We went sailing yesterday on a friend’s 28 foot sailboat.  The weather was perfect.  It was windy and consistently so.  The temperature was cool and the waves were 1 to 2 feet.  As we were going out, tons of sailboats just finishing a race were heading back in.  I love seeing the bright, polished, waxed, and gleaming hulls of well kept sailboats with beautiful racing sails.  Not quite Volvo Ocean Race type stuff, but still a sight to see.

One of the things that amazes me about Galveston Bay is the fact that there are SO many unmarked obstructions both above and below water.

As we were sailing along yesterday, off to port at about 10 o’clock I saw something in the water that looked like a floating log.  Then I realized that it wasn’t floating.  As we came closer to it, I could see that it was a PIPE.  I couldn’t believe it.  There was a pipe about 3 to 4 inches in diameter, barnacle encrusted, that was extending in an arc about 1 foot above the water and not on any of the electronic charts that we had.    

On an evening outing several months back we were going through the bay and we saw what we euphemistically called “Stonehenge”.  It was two parallel rows, about 20 feet from each other, of about 6 pilings each that extended  approximately 8 feet out of the water.  They literally appeared overnight and had no markings or lighting of any sort.  Powerboats do go through the bay and at night these things would be invisible until you and your boat are splintered against them.  We discovered their purpose a few days later.  They were for a drilling rig.

One stormy night after a dismal anchoring out adventure with several other boats, we were motoring back into the Houston Ship Channel.  It was pitch black and the bay was a little choppy.  We were cruising along when on my port side I see a 6 to 8 inch black pipe that is suddenly illuminated by the stern running light and is about 5 feet away.  This thing was sticking 7 feet out of the water and was not on the Navionics chart.  It scared the bejeezus out of me.

We have heard countless other stories of near misses and close encounters with pipes, pilings, and other objects.  Most of the objects, I have to presume, are oil and gas related.  It leaves me dismayed to think that these companies can simply leave this detritus  in the bay in a manner that jeopardizes life.

Published On: 2016 January 31

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