Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

Several people commented on yesterday's post, remarking on the beautiful view we enjoy of Mount Hope Bay from the Tillercottage. "You are truly blessed to sail on those waters," said one.

We are blessed.

And the camera does not lie.

Or does it?

Our view of Mount Hope Bay is indeed scenic and beautiful. We see the northernmost tip of Portsmouth and the eastern slopes of Bristol and Warren, all picturesque Rhode Island towns.

But if you sail on Mount Hope Bay, you will see something that is not quite so picturesque dominating the northern end of the bay.

A couple of weekends ago, three of the Tiller Extensions (my grandchildren) were staying with us. One misty morning the two eldest ones, Emily and Aidan, wanted to walk with me down to the beach in front of our house.

We walked down a steep private road. Along a grassy track that is sometimes overgrown. Over some rocks. We walked a short way along a disused railway track. The rails and sleepers are still there. "Why don't the trains run here any more, Granddad?" Then we had to clamber down some more steep rocks to the beach. (Some kindly old Laser sailor fixed some ropes there a few years ago to help with the climb, down and up.)

I looked up towards the north end of Mount Hope Bay and snapped the photo above.

As you can see, the beach is rocky. Many of those rocks in the picture are covered at high tide. Even if I could get my Laser down to the beach (which I can't), even if I kept my Laser on the beach (which I don't), this would not be a great place to launch a Laser.

The kids went searching for sea-shells and tiny crabs.


What's that monstrosity you can see through the mists in the picture?

That is Brayton Point Power Station. Wherever you sail on Mount Hope Bay it dominates the view. Thankfully it is almost totally hidden by trees from where the Tillercottage is situated.

It's frigging huge. Just to give you a sense of scale, the power station is almost 4 miles from where I took the photo. Those cooling towers are 500 feet tall. They are 70 feet taller than Providence’s tallest skyscraper.

Brayton Point Power Station produces more carbon dioxide than any other source in New England and New York — almost 5.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2010 and 2011, almost entirely carbon dioxide, with smaller amounts of nitrous oxide and methane. The power station burns coal, natural gas and oil - but mainly coal.

Mount Hope Bay does have beautiful views.

If you don't look to the north.

We residents of Rhode Island have a name for that ugly area at the northern end of our bay.

We call it "Massachusetts."


Annie Stow said...

Well, if it weren't for Massachusetts, you wouldn't even be living on that Bay with that view! Hmmmppphhhh! (arms crossed)

Actually, the margarita glass makes a great Brayton Point Blocker. I hold it just so with every sip. And I never look north.

Tillerman said...

Nothing personnel (sic) Annie, as they say on SailX (sailing geek in-joke - ask your hubby.) Your Massachusetts-blocking margarita glass is ready and waiting for you.

Now where did I lose my shaker of salt?

Judith Krimski said...

Passive agressive family conversations are so entertaining. But really why you woould be upset about a little ole power plant mystifies me. it makes the water warner for hecks sake!

Alway look on the bright side of life.....

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

You follow up magnificent photographs of your paradise with this dirt-ugly post? Whassup with this? I only asked you if you sailed these waters, not that you launch your Laser from this moonscape!

Tillerman said...

Judith, the Brayton Point Power Station will not be doing as much to warm the waters of Mount Hope Bay as it used to. Those cooling towers were only built in the last couple of years. Prior to having the towers, the plant took about 1 billion gallons of water a day from the Taunton River for cooling purposes, and dumped the resulting hot water into Mount Hope Bay which created a dead zone for many aquatic species especially the winter flounder. So actually, the bright side is that those cooling towers are better for the environment than not having them.

Doc, one thing I have discovered about my new life as a blogger using his own photos, is that sometimes you just end up writing about a photo you have. Seriously though, everyone was going gaga about how lovely Mount Hope Bay is, I just had to set the record straight.

Steve Crompton said...

Hmm yeah the powerstation is something of an eyesore; not as bad a Dungeness in the UK which is an absolutely colossal nuclear power station in some of the most interesting coastline in England!

O Docker said...

I think I'd be more worried about all that coal smoke.

It seems to have sooted up the corners of your lens and turned the water, sky, and rocks all sepia-colored.

Anonymous said...

Coal power is ludicrous. The world needs to move to better energy sources, e.g wind, hydro, tidal, geothermal.

Pat said...

Coal is cheap, unfortunately. And, while it can be made cleaner, it can't be really clean -- and even emits more radiation than nuclear plants.

But maybe some of those greenhouse gases can nourish the trees.

And those 500-foot towers ought to be big enough to help Laser sailors maintain their bearings.

Tillerman said...

You're stretching a bit Pat to find positive things to say about Brayton Point.

But here's one positive. It is interesting to watch the tugs shepherding the large coal carrying ships up the bay to the power station. If only someone would give me some tips on photography, I could take pictures like Tugster does.

Juan Pelicano said...

FWIW, Fairhaven, MA - just up the road from you - recently erected two very large wind turbines. Oddly, while they are quite enormous, I didn't notice them initially when I was up there a few weeks ago (they were installed over the winter, I believe). So they're sort of innocuous even when you're right next to them - I rode my bike along the rail trail to have a closer look. Anyway, kudos to Fairhaven for following Portsmouth and going Green.

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