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Old 27-05-2010, 21:02   #1
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Oil on the Water in Stormy Seas - Does it Work ?

When I first thought about storm managment offshore, I remember stories of people who used oil to quieten stormy breaking seas. They advocated going into the head, pouring oil in the toilet bowl, and slowly pumping the oil outside the boat to create a protective oil slick adjacent to their boat. I had my doubts about whether the technique would be practical or if it would work as advertised.

We are about to find out whether oil really makes any difference in quietening stormy seas. It's now the start of hurricane season, and there is a 100 percent chance that we will eventually see a tropical storm or hurricane in the Gulf Of Mexico in the area of the massvie BP oil spill. We will finally find out if oil on the water makes that much difference in the behavior of seas during severe weather.

What do you think? Will the oil in the Gulf Of Mexico significantly quieten the seas when those storms and hurricanes come roaring through in the next six months?
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Old 27-05-2010, 21:09   #2
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ugh. that's a hellva field experiment...
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Old 27-05-2010, 22:29   #3
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With the water temp 4F higher than average and the propensity for dark oil to draw heat and transfer it to the surrounding water, I doubt there'll be fewer Cat 1 or 2 storms. Considering the amount of oil below the surface, it should be interesting.

So, will the much higher than average water temps (which fuel hurricanes) overcome the "quieting" aspects of the BP spill? And will BP cover these "reasonable costs" of higher damage? Thankfully I live on the Atlantic side.
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Old 27-05-2010, 23:09   #4
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Since the Gulf Stream basically runs all the way up Atlantic side ... what's that expression from JAWS .... "Just when you think it's safe to back in the water".......
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Old 27-05-2010, 23:53   #5
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I vote we stop using oil-based fuels.
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Old 28-05-2010, 00:44   #6
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I think its more likely that any boats caught in rough seas in the Gulf will get slimed. Oily decks, black slippery slimly sails, and foulies that stink like they came from the bowels of the earth. Instead of frothy white water deluging boats in breaking seas, we will see mountains of black gold pound hapless exhausted skippers who struggle to see ahead of them through eyelids dripping of burning sulfuric smelling black oil. Not a pretty picture.

If I spill a gallon of diesel in the ocean, the coast guard would be crawling all over me with threats of huge fines or prison. BP destroys the entire Gulf of mexico, and potentially the east coast US, and all I hear is oppsie, what is this???
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Old 28-05-2010, 01:51   #7
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Well, nobody said it has to be mineral oil. A few gallons of cooking oil won't hurt anything.

To the original question: The Pardeys sure think it makes a difference. They swear by heaving-to in heavy weather, and pouring oil on the water if necessary/possible. They cite centuries of sailor's lore about it and describe, convincingly, various experiments they performed. Their Heavy Weather Sailing is a classic; everyone should have a copy on board in my opinion.

I have no idea if it's true, having never tried it, but this comes from a highly respected authority.
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Old 28-05-2010, 02:15   #8
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Unfortunately, from UK experience with spills. all that remains after a couple of months a gooey, tarry, lumps (full of grit on the beach). Those warmer seas will remove all the lighter fractions. The remaining 'lumps' will scar boats, are likely to get caught on deck at drainage points, and will walk on the soles of footwear/feet Everywhere. Carpets, deck, impregnating timber decking, everywhere. Best removal is a light vegetable oil and a lot of elbow grease.
It is these lumps that get buried in the sand and vegetation along the shore line for many years.
On a brighter note, it does seem that the latest attempts are having some success. The bribery, miss-regulation and poor politics that lead inevitably to a leak, sooner or later, are also being dealt, openly for a change, by a politician you should be proud of.
However, pouring 'Oil on Troubled Waters' was done by the hundreds of gallons. Not really in the cruisers list of things to do on a regular basis. Perhaps in dire distress, but surely, nowadays, not a first resort.
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Old 28-05-2010, 02:42   #9
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The stench of crude is gut wrenching and makes you feel nauseous. I would stay well clear unless you want to ruin your hull paint and you certainly dont want that water circulation round your engine.

Having grown up in Milford Haven harbour and west Wales, it was an all too common feature on our beaches.
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Old 28-05-2010, 04:31   #10
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Heard the tail-end of a report about this very thing on NPR last week. In addition to the "calming" aspect of oil upon the waters, the scientist being interviewed also mentioned that there's some concern about hurricane force winds picking up the oil and dispersing it over land. He said, basically, no one knows what will happen because neither of these have ever been scientifically tested. Makes you wonder ...
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Old 28-05-2010, 06:23   #11
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And there are hundreds of wells in that area. BP were given permission to drill before, or without, an environmental impact statement being submitted. The hurricane force winds are an additional factor, hopefully the bulk of the surface oil will be cleared before the season is under way.
As said else where, motoring in those waters is going to cause issues with heat exchangers and the raw water cooled engines. And for some time these buoyant 'Lumps of Tar' will clog water intakes on pleasure craft. Especially those drive legs we were hearing about recently that require a stiff wire to clear inlet holes.
I'm not trying to be-little the whole affair when I say 'it will recover'. The more that is done now, in the right way, the quicker nature will heal itself.
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Old 28-05-2010, 06:30   #12
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I wouldn't look for any positive effects of this oil being there.
I never really understood how it would work for a boat in a storm either. You might have a few gallons engine oil, maybe a couple more cooking oil, isn't it just going to disappear into the distance as soon as you pour it out? The theory sounds good but unless you happen to have a shipping container full of oil on board, it seems like a waste of time.
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Old 28-05-2010, 06:34   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mariness View Post
unless you happen to have a shipping container full of oil on board, it seems like a waste of time.
I thought the idea was you towed a plastic bottle with a small hole in the cap and the few drops per min is about to stop the wave breaking......

Well, thats what I thought and I've never tried it
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Old 28-05-2010, 06:41   #14
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I thought the idea was you towed a plastic bottle with a small hole in the cap and the few drops per min is about to stop the wave breaking......

Well, thats what I thought and I've never tried it
Yup more or less also what I've heard. I just can't see how a wave that would be stopped by a little drizzle of oil was big enough to be a worry in the first place. I'm thinking, Doesn't the oil-amount:wave-size ratio have to be somehow proportionate?
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Old 28-05-2010, 09:09   #15
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I read a book on seamanship that had been written at the turn of the century. He told both first hand and second hand stories of using oil. I doesn't take much. A following sea can be calmed using Mark's suggestion. One story involved punching holes in the tinned fish they had on board and hanging them in a bag to quieten the sea immediately around a demasted ship enough that they could get crew off into another boat. He said even then that many yachting folk doubted it but it was part of the professionals bag of tricks. One of his points was how little it takes to smooth the sea around the oil source.
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