Giving Back to the Sea


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, 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

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, and well help spread the word via our website, blog, Facebook, Twitter . . . and, if need be, vuvuzela.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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