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Posts Tagged ‘sailors for the sea’

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Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 5.34.00 PMBest known for the excellent and effective Clean Regattas Program, Our longtime friends and partners-in-crime over at Sailors For The Sea keep a good eye on green-ness of the oceans, and just the other day, SFTS’s Hillary Kotoun sent us over an excellent little book review about a sailor’s life in service of not just the sea, but of all of us.  And this bad motherf^&*er sat in a Russian jail for his crime of standing up against the rape of the sea.

Captain Peter Willcox has sailed over 400,000 miles – admirable for any mariner, but his story has even more crazy stories, because he’s logged all of those miles while standing up for the environment – and the humans and animals that depend on a healthy planet.

If your looking for a good summer read, check out his memoir Greenpeace Captain: My Adventures in Protecting the Future of Our Planet. It’s a beautiful, funny, and sometimes-controversial story that show a sailor’s life determined to protect our planet. Whether he is fighting against nuclear power, protecting whales or sitting in a Russian jail – Captain Willcox outlook on life reminds us of the inner pirate all sailors have in their heart! Here are our top quotes from the book:

1. He’s a former America’s Cup sailor
“I continued yacht racing whenever I could, and in 1979 I took some time off from the Clearwater to do a stint with Dennis Conner’s America’s Cup team (the team won the cup in 1980.)”

2. The ties of sailing & environment run deep in his family
“I’m a walking, talking argument for nurture in the nature-versus-nurture debate. I was adopted at the age of thee months by a left-wing, antinuclear, antiwar, socially progressive hardcore-offshore sailing family.”

3. He survived a French sabotage (sadly the boat and 1 crew member did not)
“The inquiry also found that a total of at least thirteen French agents had been involved. Operation Satanique (no translation necessary) was a large and complicated mission. The explosives had been smuggled into New Zealand in a moderate-size sailing yacht. Another French agent had infiltrated the Green Peace office in New Zealand as a volunteer. She had kept the DGSE informed about our timing and plans. She had even used our phones to arrange for the boat and scuba gear used in the attack.”

4. His definition of heaven
“My favorite sound in the world is hearing an engine stop and then hearing the bow wave burble while under sail. Someone once said that the definition of heaven is taking your favorite moment and being able to live in it forever. I’m not saying there is a heaven, and I’m not saying that if there is a heaven I would even be allowed in, but if there is and if I am, that’s the moment I want to be in forever.”

5. He’s got a sense of humor
“Last, I would like to sincerely thank Russian president Vladimir Putin. Without your “two-month, all-expenses-paid vacation in Russia,” this book never would have happened.”

6. He’s not afraid of a little contact
When in the water, wearing a survival suit, trying to stop a Destroyer…. “On the next attempt I let the bow come by so close I could touch it. The bow wave slapped me in the head as she went by, my hand dragging along the gray steel hull of the ship. Once the bow wave passed, it was so quiet I could hear one of the sailors high above me shout: Watch out for the propellers!”

7. Even eco-warrior sailors like to party
“I’ve been in many police stations in many different parts of the world, but when I stepped into the police station at Sète I was completely unprepared for what I saw. There was shouting. Squealing. Stack of pizza boxes. Wine bottles everywhere. Cops and activists taking pictures with each another. In short, I stepped into one hell of a party!”

8. But overall, he really, really loves the ocean
“But I knew it wouldn’t be very long before the sea-less than a mile from our fireplace-would call me back. There’s a long-standing maritime tradition to come to the aid of anyone at sea who is in peril. So when the ocean itself is in trouble, I can’t refuse the call.”

9. And he needs fellow sailors to take action
“Another expression is “We’re all in the same boat.” That’s us. That’s Earth. Everyone’s in the same ecological boat, and we’re sinking our own planet-boat by drilling holes in while ignoring the fact that it’s causing the water to rise faster and faster.”


June 29th, 2016 by admin

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Zika, Roussef’s impeachment, and Brazil’s nasty recession have taken the focus off the putrid condition of the Olympic Sailing Venue in Guanabara Bay, but a team of high level documentarians is hoping to make sure the environmental lessons learned in this debacle of an Olympics will never be forgotten.  If you believed any of the ISAF or IOC or Rio2016 bullshit, watch the beautifully produced trailer above to find out the real truth from people who really have something to lose.  Here’s a deeper description from our friends at Sailors For The Sea.

We just recently helped raise the funds to send the film crew to finish filming so the documentary can be released before the Olympics. Tomorrow we are launching a crowd-funding campaign to finish production. We could really use the help of the passionate Sailing Anarchy base to get this thing off the ground. With 99 days to the Olympics I don’t think it could be better timing!

Film Overview
When the world descends on Brazil this August for the Olympics, they are going to get more than they bargained for. Shopping carts and couches, offensive odors and a web of plastic pollution blanket the once iconic landscape of Guanabara Bay.

The film will document the origin of waste, from the communities where it is generated, to the streams and major tributaries that carry it into the Bay. We will define the scope of the problem and tell this story from the perspective of community members and activists who desire lasting change, such as Arthur a young sailor featured in the trailer.

We will also document community-level waste collection centers, and other localized solutions that can be scaled, as an example not only of the hope, but also of the real and prosperous future that is possible for the citizens of Rio, who call the Bay their home.

Sound Off Films’ founder Annie Costner has been traveling back and forth to Rio since 2011. Intrigued by the waste issue and determined to tell the locals’ side of the story—which extends beyond the concerns of international athletes competing in this summer’s Olympics—she started asking questions.

Read On.


April 29th, 2016 by admin

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We’ve already explained how Rio’s Olympic sailing venue is literally full of crap.  Yesterday, our friends at Sailors For The Sea took aim at this nasty little problem; check out Tyson Bottenus’s take on it. 

Last December Alan Norregaard, a Bronze medalist from the 2012 London Olympics, was just barely edging out Nico Delle Karth for first place as he approached the windward mark in the 2nd race of the 2013 Intergalactic Championships in Guanabara Bay, a rather large protected bay outside of Rio de Janeiro.

And then disaster struck when his 49er shuddered to a halt. He and his crew watched helplessly as the entire fleet passed by. Backwinding their mainsail, they peered into the murky water to see what had happened and what they saw was both infuriating and outrageous: their 49er was stopped dead in the water by a large plastic bag wrapped around their centerboard, floating haphazardly in the bay.

“I have sailed around the world for 20 years and this is the most polluted place I’ve ever been,” Norregaard told reporters after the race. He isn’t the only one complaining. This February, the Irish Sailing Team put out a request for funding to bring a doctor with them to Rio de Janeiro to assess “potential health concerns posed by untreated sewage water.” Stories and anecdotes are cropping up of dead horse carcasses and mattresses floating along the racecourse.

“The sewage is visible and we have identified it as a significant health risk to our athletes,” said James O’Callaghan, ISA Performance Director, to the Irish Times this February.

In 2016, sailing teams from all over the world will descend upon Brazil to take part in the Summer Olympics. Individuals and teams from around the world have been training for most of their lives for their chance to earn a medal. The least that can be hoped for is clean waters to compete.

Human impacts dating back to the late 1880s were found by a team of researchers when they analyzed sediment samples from the bottom of Guanabara Bay. But when these researchers looked closely, they found a significant increase in heavy metals dating back to the 1950s – approximately when Rio’s population began increasing exponentially. From 1950 onward, Rio’s population has ballooned more than 400%.

The effects of this population growth can be seen. According to the Associated Press, nearly 70% of Rio’s sewage goes untreated. Guanabara Bay is also the center point of a complex river drainage basin. Over 50 rivers flow into the bay bringing the untreated sewage and any disposed waste dumped from the 14,000 industries, 14 oil terminals, 2 commercial ports, 32 dock yards, more than 1,000 oil stations and 2 refineries that surround the bay.

A little more than a third of the 13,000 tons of solid waste produced every day in the Rio de Janeiro area is ejected directly into Guanabara Bay where it’s expected to make its way out with the tide. (Haven’t we learned that the solution to pollution is not dilution?) More often than not however, the trash ends up on Rio’s beaches and enmeshed in the meager mangrove forests that are left along the coast.

On top of that, three major oil spills have left a dirty mark on Guanabara Bay. While entering the Sao Sebastiao terminal in Guanabara Bay in 1975, an oil tanker from Iraq ran aground and spilled 70,000 barrels of oil. At the time it was the worst oil spill to ever occur in Brazil.

Twenty years later the Brazilian refinery operator Petrobras reported that a leaking pipeline had spilled over five times that amount. This put an immense strain on fishermen and their livelihood on the bay. Three years later Petrobras again admitted fault in yet another oil spill, this time because they had failed to install modern sensors on their pipelines.

The result was utter devastation. Brazil experienced an economic downturn as Guanabara Bay’s fisheries collapsed, leaving fishermen to find other sources of income. Environmental groups were furious at the level of incompetency demonstrated by Petrobras as Greenpeace protested by leaving oil-soaked birds and by chaining themselves to the railings outside of Petrobras’s headquarters.

As of today, there are less than two years till the 2016 Olympics. Can Brazil clean up over a century of economic development in the blink of an eye?

The Olympic Games have long been derided from an environmental standpoint as an unsustainable event. Think about all the resources that go into making the Games happen. Stadiums need to be erected, ski slopes must be carved, vast quantities of bottled water need to be on hand. It’s safe to say that the relationship between sport and sustainability is not always the most harmonious.

But if Rio is serious about it’s commitment to cleaning up Guanabara Bay, then this commitment has the potential to change the relationship between sport and sailing. For the sailing to happen, change must happen alongside. Only time will tell what kind of legacy Rio 2016 will leave behind.


March 20th, 2014 by admin