Kids Sailing a Clean Regatta

Kids Sailing a Clean Regatta
A few stickers and old trophies are new again!

Kaitlyn Van Nostrand recently assumed coaching duties at the Mount Baker Rowing and Sailing Center on Lake Washington. She’s also a dedicated environmental pro, currently an account manager at Republic Services. She’s been working with Sailors for the Sea for following their Clean Regatta guidelines, and last weekend’s Milfoil junior regatta was deemed “Clean.” It sets a great example for other sailing and yacht clubs to follow, and by the sounds of it, it was more fun than chore. Here’s Kaitlyn’s report on the event, borrowed from an email to Sailors for the Sea. 

We had a great Milfoil Junior Regatta with both sun and wind last Saturday. There were 26 participants sail in 4 fleets (Opti, Laser, V15 and FJ) from 7 different clubs in the Seattle area. We had our sailors from Mt. Baker be on our green team wearing green t-shirts with me. They rocked the pins on their life jackets. 🙂

Our first place trophies were re-purposed ones that I found in the boathouse from the 1970’s! I removed the plaque on the front (may reuse them for other awards later), put a Sailors for the Sea Sticker on them and they came out great. Our participation awards were mugs for Optis and glasses for the other classes that I got from Goodwill. Stickered them as well, they looked awesome! Each participant received a sticker too. 

Our office staff was great in helping with our water bottle station, communicating to sailors they needed to BYO water bottle and we ran a nearly zero waste event since our lunch was pizza and we composted the plates and pizza boxes. 🙂 

Looking forward to passing on our Clean Regatta lessons to other clubs on the Northwest circuit to get more clean regattas registered for next summer.

Trump Dumps on Puget Sound, Let’s Work Together to Save it

Trump Dumps on Puget Sound, Let’s Work Together to Save it

The word is out. The Trump administration wants to cut 93%, that’s right, 93% of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA budget) for restoration and monitoring of Puget Sound. (Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes also face such draconian measures). The details of this proposed budget, and the likelihood of it being enacted, are murky at best.

There’s a big “however” here. However, murkiness notwithstanding we sailors can take steps to save our Sound. We have to be ready to fight for our beautiful Salish Sea. It doesn’t take long to pollute. It does take a long time to clean it up. And sailors do know how to make noise. What we can do now is give our elected officials, particular those in support of the new administration, an earful.

Here’s the essence of it, assuming that the 93% cut regionally and 24% nationally is seriously proposed. It has nothing to do with a Washington immigrant feud with Trump, as has been suggested. It has everything to do with Trump and the Republicans trying to blow up the EPA. From their standpoint, why not? They deny global warming and have willfully forgotten what our waterways were like in 1970 and why the EPA was created in the first place. Furthermore, they believe that regulations have stifled our economy. So, why not get rid of the EPA?

And here’s a really fitting nugget: Environmental Education would be cut 94%. To my mind, those were some of the most effective dollars spent. Change people’s minds, and you change their behavior. My behavior has certainly changed as I’ve learned more about the environment.

They believe that protecting the environment is bad for business, though businesses seem to have managed. A model might be our boatyards. They’ve made changes to their business model, and many (though not all) have withstood the onslaught of dubious lawsuits. They’ve utilized new technologies and charged their customers a bit more with an explanation. And while there’s plenty of room for discussion about lawsuits, boatyards and bottom paints, there’s one undeniable fact. Boatyards have become cleaner.

This move is not about budget savings.  All of Donald Trump’s proposals regarding infrastructure, walls, and military show that he’s not cutting “here” to make more money available “there.” It’s comically out of whack. If this were about trimming the budget, there’d be a serious proposal to cut a percentage and a mandate for each department to come up with well reasoned cuts.

No, this is about diminishing our country’s dedication to the environment. It’s about declaring that global warming doesn’t exist. It’s about putting business profits ahead of all else. It’s about a philosophy that regulation is bad and that the free market can and will take care of everything. The administration is willing to sacrifice the condition of Puget Sound and kick the cleanup can to our kids’ corners. I can’t even get my kids to pick up their own socks.

It’s about putting a guy like Scott Pruitt in charge who has been in the pocket of big business his entire career and fought the EPA tooth and nail. The Republicans have even introduced a bill to eliminate the EPA.

Apparently, the idea is that by gutting the EPA, businesses will become more profitable and somehow our lives will be enhanced. Since the economic recovery from the great recession began, businesses have been hoarding their profits, making the rich richer. There’s NO reason to think that “unburdening” them will make them more civically or environmentally minded.

And here’s the clincher, and it’s an economic one. A clean Sound makes money. A dirty Sound costs money. There are shellfish beds, salmon fisheries, sport fishing, and yes, recreational boating.

Trump and the current Republicans don’t see the dollar value of a clean environment or the expense of cleaning it up when it does get polluted. Excuse me, but they’re pooping on the hard work (sometimes not efficient or even misguided, but mostly highly valuable work) of Republicans, Democrats, Independents and ordinary citizens, since the early 1970s.

I’ve always thought that the greatest environmental gains were made through cooperative efforts. Sure, industry lobbying for its interests, and environmentalists lobbying for theirs, but the workable solution always seemed to lie somewhere between the two. And the EPA was an effective arbiter. Both sides have screamed and yelled that the EPA hasn’t been doing its job. I was splashing around southern Lake Michigan in 1970. I can say first hand that it has done its job.

The Trump administration has decided Puget Sound (and Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes) is not worth cleaning up and protecting. It’s up to all of us in Washington State to join together and fight for Puget Sound. And make no mistake, if the EPA is eviscerated, we will have to.  Shellfish harvesters, sportfishermen, commercial, recreational, business organizations, private citizens, all of us, need to work together. Who knows, in this adversarial climate we might find some surprising alliances.

Oh, yeah, and about those salmon. Guess what eat salmon? Our Southern Resident orcas. They’re already on a dangerously thin diet.

While we have a profound history in Washington of dumping unspeakables in places like Commencement Bay and Lake Union, and damming up some of the most productive salmon runs in the world, we also have a history of learning from our mistakes and becoming champions for our environment. I hope and expect that as Trump’s government abdicates its responsibilities, we sailors can join other Washingtonians to stop the madness. At least here.

Stay tuned, because I’m going to weigh in on the No Discharge Zone (yes, it may be happening) and a proposed no-go zone around San Juan Island to protect those orcas.


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Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Smartest Sailor in the Cockpit

Like a lot of other people, I find the Internet can be the best of times and the worst. I can sit in front of my computer and in five minutes find some gem of information that truly improves my life. At other times, I get sucked into site after site and an hour later have to extract myself to realize I learned absolutely nothing. So, this “Smartest Sailor” post is simply me plucking out a few stories that I found interesting and that you might too. To qualify they have to be sailing related, Salish related and pass my completely subjective relevant/interesting/amusing/useful filter. If others find it worthwhile, I’ll keep doing it.


John Harrison Doucet

Sailor Electrocuted, A Warning to Us All

20-year-old sailor John Harrison Doucet of Gulfport, Mississippi was electrocuted when his J/22’s mast hit an overhead wire and his hand was on the trailer hitch. Story here. He had both legs amputated and is fighting for his life. This happened in Gulfport, but could easily have happened here in the Northwest. Next time down at your dry storage area, check for dangerous power lines. If there are any, make sure the yard operators are aware of the problem and do something about it.


Photo: Alethea Leddy, Port Angeles Whale Watch Co.

Humpback Rescue Team

Humpbacks save sea lion from orcas. In fact, they have quite a reputation for intervention. Chris Dunagan has the story here of a recent rescue in BC waters. Yes, that’s right, boatloads of whale watchers got to see a pod of humpbacks come to the rescue of a sea lion from a pod of transient orcas. While that’d be a great scene to see play out, it’s not something we’d want to be in the middle of!




Unguided Transatlantic

Everybody seems to want to send automated, high tech boats across the pond these days. Kaitlyn Dow, a high school junior in Waterford, Connecticut succeeded with a low-tech approach. She sent a 3′ essentially unguided boat with a dubious sailplan across pond to Ireland. Young Irish girl Méabh Ní Ghionnáin (don’t you just love that name even if you haven’t the foggiest how to pronounce it) of Galway, got word through the coasts Pubnet (my name for Ireland’s pub network, which, by the way, is far more efficient than the Internet) that the boat was coming and was on the lookout when it arrived. I think it’s remarkable that an unmanned, essentially unguided, boat can do a transatlantic. I also wonder what my feelings would be if I ran into it while taking my own boat transatlantic. Regardless, congratulations to Kaitlyn and Méabh for sending and receiving that little boat.


Suhaili during reconsctruction, it wasn’t all pretty.

Suhaili Relaunched, Ready to Race without Sextant

A couple weeks ago Sir Robin Knox-Johnston relaunched Suhaili, the 32-footer he sailed around the world nonstop in 1968. She’s in great shape, and by the sounds of it Knox-Johnston did much of the work with his own hands. His 312-day voyage to win the Golden Globe Challenge was the first nonstop trip of the kind and marks the beginning of what has culminated to this point in the Vendee Globe Race. A couple interesting things here. First, Sir Robin restored Suhaili to sail in the recreation of that Golden Globe Race. This new race requires 32-36′ full keel boats that were designed before 1988 and displace at least 6200 kg. Furthermore, while they’ll have electronic navigation tools onboard in case of emergency, they won’t be using them. Yes, Virginia, back to sextants. And there are 26 provisional entrants. One of those entrants is none other than Sir Robin, who at age 79 will be sailing Suhaili. If this ironman finishes, he’s a god. If he wins with that boat, he’s a god’s god. The idea of the race is just so out there it might draw a lot of attention.


Overdue Saltspring Sailor

Finally, Saltspring Island sailor Paul Lim is way overdue from Hawaii. He left Hilo August 1 with his Spencer 35 Watercolour bound for Victoria, BC, and had not been heard from as of September 30. The US Coast Guard searched an area between Hilo and Victoria with a C-130 aircraft to no avail. The USCG continues to search and asks that  anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mr. Lim or the Sailing Vessel Watercolour is asked to call the U.S. Coast Guard at 510-437-3701. USCG press release here, Vancouver Sun article here.