From Bad to Worse

The Gulf Oil Spill has gone from bad to worse. Since BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank on April 22, killing 11 workers, it has been spewing a torrent of oil into the Gulf of Mexico—roughly 70,000 barrels, or 3 million gallons, each day. A method known as “top kill,” the most recent attempt to siphon the spill, was deemed a failure, leaving BP and government officials
Author:
Updated:
Original:
OILSPILL.interior2

The Gulf Oil Spill has gone from bad to worse. Since BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank on April 22, killing 11 workers, it has been spewing a torrent of oil into the Gulf of Mexico—roughly 70,000 barrels, or 3 million gallons, each day. A method known as “top kill,” the most recent attempt to siphon the spill, was deemed a failure, leaving BP and government officials scrambling for answers. Meanwhile, Gulf-area sailors and residents watch in horror as oil laps up on their shores, fouling marinas and devastating wildlife.

At this point, BP is no longer discussing a cap on the leak – it merely hopes to contain it. The best-case scenario involves a relief well implemented in August, but even if BP were to contain the leak today, Gulf residents, governmental agencies, fisherman, environmentalists and sailors face an oil-spill disaster larger than any in our history. The damage has surpassed that of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the end is nowhere in sight.

Among other things, the oil slick is now making its way into the Loop Current, a system that circulates warm water from the Caribbean, around the Gulf, down and around Florida and up the Eastern Seaboard. If oil enters the Current under the right conditions, it could mean an entire East Coast splashed with petroleum. Then there’s a possibility of a hurricane churning things up, an occurrence that NOAA says has a 40 percent chance of happening in the course of the upcoming hurricane season.

OILSPILL.interior1

By the time BP attempted to implement the “top kill” solution, the situation was critical. Louisiana declared itself in a state of emergency as oil-soaked brown pelicans washed ashore and commercial fishing halted. Governor Bobby Jindal called on the federal government to pressure BP to find a solution. Since then, the President has formed a commission to investigate the explosion’s cause and to ensure that a disaster of this caliber never occurs again.

What does this calamity mean for thousands of sailors who keep their boats in these Gulf waters? It means a direct threat to the keystone of our lifestyle – the sea. It means tar balls washed up on docks and decks. It means a shock to a fragile ecosystem with which we sail in harmony. It means the boaters and sailors along the Gulf Coast will think twice before keeping their hulls in toxic water this summer. It means miles of oil booms lining the channels to and from coastal marinas while the charter and commercial fishing industries bite their nails. It means trouble.

OILSPILL.interior3

What can be done? First and foremost, the pressure is on BP, the EPA and various state and federal governmental agencies to contain the leak. Already, BP has taken responsibility, and will honor any verifiable claim for damages caused by the spill. (If contaminated waters reach your boat, check out this listof helpful tips from Interlux and Awlgrip.) For sailors, we can volunteerwith shore cleanup, get behind organizations that protect the Gulf's water, stay educated about news in the Gulfand support other sailorslooking out for the sea.

For Gulf-area residents, visit these links to discover where you can volunteer: Louisiana, Alabama, Florida

We can also look at this tragedy as a wake-up call to reevaluate our energy sources. With 35,000 miles of oil pipeline stretching across the Gulf, a repeat explosion is a possibility.

Luckily, our sport is based on a sustainable source of energy. For centuries, sailors have utilized power from the wind and the sun, and advances in marine technology are making it increasingly easier to be green with electric engines, LED lighting and more.

We have yet to learn how this story ends, but one thing is for certain: "drill, baby, drill" just took on a whole new meaning for Gulf Coast sailors.

Related

Waypoint.image.cd

Say No To Waypoints

Ever since they first appeared in my navigational toolbox decades ago I have been wary of waypoints. They certainly do seem helpful, these electronic flags we plant in the ether to guide us to where we want to go. But I noticed early on they also tend to distort our perception. ...read more

Lead-shutterstock_429247

A Cruise up Florida’s St. Johns River

The chart showed 45ft of vertical clearance, and I knew the boat should be able to pass under the bridge. Still, there was that nagging voice in my head that wouldn’t let me be. “What if your air draft calculations were wrong?” it said. “And if you’re just a little too high the ...read more

pic00

Installing a Helm Pod

Our 1987 Pearson project boat came with an elderly but functioning Raymarine chartplotter, located belowdecks at the nav station. Since I usually sail solo or doublehanded, it was of little use down there—it needed to be near the helm. When I decided to update the plotter along ...read more

Panamerican

Pan American Game Success

Team USA’s young sailors went to the quadrennial Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru this summer with high hopes, and returned with a good haul of medals—two Golds, three Silvers, and two Bronze. Gold medals went to Ernesto Rodriguez and Hallie Schiffman (Mixed Snipe) and Riley ...read more

190916-AC75

U.S. Team Launches First America’s Cup Boat

Fast forward to around 2:25 to see the boat in action. First day out and already doing full-foiling gybes: not too shabby! Hard on the heels of the unveiling of New Zealand’s first AC75, the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic team has now launched its first America’s Cup ...read more

GGTobCaysHorseshoeColors

Picking a Charter Destination

Picking a destination should reflect the interests of your group, says People often ask about my favorite charter destination, and invariably, I sidestep the question with one of my own: “Well, what do you want to do on your vacation?” Most often I hear an incredulous, “Why, ...read more

sinking

Waterlines: Chasing Leaks on Boats

Chasing leaks on boats is a time-honored obsession. Rule number one in all galaxies of the nautical universe through all of nautical history has always been the same: keep the water on the outside. When water somehow finds its way inside and you don’t know where it’s coming ...read more

BestBoatNominees2020-Promo

Best Boats Nominees 2020

Bring on the monohulls! In a world increasingly given over to multihull sailing, SAIL magazine’s “Best Boats” class of 2020 brings with it a strong new group of keelboats, including everything from luxury cruisers nipping at the heels of their mega-yacht brethren to a number of ...read more