Wednesday, September 14, 2016

SearchResearch Challenge (9/14/16): What IS that below?

I'm about to go flying again... 

... and you know what happens...  I tend to look out the window and gaze at the land and sea passing by below.  I often end up wondering--What IS that thing I see below me?

This week I present a few mysteries--things I've seen, things I've heard about that are visible from the air, things I've wondered about as I travel.  Can you help me figure out what's going on with each of these?  

1.  The Farallon Islands lie just west of San Francisco. They're a few miles out from shore.  Can I see them from San Francisco?  (When would be the best time of year to look?  And where should I stand?) 

The Farallons up close. Can you see them from the mainland? 

2. I've heard stories about a series of large, strange arrows that are on the ground.  Apparently, they're made of concrete, or cement, or stone.  In fact, I've seen one (and had no idea what I was looking at) while flying in the southwest of the US.  Do these things really exist?  Can you find a picture of one?  Who would make these things, and why?  What's the story here? 

3.  Speaking of islands, while I was in Hawai'i a few weeks ago, I also heard about a Hawaiian canoe that is traveling around the world to demonstrate Hawaiian traditions of canoe building and navigation.  What's the name of this canoe, and where is it now?  (And is true that they don't have any GPS onboard?)  

4.  The Caribbean seems to be full of islands that are just slightly off the map.  While flying there a few years ago, I remember seeing an island just east of Jamaica and west of Haiti. From the air, it looked like a perfect pirate hangout place--remote and mysterious.  What is the name of this island?  It also looked like a great place to put a lighthouse--is there one there?  Where is it on the island? 

These are fun Challenges that will doubtlessly lead you onto doing a bit more research on travel-related topics.  Have fun with these, and let us know what you find (and HOW you found the answers).  

I'm about to head off for a couple weeks of travel myself.  As you might guess, some of what I find will probably end up here in a future SearchResearch Challenge or two.  

I'll be back here on October 3rd with a few answers and a pile of new Challenges.  See you next month!  

Search on!  


  1. 4. Navassa Island found instantly via GE. Flew around it a bit found the lighthouse well inland near what looks to be an airstrip.


  2. 3. Hokulea is today 2016-9-14 at Sorel, Quebec. [Hawaiian canoe that is traveling around the world ] shows that GPS is not used.

    This is a great handful of Challenges. Happy Hols to you.

  3. Dr. Russell, I wish you could travel in the Hawaiian Canoe! It looks like fantastic experience and tons of learning and knowledge. I wish I could travel at least one day on it too. Having so much fun reading and learning about it. I'll post my path and answer later! Happy trip and see you on October

    1. 3. Speaking of islands, while I was in Hawai'i a few weeks ago, I also heard about a Hawaiian canoe that is traveling around the world to demonstrate Hawaiian traditions of canoe building and navigation. What's the name of this canoe, and where is it now? (And is true that they don't have any GPS onboard?)

      [Hawaiian canoe around world] [Hawaiian canoe promoting Hawaii worldwide]

      Hokulea Worldwide voyage traveling over 60,000 nautical miles around the earth.

      Hokule'a, The Hawaiian Canoe Traveling The World By A Map Of The Stars traversing the globe by wayfinding — an ancient Polynesian skill that requires memorizing hundreds of stars and where they rise and set on the ocean horizon. She has already crossed 26,000 miles of ocean and still has a year left to go. (May 27, 2016). Link shows information, History and Map.

      The journey is part of a global movement to help create a more sustainable world. Since the canoe departed from Hawaii in May 2014

      [canoe hawaiian wayfinding]

      Wayfinding: Modern Methods and Techniques of Non-Instrument Navigation, Based on Pacific Traditions

      [hokulea trip unknown facts]

      Journey; spans 5 the core of this amazing endeavor is the idea of stewardship; an idea that is cultural at heart, but ultimately universal.

      Wayfinders : Polynesian History and Origin - PBS

      Planned voyages? Or, accidental?

      We named the canoe Hokule‘a (“star of gladness”), the Hawaiian name for Arcturus, a star which appears to pass directly overhead on the latitude of Hawai'l, and was thereby useful as a navigation star for the ancient voyagers. At every port of call Hokule'a was warmly received by Polynesians as the symbol of their mutuality, and a reminder of the resourcefulness, inventiveness, and courage of their ancestors.


      Name of the Canoe isHōkūle`a and have a sister called, Hikianalia, journeying around . They don't use gps and now they are in: Last reported position of Hōkūleʻa at 2016-09-15T18:44:00Z, latitude: 45.44853, longitude: -73.28372. Traveling to Newport Yacth Club and Marina in New Jersey

    2. 4. The Caribbean seems to be full of islands that are just slightly off the map. While flying there a few years ago, I remember seeing an island just east of Jamaica and west of Haiti. From the air, it looked like a perfect pirate hangout place--remote and mysterious. What is the name of this island? It also looked like a great place to put a lighthouse--is there one there? Where is it on the island?

      [island east Jamaica west Haiti] to find possible answer

      Island Went to Google Maps to verify location and then

      [Navassa Island]
      Is said to be about the size of New York City’s Central Park. Fact number 12 provides answer for other question on this part of Challenge

      CIA: The World Factbook

      [Navassa island lighthouse]

      Navassa became significant again with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914...The U.S. Lighthouse Service built a 162 foot tower on the island in 1917...In 1939 Coast Guard service it. Observation post during WWII.

      The lighthouse as it appeared during the last Navassa expedition in 1999 Reading photos in site, mentions " Global Positioning Systems eliminated the need for the lighthouse by 1996" and mentions book "The Great Guano Rush"

      [Navassa island lighthouse coordinates]in All and Images

      Wikipedia mentions some coordinates

      Navassa Island Photographs

      [Who owns Navassa Island] Search tools past year

      The Guano Islands act. Many islands claimed

      How to Claim Your Very Own Island

      When The Western World Ran on Guano "...Before Europeans "discovered" guano, the Inca took advantage of these properties for hundreds of years... European explorers and colonizers, did not bother to look into guano. The first to do so was Prussian geographer Alexander von Humboldt..."


      Name of the Island is Navassa. Yes, there is one lighthouse and is located on the southern side of the Island. Google maps image is so beautiful and imagery shows where the lighthouse is. Coordinates 18.397423°N 75.012833°W

    3. [ver islas Farallon san francisco]

      In results found; "Kim Chambers became the first woman to swim the 48 kilometers between the Farallon Islands and the Golden Gale Bridge.Four men have swum that stretch..."

      Guerra del huevo (Egg wars; 1 dollar each piece)

      [avistamiento islas Farallon desde san francisco]
      Si desea avistar ballenas, diríjase a Point Reyes National Seashore entre diciembre y febrero.

      Site mentions Whales but also Islands so these point work: Point Reyes National Seashore, Half Moon Bay, Montara. And for other readings, the Golden Gate Bridge.

    4. [concrete arrows southwest United States]

      Mysterious Arrows

      Plenty of images and links to another site

      Brian and Charlotte Smith have found 102 arrows in this site in the arrows section: Arrow locations and other links and photos As an extra, site has a Hummingbirds section!

      62 Arrows sites 115 Arrows and 321 beacons

      [concrete arrows postal service]

      Transcontinental Airway System; Wikipedia

      The 1924 U.S. Air mail route

      [concrete arrows postal service history]

      William Blanchfield, 1922 flight. Still not arrows available

      [William Blanchfield 1922 flight] and [William Blanchfield flight]

      February 22, 1921 the first successful U.S. transcontinental air mail flight arrived at New York’s Hazelhurst Field from San Francisco.


      William Blanchfield on the first day and night transcontinental airmail service

      [William Blanchfield airmail] all and books

      The site occupied by the Washoe County golf course was once the location of Reno's first airfield...In 1924, the field was renamed Blanch Field (the field was originally named "Blanchfield Field", but the name shortly evolved to "Blanch Field"), in honor of airmail pilot William F. Blanchfield....

      [unknown facts concrete arrows postal service]

      By 1924 the Postal Service developed a solution that was effective, if not elegant. The early iterations of the system used approximately 1,500 airmail beacons, each constructed roughly between 3 and 5 miles apart...The last airway beacon was officially shut down in 1973...

      Our modern style of mail delivery, air mail, debuted less than eight years after powered flight

      Answer: Yes, Arrows exists and we can see plenty of them on the links. History: Concrete arrows guided early airmail pilots across the U.S. No navigation systems so to move mail from Atlantic to Pacific Postal Service created this system. They were built in 1924. First flight: July 1, 1924. First flights followed train rails until they created the arrows and still today some of them are used on Montana.

  4. 2. [concrete arrows sw usa] finds a great site with lots of images and explanation, Early airmail route markers.

  5. "Can I see them from San Francisco? " made me wonder… "Can you see Russia from San Francisco? "
    anyhoo —picked one - #2 (did have prior knowledge) - "Avigation"
    surprised you noticed them from jet altitude - designed for lower levels - did you ask your brother?
    " However despite the huge investment, the system was only used until 1933"
    just a shot in the dark… or daylight — was this the one?
    … did go out and paint one up yellow for "ground truth" purposes – would be easier to spot… took a lot of paint! had to show sRs was there…
    multiple cans

    appropriately, google sightseeing
    originally painted bright yellow in CA…
    Central New Mexico

    air route - Ken Jennings (human google), Jeopardy Champ
    crumbling history
    beacon 27, in orange
    Utah sites & details
    out of Daytona Beach
    documenting some
    shows yellow
    view from a tower in WY
    history & video

    then two - #4… an odd vision… and almost due south of Guantanamo… although Lulu Bay sounds interesting
    light house
    its flag… open to interpretation
    not always peaceful…
    "Abusive conditions soon provoked a race riot and the workers hacked off the arms, legs and heads of some of the whites. Others had their heads bashed in with crowbars and axes. It was a bloody scene and it lasted over one hour.… President Benjamin Harrison commuted the execution sentences to imprisonment."
    the CIA's take
    overlords are in Puerto Rico

  6. don't recommend this type of "seeing"… even on a crystal clear day

    lost offshore…

    #1, part one:
    right about now (Sept.) appears promising… or whenever 30 miles of visibility avails itself…

    it occurred to me to try the reverse – try to see the SF/Cali coastline from the Farallon Islands — found this postcard, but seems sketchy…
    nonetheless, it led to some interesting finds… in a circuitous manner ✈ ➡ ⬈ ↬ ⤿ ⤸ ↩
    (rare North Atlantic Northern Gannet and Kelp Gull visitors to go with the curious Avigation/catch basin arrow… and the USPS 727…)
    (the Farallones were called “the devil’s teeth” by sailors ~ 300 shipwrecks* in the area)
    Farallones air mail, undated

    northern gannet
    Kelp Gull
    Old Cisterns
    a Blue Crane lives there…
    terrific views

    this is fantastic! was watching and could see seals in the bay in the lower left… think I saw some 'beach master, elephant seal' action in the pool…
    outstanding…!! no sign of the SF/Cali coast though… Karl was lurking?
    YouTube live stream on the Farallon Islands | California Academy of Sciences
    KQED, 2010
    Elephant Seals on Piedras Blancas Beach,, to the south, a bit
    swimming to the Farallones… unbelievable…
    the Farallon swim
    planning Sacramento to Tiburon… badass is an understatement
    in league with the spirit of Captain Paul Boyton…
    Ocean's 7 challenge
    the 7
    Kate Webber
    other views

    not inhabited, but inhabited
    NGS visit video
    The islands are officially part of the City and County of San Francisco. .... The islands are part of the City and County of San Francisco, and are considered part of Supervisorial DistrictOne (Northwest), also called Richmond District.
    Map - SF city limits
    "Is housing any cheaper there?" lol

  7. #1, part three: (the radioactive part)
    "Between 1946 and 1970, approximately 47,800 large barrels and other containers of radioactive waste were dumped in the ocean west of San Francisco. The containers were to be dumped at three designated sites, but they a litter sea floor area of at least 1,400 km2 known as the Farallon Island Radioactive WasteDump."

    maybe that explains the glow…
    cool sponges
    Mercury News

    … and now I see. fini

  8. 1. [Can I see farallon islands from San Francisco?]
    On a rare clear day you can look out from the Cliff House or Ocean Beach and just barely make out the shapes of the Farallon Islands in the distance 30 miles away.

  9. Not part of this Challenge. However, related to previous SRS Challenges and very interesting.

    Taiwan asks Google to blur images from disputed island about why some parts can't be seen on Google Maps. Related to How hard can it be? What color is the roof?

    Australia Is Not as Down Under as Everyone Thinks It Is About Maps