Blue Whales And Me

I was talking to my good friend, Stefan, the other night on Skype. He lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He’s not at all supportive about me building a boat to live on down here. “Why don’t you come back up here and we’ll find you a sailboat you can live on,” he said. “They’ve changed the rules about living aboard at special anchorages, and people are doing it all over.”

Well, the only problem is that land dwellers have been battling people living at anchor in Florida for as long as I can remember, and I first lived in Florida back in 1961! It will never end. Here’s a recent (July 30, 2014) article about local politicians trying to come up with creative ways to prohibit people from enjoying life on the water without paying through the nose to do so for the privilege. As if owning a boat isn’t paying through the nose enough already.

One of my favorite lines in the story is from Senator Christopher Smith of Broward County who supports outlawing anyone from anchoring closer than 100 yards of a land residence, and in fact contends that even THAT is too close, said: “There are boats sitting outside of people’s houses…boats within 100 yards, looking into people’s houses, discharging waste, doing all kinds of things in that city’s water.”

Boaters have long been hammered that they are polluting the pristine waters of the United States. In Fort Lauderdale this has been decried for years, especially around what are known as the Las Olas Isles where there are a lot of liveaboards, albeit at docks in the area. For the past few decades the area’s water has always had a high coliform bacteria count and it has been blamed on boaters pooping in their boats and releasing it into the wild. But there is incontrovertible evidence that the coliform count is high because of deteriorated sewage infrastructure of the land dwellings sitting on man-made “islands” that were created from dredged material nearly a century ago (1917).

Decades ago it was mandated that boats with toilet facilities install “holding tanks” or other devices that would keep brown floaters from being discharged into the water. “Pump out facilities” were built so that boats could pull up, pay a fee, and have their noxious effluvia whisked away. I know that around Fort Lauderdale there is at least one floating “honey wagon” that cruises around providing a similar service dock-side. Boat owners who wish to dump their stuff over the side CAN if they sail five or so miles offshore and do it there.

One thing Florida is famous for is its beaches and tourists flock to them from all over the world. But several times every year people are prohibited from swimming in the ocean in southeast Florida because pipes that pump coastal city’s waste offshore rupture spilling millions of gallons of untreated and semi-treated human waste into the water.

What I have always found foolish is trying to blame a handful of boaters for what is, like in the Las Olas Isles area, a land-based problem, but since there are more land-dwellers than live-aboard boaters the boaters become an easy target.

My response to this is to link myself with blue whales and dolphins (porpoise). The blue whale is the largest creature on the face of the earth and it lives in the ocean. It is so big that a young child could swim through its arteries…

blue whale heart

Now, it’s an incontrovertible fact that blue whales eat. And anything that eats, shits. And how huge do you think a single blue whale’s turd might be? I have no idea, either, but I can tell you this, almost without fear of contradiction, so far in my 72 years I have not pooped enough to equal a single blue whale’s turd! And there are thousands of blue whales around the world and each one of them is taking a daily dump in the ocean as are the tens of thousands of dolphins everywhere. And lets not forget about seals and walruses, either. They’re dumping their doo in the water constantly and then people get all bent out of shape because of my single, insignificant contribution? There’s something terribly wrong with that whole way of thinking as far as I’m concerned.






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4 responses to “Blue Whales And Me

  1. lezlie

    Exactly! I’m not a boater or a swimmer. I can see your point, but theirs seems a little specious.

  2. Our neighborhood in FL was forced to give up septic tanks and hook up to the newly installed sewer system, which raised the water bill by $70-80/mo. We were polluting the nearby stream. Of course don’t look at the evidence that the water was worse upstream the closer you got to some businesses that were dumping their waste into the stream. *sigh*. That was the last straw that drove us to Panama. I’m all for keeping the water clean but generally it isn’t individuals causing the problem, whether human or whale or fish.

    I don’t care what it was that pushed you and Joel over the edge, I’m glad that you’re here now. You’re blog is wonderful and I hope it will be the inspiration for many looking for a new place to settle down.

  3. John & Susan

    It all boils down to money unfortunately. Most people think if you have a boat you are wealthy and can afford all the fees and deal with the insane laws.
    Thanks for sharing Richard. As usual very educational.

  4. capt dan

    Richard, I disagree with you. Here in Palm Beach county, there are hundreds of boaters living on the hook that discharge their sewage into the water way. Most living on the “hook” aren’t responsible boaters and pump overboard at will. They prove it constantly and bust them. I think that’s wonderful. There is no free lunch and I don’t want to swim in their crap.