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Old 30-04-2010, 14:08   #1
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How Will the Oil Spill Affect Sailing?

So we're almost ready to buy our boat. We're sooooo close. And now this oil rig blows up and sinks, destroying our beautiful coast line. And to make matters worse, our sailing plans are now in chaos.

How will the oil spill affect us? Will Lake Pontchartrain be totally overwhelmed? What does this oil do to boats in slips? A surveyor told us it leaves a permanent stain.

What about our live aboard plans? What about liveaboards on the coast now? Who can live in a noxious environment filled with oil sheen? Yesterday evening Danielle could smell oil from her apartment. I'm sure as more moves in it will just get worse and worse.

And finally, will you even be allowed to sail? Will the coastie shut it all down? They've got those booms being deployed all over right now.

Troubling times for the waters of Louisiana. What are your thoughts?
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Old 30-04-2010, 14:48   #2
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.....Yesterday evening Danielle could smell oil from her apartment. I'm sure as more moves in it will just get worse and worse. ...
Wow, I am sorry to hear this. I am surprised the smell was so bad so quickly. Where in LA is this apartment located?

WRT your question, I would suspect the effect to the lake will be fairly short lived (in terms of sailing). Tough to know at this point....
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Old 30-04-2010, 15:02   #3
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In Metarie. Which is on the south side of the big lake. I've also had people in NOLA telling me the same thing. They say you can smell it when the wind comes in from the gulf.
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Old 30-04-2010, 15:06   #4
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I'd say the effect on your boat depends on what your boat is made out of, and what it's painted with.

More than likly, it should have minimal effect if any. Maybe a stain, maybe nothing. Even still, I wouldn't go boating in the slicks, simply because of the fire and health hazards.

That said, I'm an odd one. I generaly like the smell of oil.

Hopefuly they'll get the well killed pretty quick.
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Old 01-05-2010, 05:08   #5
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Latest report Pontchartrain ok for now.Definitely do not want to sail in it.Future uncertain.Until leak stopped no one knows.Am in sw La starting to wish I had stayed in Fl,might have been able to out run it.Wish you the best,but not looking good for east of Ms. river,marc
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:15   #6
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The UK have coped with two huge spills in the past, the Torrey Canyon in the sisties/seventies and another off the northwest of Scotland from one of the big tankers.
Both caused a lot of fouling of the coastline and considerable damage to bird life. It took a lot of people to clear up the mess gathering the heavy residual oils into bin bags for disposal, detergent spraying was discontinued because that dispersed the surface contamination into the water polluting the seabed. The huge bill went to the owners. Within a couple of years there were only residual traces left in the beaches and most wildlife recovered well.
There were attempts to set fire to the Torrey spill using Hawker Hunters to bomb the spill. Crude oil is very terry, non-volatile and extremely difficult to set alight. Not a risk in itself. Staining is hard to remove but a very effective anti-fouling, the smell will soon dissipate as the lighter factions evaporate off. There should be areas clear enough to sail most of the time except where particular harbours and marinas are badly affected. Live aboards will be worst affected, spare them a thought. Stuck in the smell with a boat that's marginally seaworthy and a shore job that worth keeping.
The everglades and mangrove swamps will be a very different matter.
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Old 02-05-2010, 10:38   #7
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The UK have coped with two huge spills in the past, the Torrey Canyon in the sisties/seventies and another off the northwest of Scotland from one of the big tankers.
Both caused a lot of fouling of the coastline and considerable damage to bird life. It took a lot of people to clear up the mess gathering the heavy residual oils into bin bags for disposal, detergent spraying was discontinued because that dispersed the surface contamination into the water polluting the seabed. The huge bill went to the owners. Within a couple of years there were only residual traces left in the beaches and most wildlife recovered well.
There were attempts to set fire to the Torrey spill using Hawker Hunters to bomb the spill. Crude oil is very terry, non-volatile and extremely difficult to set alight. Not a risk in itself. Staining is hard to remove but a very effective anti-fouling, the smell will soon dissipate as the lighter factions evaporate off. There should be areas clear enough to sail most of the time except where particular harbours and marinas are badly affected. Live aboards will be worst affected, spare them a thought. Stuck in the smell with a boat that's marginally seaworthy and a shore job that worth keeping.
The everglades and mangrove swamps will be a very different matter.
Thanks for the first hand account! One thing I was curious about and wonder if you have any knowledge.... How did the oil in the water affect the boats on the inside. I mean any water coming in through sea cocks, like for the engine cooling or maybe an ac water inlet, etc. Almost no one around here would use raw water in the galley. Also what about packing glands and things like that? Did you find that once the marinas were swamped with oils that anything bad happened to the boats?
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Old 02-05-2010, 10:50   #8
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Once the wellhead is capped and the oil is blown ashore, that's pretty much the last of your concerns with respect to sailing. Of course, its not the last of the environmental concerns.

If its a concern then I would either get the boat hauled out now or buy a small oil boom. I would imagine that oil booms are in short supply right now or exorbitantly priced. Given oil that has traveled that far is oil that floats at the surface, I would not be concerned with things below the waterline, unless you plan on getting underway in the muck.
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Old 02-05-2010, 17:48   #9
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Ought to provide some fairly effective anti-fouling... at least at the waterline....


(how is that for looking for the silver lining??)
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Old 02-05-2010, 18:02   #10
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permanent stain?

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S What does this oil do to boats in slips? A surveyor told us it leaves a permanent stain.
I've gotten some major streaks of oil on my boat while sailing through the Santa Barbara area. The bottom paint was stained, yes. But bottom paint isn't permanent.

It certainly seems prudent to close all seacocks when there's oil in the water. What you most want to do is not suck crude into your heat exchangers. In other words, don't run the engine if there's oil in the water.
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:21   #11
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Target9000 I wasn't sailing in those days, and you are right that seacocks need to be considered but I understand the slick is quite patchy. Engine running is another matter, it's OK if the system gets warm throughout but as the slick matures it will get very tarry and lumpy. This will probably cause issue whatever cooling system is in use. Sailing is just a matter of shutting the seacocks. There's plenty of wind out there I gather!
I do hope there's enough hands on labour along the shore line to cope with what comes ashore. Birds can only be saved if they haven't ingested too much of the stuff but treatments are getting better all the time. There are still tons of seabirds and oil to be hand picked off the shore for several months as it continues to come ashore. It's perhaps too soon for sailors to get involved but perhaps this forum would be a place for volunteers to get organised, in walking the shore, or moving people and the collected garbage to and from the affected areas. The fishing boats, of course, are desperate to protect their areas, but there will be many areas best accessed by boat, and certainly best patrolled by boat. Cats of course being particularly good, but bigger boats can stand off and inspect by semi-rigids and inflatables. I'm sure Uncle 'the Oracle' Gord will know who to contact. It will also need some committed sole to organise. Shore limited individual would be perfect, just needs commitment. It was Joe public that cleaned up the UK beaches with help and equipment paid for by the authorities on behalf of the vessel owners.
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