Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Plastic is forever

Those of you who know me and know the Boston Harbor Islands know that Peddocks Island is a favorite overnight anchorage for LIQUIDITY. It’s just five miles from my Marina Bay, worlds away from the city and has one of the best sea glass beaches I’ve ever seen.

Sadly though, tide and current also make Peddocks a magnet for pretty much anything in Boston harbor that floats. The debris line, as observed over Mothers’ Day weekend, included detergent bottles, sneakers, flip flops, water bottles, bottle caps, milk crates, plastic bags, polyethylene line, cigarette lighters and more. Absent human intervention to remove the plastic, it’s there forever.

My view of Peddocks Island came just a short time after spending my second annual volunteer week sailing and teaching about the environment on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and so I’m sensitized to both visible and invisible pollution. On Clearwater, it was commonplace for the Captain to grab the boat hook to retrieve what he might, as we sailed and/or the trash drifted by. We might do the same, doing our very little bit to save the planet and perhaps using the exercise as a crew-overboard drill of sorts. 

Fair winds.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tall ship sailing and doing good

As I did last year, I spent a week sailing and teaching on board the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

I joined the crew a week ago Sunday in Yonkers, where Clearwater was docked so that the crew could more safely and comfortable rig the top mast. With less commercial traffic further up river, the wakes tend to be fewer and smaller.

With the top mast rigged, we transited down river to New York City's 79th St. Boat Basin, where we were based for the week. Generally sailing twice daily, we hosted a total of about 350 students, from 3rd grade through 8th. My job for the week was two part: (i) pretend to be a teacher, and (ii) pretend to be a deck hand. I suppose I did a fair job at each, overall.

My daily routine:
0645 Wake up
0700 Deck wash - slosh and brush the deck, refill the brine barrel, wipe the brightwork with fresh water.
0715 Breakfast and morning muster
0800 Chores - clean the cabin, wash dishes, clean the galley and more
0830 - Ready the boat - set up education stations, flake the main sheet and jib sheets, rig the jib, tie in a reef in the main (once), rig the gangway
0900 - Meet the students and escort them to Clearwater.
0915 - Letting go dock lines and handling fenders
0930 - Fishing, so either on the tiller, boat hook or day shapes
1015 - Sail raising
1030 - Education stations - I taught water quality, "life" (i.e., what's interesting about what we caught fishing that day), navigation, history of the river and what it's like living on board Clearwater.
1200 - Docking and disembarking passengers.
1215 - Lunch
1245 - Chores again
1300 - Afternoon sail, following the same schedule as the morning sail.
1600 - Back at the dock, rigging chafe gear, coiling lines, furling the jib, afternoon deck wash.
1730 - Dinner and crew meeting
1815 - Evening chores
1930 - Dinner ashore with my daughter one night, my son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter another (I only snacked with the crew while they ate, honest)
2200 - Lights out

It's long days but most satisfying.

More about Clearwater and its mission can be found here: www.Clearwater.org. They deserve your support, whether you're in NY (which I'm not) or not. Make a donation, join and best of all, go sailing.