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Old 27-02-2014, 13:16   #1
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Looking for resource to plan cruise around water quality and pollution levels.

Sounds a bit weird, but I've used many other variables in cruise planning: tides, weather, available shopping for the wife, etc. Now, as I am planning some rather extensive cruising I'd like to find resources to check the pollution levels of the waters I want to cruise. I know scientists and technicians the world around are studying water quality and posting it to databases. I just haven't seen a NOAA Chart that includes that in it's datum. Nor am I aware of a central source for such information. I'm hoping some others aboard this site have that info.

The pollution level of the water is of concern since I'll be swimming and snorkeling in it, catching and eating seafood from it, and using it to desalinate for drinking water. Once again, after almost 10 years ashore, I'll be "out there," hopefully for good. I would like to examine, ahead of time, the water quality for a cruise along the Texas Gulf Intercoasal Waterway, Florida coastal waters on both sides and the keys, the Bahamas, Mexico's Sea of Cortez.

If you have any info on where to look for current or recent water quality info, I'd appreciate it. Thanks, Y'all!

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Old 27-02-2014, 14:26   #2
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Re: Looking for resource to plan cruise around water quality and pollution levels.

Well, we have never been asked that question before!

If I give you a straight answer you will tell me I am being a racist and totally wrong!

The cleanest waters are in the big bad western countires, the USA, Australia, the EU etc. the places where the media tells us we are killing the world.

The worst places are all in Asia and the middle East. They treat their part of the world like **** and it shows.

Sure there are some nice places in Indonesia... But with only 6% of their coral reefs surviving, I can tell you the rest of the place is a revolting dump... And a dump where they dump their trash. You can walk on it!

Theres lots of small islands in the pacific that are so small that you dont notice it, but in virtually every idyllic cruising location theres problems that just wouldn't be tolerated in our own home countries.

Theres lots of places to go swimming on your cruise but you will be amazed how many more there could be if the world was as educated as at home.

This revolting trash pit is inside the marina in Bali, Indonesia. Just a disgrace!


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Old 27-02-2014, 14:56   #3

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Re: Looking for resource to plan cruise around water quality and pollution levels.

jb, I doubt there is any centralized or standardized international or national source(s) of that type of information. You won't find a Michelin Guide to International Waters. You will be at the mercy of local guidelines and local standards and the local newspaper or health department is your best guide, in those few areas where they do any regular water quality testing of any kind.

And of course if your best charts show "Sewage Outfall" you just assume that water is tainted, especially after heavy rains.

Or you can look into buying test kits and doing your own sampling. Now you can start a non-profit foundation devoted to water quality sampling.
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Old 27-02-2014, 15:04   #4
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Re: Looking for resource to plan cruise around water quality and pollution levels.

Likewise, I have observed that the major 1st World countries have the best visual water conditions as to clarity. What pollution there is is mostly hidden or not easily seen. Fertilizers, heavy metal chemicals, sewage overflows when a major rain storm hits a major city, these are what you get from the 1st World countries. It's just not normally very visible.

The "last-world" countries are - IMHO - more honest about their pollution. They dump just about everything including styrofoam boxes, cups, etc., bags, crates, pallets, and raw sewage, etc., into their waters which are all very visible. However, they are less likely to dump the "hidden" stuff like agri-chemicals, pesticides, etc. as they cannot afford to buy and use these things.

As far as cruising goes, areas that are open to the currents of the oceans tend to have much clearer and ?maybe? cleaner water around them as the flushing action carries the trash away to eventually wind up on the big "gyres" in the Atlantic and Pacific (See map here - interactive map - expeditions).

Specifically, in the Atlantic/Bahamas/Caribbean, I have seen the best waters in the Bahamas - great flushing action from Atlantic around - Dominica; very low population probably leads to low amount of dumping: Grenadines; again low population along with great Atlantic flushing. And just about any eastern side of an island for the same "flushing action" reasons.

The worst list is quite long with the top spots going to the D.R./Luperon - land locked harbor with minimal flushing and maximal dumping; Trinidad/Chag Bay - they seriously just don't care; St Martin Lagoon - minimal flushing reasons; St Vincent - they just don't care.

Under the "just don't care" category I found that the locals are way too busy worrying about where the next meal or work is going to be found to spend much time and certainly no or very little money on "ecological" niceties.

So for practical purposes, I use a personal rule of thumb that if I cannot clearly see the bottom in 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 m) beneath my boat I do not swim or run the R.O. watermaker. And additionally, you need to be wary of oil in the water from other vessels' bilge pumping - that oil can take out your R.O. machine real quick. There are special filters you can install to lessen the oil problem but they are hard to find and not cheap.

I did make a big mistake in choosing an 120VAC powered R.O. machine instead of a 12VDC machine. With a 12VDC machine you can make water while on passages between islands where, most likely, you will find cleaner, clearer water.
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cruise, poll, water

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