Tsunami 2004 plus 7

Seven years ago on Boxing Day a tour boat dropped me the southern end of Koh Samet and I kayaked to a distant island. The idyllic isle was deserted, except for a single family. The father was a sailor and this post required his protecting the untouched forests from loggers. The family was there for the New Year holiday, since the island’s water supply was limited. He offered to fill my canteen and I wai-ed him a happy New Year.

The Gulf of Siam was unexpected rough on my return passage and I paddled through a sloppy chop. The sea was blue and the was bluer. The wind was at my back, but getting to shore took longer than I had imagined. My arms were noodled by the exertion and I returned to my hotel thirsty from my efforts. Ordering a beer was impossible, because everyone in the bar was watching a horrific movie about a big wave crashing into Thailand, then I recognized the location.

Koh Phi Phi.

These were no special effects.

Even grimmer VDOs were aired from Indonesia, Phuket, and Sri Lanka. We later learned the death totals numbered in the hundreds of thousands, including the grandson of the Thai King.

Nations mourned this disaster.

For days afterwards friends emailed about my welfare.

“I’m fine.”

Few possessed a good sense of geography.

Koh Samet is on the Gulf of Siam and at the time of the great waves I was peacefully floating on a plastic plank, thinking what a wonderful world we live in.

And it was and will be.

This year I stood still for a moment of silence to remember the day when the Earth rang like a bell.

Here’s the equation for the force of a wave.


P = the overlying pressure in Newtons per metre square,
ρ = the density of the seawater= 1.1 x 103 kg/m3,
g = the acceleration due to gravity= 9.8 m/s2 and
h = the height of the water column in metres.

Hence for a water column of 5,000 m depth the overlying pressure is equal to 5.7 Million tonnes per metre square.

In other words ‘run for your life’.

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