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UER Forum > UE Main > A Note/Story/Warning/PSA on Tidal Drains (Viewed 2767 times)
superphoenix 


Location: New York City
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 170 likes


There's a madness to my methods

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A Note/Story/Warning/PSA on Tidal Drains
< on 8/6/2015 7:03 AM >
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Because a story without pictures is not particularly interesting, I have dug up some old images I have of this area. These were taken back when I went here years ago, before this story, which is more recent.

My city is not one with well-publicized drains. This is partly because such areas are either well-secured or simply not interesting enough to warrant the trip (with a few exceptions). This is why, aside from Steve Duncan's tales, there are so few accounts of what goes on in our underground rivers, sewers, and drainage systems. Here is one of them.

The story begins at night. An exploring partner has agreed to meet me to help me explore this drain, which I want to map out by trying to put location services on my phone while walking through the area. The city is arid - it has not rained for a few days before, and it will not rain for a few days after. The drain is by the waterfront, in such a place that the rare boat might see you, but humans won't. It is such an obscure spot that I'm willing to bet that fewer than 10 non-maintenance people have entered it in their lives.

The outfall has bars around it, but these have been pushed open in such a way that one can contort their body and squeeze into the drain. Peak low tide has passed an hour ago, so now the water will slowly be coming in. (I knew this by consulting http://tides.net which is an excellent resource for dealing with any area where your entry is determined by the tide.) This is what I mean when I specify that this is a tidal drain - it is right by the water and is affected by the waves.

uer1 by S S, on Flickr

Location services do not work down here. Neither of us is able to get any signal unless we crawl up a ladder and hold our phone up to the cobwebbed belly of a manhole. At some point, we are 50 feet underground. If we die here, there's a chance the bodies will wash out into the main water stream and we won't be discovered for months. Obviously this isn't what I'm thinking about when I'm in the drain. Instead, I'm testing out the acoustics of the drain by making different noises, impatiently waiting for my cohort to perfect his long exposure shots.

uer2 by S S, on Flickr

The good thing about being in an area so impenetrable is that no person can really sneak up on you, and all your actions are truly rooted in personal responsibility.

We continue, slowly. The drain itself isn't new to me and thus, doesn't keep my interest for long. The pattern is like this: walk through a tube that goes 200-1000 feet which lets you out into a room with a ladder leading to the surface, right under a manhole too heavy to be lifted by shoulder or crowbar.

uer4 by S S, on Flickr

After a while, we reach a left curve. Here, I express doubt. The wall at the end is dripping some orange sludge, and there is debris in the following tunnel, which is even smaller and requires a hunched walk. My partner pushes me to go further and I acquiesce - not because I find the spot particularly interesting but because I want to sate my curiosity of where the tunnel eventually leads to or ends.

Farther down, the air quality is questionable. White particles dance in the air, and when I breathe, I emit a ghostly fog. I'm not in any danger of passing out, and I have seen thicker accumulations of such mist, but it still makes me uncomfortable.

We had walked through about a mile of tunnel so far, and I say I will turn back because it's getting late and I have work in the morning (which is true), and I don't want the tide to creep up on us. We argue this point for a while, but eventually, my partner follows me out with a defeated sigh.

uer3 by S S, on Flickr

As we get closer to the exit, something strange starts happening. I hear an occasional whooshing, like the sound of water slapping concrete, and start running to the outfall faster in case this sound is bad. As I get closer, I see that this noise is the tide coming in. The entrance, which I had waddled through three hours ago when it was up to my ankles, now reaches my knees. I run (well, the best you can run in so much water) the last 300 feet to the outfall, which is now harder to escape because the space we squeezed through is partially flooded. I then twist my body around and help my partner get out as the drain continues to slowly fill with tide water.

I've learned a few things from this incident, chief among them being this: If one member of the exploring group feels uncomfortable with something, it is their right to leave. It seems silly that some people need to have this outlined, but this is a policy that newer explorers seem to need to be reminded of. Another good rule is to go into tidal drains around an hour before peak low tide. If we had gone in two hours earlier, this incident wouldn't have been so messy.

I guess I'll wrap up with a larger, more general message about exploring dangerous locations: It's all about maintaining the equilibrium between justified confidence and reasonable apprehension. Curiosity of the unknown pushes us to discover wonderful places, but sometimes fear of the unknown saves us from an early death.




mookster 


Location: Oxford, UK
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 2150 likes




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Re: A Note/Story/Warning/PSA on Tidal Drains
< Reply # 1 on 8/6/2015 2:55 PM >
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I have only ever explored one drain and that was enough to decide I really don't like them...it was a trade effluent drain for a massive car factory and it was whilst we were down inside it that my mate said 'oh you know they can flush this drain at any time'...I was like cheers mate.

Then after we got back to the car we were followed by two security guys in another car for a number of miles back into the town.




Shawn W. 


Location: Niagara Falls, NY
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 131 likes


Optimistic Pessimist

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Re: A Note/Story/Warning/PSA on Tidal Drains
< Reply # 2 on 8/6/2015 3:06 PM >
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So you knew that the tide would soon be coming in, but decided to go in anyway, yet you brought up personal responsibility? While I'm glad that you made it out alright, I hope that the point of posting this was to show what NOT to do.



[last edit 8/7/2015 12:23 AM by Shawn W. - edited 3 times]

What is a rebel? A man who says no. - Albert Camus
Granuaile 


Location: Cincinnati
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Enveloped in a sentiment

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Re: A Note/Story/Warning/PSA on Tidal Drains
< Reply # 3 on 8/6/2015 3:57 PM >
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Posted by mookster
'oh you know they can flush this drain at any time'...I was like cheers mate.


+1






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DJ Craig 

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Re: A Note/Story/Warning/PSA on Tidal Drains
< Reply # 4 on 8/6/2015 6:55 PM >
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Wow, thanks for sharing this story! I've never even thought about tides in reference to draining before. I guess I've never gone draining on the coast. Glad you're ok!




"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..." -Dr. Suess
superphoenix 


Location: New York City
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 170 likes


There's a madness to my methods

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Re: A Note/Story/Warning/PSA on Tidal Drains
< Reply # 5 on 8/6/2015 11:06 PM >
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Posted by Shawn W.
So you know that the tide would soon be coming in, but decided to go in anyway, yet you brought up personal responsibility? While I'm glad that you made it out alright, I hope that the point of posting this was to show what NOT to do.


It would take about five more hours for us to be flooded out based on the tide schedule that I checked, and I didn't expect us to be in there for more than an hour. The person I went with took a very long time getting his photos and kept pushing us to go farther, as I mentioned. In hindsight, I shouldn't have let him, which is why this story is necessary. If I was alone, there's no way I would've stayed in there as long as I did.

Another thing to note: a deceptive trait of this drain is that it stayed dry even while the tide was coming in, aside from the last 1000 feet to the outfall, so it didn't seem like there was any immediate danger father down the tunnel.




UER Forum > UE Main > A Note/Story/Warning/PSA on Tidal Drains (Viewed 2767 times)


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