In a moment of exasperation last month, I chipped in a few bucks to a charity group that promised to blow 100 vuvuzelas for a full day outside BPs corporate office. Four-foot-long African trumpets that produce an ear-piercing moan, vuvuzelas were responsible for that annoying buzz you might of heard on ESPN during the World Cup soccer action last month.
My donation didn't save the planet, but I slept a little better. The scheme, dubbed the Experimental Vuvuzela Exhalation Procedure in London and organized through www.kickstarter.com, ended up raising more than $7,000 for the Gulf Disaster Fund.
There are, of course, more conventional ways to support an environmental cause. Not surprisingly, sailors are at the forefront of many of these projects. In almost any port city in America, youll find sailors leading environmental education programs, estuary restoration projects, or coastal cleanup campaigns. Many of these programs take place on board a sailboat, often it is a historic sailing ship that also lends color to the local waterfront. Sailing-oriented nonprofits have become a fixture in just about every waterfront city today.
If we were to try to trace the origins of this eco-boat movement, one path would likely lead back to singer-songwriter Pete Seegers sloop Clearwater. Launched in the early 1970s in upstate New York, Clearwater was sailed up and down the Hudson River to raise awareness of pollution on the river.
Here, in our home port of Sarasota, Fla., Practical Sailor has formed a close connection with one of the offspring of Seegers project, Aquarian Quest, a nonprofit group that organizes educational sails for area schoolchildren. Supported primarily by member donations, the group is co-founded by Robert Killian, who worked with Seeger for two decades.
The Aquarian Quest group takes school children sailing on a 40-foot catamaran, using the boat as a floating laboratory. The students participate in water-quality experiments and learn about local coastal ecology. Since 2001, more the 10,000 children have gone through the program.
In the wake of school budget cuts, Aquarian Quest, like most of us, is learning to live lean. If you, like me, sleep better when you chip in for a good cause, you can join the group via the Web at www.aquarianquest.org.
We know it isn’t the only sailing nonprofit that could use some free PR these days, and wed like to help. If you have a favorite waterfront project that you think PS readers should know about, send me information and photos by e-mail to practicalsailor
@belvoirpubs.com, and well help spread the word via our website, blog, Facebook, Twitter . . . and, if need be, vuvuzela.