Sunday, October 9, 2011

Good And Bad

Billboards disfiguring the Keys. Bad.

No personal watercraft in the national wildlife refuges. Good.

No Motor Vehicles under bridges. Silly.

Mis-spelled graffiti. Hilarious until you remember these kids have been failed by the education system.

Birds in the road. Good I think. This one I didn't squash.

A few things to bictch about, or not.

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Squally Seascapes

I saw a tourist video taping the Seven Mile Bridge and I was reminded I live fifteen minutes from this desirable spot. Mind you I am of the opinion that home videos are boring which is why you won't see any here. I hope his came out well and he won't bore a bunch of neighbors back home.

Photos or fishing, the old Flagler Bridge is good for both activities. It was a crappy day and I had hoped that even on a holiday weekend people might have stayed away. No chance.

The tree rising out of the mist is the increasingly well known tree growing on the abandoned portion of the old Flagler Seven Mile Bridge. The mists were actually a heavy rain squall heading our way.

Cheyenne was having fun in the grass. I like to let her graze whenever I can. Dogs seem to enjoy grass and there isn't much of it in the Keys.

It was windy and blustery with white caps to the horizon.

It was only a matter of time before therein blew in.

It was a good moment to be outdoors especially as the day was taking a turn for the rainy and thundery.

The blue sky blew away within the hour and we were locked down at home with rain and thunder all afternoon. Too bad as boat ramps in the Keys are free for anyone to use to get out on the water.

The palm tree was waving around dementedly.

Perhaps I should have made a video of it to show what I mean.

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Big Pine Pool

The last time I was out here, at the south (west) end of Big Pine Key this open space was not tagged as a county open space.

Now it is, complete with lists of rules and stuff. The cool thing about these little road sides spaces is how accessible they are.

When I take a trip to the mainland I'm reminded how cool it is to be in the Keys. If you don't bother anyone you rarely get bothered yourself. The pool is ready and available. Bring your garden chair pack your trash and enjoy.

There are no facilities here, that is to say no toilets and no trash cans, but like the anglers across the channel, you can just hang and do your thing.

Think of yourself as being a snail, hanging and doing your thing...

Humans exist around here but for such small islands there are quite a lot of open spaces.

No boats in the "pool" by the way. Swim and enjoy it, before it gets too cold.

Fishing is allowed of course but if you have monofilament you don't need to throw it on the ground. I don't see much fishing line thrown away so I have to think these special tubes used to dispose of monofilament work. Plastic line is dangerous to wildlife so throwing it away is a really bad idea.

This is a stark winter picture of leafless trees on an 85 degree afternoon. Leaves don't fall much around here unless the tree is dead.

It was hot enough Cheyenne thought a dip might be in order.

Foul weather was on the way and it was hot and muggy before the huge rolling thunderstorms rolled in Saturday.

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Ohio Key Thundery Day

Essay Without Words.

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Boat Toilets

County Commissioner George Neugent had an editorial in Friday's paper that laid in to critics of the proposal that motor less boats be banned from anchoring in county waters and all boats be required to pump out their toilets responsibly and that the boats meet a Coastguard Auxiliary inspection standard.

The thing is that anchoring a boat almost anywhere in the Keys is a cheap way to live if you can find a place to land a dinghy and lock a bicycle to a mangrove. In fact if you follow many of the trails around Big Pine's Newfound Harbor (where I took these pictures) you will find dinghies and bicycles waiting for their working owners to return from a day in the salt mines.

Some people store boats and floating contraptions at anchor which then break loose from time to time and sink or clutter the shorelines, tear up seagrasses and look gross. The county spent $273,000 last year removing such derelicts as Neugent pointed out more than once in his editorial but it's no easy or cheap thing to dispose of indestructible fiberglass. As Neugent noted there are many better ways to spend that money, and it's a recurring expense that seems to barely make a dent in the numbers of derelict boats.

He also pointed out in no uncertain terms that claiming this lifestyle as an expression of freedom and independence has no meaning when the squatters on the water are taking advantage of the unregulated situation to pollute and damage the environment.

As a former liveaboard boater (like Neugent himself) I understand both sides of the debate not least because boats are in a legal limbo. The law views them as conveyances whereas people living on their boats view them as residences and thus should require a warrant to enter and search. Typically state law enforcement board boats for safety inspections lightly disguised as fishing expeditions and they tend piss off the boaters. On the other hand because my boat met standards and because I didn't smoke dope a safety inspection in my case tended to be cursory. My home was a boat first and looked like one and thus attracted little attention.

The irony here lies in the fact the county is considering asking for an extension of state deadlines to install $200 million of sewer lines throughout the Keys. Currently the residents of all islands except the last two basically shit in the water. Septic tanks in limestone rock don't work so well. A recent study proved coral bleaching is caused by human waste in the water, a subject that has been debated and denied for decades. Sewers were proposed twenty years ago and the county commissioners of the time thought they had pulled a fast one delaying installation of the sewers. I guess they did a clever thing because now we have dead coral and no state funding to clean them up.

So we are now entering a phase of less and less money, fewer programs, restricted funds and shrinking matching grants. The sewers seem unlikely to get federal or state funds and the county can't afford them. More derelict boats will accumulate, and we will never clean the waters enough to allow coral to grow back. Or will we?

The question is: how much do clean waters matter? Do they matter enough to tax ourselves us to achieve them? No one else will pay to install sewers on land and pump out stations near anchorages. If we want anchor out boaters to pump out they will need convenient facilities to be able to do it, so the demand that they do pump out is reasonable. On the other hand so what if they do pump out? As long as the pump out station is simply recycling live aboard shit into the septic tanks that leach it back into the water, what's the difference? Really? So is the oversight of boats simply a ruse to limit freedom? I wonder how deep this discussion has to go before keeping the water clean becomes a priority.

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