2011 November 12, Saturday
Gulf of Mexico, Louisiana shorelines and the Macondo Prospect revisited
Our first flight over the Gulf since late September! Air and water temperatures were downright chilly, winds were blowing 20+ kts, the sky was covered with clouds, and seas were a little rough. Not the perfect day for flying or finding stuff, and definitely no longer the balmy days of summer over the Gulf. But it was the perfect day for our passengers and us to go, and we were eager embrace this wonderland from the air again. We began by surveying some of the Louisiana shoreline where one of our passengers will be replanting and protecting the fragile disappearing wetlands with berms. We looked along the shores of Lake Borgne, then down to Plaquemines Parish and then the shores of eastern Barataria Bay and on down to South Pass. Noticed only a few flocks of egrets and some ducks, but otherwise wildlife seemed scarce compared to this past summer and early fall. That part of the mission accomplished, we headed out toward the Macondo Prospect to see what we might see.
As usual, you may download our complete GPS tracks under the main menu item called "Flight Tracks;" just look for the file labeled with today's date, and you'll be able to see our position and time every 10 seconds of the entire flight. A transcript of our Flight Log is also appended at the bottom of this article. We did not turn on our SPOT GPS transmitter this flight (the link on the left-hand side of our web page that says "Track our Flights," so you would not have been able to track us in real-time today. Suffice it to say that we wanted to keep our flights a bit more 'stealth' of late.
We saw lots of "work" vessels out in the Macondo today! And new orange buoys we hadn't seen before. Our route took us by the platform "VK989" at about N28°58' W088°37', and the first two orange buoys we saw were a little over 50 miles off shore to the east-southeast. Thence came a progression of oil-related (BP-contracted, we think) work vessels, some ROV-capable and then-some. These included the Meg L. Skandi, C. Chariot, Sarah Bordelon, Normand Pacific, Deep Blue, HOS Iron Horse, Holiday. Only when we reached the Holiday was the visibility good enough for us to identify a line of oil "globules" unequivocally, and they were very near the Holiday. That vessel was almost stationary but there was quite a bit of exhaust coming out of a stack on it, as if it were running a pump or something.
See photos and video and the rest of this story here.