Internet Newsletter

From The 90 Day Yacht Club Guide to Ensenada

February 2006

Volume 4 , Number 2

 

 

A true traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arrival®

 

 

 

 

 

 

VISITING CONTAINER SHIP PAYS A VISIT TO AN ENSENADA BEACH INSTEAD OF THE HARBOR DOCKS

Will This Behemoth be Safely Returned to the Sea?

Driving south on the Trans-Peninsular Highway will yield a curious site as you pass the local Calimax leaving Ensenada. It actually appears that a huge container ship has just arrived and is parked out back making a delivery. This superimposed addition to the local scenery is quite bizarre and takes a second blink to allow the sight to be admitted to your day’s normal awareness cycle. On Christmas Day shortly after 6 pm this past month the 885-foot container ship APL Panama launched in the year 2000 had what one might describe a “bad day”, to put it mildly. The ship was arriving to the port of Ensenada with a load of containers from Oakland and then on south to other Mexican ports and subsequently on to its regularly scheduled route stops in Japan, Taiwan and China.

A Singapore Government owned Company NOL Group, founded in 1968 owns the ship, according to their website (note; it is also being reported that the ship belongs to a German Company). In 1997 NOL bought America's oldest shipping company, American President Lines (APL). APL was nearly twice the size of NOL and was one year short of 150 years old. APL began life around the time of the Californian gold rush when the vessel the S.S California was leaving New York for San Francisco in 1848 on its maiden voyage. Nineteen years later, in 1867, the APL vessel Colorado was the first vessel to undertake the trans-Pacific run, linking China and the USA. Some of their customers have acknowledged them for outstanding service. Sears named APL as their "Partner in Progress" in April 2001, while Wal-Mart named APL International Ocean Carrier of the Year. The previous year Philips Electronics awarded them their first Global Carrier Award.

When contacted, the company denied that the ship tried to enter the harbor without the aid of an Ensenada pilot, which is delivered by the Ensenada pilot boat to all visiting ships as a guide to this tricky port channel entry and port docking areas. A company spokesman said the ship was waiting for the pilot boat and the ship became caught in the strong ocean swells and currents and was swept ashore. The ship is reportedly loaded to 80% capacity with 1500 containers and the containers are stacked to 6 high at the stern. The 25-man crew included a Croatian captain and were reportedly not harmed in the incident. Ensenada’s Harbor Master, Capt. José Luis Ríos Hernández, has conducted the traditional post event interview with the ship’s Captain and emerged maintaining the port was not to blame for the mishap. The current state of affairs leaves the APL Panama out of the shipping lanes and not a hazard to navigation entering and leaving Ensenada Harbor, so harbor operations should not be affected.

            The ship’s owners have contracted Titan Maritime Corporation, based in Florida, to salvage the vessel and float it off the beach. Two Crowley tugs can be seen just offshore of the ship with cables attached in an effort to keep the ship from being carried further onshore as the big surf continues to pound the hull. Periodically a cargo helicopter will arrive at the makeshift beach staging area from the States with supplies suspended from a long cable. As of the time of this newsletter's posting, the ships fuel oil onboard is due to be pumped into oil tanker trucks on the beach. This is a difficult process, as the heavy oil must be first warmed to increase its liquidity and make it easier to transfer through the pumping system being devised to carry the fuel ashore and into tanker trucks. In an interview with waiting tanker truck drivers parked at the beach and sleeping in their truck cabs, the earliest the fuel pump line could be ready to transfer fuel is on Monday the 9th of January and the process could take 3 to 4 days. The process will require working 24 hours a day during that time delivering the fuel to a local storage facility. The truckers said there is about 2 thousand cubic meters of fuel oil aboard the APL Panama.

The plan and hope is that the next highest tide of the month during full moon on January 14th at 8:30 AM will float the ship off the beach when it is made lighter by the absence of its fuel load. The ship is now up to the 12-meter mark on the hull in the sand. If this fails a more concentrated and better equipped assault will be waged, but the gear needed to make that effort must be supplied from Louisiana, which could take as much as 6 weeks for the re-supply task to be completed.

Another concern is that the hull doesn't rupture and ruin the Bay with oil. That's what happened with the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1989. But that was a single hulled ship; after that environmental disaster, the outrage due to the oil fouling of that beautiful area of the world caused the world community to demand and mandate all ships be double hulled, or have a second inner liner hull. So resultantly for the Bahia Todos Santos this possibility is thankfully a remote possibility. If you look closely at the ship you will see it subtly twisting on its lengthwise axis and rising and falling with every wave that crashes against the length of the hull, so there is a measure of unnatural and destructive stress on the hull structure being inflict 24/7 until the ship is rescued from its current location.

Speculation or spin as to why this happened has led to the conclusion that a lapse in concentration while waiting for the harbor pilot by the ship’s Captain caused the grounding. Scuttlebutt within local Mexican captain circles is that the APL Panama’s Captain left the bridge to relieve himself in the water closet, and paused for a sandwich while away from his post of duty. When he re-emerged on the bridge deck he realized the ship was approaching the beach straight on at a 90-degree angle to the beach. Rather than staying the course and grounding the vessel at that angle and then attempting to back off the beach, engines in reverse, he tried to maneuver the ship to starboard (turning right) and circle around and back out to deeper water. That fatal decision put the ship abeam (sideways to) of the swells and prevailing currents and subsequently drove the vessel ashore sideways and parallel to the shore headed south rather than north into the port jetty entrance.

The true facts of the cause of this grounding are of course shrouded in secrecy as nobody of importance and integral to the event is talking. So we present to you the facts that reinforce the prevailing strongly supported alleged rumor, unsubstantiated by the fact that we were not on the ship’s bridge at the time of the incident. It was an hour and ten minutes after sunset that cold windy Christmas night and it was completely dark as the quarter moonrise was not until 1 am. The wind was blowing hard from the northwest, which made the ship and its deck cargo of containers act like a huge sail as it turned and enabled the wind’s driving force to move the ship sideways to the southeast and onto the beach. It was a medium 2.9-foot high tide at 6 pm that evening giving the Captain the illusion on the charts that he had plenty of water inshore to perform his turning attempt. This caused the ship to find itself in much shallower water sooner than expected as it approached the beach than if the tide had been a higher high tide of 6 feet as is expected January 14th when the rescue attempt will be performed. A ship of this size and length at low speeds is very ponderous and it takes a lot of ocean territory to perform a complete 180-degree reverse in direction. In addition to the wind and lower high tide, the surf that night was huge as it wiped out the new harbor jetty extension construction during that period of time. As this perfect storm of maritime consequences is forensically analyzed, there is one other influence that night might have contributed to the resultant ship’s grounding. Who knows what ghosts of Hussong’s Christmas margaritas past might have been haunting that ship and its crew that fateful night?

At low tide you can actually now walk out to the ship and get photos of the ship looking straight up at the useless hulk now relegated to local attraction. The area has become a second local site of interest along with the Bufadora for Mexican families to visit for a daily diversion. Portable family-owned eateries, concession stands and wheelbarrows of the typical nuts and sweets have flooded the area; along with a steady traffic jam of wide-eyed locals intent on seeing a “beached whale” container ship up close and personal. As one Granddad related about the event while motioning to his two sub 5-year-old grandchildren, “We had to bring them, it may be another 100 years until something like this happens again in Ensenada.” This should keep the city buzzing with activity for a while until it’s next big event, Mardi Gras in this month of February. See accompanying photos, Salvador Dali-esque?

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Container Ship Grounding Update

1-12-2006

            As of 2 pm the 12th of January the ship is still on the beach in the same place I last saw it 2 days ago. There are two new lines attached to the beach via anchors in the sand stabilizing the ship’s bow in order to prohibit the twisting of the ships hull in the sand lengthwise as waves hit the stern. There are now 6 tugs offshore rather than previously 2 tugs, always underway churning a lot of water astern as if operating at high RPMs maintaining a strain on their cables attached to the hull, prohibiting the hull from being driven further on the beach. The dividing lines and barriers are now drawn to keep the public much farther away from the ship and the staging area on the beach. I could have not gotten the photos I have to date as no one is allowed in the areas I was in when the photos were taken last week. Currently the last of the fuel oil aboard is being pumped into tanker trucks circulating 24 hours a day from the street to the beach staging area. The Sikorski ski hook continues to make round trips from the states with cargo attached to its long cable delivering to the ship and the beach staging area.

            In an interview with one of the divers who is working the salvage attempt to float the vessel to safety the target time to free the vessel from the beach is 2 to 3 am Saturday morning. High tide is at 8:30 am Saturday, so I can only surmise they are trying to avoid media scrutiny by operating the rescue attempt at night. Also, that gives them an early start on the rise of the tide and a full cycle through the high tide of 6 feet to use for the process. Absolutely no one is talking aside from the friendly and bored Mexican divers milling around on the beach on call in their wetsuits.

            Additional latest news from the divers; the ship is now up to the 6 meter mark in the sand and the ship actually floats at high tide now that most of the fuel oil has been offloaded. Due to the twisting action in the sand mentioned above, the hull is now cracked and a fissure of undetermined length runs from beam to beam amidships and is allowing water inside the vessel. I asked them if they had been diving on the opening inside the ship and how long was the crack and that’s where they clammed up… Interestingly, the divers related that this ship has gone aground 3 times previously in Australia, twice on the beach and once on the rocks. This is hearsay and unsubstantiated and alleged scuttlebutt, but if indeed true, it leads one to conclude that this ship launched in the year 2000 has inherent design steering and handling flaws or a whole lot of bad luck attached to it. There is a new larger ship/work boat arriving tomorrow to ad more horsepower to the attempt to pull the ship off the beach. The divers have been at the site for 20 days now 24 hours a day. I promised them some cigarros and girls from Anthony’s tomorrow for giving me the information shared…

            I will be doing an all nighter tomorrow and into the next morning Saturday to watch this operation. Its not often you get to see an event like this in your backyard… I will update again after the rescue attempt Saturday.

Container Ship Grounding Update

1-14-2006

            Unfortunately on Friday the 13th the assemblage of 7 tugs offshore of the grounded container ship the APL Panama lapsed in their assignment, letting their cable leashed hulk of nautical hardware get the best of them. As the day breaks the 14th of January the ship is even farther up on the beach as the stern has moved during yesterdays high morning tide. The ship has pivoted on its center axis and the stern is now is 50 feet farther up on the beach than the bow. It’s very difficult to avoid the ship “skipping” up the beach as a wave lifts the hull, all cables must be tight and taut at all times. The ship will skid sideways up on the beach with every wave, lifting the stern and rudder off the sandy bottom allowing the stern to be pushed by the measure of slack that may be in the restraining cables. Any slack in the cables at that moment of surge will result in the ship taking up that slack and move that distance farther up on the beach. The tide yesterday was one tenth of a foot higher, 6.1 feet, but the rescue had to be delayed by one day as the last of the fuel oil aboard was being pumped out yesterday morning the 13th.

            At 6:30 am a large crowd is already assembling to watch this mornings ship rescue attempt. The tugs are churning water offshore feverishly, straining to keep their assigned cable as tight as possible. There are 4 cables attached from bow to stern, two tugs are pulling the three aft cables and one tug is pulling the bow cable. An Azteca TV camera is being set up next to my position in the restricted security zone for video capture of the event to be broadcast to all if Mexico. A loud police radio is constantly breaking squelch in the police car here on the bluff with seemingly frantic transmissions between police security patrols. On this secured bluff, there is only a group 10 or so persons, as the beach continues to fill with the looming and growing crowd of Ensenada citizens. Three police quad ATVs speed by me, down the bluff’s dirt ramp to the beach, arriving to keep the peace and define the area the crowd may roam.

At 7am thick acrid black smoke is beginning to appear from the laboring tugs, as the sun breaks free of the morning clouds over the hills to the east. 7 huge engines are pumping all the horse power they can muster now in a all out attempt to make the ship move sideways out to sea as high tide nears now only an hour or so away. If the ship was able to free itself yesterday and move up the beach, all are hoping the same freedom from the sandy bottoms grasp will occur and the tugs will be able to use their massive power and muscle to move the ship offshore and then into the harbor to be offloaded. It will be two weeks before the next high tide at the new moon, again in the morning at 8am but a much higher high tide of 6.9 on January 29th. During that period of days there will be 5 days before and after the 29th that will have higher tides than the tide experienced today. But allowing the ship to spend 2 more weeks on this beach with a cracked hull, stressed to the max daily is not an optimistic scenario. A sand bar has formed in the middle of the hull, under the cracked hull area, that will allow the hull to hobbyhorse on the weakened hull area, further testing the hulls integrity. Two deeper water areas have formed under the bow and stern, allowing this see saw action to take place.

A cruise ship approaches port on the correct line to enter Ensenada Harbor. Perhaps the same harbor pilot that should have directed the APL Panama is glancing over at this spectacle happening on the shores of Ensenada. As the cruise ship ghosts by, perhaps it too could be called over to lend a hand, using those huge props and engines to help rescue the cruise ship’s distant relative in the shipping world family tree.

It is 7:45 am and the tugs are streaming out a trail of black smoke extending now to the northeast on over the downtown Ensenada city area. I can imagine someone uttering the classic “I need a little more power Scotty” from Star Trek fame. The tugs are all operating at full power now, straining to gain full purchase on the briny volume of seawater now being pumped aft by the tugboat’s high RPM prop action. The full strain in the cables attached to the tugs is now readily apparent, one can only wonder how the cables stay intact and don’t fray and part under this colossal interaction of forces, immobile hulking steel of great size and weight pitted against fueled horsepower. The tide is now nearing the line in the sand drawn by yesterdays tide, although this will be a slightly lower tide than yesterday, all involved are hoping a miracle of unexpected surge will help the process. The surf in not as huge as it was last week; a gentle and quiet 3 foot swell is coming in pushing the tide to its day’s maximum. A pool of water is advancing nearer to shore in this tidal surge; and with a bit of luck enough water is forming needed to float this behemoth off the beach, releasing the APL Panama from it’s sandy underwater shackles.

At now 8am the supreme test of pulling power is being waged against the load wedged in the sand. It does not look good as absolutely no movement can be seen in the angle the ship has taken in relation ship to the shoreline. The educated observer looks for subtle signs of movement, the placement of the ships vertical strait line of containers against the clouds framing the ship against the sky. Or the distance the ship may have moved in relation to one of the tugs behind the ships hull line. But as the tide reaches is maximum, absolutely no indication of movement is apparent. The hull’s stern is seen to be raising and falling with the larger waves, some of which are reflecting off the hull and causing waves to flow back out to sea in the opposite direction from the waves that are incoming. This causes a spectacular sparkling thin sheet of water to be thrown vertically into the sky as these two opposing waves meet in a cascading crash. But no side movement by the APL Panama either toward the beach or out to sea can be detected as all these natural forces act to compliment the manmade forces being exerted by the tugs working so hard to free the vessel.

The ever-increasing crowd stares silently, with occasional sounds of children playing in the sand and surf. The highest tide is now occurring and those next to the tide line now have to be vigilant to avoid the surging water to not surprise them. A few unlucky ones have wet shoes and socks and good-naturedly laugh off this new experience. This is an uncommon occurrence for most, the witnessing of an ocean high tide. At any moment hopefully this assemblage will erupt in cheers and shouts of joy as the ship is seen to move and be dragged into the greater depths of the aquatic world. Punta Banda is now emerging from the morning mist, and the drone of the tugs engines can now be heard as a slight onshore wind starts to blow. The APL Panama’s radar whirls around on the mast, no doubt hoping to see a shift in the bearings being observed by the crewman in charge of the radar’s operation.  This is the same radar that should have been employed in detecting the ship’s close proximity to the shore, warning the crew before it got into terminally unavoidable trouble that fateful Christmas night when the vessel went aground.

It is now 9:15 am and as high tide passes it is apparent this ship rescue attempt today is a failed one. The tide line of the days tide reveals that yesterday’s tide was a higher one by a factor of a few feet in the sand. For a now undetermined length of time it appears this beach zone will be a continued local attraction and landmark. This site a monument and testament to the fact that however much technology we have developed, man can always defeat that technology’s usefulness by his ability to make pivotal and costly mental and physical mistakes and errors in judgment.

 

           

Container Ship Grounding Update

1-18-2006

            Today the scene at the playa surrounding the beached container ship was far different than the last visit made to this area. The beach was totally disserted, the only folks present were the police and other security personnel and the few remaining workers out near the ship. It appears that the circus has closed here in Ensenada. The streets have been blocked that were previously available for the families visiting to use for parking. All the frontage streets adjoining the beach access roads are closed and devoid of the cars jamming the area for a glimpse of the fabled new Ensenada landmark. No photo concessions, taco stands or wheelbarrow nuts and sweets vendors open today. Indeed, the shipwreck now has become a desolation row, and the memory of the festivity that once existed, now fading and questioned as to if it really actually ever existed. Even my diver friends whom I had been bribing for scoop information with cigarros are now gone after being on the scene and on call 24/7 for 24 days since the arrival of the ship here on the beach on Christmas day.

             This is a marked and stark contrast to the scenery I expected as I approached this container ship rescue site. It is good that I had befriended the local police last time here on the 14th during the rescue attempt, because now I can drive all the way to the beach and park on a bluff adjacent to the shoreline. Those without such access must hike 3 or more blocks to reach where I now am admitted. Flashing my front page Gringo Gazette article about the ship grounding I now assume will get me just about anywhere in this area.

            In a discussion with those guarding the site it was revealed that yesterday’s reported fuel oil spill only involved 400 liters of fuel before being discovered and halted.  As I visited the site, barrels were being hoisted aboard by the ships huge crane for filling with gasoline and then the offloading of those fluids. They are trying to make the ship as light as possible and get all the volatile materials off the ship in case an accident of greater proportions may result in the next rescue attempt at the end of this month. Will the ship stay in one piece? After all, the hull is cracked so severely that it has leaked fuel into the sea.  The waves have been pounding the ship now for almost a month, while being tugged on by the 6 offshore tugs in an opposite direction to the sea’s onshore powerful flow. These tugs are cabled from stem to stern and are constantly pulling unequally on the attachment points. Could this ship break in half and spill all of the containers on the beach? Will this crippled behemoth be a constant reminder to future Ensenada generations of the fact that man can make mistakes, in this case BIG MISTAKES! Stay tuned for more…

Exclusive Eyewitness Interview

            In an exclusive interview, the guard that was on duty on the bluff northeast of the grounding site the night the APL Panama went on the beach revealed new facts about what transpired that fateful Christmas night. A friendly policeman, a 5-year Ensenada police veteran at the tender age of 23, was perhaps one of the few who witnessed the events as they unfolded. At 5:30 pm that night he began to observe the APL Panama slowly creeping nearer and nearer to the beach at a 90-degree angle to the beach. It was just after the 4:50 pm sunset and the ship’s lights were glowing and moving closer to the beach without a course change to avoid hitting the beach.

Just before impacting the beach the ship tried a right turn to the south to avoid going on the shoreline. The bow bulb beneath the surface plowed into the sand as the ship was a 45-degree angle to the beach and not even halfway though the turn. Now firmly planted in the sand a call was apparently made to the Ensenada Harbor Control center as two tugs were seen soon after being dispatched to aid the helpless container ship. They arrived and immediately took up positions at the left flank of the vessel, at the stern and between the ship’s stern and the beach. This ship is 885 feet long, so there was plenty of water for the tugs to maneuver that distance from the beach shallows inshore. They did what tugs are often seen doing in the harbor, pushed with all there might, and attempted to free the ship’s bow from the sand. It must be noted at this point, that if they had maintained this position and just continued to push at this angle, until further help arrived, the ship most likely would have never gone ashore. The officer observed that at this juncture of events, it looked as though in his opinion the aid of one more tug pulling she ship from the stern with a cable may have freed the ship and made this initial rescue attempt a success.

For some reason the tugs abandoned this position, perhaps because there was no success in freeing the ship from the beach at that point. The tugs then withdrew to aft of the ship and attached cables to the stern and attempted to pull the ship off the beach by hauling in reverse and toward the open sea. Again, the officer observed that it looked as though in his opinion the aid of one more tug may have made this attempt also successful. Again, surprisingly, the tugs abandoned this attempt also, disconnecting the cables and withdrawing and thereafter just circling around the ship and not giving further direct contact aid. As they were circling adjacent to the ship, the wind and waves took control of the ship and it was driven sideways onto the beach where it is now.

We were not there that night, and any analysis of the ships Captain, the tugboat Captains and their behavior is pure conjecture. But, we might ask, what spirits were involved that Christmas night when all of Ensenada was celebrating another Navidad and passing around the cheer and fiesta libations?

 

FINAL UPDATE FOR THIS NEWSLETTER

As the sunrises at 6:42 am on this day, January 29, 2006, with the highest tide of the year, it is already apparent that this battle to free the APL Panama from this Mexican beach will continue beyond this weekend’s surge in tide. The ships rudder and huge propeller seem to be firmly ensconced in the sand, now growing roots and it will take a silver bullet of human engineering to get this ship back out to sea again any time soon. The next high tide is a full moon tide of 5.8 feet on the 12th of February, not like the new moon tide of 6.9 feet today, so these guys on the salvage crew are looking at new plan of attack- I am sure the next thing we will see is a dredge. A dredge is designed to suck up sand and with it a measure of water, transporting the mucky mix to a pile through pipes to an adjacent barge for dispersal elsewhere. The Sikorski skyhook chopper has a designed load limit and many of the containers on the ship exceed that load limit, making it impossible to completely remove all the containers from the ship. The salvage crew needs to offload all the containers and dredge the sand away from the ship. It’s hung on that amidships sand bar that has formed and the burm that has formed along the outside side of the hull. If these next attempts fail, will this ship have to be scrapped right here, cut up bit by bit and hauled away in trucks to the scrap yard, to be perhaps used to assemble another ship that will someday pass these shores delivering containers throughout the world without visiting a local beach as this ship has?

Some of the containers started being offloaded the weekend of January 21 and 22. The Sikorski skyhook helo started with the smaller bow containers and progressed to offloading the larger aft containers. They were strategically offloaded in specific areas to help the ship come off the sand as it is being floated off the shore line. The offloaded containers are being stacked at the Port of Ensenada next to the new bridge that leads to the first light entering town from the west. A barge arrived from Seattle January 24th with the magic hydraulic devices designed to pump the ship off the beach. We can imagine a huge Paul Bunyan standing waist deep in the ocean pumping the hydraulic pullers like a trucker working his come-alongs in order to secure his load with tight cabling. After this weekends events, it is obvious the barge and the hydraulic pullers won’t be enough get the ship to move- from this observers point of view the ship was not moved an inch during the 5 days of tides of more that 6 feet this past few days. The ship has moved though through the total of this past week, imperceptibly by small degrees, to an angle of 45 degrees from the beach. The hope is that the ship can also be moved sideways and out to sea, but that has not happened as the rudder and prop are now deeply buried in the beach sand.

This past week I walked right up to the ship in the high security zone, as security was very lax during the middle of this past week. I was told I was in a restricted zone by a nice Mexican customs guy, I said I was with the press and he said that not even the press is allowed here... but that I could go ahead and finish taking my pictures- an hour later and I strolled out of there with some really great photos; laying out oil containment lines because of a new potential spill as everybody involved ran around trying to get the lines deployed, pumping gas off the ship as I smelled the heavy odor of gasoline and fire crews awaited ready for a call, a close up of the sand line on the hull of the ship meter marks showing how deep the ship is in the sand, and much much more... If I had wanted to get my shoes wet I could have touched the ship, my policeman friend said he has seen no one there where I was allowed to roam in the month since the ship wrecked.

          Meanwhile after this weekends rescue attempt the beach must be cleaned of the oil that has spilled and made the sand black in some areas along this entire stretch of beach known as Conalep Beach. This is thick "bunker oil", that is heavy duty stuff, the oil that needed to be warmed to be piped off the ship into the tankers two weeks ago. Now there are guys dressed in white spread all the way down the beach to the naval station from the ship grounding. There is a huge pile of plastic bags of black oil fouled sand that these workers have collected waiting to be trucked away in the beach staging area. Near the ship at high tide a heavy gasoline odor can be sensed in the surrounding sea water. Where is this coming from? I believe from the amidships hidden and not publicized crack in the hull. Where else would this leaking petroleum be coming from? The excuse was floated two weeks ago after the first spill that it came from “ballast water tanks being pumped overboard”. Was this excuse a part of a greater scheme to cover up the fissure that now exists and as yet has not yet been revealed by those surrounding the salvage of the ship?  This past week 50 gallon drums were observed being craned onto the ship to be filled with gasoline to empty a tank that I theorize is cracked and spilling into the bilge and through the crack in the hull along with the heavy bunker oil. The ships salvage crew are not offloading these drums, which leads one to believe they are just being used for spill containment, and are being assembled somewhere in the ship that is quite flammable and considered not a smoking area. These two oils are in the water taken into the ships bilge through the crack and are impossible to manage as the crack in the hull widens, as the ship is pounded by the surf and tweaked by the cabled powerful tugs 24/7.

         See the below photos of the rudder and water marks on the hull. Somewhere forward of that rudder stuck in the sand is a 30 to 45 foot in diameter propeller that they is now trying to pivot in the sand while buried. This task is seemingly impossible until a dredge is employed to clear the sand from this area enabling the ship to be pivoted or move laterally and out to the open sea. And also the containers are removed to allow the ship more buoyancy and to float higher in the high tides to come in the next month. A radical idea has passed my mind, perhaps a jetty enclosure could be built around the ship, creating its own little controlled sea environment. Then the sand and water could be dredged out, and a hole could be crated to float the ship out to the open sea.

If all else fails, will the company that owns this ship simply pull the plug, strip her clean and leave her there on that lonely stretch of beach as a shorter drive than going got the Bufadora for local diversion and entertainment? Ensenada is competing with Long Beach for increased container ship traffic, could this ship one day be Ensenada’s beached Queen Mary, complete with souvenir shops and restaurants?

This continuing saga will be updated in the next newsletter, stay tuned to this website for the best coverage of this ships rescue and future fate.

VIEWS FROM THE WATER ON 1-22-2006

SECURITY LET ME IN CLOSER TO THE SHIP THAN MOST OTHER PRESS AGENCIES ARE ALLOWED ON 1-25-2006

OUR BEST SIKORSKI SKYHOOK CHOPPER SHOTS OFFLOADING DUMPSTERS OF TRASH TO AN AWAITING TRASH TRUCK ON THE BEACH; THAT DAY THE PILOT'S JOB WAS NOT AS GLAMOROUS, BUT JUST AS DANGEROUS!

DEPLOYING WIMPY OIL CONTAINMENT LINES ON 1-25-2006 THAT SIMPLY AREN'T DOING THEIR ASSIGNED JOB OF KEEPING THE OIL FROM THE BEACH - THIS OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED ON THE HUGE SANDBAR THAT HAS FORMED AT THE CENTER OF THE SHIP

DEPLOYING WHAT I PERCEIVED AS HEAVY DUTY OIL CONTAINMENT BOOMS (LATER CALLED SAND BLOWING BOOMS IN SHIP CASUALTY REPORTS) ON 1-28-2006 THAT PROMPTLY BROKE UP IN THE SURF AFTER DEPLOYMENT - NO BUENO SENOR

DEPLOYING OIL CONTAINMENT PERSONNEL ON 1-29-2006 TO COLLECT ALL THE HEAVY BUNKER OIL NOW SPREAD ALONG THE ENTIRE SOUTH ENSENADA BEACHES

     

THE LAST ATTEMPT AT HIGH TIDE 1-29-2006 TO RESCUE THE APL PANAMA INVOLVED SIX TUGS AND HYDRAULIC PULLING MACHINES WITH A COMBINED CAPACITY OF MORE THAN 80,000 HORSEPOWER!

MORE TO COME!

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The new jetty being built at the entrance to the Ensenada Harbor disappeared during the week the APL Panama went aground due to the huge Christmas surf

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ENSENADA'S 90 DAY YACHT CLUB UPDATE - JUST 5 MONTHS AND A FEW DAYS FROM RE-INSTATEMENT!

Will Ensenada Realize the Financial Benefits of the Club Again?

            The 90 Day Yacht Club was the common name given to those who decided to take an offshore delivery of their newly purchased yacht and spend more than 90 days in another country. This performance of compliance with the State of California Law relieved the new owner's responsibility to pay the State sales tax on the purchase. The cost savings you enjoy by taking advantage of this offshore delivery process involves saving of the almost 8% California State Tax on the purchase price of the new yacht. As of October 1, 2004 this 90 day statute was changed to the new boat owner having to be out of the state of California for a time period of one year in order to realize this sales tax savings. This is a temporary change in the law, as the law as written is due to automatically re-instate the 90 Day statute July 1, 2006 subject to an impact study.

As a result of this law change, Ensenada marina occupancy is nearing 50% full as opposed to the 100% full in March of last year 11 months ago, 6 months after the change in the law. All those that bought before October 1, 2004 had 6 months to do the offshore delivery and their 90 Day Yacht Club stay and March was the 6th month after the change in the law. At that time yachts began to leave Ensenada and very few newly purchased yachts have arrived to take their place. Yes, we have a few extremely expensive large yachts that are here for the one year stay. But that is the exception as all the $300,000 to $600,000 mid range priced yachts are not here filling slip space as before because the savings spread over 12 months does not warrant the families new yacht being in remote Ensenada for a one year period.

          The recent events surrounding the changing of the law stipulating the term of stay at the 90 Day Yacht Club had been brewing for a long time and were a direct result of the misconstrued view of the law by California lawmakers that had been on the books in California for many years. Unfortunately Ensenada has been in the middle of the fray, as well as the fortunes of many workers on both sides of the border who ready and repair the boats along with the marine stores that sell the gear to the new boat owners.

          The legislators had overestimated the total moneys to be gained by changing the law as yacht sales have ground to a halt in California. A boat buyer boycott has been formed not only adversely affecting the sales tax thought to be realized by changing the law, but also has greatly lessened the amount of filter down trade benefits created by the sale of a new or used yacht in the California and Ensenada marines industries. Boat buyers are simply buying in other states that offer a more attractive sales tax haven, or they are not buying at all, waiting for the law to revert back to 90 days on July 1st 2006.

           Those in the Sacramento house of law would be wise to let the law automatically revert to 90 days without any action necessary from them what so ever. In this case inaction will be the greatest form of action for yacht sales in California! At that time the legislators can just walk away from the 90 Day Yacht Club controversy and the subject will never be visited again in the future. And we will again see many new happy mariners arriving in Ensenada, filling the local marinas, and enjoying the benefits of the 90 Day Yacht Club.

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Great Waves as Christmas Gifts for the Surfers at San Miguel

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This Sunseeker tests out the Swim Step Deployment of the yacht's waverunner before heading south to Cabo San Lucas

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