Mount Hope Bay is my bay. I don't mean that I actually own the whole freaking bay, of course. But it's the water I see when I wake up in the morning and look out of the bedroom window, it's the bay I see while I sit here typing away at my keyboard, it's the foreground for the spectacular sunsets I enjoy sitting on the deck with Tillerwoman sipping a cocktail or three, and it's that body of water once referred to by my granddaughter as "Grandad's Pool". Yes, Mount Hope Bay is my bay.
For the geographically challenged, Mount Hope Bay is the north-eastern arm of Narragansett Bay, bounded by the towns of Bristol and Warren on the west, Tiverton and Fall River on the east, Somerset and Swansea in the north, and the northernmost tip of Aquidneck Island in the south. It's a relatively quiet corner of Rhode Island waters. The busiest time is Wednesday evenings when Tiverton Yacht Club holds some races in Mount Hope Bay. At other times we see a few recreational boaters, the occasional commercial fishing boat, and a few times a week a freighter, usually I assume carrying coal to the Brayton Point power station at the head of the bay.
I don't often sail my Laser on Mount Hope Bay. The most convenient launching sites (especially for a solo sailor) around here are actually into other nearby parts of the Narragansett Bay system. Which is a shame. Because Mount Hope Bay is my bay. However, on a Wednesday afternoon a couple of week ago I did launch my Laser at high tide from Independence Park in Bristol, sail out of Bristol Harbor, past Hog Island, under Mount Hope Bridge, at one time the longest suspension bridge in New England (didn't know that did you?), and into my bay.
I sailed the three or four miles from the bridge over to the water in front of our house. If I squinted I could just see a dot on the deck that might have been Tillerwoman. Later I discovered that she had been taking some photos of the crazy Laser sailor of Mount Hope Bay. I look like a white dot in the photos. Some of the best one have all of seven pixels representing my Laser. Distances can be deceptive.
And then I sailed upwind back through the bridge and to where I had launched. Sailing back is always good. Beats the alternative.
My bay has been in the news this week. There has been a proposal bouncing around for some time from an outfit known as Weaver's Cove to build a terminal for Liquefied Natural Gas tankers in Fall River which would involve supertankers traversing my bay to reach the terminal. There was much local opposition to the idea, and this particular scheme was eventually killed when the US Coast Guard announced that they didn't believe LNG tankers could safely navigate the constricted waterways and bridges in the town of Fall River.
So then those clever LNG chappies came up with a new scheme. Build an offshore berth and floating natural gas terminal for the tankers in Mount Hope Bay and have an underwater pipeline from the offshore berth up the Taunton River into the re-gasification plant at the northern end of Fall River. Suck on that one US Coast Guard.
There have been some meetings this week to allow "input" from the public on this clever idea. Of course all the local politicians and environmentalists are against it. As one of our local state representatives said, "What angers me, what incenses me … is that these people have the audacity to construct this facility in our bay. Mount Hope Bay belongs to the people, not Weaver’s Cove." Hmmm. It belongs to us does it? Maybe it really is my bay.
Anyway I haven't made up my mind yet how I feel about this issue.
The concerns of the environmentalists no doubt have some validity but they are often stated in somewhat hysterical terms. One of the scariest prospects raised is that LNG tankers and terminals are a target for terrorist attacks and that if one ever did blow up it would incinerate every living being within a mile radius. Interestingly the proposed offshore berth is a mile offshore. Hmmm.
On the other hand we do need fuel for our power stations. Apparently most of the power stations around here use natural gas, and of course demand is rising. If we don't use gas then what? Shall we build a nuclear power station on my bay instead? And I don't want to be a knee-jerk NIMBay (Not In My Bay). The power stations to generate the electricity for all of those electric cars touted by John McCain have to be built somewhere, and the fuel for them has to be shipped in somehow. Who am I to say that they can't use my bay?