24 January 2011

Sea Life 1952 Tynebank bound Galveston Texas

First draft:
After leaving New Orleans with our pilot aboard we made our way down the Mississippi River back into the Gulf of Mexico. Dropping the pilot off we made our way almost due East to the port of Galveston in Texas. A trip of approximately 2 days or so for us.

Galveston sits at the west end of the mouth of Galveston Bay. Roughly, the Bay is 24 miles wide by 21 miles going inland and just a 7 to 10 feet deep. Across the mouth of the bay is a long low island acting as a breakwater. For large ships numerous deep channels have been dredged up to 50-55 feet deep and of good width. The main deep water channels seem to go to Galveston Island, Texas City and also up to the Houston River, the channel continuing up river to almost to Houston City which is some 44 miles inland and north west of Galveston as the crow flies.

Looking on Google, Galveston Island is a long elongated island thickening at the eastern end. On this thickened end is Galveston City. A dual carriageway road on a causeway joins Galveston City to the mainland. Paralleling this causeway runs a railway feeding Galveston docks. Here the crescent shaped harbour lies between Galveston Island and nearby Pelican Island, the harbour being 400 and 800 metres wide and 6 kilometres long.

The docks and wharves on the south side of the harbour seemed to stretch for about 3 kilometres. The rest of the south side seemed a mixture of marinas, small coastal freighter berths, ferries terminals, fish wharves and a few very large berths for cruise ships, servicing the nearby Caribbean; Galveston is in an ideal position for cruise ships.

On the northern side of the harbour on Pelican Island is a mixture of coastal freighter berths, oil depots, oilrig and ship repair berths, fishing wharves and probably a few more things. Pelican Island is served by another causeway, this one via a 2 lane highway only and a single railway track.

In 1952 when we visited, Galveston Bay seemed to be busy with oil refining facilities and oil rigs dotted about the Bay, with oil and gas wells on shore. The Bay water then seemed to be muddy and polluted in places. Today Wikipedia states that a massive cleanup started in the 1970s and looking today on Google Images this seems very true. Many, many pictures of fine fishing catches can be seen, and many of the fish are large. The Bay now hosts dolphins escorting boats and ships within the harbour. Today most of the Bay oil wells are gone, Deep water off shore oil rigs now take their place but the refineries are still there, now mostly along shores of the Houston River but their activities are now cleaned up.

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