Sailing Towards Sustainability: Year Two on the Green Coconut Run

Community sailing voyage from Santa Barbara reaches Costa Rica and heads to world famous biodiversity hotspots; expands “cruising with a cause” platform. LoaTree is a sponsor of this exciting expedition. 

Using a unique crowd-funding approach, a loose group of friends and ecologists is fulfilling a common dream: to sail to the South Seas while having a positive impact. The crew aboard the Aldebaran, a 42ft trimaran with home port in Santa Barbara, CA, is starting their second season on March 25. This year, besides having a great adventure sailing, surfing, and diving, the crew will increase it’s focus on promoting conservation in three key ways:

  • Continuing their successful first season campaign to gather micro-plastic samples for scientific research.   
  • Highlighting biodiversity hot spots on their route, such as the Osa Peninsula, Isla Coiba, Isla Cocos, and the Galapagos.  
  • Starting a pilot program to donate solar lights to communities in need, in collaboration with local nonprofit organizations.
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Click photo to watch a video about the Green Coconut Run and Aldebaran’s crew!

Run #1: Successful Sustainability on the Seas

The three year voyage, which sees a rotating cast of crew members fly in to join for a week or two at a time, has its roots in the Channel Islands of California. The crew was inspired by the islands’ restoration success, and the lessons from their fragile ecosystems.

“The friendships we’ve cultivated onboard, being in wilderness while being in comfort, and being in touch with the Earth’s daily cycles has left a deep imprint on me.”

The sailing trips to the Channel Islands also helped bring back spark and energy to the
daily work toil back on shore. This doubly OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmotivated the crew to pool their resources as a sailing cooperative, restoring a nearly 50 year old trimaran to sail around the Pacific cean. It is a
voyage they call the Green Coconut Run — an ecological spin on the traditional Coconut Run through the trade wind islands of the South Pacific. 

During 2015’s Season 1, sailing from California to Costa Rica over 8 months, the crew visited unique marine protected areas –including the Kickstart-driven Arroyo Seco marine reserve in Central Mexico, Isla Natividad’s robust fishing cooperative in Baja, and turtle reserves in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

They also gathered micro-plastic samples as ambassadors for Adventurers and Scientist for Conservation (ASC), analyzing the impact of microscopic plastic particles in the marine food chain; while capturing footage of remote surfing, fish-to-table cooking, and hard to reach dive spots.

 

Run #2: Something New on the Great Blue

Now in Season 2, beginning March 25, the Aldebaran crew sails to renown biological hot beds: the inaccessible parts of the exotic Osa Peninsula, the prison-island-turned-national-park of Isla Coiba, the Jurassic Park-like Isla Cocos, and the Galapagos Archipelago, a.k.a. Darwin’s Enchanted Isles.

 

MAP Season 2 itinerary version 2 expandedMore than 20 crew members, most with no sailing experience, will join the boat for different legs of the voyage, with a wide range of professions represented including cartoonist, radio show host, non-profit leaders, teachers, and engineers. However they share one thing in common: a love for what’s been dubbed “sophisticated adventuring” and working together as a team aboard the vessel.     

“It’s unlike anything else I’ve experienced,” describes first mate Sabrina Littée, a dive master and registered nurse. “The friendships we’ve cultivated onboard, being in wilderness while being in comfort, and being in touch with the Earth’s daily cycles has left a deep imprint on me.”

Klaus Kernbach, a foot surgeon from the Bay Area and avid surfer & free diver, commented: “I thought weekend trips to the Channel Islands were special. But ten days aboard the boat, exploring places we’d never be able to reach otherwise, in a cycle of surf-eat-sleep-dive-cruise, redefined the idea of freedom for me.”

Cruising with a Cause

This season, the crew is piloting a new project: bringing solar lights to fishing villages without electricity, in partnership with Unite to Light, a non profit which originally emerged from UCSB’s Energy Efficiency Lab. The crew was given a solar light to test during their first season and discovered it was a hit. “Every mechanic that came aboard our boat loved that little green light,” noted Kristian Beadle, captain of Aldebaran.

The crew realized that off-grid communities and places hit by storms may have a real need the dream- someone gotta do itfor a self-contained, tough solar light like this. They will pilot the distribution of lights in season 2 as part of their ‘cruising with a cause’ platform, which they envision future sailboat cruisers being a part of. 

Captain Beadle, who has a Masters 50 ton Coast Guard license and Masters from UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, envisioned the Green Coconut Run as a route that motivates other sailors to do good while having fun. “Cruising sailboats go to hard-to-reach coastal areas and vulnerable islands. They can assist remote communities and much-needed conservation efforts; our challenge is finding ways that are simple and meaningful for others to participate in.”

To this end, the Aldebaran’s crew will be researching local nonprofits along their route to connect with, interview and support through their storytelling platforms like Facebook and their YouTube channel. They will increase their efforts working with ASC to collect and document the extent of plastic pollution along the Green Coconut Run, working to establish a longer term, sophisticated plastic sampling regimen.

By sharing insights about protected areas, being a part of micro-plastics citizen science, and being a part of humanitarian projects with solar lights, the Green Coconut Run crew is finding ways this season that sailors can give back, all while having a fun, through community-based adventures.  

Cool Resources

Tune into www.GreenCoconutRun.com for more information about their journey, watch their videos, or become a Patron to support the voyage.

Check out their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/greencoconutrun, Instagram @greencoconutrun, and Twitter @greencoconutrun.

Follow the Aldebaran on its journey by clicking on the photo below to view their interactive sailing map.

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