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Life after the Spill

A little over a week after the 902-ft Cosco Busan sideswipped the Bay Bridge, spilling 58,000 gallons of heavy-duty bunker oil into the Bay, the focus on oil recovery has moved from the water to the shoreline. The Coast Guard announced yesterday that 10 of the 11 oil skimmers were dismissed, having collected about 16,974 gallons of oil. Trained volunteers and paid workers have already cleaned up several Bay Area beaches, including Crissy Field, Baker Beach, China Beach and Stinson Beach, among others. Work will continue on Angel Island, Rodeo Beach, Muir Beach and Berkeley Marina.

Clean up crews are now focusing on scraping as much oil as possible from the shoreline.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Meanwhile, the City of Berkeley officially reopened the marina yesterday afternoon. Berkeley YC confirmed that their Chowder Race will run as scheduled on Sunday afternoon but several other YCs have cancelled their weekend races because of the spill. Below is a list of scheduled Bay races and their status as of this morning:

  • BYC’s Chowder Series — Confirmed
  • EYC’s Jack Frost — CANCELLED
  • SFYC’s Pre-Holiday Regatta — CANCELLED
  • SeqYC’s Redwood Cup #1 — Confirmed, start time delayed until 1330
  • SBYCs Island Fever — CANCELLED
  • VYC’s Midwinter #1 — Confirmed

We’ve heard a number of sailors say they haven’t seen any oil in their marinas but they should know that much of the funky scum that can be seen throughout Richardson Bay, for example, is indeed oil.

The oily scum left after last week’s spill can still stain your boat.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

While not as dramatic as the large patches of smelly black goo that could be seen the first few days after the spill, this oily scum — what we can only assume is the coagulated form of the ‘sheen’ — can still damage gelcoat. Readers may recall the photo in November 11’s ‘Lectronic of the Morris 36 Annie after sailing through the spill the day it happened. Unless a boat was sailing last Wednesday, most boats won’t see that kind of damage, but could still face costly clean up from the scum.

Annie’s waterline stain was the least of her damage but it still needed to be removed carefully.

© 2007 Paul Kaplan

KKMI’s Paul Kaplan points out that there is no one way to clean every boat stained by the spill. "The process for removing the oil varies depending on the type of vessel and the protective finish," Kaplan noted. "Boats may have gelcoat or one of several kinds of paint, all of which require different cleaning techniques to prevent damaging the finish."

A KKMI yard worker, suited up for a nuclear war, carefully cleaned Annie’s hull, restoring her former beauty.

© Paul Kaplan

Kaplan also reminds boaters that any petroleum distillate used to clean a boat must be handled as hazardous waste (so no tossing the rags in the trash) or we could just end up creating more of a mess. The safest option is to have your boat professionally cleaned in a boatyard. If your hull has been stained by oil, you may be able to file a claim for damages by calling (866) 442-9650.


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