Watershed: it is where you live

A post from our CEO, Dan Pingaro

Whether you know it or not, we all live within a watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains to a common waterway. Waterways scale up from local creeks, to rivers, to lakes, estuaries, wetlands and even out to the ocean.  So you might live near small a creek which would be sub-watershed of the larger system into which your local creek drains, such as a river, lake or estuary.

Recently, I traveled through a number of eastern states. It is always amazing to me that six states have portions of land base that drain into the Chesapeake Bay, forming the Chesapeake Bay watershed. That means the Chesapeake Bay watershed encompasses many different governmental, nonprofit, corporate and even federal entities.  This makes it complicated for resource managers to effectively provide support and protection to the critical Chesapeake Bay watershed and bay that encompasses approximately 64,000 square miles.
Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Big or small watersheds are impacted by pollution, resource extraction among other issues while simultaneously providing refugee for wildlife, drinking water for people and  place to live for everyone. The Chesapeake Bay watershed and bay waters are vital locally, regionally and nationally.  The watershed provides drinking water to people in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. The bay waters also provide economic stimulus through the tourism industry, recreational boating and fishing, as well as commercial fishing.

Watersheds are everywhere. Whether it is as large as the Chesapeake Bay’s or not, watersheds are crucial to our daily lives and to the environment, plants and animals that also call the watershed home.  Given all of the numerous entities within a watershed and the scope of the environmental system that is supported, perhaps we should consider that our state and local boundaries be redefined by watershed boundaries rather than by lines drawn on a map for political purposes?

To learn more about how you may protect you local watershed please click on any of the following links: USEPA Ten Things you can do to help your watershed and a few more tips from the Office of Water homepage  and the Watershed Homepage.


San Diego Yacht Club – Malin Burnham Sailing Center

While in San Diego Sailors for the Sea was lucky enough to tour the Malin Burnham Sailing Center at San Diego Yacht Club. The architect, Matt Wells from Hanna Garbriel Wells, took us on a tour around the building and pointed out many of the eco-friendly measures taken that enabled the building to be certified as a LEED Gold building by the U.S. Green Building Council. Check out the slideshow of pictures for details on types of material used to mitigate the buildings impact on the environment.

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From the San Diego Union Times: “Green and sustainable elements included solar water heating panels, permeable pavers for storm-water runoff, natural ventilation, low-flow plumbing fixtures and energy-efficient heating, air conditioning and lighting systems.”

The sailing center was built in 2010 and hosted the 2011Etchell’s Worlds that was certified as a Clean Regatta at the Gold Level. We believe it is the only LEED certified building that functions as a sailing center. (Please share if you have heard of another!)

Although this project required great resources, the inspiration can be taken to any club; perhaps rain barrels could catch rainwater from your gutters to water the grounds. Please share any ideas this may inspire for your home, marina or sailing center!

America’s Cup: How wing sails are made

The AC45 features a hard sail, generally referred to as a wing, a technology now in it’s second generation of America’s Cup racing. Wings look more like an airplane wing rather than the soft white sails that most people associate with a sailboat.

The wing on an AC45 is 20M (65ft) tall. The forward section (usually referred to as an element) is load bearing and the rear section controls depth and power.

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The front structure of the wing, which looks most similar to a traditional mast is made of carbon fiber. The cardboard looking structures within the sail are honeycomb, which is made of carbon on the top and bottom with kevlar honeycomb in the middle. This structure offers the best weight to strength ratio. The film that covers  the structural elements and ribs is called klysar. Klysar is common in the food service industry, and most of us see it when it is wrapped around chicken at the grocery store. It is used to cover meat in it’s packaging at the grocery store. It is taped on to the wings and then with a heat gun, you can heat up the film and it shrinks to fit over the wing.

To make the wings sewing machines are thrown out of the work shop and replaced carbon composites, glue, chicken wrap and a blow drier! At the America’s Cup World Series they still have sewing machines for the more traditional looking jibs and gennakers at the front end of the boat.

Impressively the America’s Cup Event Authority has two spare wings at each event, and even with the large amount of damage (see the picture of Team China above) they have yet to use them. Repair crews are able to work over night and repair damage in less that 24 hours to get teams back out racing!

If you have any insight on how they wings are made, or have more questions please share in the comments.

Rainy Day Kits at the America’s Cup

This week in the Healthy Ocean’s Project Hall at the America’s Cup World Series in San

Diego local kids visited after school to learn about non point source pollution from our Rainy Day Kits program and the science of sailing from the Exploratorium.

Sailors for the Sea staff members used the Rainy Day Kit lesson plan “Dirty Water Challenge” (contributed by New England Aquarium) to explain runoff, contaminants entering water sources and the water cycle.

Using easy to find materials such as coffee filters, cups, sand and rocks the students created their own water filters. Dirty water made of dirt, sticks and coffee was then poured into the filters. While pouring the dirty water into the filters staff explained the similarity to rain water that collects pollutants on it’s path to the ocean. Natural filters (sand) and man made filters (coffee filters and cups) help prevent some of these pollutants from reaching the water.

To add a twist on how we traditionally teach the lesson plan, we added coffee to the muddy water. The coffee dissolved into the water and the filters were unable to remove the brown tint to the water. This represented pollutants such as pesticides that dissolve into the water and are therefore harder to remove.

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Sailors for the Sea Rainy Day Kits for environmental education launched at the beginning of 2011. To date the kits have been downloaded 180 times, reaching 10,000 students nationwide. To learn more about Rainy Day Kits and download the free lesson plans, please click here.

Winterizing Your Boat

A boater’s least favorite time of year is approaching, the weekend when you give up your aquatic existence and haul your boat out of the water, resigning to several land-locked months ahead and get ready to deal with the impacts of frozen water!

Here are some tips on what you can do to minimize your impact on the environment while hauling you boat out of the water:

  • Avoid introducing invasive and alien species into new boating areas
  • Use non-toxic antifreeze
  • Dispose of oil correctly
  • Recycle used and fragmented shrink-wrap
  • Support the Clean Marinas initiative by switching to a marina that follows these standards, or changing your marina to follow these standards..
  • Use non-toxic and homemade all natural clean products.
  • Use Ecological marine products: for example Trac Boat soap does not contain any petroleum products, phosphates, chlorinated solvents, dyes, fragrances or toxic butyl cello solve.
  • Select an eco-friendly bottom paint without copper such as –Petit Paint Ultima Eco and Epaint Ecominder – (Members of Sailors for the Sea receive a 30% discount on Epaint products)

Read our latest Ocean Watch Essay Winterizing Your Boat to learn how to winterize you boat in an environmentally friendly manner!

Welcome to the Sailors for the Sea blog!

If you are new to our organization or a long time follower, thank you for checking out our new blog. Sailors for the Sea educates and engages the boating community in the worldwide protection of the oceans.

We have created this blog to share news that will allow us to share news focused on sailing and ocean conservation. We look forward to engaging with the boating community through this blog and would like to encourage comments and appreciate your feedback. If you have an idea for a post, or would like to submit an article for posting please contact us via email: info@sailorsforthesea.org.