Monday, May 17, 2010

Loop Current Ahoy!

From the Associated Press this appalling piece of news even as British Petrroleum claims to be scooping up one fifth of the oil now escaping the broken pipe. A "permanent" fix, they say, is still months away.As engineers worked to get a better handle on the spill, a researcher told The Associated Press that computer models show the oil may have already seeped into a powerful water stream known as the loop current, which could propel it into the Atlantic Ocean. A boat is being sent later this week to collect samples and learn more.

"This can't be passed off as 'it's not going to be a problem,'" said William Hogarth, dean of the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science. "This is a very sensitive area. We are concerned with what happens in the Florida Keys."

Hogarth said a computer model shows oil has already entered the loop current, while a second shows the oil is 3 miles from it — still dangerously close. The models are based on weather, ocean current and spill data from the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among other sources.

Hogarth said it's still too early to know what specific amounts of oil will make it to Florida, or what damage it might do to the sensitive Keys or beaches on Florida's Atlantic coast. He said claims by BP that the oil would be less damaging to the Keys after traveling over hundreds of miles from the spill site were not mollifying.

BP had previously said the tube, if successful, was expected to collect most of the oil gushing from the well. Officials still hope to collect most of it when the tube is working at full capacity.

Once it reaches the tanker, the oil is being separated from the natural gas and sea water. The natural gas is being burned off, while the crude is being sent to oil terminals.

Truman Waterfront

For almost a decade the City of Key West has been mulling over what to do with almost 34 acres of prime waterfront land deeded to the city by the Navy as part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. It's a large chunk of land and you might as well use a scooter to check it all out.Truman Waterfront as it is known is bordered by Truman Annex a gated community securely tucked up behind a tall white picket fence:Further south there is the Truman Navy Base, the rump of the old military facilities that were expropriated by the Navy for use in World War Two.To the left of this picture is the Petronia Street access to Truman Waterfront, an alternative built by the city when Truman Annex threatened to close the Southard Street access. The Navy opposed that plan and did what the fearful city should have done, which is faced down the bullies of Truman Annex. In any event there are now two roads into the waterfront, and for the time being this swath of open space has not much going on, except for some oversized vehicle parking.Beach goers looking for Fort Zachary Taylor State Park come through here, on scooters, skateboards,
by car,on foot, and by bicycle.The city has put up some new signs in an effort to reclaim this wide open piece of land. This lot was more interested in retrieving the contents of their cooler which hit the ground with a thunderous crash. And it didn't even seem as though they had started drinking just yet, clumsy as they were. The Eco Discovery Center is still going strong on it's corner of the waterfront, displaying what it means to live in and on tropical waters.
I have no idea what these things are. I wondered if they might be oil spill booms but they looked more like pieces of a floating dock.A good parking spot is in the shade but I wasn't that lucky this time. The floating museums , Ingham and Mohawk may end up having to move along the seawall if the city's tentative redevelopment plans come to fruition.
Work proceeds slowly on the restoration of one of the oldest surviving Coastguard cutters, built in the 1930s.
Happily this building, a warehouse described as the Navy "mess hall" might get to survive the forthcoming development.
The interior these days is a storage area.
This launch reminds me of the club launches they used in the Panama Canal Zone to ferry visiting yachtsmen, like myself, ashore from the moorings in the Canal, where we waited for our transit.
All this open space is for the city to do as it wishes. An astounding opportunity.
Beyond the Mohawk, across Key West Harbor we see the Sunset Key development. It is a separate island filled with exceedingly expensive homes, and no roosters or chickens allowed.
The Western Union, a cable laying sailing ship is "on the hard" as sailors call it (landlubbers call it being "dry docked" which is incorrect as the boat has been hauled out of the water and is not in any kind of dock, wet or dry). Restoration here is moving slowly along. This boat used to lay telegraph cables around the western Caribbean for the Western Union Company.Restored, it should look a bit like this schooner underway:This former military housing is now expensive condos overlooking the harbor. When approaching Key West from the sea this block of white Shipyard Condos is the first thing you will see rising up out of the water to greet you.This break in the seawall is known as Admiralty Cut and the city is considering forcing the owners of the Westin hotel to sell it to the city to build a bridge to connect the entire city waterfront in one long walkway. More about this project later this week.
This is the south end of the Westin Marina. Cruise ships dock outside the far sea wall.
It's a lot of seawall the city has received from the Navy:
The owners of these condos will probably not lose their water views in any event.
Nor will he, as long as he is up there painting the interminable railings.It was a long hot walk for a small dog in a fur coat. Much easier to check it all out by bicycle:
These are the views I was talking about, west past the harbor to the group of mangrove islets called "The Lakes" owing to the vast bowl of shallow water in their midst. it is an excellent calm water boating area, most of it with less than six feet of water, much of it very shallow.A slow sunny walk back along the waterfront gets us back to the other side of the old Navy Mess hall.And past the Western Union. Do you know the best cure for seasickness? Sit under a tree.Restoration of elderly wooden boats is long and tedious work. Historic Tours Of America gave up owning this boat and abruptly shut down the tours it used to give. A group of local enthusiasts headed by Theo Glorie, owner of the Coffee Plantation on Caroline Street raises money to get the boat back in the water.
Cheyenne really likes the waterfront, especially early on a winter morning when the air is cool and there is no one around. Even on a hot summer afternoon she can find something to attract her interest.
A strange zone indeed this must be around the Western Union...
This sign from the recent Taste of Key West festival states the obvious.
The old entrance guard posts remain for a while as testament to the former Navy presence here.
This is the Southard Street entrance through Truman Annex, open to all until ten pm when guards are supposed to stop and interrogate people who want to drive in. I avoid them by entering through Petronia Street.
The Freedom Tree, a common-or-garden gumbo limbo dedicated to the memory of missing service personnel among others.
I hope development plans currently in the works for an expensive marina an amphitheater and assorted shops and stuff is scaled back. I hear lots of people who are hoping for some more simple open waterfront parkland in this crowded city.
Frankly Cheyenne and I rather like just as it is, disheveled and open and untrammeled. Not if the Spottswood's voracious development machine has anything to do with it.