It was a postcard-perfect summer afternoon. I nosed the dinghy up to one of my favorite stretches of beach to let the dog run off some energy and continue my efforts to convince her that as a water dog, she’s supposed to enjoy swimming. The cooler was full; our little Bluetooth speaker was charged. Just add limes. Alas, my family’s Corona-commercial afternoon would be short lived. Walking along in the shallows, in less time than it took to say to my wife, “Pass me the bottle opener,” I felt an all-too-familiar stab in my heel. The culprit: glass from a broken beer bottle. It hardly left a scratch, but it prompted me to give the beach a closer scan.
There was glass everywhere: the telltale sign of an early morning bonfire party. I quickly scooped up our pup, Salty, and tossed her in the dinghy. We retreated back to the boat with our tails between our legs.
I thought about that day when putting this issue together. That memory makes me disappointed. Not because some kids were irresponsible; I’m not going to throw that stone from my glass house. I’m disappointed because I didn’t go back to pick any of it up—not even the piece I stepped on.
I possess the ability to convince myself of just about anything, and I can tell myself that task falls firmly in the “not my job” category. But that’s BS. The truth is, keeping our waterways clean is all of our jobs.
Because of our chosen pastime’s carbon footprint, boaters talking about conservation and the environment are usually met with judgmental finger pointing from outsiders. And, yes, while it’s true that our sport has made huge leaps in hybrid and electric propulsion in recent years, gasoline and diesel will fuel our passion for the foreseeable future.
But the way I see it, owning a powerboat and caring about the environment are not mutually exclusive. I read recently that backpackers are the biggest cause of forest fires. It’s ironic: The biggest threat to forests are the people who love them most. I feel the same way about boaters; there’s not another group on the planet that loves being on the water more than we do. I haven’t met a boater who doesn’t want the next generation to take in the sight of a sunrise shimmering atop a pollution-free sea.
Perhaps my favorite example of environmentally conscious boaters is the crew of Post One, a 63-foot Hatteras which, along with a mothership, chases game fish around the world. Are they creating a Sasquatch-size carbon footprint while pursuing their passion? Without a doubt. But does that mean they couldn’t or shouldn’t be bothered to make smart choices along the way? I don’t think so. Working with an initiative started by SeaKeepers (see “Ocean Advocates” on page 46) they pull a net behind their boat when conditions allow and, working with Florida International University, send the pollution to be analyzed and safely discarded. You’ll find the story in “Fish Hard and Give Back” on page 68.
Also in this issue, we caught up with a team of researchers from OCEARCH aboard their 126-foot crabber off Nova Scotia to report on the waves they’re making in the shark conservation world. You’ll find our report in “Tooth and Nail” on page 60.
Lastly, we also did a deep dive into hydrogen as a possible fuel source of the future. The success this fuel is experiencing in the commercial realm and its potential application to marine propulsion surprised us all; find that story in “Hit the Gas” on page 22.
After reading these well-reported stories, and thinking about the impact I’d like to leave on our waterways, I decided to set a challenge for myself this summer. My goal is to make better small choices, like using less plastic and, perhaps most importantly, picking up garbage that isn’t “mine.” I hope you’ll join me. Cleaning up that broken glass would have been but a tiny drop in a very big bucket that is the current state of ocean pollution. But as all boaters know, it takes only a single drop to create a ripple.