Who hasn’t dreamed of visiting tropical islands on a sailboat? A group of intrepid adventure-preneurs is realizing that dream and taking it a step further: creating a route that other sailors can follow to make a positive impact on remote island communities.
Their sailboat is Aldebaran, a 42ft trimaran built in 1968 and captained by Kristian Beadle, an eco-entrepreneurship graduate from UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.
After spending two years exploring the coastlines of California’s Channel Islands and it’s central coast, Captain Beadle and his crew of marine ecologists, photographers, and nonprofit leaders hatched a vision to bring awareness to the most intriguing and inaccessible of islands.
“I began by inviting friends on trips to the Channel Islands. It was an experiment to help with boat maintenance where everyone would work on the boat and contribute to the costs,” said Beadle. “As time went by, folks started talking about the South Pacific… and things got serious.”
On a trip to the north side of Santa Cruz island last summer, Aldebaran‘s motley crew decided to form a cooperative based on the philosophy of a shared resource economy. If they joined their resources, they wondered, could they create a voyage that becomes a force for good in remote, isolated islands?
The Green Coconut Run was born. A spin off of the famous “Coconut Milk Run” — used to describe the downwind voyage along the South Seas taken by hundreds of ‘cruising sailboats’ every year — the Green Coconut Run’s mission is to create a sailing route and support network along key protected/sensitive areas from California to New Zealand.
“It’s like a Pacific Crest Trail for sailing,” explains Ryan Smith, previously a project manager at a conservation investment group and now the Aldebaran Sailing Co-op’s development director. “It’s a route connecting vast regions which helps us appreciate the majesty of Nature.”
“Cruising sailboats refers to boats that sail long distances and explore distant ports,” Ryan continues. “They are in a unique position to provide assistance to remote islands. Sailors talk of ‘cruising with a cause,’ but there’s no coordinated effort to do so – we want to help change that.”
The Green Coconut Run’s novel route will link protected areas across the Pacific Ocean. Nonprofits and businesses that steward these islands and protected areas will be featured during the Aldebaran’s maiden voyage, as the crew gives voice to the stories of unique organizations and the places they’re working to protect.
“Islands are amazing — yet they are so vulnerable ecologically,” says Sabrina Littée, a registered nurse, dive master, and Ship’s Mate. “We’ve been inspired by California’s Channel Islands and their restoration efforts… now we’re hoping to inspire the protection of islands far away which may lack their own resources for conservation.”
Future cruising sailboats will be able to follow the Green Coconut Run and offer continued assistance by bringing supplies and other resources. The general public can also get involved by donating to the nonprofits located along the route, and when possible, visit these ecologically sensitive areas using responsible travel operators.
Aldebaran Sailing Cooperative members who’ve contributed to their vessel’s upkeep will join for different legs of the journey. Legs will run between one week and three months, as the crew surfs, dives, and explores hard-to-reach places. During their first season, they are working hard to ready the boat for departure in March of 2015, then head through Mexico and down to Panama. The second season will see them in the Galapagos, Tahiti and the Marquesas.
“We are collaboratively funding and co-creating this journey,” says Ben Best, a Co-op member and PhD candidate in marine ecology. “Will things go according to plan? Who knows. Will it be an adventure? Definitely.”
LoaTree is a proud sponsor of the Aldebaran and the Green Coconut Run’s journey. For the next few months, we’ll be blogging about their adventures down the Californian, Mexican and South American coasts. We’ll even hop on the Aldebaran throughout parts of the trip to experience the action first hand! Make sure to follow our Facebook Page, Twitter feed, and Instagram accounts with hashtag #LoaGlobal and #LoaLiving for updates and stories!
Want to contribute to the Green Coconut Run, jump on the boat, or sponsor their efforts? Visit www.GreenCoconutRun.com or hashtag #GreenCoconutRun. Ahoy!!
All content and photos courtesy of Aldebaran Green Coconut Run.