Friday, July 30, 2010

Observations from Harbor Cruise

Hey everyone,
So, our first trip into the harbor as a class went really well. I was impressed with the ease and speed of travel via the ferry system. I am usually on my own boat in the harbor and didn't realize how efficient the ferry system actually was. We left at 1 and made the loop through hull and Quincy before 3pm! In any event, I will go through a more detailed description of my observations and impressions below.
Before meeting in the Starbucks at the Marriott, I, along with Darryl and Matt, took in the scenery at the aquarium. Although I am in the city almost every day, I haven't been to the aquarium in years. It was packed with people! the whole place is new and totally accessible by water taxi and the harbor walk. I'm definitely going back. After discussing the plan for the day, we boarded the ferry to Hull at about 1pm and I noticed that the wind was coming from the south east which is different from the southwest wind that the harbor typically gets in the summer. Upon disembarking from the dock, we traveled through the Boston Yacht Haven Marina and saw some beautiful Burgers, Browards, and Feadships. (I personally liked "MELINDA"). We then began to move through the harbor towards the mouth and I noticed that there was significant recreational sailboat traffic that prevented us from increasing our speed at the end of the no-wake zone. Once we got going, I was baffled by the speed of our jet-driven ferry. We must have been going 25 Knots if not more. We then went to the left of spectacle Island and I had a view of the captains instruments and noticed a depth of 29 feet which means that we were clearly traveling outside of the shipping lanes. I learned that Spectacle was a dump from the 1700s to the 1950's and that although it was filled with trash for a few hundred years, the hills on the island are actually made from the waste of the Big Dig. Apparently they let the dredged material drain out in South Boston before bringing it by barge to spectacle.
We arrived in Hull at 1:24 pm and I learned that Hull is a hook that was made from glacial movements similar to the origins of cape cod nearly 50,000 years ago. I also learned that the two windmills in Hull have the capacity to power the entire city of Hull, which is surprising. After a short stop at Hull, we traveled behind Peddocks Island and towards Quincy. Behind Peddocks, I again looked into the wheelhouse and noticed that the water depth was now 50 feet. We then passed through Hull Gut and learned that the waves caused from the opposition of tidal currents and winds were often dangerously large and posed a threat to boaters. However, because of the current and small mouth, many species of fish like to wait for their prey in Hull Gut because it is easier to catch food.
We then moved through Hingham Bay and then into the Quincy Shipyard via the ford river. We learned that 25 years ago, 280 million gallons of waste was being pumped into the harbor before lawsuits and creative legal decisions prompted the state to act. the MWRA was then created in 85' and the cleanup began in 86'. We now have some of the cleanest urban beaches in the world (except for wollaston). We docked next to the USS Salem in Quincy and I was astounded to learn that the fertilizer pellet plant from deer island was located within a thousand yards of our berth. I couldn't smell a thing. It was wild.
Prof. Berman then discussed how the pollution that was being dumped into rivers was causing algae plumes that used up all the oxygen in the water and made it unsuitable for fish life. I had always thought that the bacteria from the waste was the problem for the eco system, I never imagined it was too much algae growth. We then did an exercise to show how water gets from BU to the 9 mile long Mass Bay Outfall Pipe that has diffusers to disperse the treated water. One interesting fact that I learned was that the Mass Ave sewer is made from oak! that is incredible. Whats even more amazing is that it is hundreds of years old and is still working! Additionally, I learned that you can actually measure the influx of sewage through the mass ave sewer during the 7th inning stretch at the Sox game. haha. that is ridiculous and repulsive at the same time.
On our way to the East Boston stop at Logan, we passed through a flock of seagulls that was apparently circling over a school of bait fish. these bait fish were being eaten by stripers and there were 4 center console boats in the school of bait fish that were fishing for stripers. the circle of life I guess. Finally, we arrived back at Long Wharf and walked to fanuel hall to see the old line of Boston Harbor before it was filled in and the city was extended. This was pretty cool too. All in all, I thought it was a successful day. My only regret is that I didn't bring a sweatshirt... it got pretty cold while underway on the ferry.

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