The problem with oil as seen from the deck of a small boat 20 years ago…


Sailing the Dream
ISBN 1929317999

   By the time it was Davey’s watch we were starting to see what she called "martian hotels." Actually, they were offshore oil platforms. They looked like little twinkling cities to me. A little after daybreak we were passing our third one, ten miles offshore. They really did look Martian and had a noise all their own, a sort of hum. They seemed such a contrast to everything we had previously experienced in the unadulterated ocean environment. During our morning coffee klatch Davey and I had a long discussion as to our feelings about the damned things. From all we had heard there weren't any offshore drilling rigs north of Point Conception until just six months previously. Now word had it that they were springing up like mushrooms everywhere. There are few things as nauseating as the smell of crude oil when you are at sea on a small boat. Now, well downwind of the three oil platforms, that was all we could smell, even though they were miles away.

Offshore oil rig, Photo Credit: J.F. McGrady, © 2012

   "Good God, Davey," I squawked, "do you think the day will come when the whole coastline is as stinky and polluted as the [industrial] tide flats?"

   We were both silent for a rather long time. Then, rather than answering, she shared a question of her own.

   "I wonder how many people really know what is happening to our little planet." -- Sailing the Dream, Cruising, page 82, 1999


   Far from land, in waters miles deep, I said a small prayer that it wouldn't do much harm to the environment, for it was a good riddance, and fresh air was restored. The incident reminded us again, that as welcome as fuel is to mechanical engines and the 20th century, how putrid the stuff is to life itself. The quality of life aboard our thirty-foot Querencia had been reduced to a sickening existence by one leaking jug of fossil fuel.

-- Sailing the Dream, The Private Sea, page 259, 1999

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