The wait is almost over…it’s just about time to pull off those winter boat covers and set sail into the warmer season! Whether you’re just getting started in the ASA 101 course or you regularly cruise in your own vessel, learning to properly care for a sailboat is an important and necessary skill to have.
I don’t need to waste a sailor’s time by telling you there’s plastic in the ocean. If you’re out on the water, you’ve seen it by now. Some places are cleaner than others, and in some parts of the world it has reached an extreme that is truly surreal: As we’ve mentioned before, this is not an “ocean problem.” This is a “people problem.” So how did we get here, what’s the real level of the damage, and what do we do about it?
No sailor’s education is complete without an understanding of our impact on the oceans. It’s my honor to introduce you to the single best resource for ocean-friendly sailing there is: Sailors for the Sea.
Sailors don’t rely on robots and engines to clean up the ocean. We make the biggest collective impact by cleaning up our own communities ourselves. Here’s what you need to know to get started with beach cleanups.
Sunscreen is a sailing essential any time of year, but the upcoming summer rays mean it’s time to break out the good stuff. There’s nothing like relaxing on deck with some good music and lathering up with tropical scented potions to get that sun-kissed glow. But what happens once we shower off or go for a dip? Our goos and sprays quietly enter our waterways and air, about 14,000 tons per year according to the National Park Service. Many of these products can do serious harm to marine animals, as well as to our own health. Coral Reefs Are In …
Scenario: You crack open a cold one after a long day of sailing. Your buddy Jim finishes his first beer (rather quickly) and tosses the can overboard. When prodded about the environment, he confidently responds, “It’s just metal- it will break down naturally.” A debate starts, and you want it to stop so you can enjoy the sunset and your beverage in peace. Does Jim have a point? A Brief Beer History Lesson Back in the 1930s when designers were tinkering with how to can beer, they kept encountering a problem: the beer reacted quickly with metal, causing an unpleasant …
I first learned about the art of sailing when I was nineteen years old. I had signed up for a semester abroad with a program that teaches students marine biology and oceanography courses, as well as sailing and coastal navigation skills. After a year of scraping together money and filling out forms, I spent my sophomore winter on an 88’ schooner in the Caribbean with a plan to sail to twenty islands.
After learning about Soraya Simi and her work, I checked out her short film First Flush. In just one minute we follow the journey of raindrops hitting the Los Angeles pavement, to the accumulating floodwaters traveling across roadways and down drains, all leading down to the LA River. The drainage carries with it more than just rain: various plastic trash on the streets are carried and gather around the storm drains. The journey ends exactly how we’d expect: at the ocean. Soraya’s final message to her audience: “If you’ve ever wondered where it all goes…”
Young sailors, your sailing education is not just about learning to read charts and pull lines. Your generation faces a whole new set of challenges on par with the great explorers of ancient times. Unfathomably widespread plastic, fisheries collapse, water pollution… the list of problems facing the ocean continues to grow. The mistakes of the past are not your fault, but there is hope: you can be part of the solutions of the future!