Wounded Nature--Working Veterans' Unique Mission

Even with the more recent rise of environmentalism, marine life is perishing after eating remnants of party trash from the sea. Wounded Nature—Working Veterans is an organization dedicated to stopping this problem at its source.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
fb-3-1-southpaw-light-cap-styro-sm_1

Since the days of Jack Sparrow, sailors have been known to throw back a few cold ones while on board. With the more recent rise of environmentalism, sailors have made an increased effort to keep their empties on board and dispose of them properly, not in the ocean. Still, marine life is perishing after eating remnants of party trash from the sea. So what gives?

Logo.org-sm

“Most boaters don’t want to return to docks with empties because of DUI laws,” says Rudy Socha, CEO of Wounded Nature—Working Veterans, an organization dedicated to stopping this problem at its source.

A common misconception is that officials will associate empties with drunk driving when in reality, the main concern is the BAC level of the boat operator.

According to Wounded Nature’s website, despite relatively clean beaches and shores, at least 267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage, especially in the more isolated anchorages. Digestion backs up, gas builds up, and dehydration sets in. In this state, sea animals can no longer swim and float to the water’s surface; they’re beyond the point of being rescued.

Founded in 2010, Wounded Nature’s mission is to clean up waters and beaches along the entire East Coast in rural and hard-to-reach areas that other organizations are currently overlooking. As a non-profit, Wounded Nature relies heavily on volunteers and their boats to supply the manpower and resources for leading clean ups.

But Wounded Nature also aims to address the issue on a more policy-driven level. Socha says some boaters dump trash at sea, for fear of violating alcohol consumption laws when they return to the dock.

“The guilt doesn’t outweigh the penalties [boaters] face by bringing back empties,” Socha says. He’s talked to boaters who have admitted to sinking a few wine bottles, but also want to help solve this dilemma.

Part of the solution is reacquainting boaters with consumption laws. According to Boaters Against Drunk Driving, in about 40 states, the legal BAC limit for operating a water vehicle is the same as that for a motor vehicle: 0.08 percent. This number has little to do with the number of bottles on the boat and more to do with the person driving it. Also, open container laws are usually different at sea than on land, says Dave Neblett of Florida’s boating and drinking laws. Neblett is a maritime lawyer and a Wounded Nature board member.

In other words, if your boat’s captain drinks responsibly and you dispose of empties responsibly, there’s no problem.

Over the past few years, Wounded Nature, based in Charleston, South Carolina, has been reaching out to government agencies, publications and boaters themselves, soliciting creative ideas to discourage people from sinking empties and encourage them to bring trash back to shore.

The most promising solution received so far is for volunteers at individual marinas to record the number of bottles aboard when a boat leaves the dock and then again when it returns. Sounds tedious and a bit Big Brother-ish, but it’s all in the name of cleaning up the water, not getting people in trouble.

Now, Wounded Nature’s focus is on raising funds and collecting donations. In the future, Socha hopes to raise sufficient funds for full-time employees and boats to be out on the water on a daily basis.

Visit woundednature.org to make a donation, learn more about volunteering and suggest your own solution.

Photos courtesy of woundednature.org

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more