Seattle’s new Hot Tub Boats: swingin’ in the rain

I live in Seattle. So I can state with authority that out here if you want hipster street cred you’ll be rocking at least some sartorial remnant of the ’70s — be it a pair of groovy shades, nut-hugger jeans, a polyester dress or booty cut-offs.

What else is reminiscent of the ’70s? Hot tubs, baby. And now, chilly (but oh so cool) Seattleites and visitors alike can have a relaxing retro outing thanks to a fab new indulgence: Hot Tub Boats. You and up to six friends (kids count) can bob around scenic Lake Union in a wooden, diesel boiler-fueled floating hot tub boat with full steering capacity and a throttle. All boats come with coolers, locked dry storage, water jets and safety equipment. They are also United States Coast Guard standard approved.

The boats are also available for longer-term rentals and purchase, and can be delivered to alternate locations such as Lake Washington for an additional fee. The company is anticipating a May launch.

Alas, getting nekkid and sipping Lancers is not permitted; we’re not animals here in Seattle. And everyone knows drinking and boating (don’t) mix. Even though you’ll have to leave the booze at home and cover up your bits, there’s still something about steamy water, nippy weather and floating on a lake that feels a little bit naughty. Far out.

Bombs under cruise terminal to be removed

The US Army Corps of Engineers says old Navy munitions found under Seattle’s cruise ship terminal are not a major threat and cleanup is underway. Still, that the old shells and weapons were initially uncovered by cruise ship thrusters and that has experts talking.

“Wherever munitions have been handled in the past, they have rolled off the pier, they’ve been dropped out of cargo net. It’s perfectly normal, it’s expected. What is unexpected is that there is a cruise ship terminal built directly above where some of these munitions are.” Jim Barton, an expert in underwater munitions, told Seattle’s back in October.

Divers started spotting the munitions in April as part of routine security sweeps required by the Coast Guard. Apparently the bombs were dropped in the water between the 1930s and 1970 when the U.S. Navy used the the facility. Initially it was empty shell casings found by divers but later searches revealed live ammunition capable of being exploded under where cruise ships travel.

“These are munitions, designed to kill people. Barton said adding “They’re pretty safe to be around unless you disturb them”

When the munitions were first discovered, Seattle’s cruise ship season was still in operation. Records indicate that at least two times in September, live ammunition was brought to the surface with cruise ships nearby.

This week the Corps of Engineers announced that it is leading a $10 million cleanup project with the Port of Seattle, U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency. Check this initial report about it all below:

Flickr photo iwona_kellie

Coast Guard ships would-be migrants back to Cuba

Seventeen Cubans found at sea over the last week, some in in home-made rafts, were returned to Cuba Saturday morning. An eighteenth would-be migrant was taken to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to determine if asylum in a third country is possible.

While most were intercepted by the U.S Coast Guard, six were saved from a sinking raft by Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas last Monday when a passenger on board spotted them in distress. “We gave them medical treatment. They were dehydrated,” said Royal Caribbean’s Cynthia Martinez adding “They were on the ship for less than 24 hours”

The Miami Herald reports that in the course of the week they were moved first on Monday to a 45-foot response boat, the 87-foot patrol boat Cutter Shrike, and then to the 110-foot Ocracoke out of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Shipping would-be migrants back to Cuba falls under the United States Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy. Dating back to the Clinton administration, the policy states that Cubans intercepted/rescued at sea are taken back to Cuba while those who make it to shore are allowed to stay.

Flickr photo by gnr