Thursday, May 24, 2012


They came, They found Trash, They Shook It under Our Noses, Some of it was 150 Years Old.

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 Back in February 2012 in a blog titled "The Rozalia Project -Ocean Adventures in Clean Up" inspired by our member "Teanna" we described the Rozalia Project, an enterprise serviced by two human and two non human regular staffers and periodic volunteers. The Rozalia project is about sea floor and coastal water bottom debris, finding it, determining the hazards created , and removing or mitigating such hazards. Rozalia invests in ROV technology for finding the trash and in some cases for removal. They do technology demonstrations often traveling about on a sixty food sailboat, which of course doesn't leave much of a carbon foot print. With two of the staff being canines, there is also less demand for formal berths aboard so they get a lot done in sixty feet.Rozalia is a model of maritime efficiency.

 Those of us who make up American Admiralty Informational Services which includes American Admiralty Books hold some pretty heavy credentials in the maritime professional world. These include Merchant Marine Officer licenses, degrees in oceanography, marine engineering, nautical arts and science, and admissions to practice in various areas of maritime law. All that aside, we are all motivated by one single desire....we can't stand the thought of holding "real jobs", which we define as anything that takes us off the water or away from the water front or beach. All of us in our heart of hearts are basically unrepentant boat bums. As such we have some favorite and frequent haunts most common among them are the Central Gulf Coast of the United States, Hawaii, and my personal favorite Annapolis , Maryland, touted as "Sailing Capitol of the United States", Home of the U.S. Naval Academy, and as "A drinking town with a sailing problem". Whenever I could get away with it, I have spent as much as eleven months a year there in recent years, though techno legally I'm a legal resident elsewhere. It is a very nautical and fun place. Recently Rozalia founder Rachel Miller and education coordinator Rebecca Moffa showed up at city dock presenting two interactive educational sessions for school-aged children and other larger folk of indeterminate mental age like myself.
  As part of the Rozalia educational project Miller and Moffa launched an ROV (Remotely Operated Vessel) to search for trash on the bottom of Annapolis Harbor. The pair located and retrieved items that included a shoe, a pair of pants (there has to be an interesting story behind that), a crab trap, numerous plastic and aluminum cans and containers. But the object that struck home to me was a 150 year old glass jug. I immediately felt I knew its story.

 Surely about a century and half ago one of my ancestral brothers in the international society of boat bums was ambling, or stumbling along the quay enjoying the water view and thinking of times past, or looking for his next berth out when his jug of joy juice went dry. So he did what we boat bums have been doing since the Romans created the wine "tun"; when the joy juice was gone the container went into the drink, out of sight , out of mind until Miller and Moffa one hundred and fifty years later brought it up from the bottom and figuratively shook it under our collective noses.

 I personally got religion at that moment and will never toss anything over the side again, even if it has been eaten first. It struck me that if there has been any improvement in the amount of similarly discarded objects in the inner harbor of Annapolis it is probably thanks to Annapolitan open beverage container laws. Natives, boat bums, and tourist alike are allowed to slake their thirst in Annapolis but your beer bottle has to stay in the beer joint.

 Probably running a close second for the place where American Admiralty crews spend the most time is New Orleans. Visibility is zero in the brown waters of the Mississippi at the city front but I'm sure a probe of the area around the ferry and excursion boat docks would reveal chipping hammers and deck chairs along with enough booze bottles to pave Canal street all the way to Lake Pontchartrain where the recovered bottom debris has included a small submarine. New Orleans passed an open container law a few years ago, but like most law in New Orleans  it was pretty much taken as a "suggestion". 

 In New Orleans the closest thing to the Rosalia project is the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Association which has done a fantastic job with non-point pollution such as agricultural run off, and has at least pin pointed sources of urban pollution. But so far The Association has been somewhat limited in its clean up of solid debris to removing it from beaches, marshes and other accessible shoreline areas. Getting the stuff off the bottom requires technology that Rozalia demonstrates. 

 One of the things I like about American Admiralty Books as a forum for discussion is that naval professionals, merchant mariners, oceanographers, and other professional boat bums meet here with surfers, sailors, fishermen, recreational divers and other affectionados of the same stuff we professional boat bums like. We are all either full or part time consumers of what the oceans and coasts have to offer. Could we set aside for a moment the issue of who is a paid professional and who is an amateur and focus on our common play ground? Let us all support through volunteer hours, and cash donations, moral support, and reformed behavior organizations like the Rozalia Project and the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. 

 Now if I may be so bold, let me suggest that we all try to buy our maritime reading material here. Our humble little blog has ambitions of eventually becoming one of those big rich  "dot coms" that everyone resents. When that happens we intend to spread the wealth to organizations that protect oceans and coast lines. We will do this out of enlightened self interest. After all, if the sea doesn't stay fishable, swimmable, and navigable we would be forced to seek out the dreaded "real job". Thank you, and please don't throw anything in the water unless its a fishing lure properly attached to a line. Below is another link to the Rozalia Project send them some money , volunteer some time, or just pen them a fan letter. But never ever take any friend of the ocean for granted. 

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