Daily Archives: 22/03/2014

Lost in the Roaring Forties

So far, says the Air Commodore, the only thing the radar has turned up are whales and dolphins…. 

Like everybody else, I’ve been gripped this last week by the sad mystery of Malaysia Airlines MH370 – not least, I have to confess with shame, for purely selfish reasons: I’m booked on a Malaysia Airlines plane in a few weeks time. Who would have thought that the search for a plane heading for Beijing would end up southwest of Australia, in the Great Southern Ocean?

Map of the roaring forties from 1873

Ship Navigation Chart – Southern & Pacific [sic] Oceans, Charles Wilson, 1 March 1873

The Roaring Forties are my territory, historically if not literally, though I’ve only personally ventured that far south once. A few years ago, I took a boat tour from Adventure Bay, south around the tip of Bruny Island, south-east of Hobart, to see fur seals breeding on an outcrop of rock. As we left the lee of Bruny to sail into the Great Southern Ocean itself, the sailors warned us that we would suddenly experience much rougher conditions, and sure enough we did. Continue reading