that run - new fruit, new smells, new air -
How could I tell-blind-fou wi’ sun-the Deil was lurkin’ there?
By day like playhouse-scenes the shore slid past our sleepy eyes;
By night those soft, lasceevious stars leered from those velvet skies,
In port (we used no cargo-steam) I’d daunder down the streets -
An ijjit grinnin’ in a dream - for shells an’ parrakeets,
An’ walkin’-sticks o’ carved Bamboo an’ blowfish stuffed an’ dried -
Fillin’ my bunk wi’ rubbishry the Chief put overside.
Till, off Sumbawa Head, Ye mind, I heard a landbreeze ca’
Milk-warm wi’ breath o’ spice an’ bloom: “McAndrews, come awa’!”
Firm, clear an’ low - no haste, no hate - the ghostly whisper went,
Just statin’ eevidential facts beyon’ all argument:
"Your mither’s God’s a graspin’ deil, the shadow o’ yoursel’,
"Got out o’ books by meenisters clean daft on Heaven an’ Hell.
"They mak’ him in the Broomielaw, o’ Glasgie cold an’ dirt,
"A jealous, pridefu’ fetich, lad, that’s only strong to hurt,
"Ye’ll not go back to Him again an’ kiss His red-hot rod,
“But come wi’ Us” (Now, who were ‘They’?) "an’ know the Leevin’ God,
"That does not kipper souls for sport or break a life in jest,
“But swells the ripenin’ cocoanuts an’ ripes the woman’s breast.”
An’ there it stopped: cut off: no more; that quiet, certain voice -
For me, six months o’ twenty-four, to leave or take at choice.
‘Twas on me like a thunderclap - it racked me through an’ through-
Temptation past the show o’ speech, unnamable an’ new -
The Sin against the Holy Ghost? . . . An - under all, our screw.

That storm blew by but left behind her anchor-shiftin’ swell,
Thou knowest all my heart an’ mind, Thou knowest, Lord, I fell -
Third on the ‘Mary Gloster’ then, and first that night in Hell!
Yet was Thy hand beneath my head: about my feet Thy care-
Fra’ Deli clear to Torres Strait, the trial o’ despair,
But when we touched the Barrier Reef Thy answer to my prayer…
We dared na run that sea by night but lay an’ held our fire,
An’ I was drowzin’ on the hatch - sick-sick wi’ doubt an’ tire:
"Better the sight of eyes that see than wanderin’ o’ desire!
Ye mind that word? Clear as our gongs-again, an’ once again,
When rippin’ down through coral-trash ran out our moorin’chain;
An’ by Thy Grace I had the Light to see my duty plain.
Light on the engine-room - no more - bright as our carbons burn.
I’ve lost it since a thousand times, but never past return.

Obsairve! Per annum we’ll have here two thousand souls aboard -
Think not I dare to justify myself before the Lord,
But-average fifteen hunder’ souls safe-borne fra port to port-
I am o’ service to my kind. Ye wadna’ blame the thought?
Maybe they steam from grace to wrath - to sin by folly led -
It isna mine to judge their path - their lives are on my head.
Mine at the last - when all is done it all comes back to me,
The fault that leaves six thousand ton a log upon the sea.
We’ll tak’ one stretch - three weeks an’ odd by any road ye steer -
Fra’ Cape Town east to Wellington - ye need an engineer.
Fail there - ye’ve time to weld your shaft - ay, eat it, ere ye’re spoke,
Or make Kerguelen under sail - three jiggers burned wi’ smoke!
An’ home again, the Rio run: it’s no child’s play to go
Steamin’ to bell for fourteen days o’ snow an’ floe an’ blow -
The bergs like kelpies overside that girn an’ turn an’ shift
Whaur, grindin’ like the Mills o’ God, goes by the big South drift.
(Hail, snow an’ ice that praise the Lord: I’ve met them at their work,
An’ wished we had anither route or they anither kirk.)
Yon’s strain, hard strain, o’ head an’ hand, for though Thy Power brings
All skill to naught, Ye’ll understand a man must think o’ things.
Then, at the last, we’ll get to port an’ hoist their baggage clear -
The passengers, wi’ gloves an’ canes - an’ this is what I’ll hear:
“Well, thank ye for a pleasant voyage. The tender’s comin’ now.”
While I go testin’ follower-bolts an’ watch the skipper bow.
They’ve words for everyone but me - shake hands wi’ half the crew,
Except the dour Scots engineer, the man they never knew.
An’ yet I like the wark for all we’ve dam’ few pickin’s here -
No pension, an’ the most we earn’s four hunder’ pound a year.
Better myself abroad? Maybe. I’d sooner starve than sail
Wi’ such as call a snifter-rod ross … French for nightingale.
Commeesion on my stores? Some do; but I can not afford
To lie like stewards wi’ patty-pans. I’m older than the Board.
A bonus on the coal I save? Ou ay, the Scots are close,
But when I grudge the strength Ye gave I’ll grudge their food to those.
(There’s bricks that I might recommend - an’ clink the fire-bars cruel.
No! Welsh-Wangarti at the worst - an’ damn all patent fuel!)
Inventions? Ye must stay in port to mak’ a patent pay.
My Deeferential Valve-Gear taught me how that business lay,
I blame no chaps wi’ clearer head for aught they make or sell.
I found that I could not invent an’ look to these - as well.
So, wrestled wi’ Apollyon - Nah! - fretted like a bairn -
But burned the workin’-plans last run wi’ all I hoped to earn.
Ye know how hard an Idol dies, an’ what that meant to me -
E’en tak’ it for a sacrifice acceptable to Thee…
Below there! Oiler! What’s your wark? Ye find her runnin’ hard?
Ye needn’t swill the cap wi’ oil - this isn’t the Cunard.
Ye thought? Ye are not paid to think. Go, sweat that off again!

Tck! Tck! It’s deeficult to sweer nor tak’ The Name in vain!
Men, ay an’ women, call me stern. Wi’ these to oversee
Ye’ll note I’ve little time to burn on social repartee.
The bairns see what their elders miss; they’ll hunt me to an’ fro,
Till for the sake of - well, a kiss - I tak’ ‘em down below.
That minds me of our Viscount loon - Sir Kenneth’s kin - the chap
Wi’ russia leather tennis-shoon an’ spar-decked yachtin’-cap.
I showed him round last week, o’er all - an’ at the last says he:
“Mister McAndrew, don’t you think steam spoils romance at sea?”
Damned ijjit! I’d been doon that morn to see what ailed the throws,
Manholin’, on my back - the cranks three inches off my nose.
Romance! Those first-class passengers they like it very well,
Printed an’ bound in little books; but why don’t poets tell?
I’m sick of all their quirks an’ turns - the loves an’ doves they dream -
Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the Song o’ Steam!
To match wi’ Scotia’s noblest speech yon orchestra sublime
Whaurto - uplifted like the Just - the tail-rods mark the time.
The Crank-throws give the double-bass; the feed-pump sobs an’ heaves:
An’ now the main eccentrics start their quarrel on the sheaves.
Her time, her own appointed time, the rocking link-head bides,
Till - hear that note?-the rod’s return whings glimmerin’ through the guides.
They’re all awa! True beat, full power, the clangin’ chorus goes
Clear to the tunnel where they sit, my purrin’ dynamoes.
Interdependence absolute, foreseen, ordained, decreed,
To work, Ye’ll note, at any tilt an’ every rate o’ speed.
Fra skylight-lift to furnace-bars, backed, bolted, braced an’ stayed,
An’ singin’ like the Mornin’ Stars for joy that they are made;
While, out o’ touch o’ vanity, the sweatin’ thrust-block says:
“Not unto us the praise, or man - not unto us the praise!”
Now, a’ together, hear them lift their lesson - theirs an’ mine:
“Law, Order, Duty an’ Restraint, Obedience, Discipline!”
Mill, forge an’ try-pit taught them that when roarin’ they arose,
An’ whiles I wonder if a soul was gied them wi’ the blows.
Oh for a man to weld it then, in one trip-hammer strain,
Till even first-class passengers could tell the meanin’ plain!
But no one cares except mysel’ that serve an’ understand
My seven thousand horse-power here. Eh, Lord! They’re grand - they’re grand!
Uplift am I? When first in store the new-made beasties stood,
Were Ye cast down that breathed the Word declarin’ all things good?
Not so! O’ that warld-liftin’ joy no after-fall could vex,
Ye’ve left a glimmer still to cheer the Man - the Arrtifex!
That holds, in spite o’ knock and scale, o’ friction, waste an’ slip,
An’ by that light - now, mark my word - we’ll build the Perfect Ship.
I’ll never last to judge her lines or take her curve - not I.
But I ha’ lived an’ I ha’ worked. All thanks to Thee, Most High!
An’ I ha’ done what I ha’ done - judge Thou if ill or well -
Always Thy Grace preventin’ me… Losh! Yon’s the “Stand by” bell.
Pilot so soon? His flare it is. The mornin’-watch is set.
Well, God be thanked, as I was sayin’, I’m no Pelagian yet.
Now I’ll tak’ on… 'Morrn, Ferguson. Man, have ye ever thought
What your good leddy costs in coal? …I’ll burn em down to port.

Ah sweet! Thanks! Mr. Kipling, legendary well metred rhyming coupletted handover notes. Do you think he’d write up mine for me?