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Latitude 38

• August, 2006


Feel at home on the water

weird thing to do in the early '60s — or you were going to be in for some major pubic discomfort when things hopefully got a little physical later in the evening. The U.S. Department of Energy explains the current situation as thus: "The Santa Barbara Channel has huge, natural seeps where gas bubbles to the surface and oil oozes into the ocean from cracks in the seafloor — causing an oily sheen on the water and, to the dismay of beachgoCuriously beautiful, the crudely colored waters of the ers, collectSanta Barbara Channel are courtesy of Ma Nature. ing onshore as globs of tar. These seeps have been known for millennia. Archeological evidence shows that Native Americans used the tar to waterproof woven water bottles and plank boats, and to cement fractures in broken bowls and vessels." But here's where it gets kind of interesting. "In the 1980s, two 350-ton, 50-foot high steel pyramids called 'seep tents' were positioned on the ocean floor to capture gas and oil from the seeps in South Ellwood field. Collecting the gas and oil has eliminated the oily sheen on the ocean, reduced pollution of the sea water, made the Santa Barbara Channel healthier for marine mammals, and eliminated new tar on the beaches." Initially, these two tents eliminated 25% of all hydrocarbon pollution in Santa Barbara County. While the figure is no longer that high, and Venoco has taken over maintaining the two tents, they still eliminate the equivalent of hydrocarbons from 35,000 cars in Santa Barbara County. So this is actually a case in which an 'oil company' is preventing rather than creating hydrocarbon pollution. ⇑⇓SO HOW DID THEY DO IT? You often write about how difficult it is for boats to sail from Panama to the Eastern Caribbean. If that's true, how did the Spanish galleons get the Inca gold from Cartagena, Colombia to Spain? After all, the city was founded 470 years ago for just that purpose. P.S. I'm currently cruising Hurley Burley, a Hurley 20, from Baltimore to Canada. Sally Adamson Taylor Auggie, Santana 22 South Beach Harbor, San Francisco Sally — Good question. Because galleons didn't have canting keels and therefore weren't particularly weatherly, they had to utilize courses that allowed them to sail off the wind and with the current as much as possible. Here's how they did it: The Tierra Firme flotilla, comprised of ships bound for the Spanish Main, usually left Seville in August, and its main purpose was to go to Nombre de Dios, in what's now Panama, to collect treasure from the Peruvian mines. All the way across the Atlantic and the Caribbean was downwind. The vessels in this fleet would continue on and/or rejoin the other members of the flotilla at Cartagena, where they stayed until January of the following year. Although you're going west to east when you sail from Nombre de Dios to Cartagena, it's not particularly difficult, as you can dip down into the bay to often escape the

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Latitude 38 August 2006  

The August 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.

Latitude 38 August 2006  

The August 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.