Bequia Island, the Grenadines, West Indies---I was jumping around my room doing the happy dance. The email came and it said, "yes we will take you on..." I have a new boat to crew on. But the most exciting, amazing part is it is a boat for a world wide organization called OCEANSWATCH. They are a humanitarian/conservation non profit. go to http://www.oceanswatch.org/ Note: It only costs $25-$35 to join and be a member. Everyone should look into it if you love the ocean! Let me know by comments if you join, but please, see for yourself first!
I am beyond excited. There is something wonderful about knowing that I will not only be seeing the beautiful places in the Caribbean but that there will be purpose behind what I am doing now! As I prepare for my next career, that means everything to me.
The boat in a 50 foot yacht with 5 people aboard. I will have a cabin to share with another female!!! That alone is exciting after having 3-4 male roommates for 9 months.
The other thing that is a miracle about all this, is that the hours and hours that I have spent searching for a boat uncovered a LOT of single older men wanting a female crew. I had answered one yes, that I would consider him...he seemed the least harmless. His boat was getting closer and closer to Bequia. Tick, Tick. But still I was scared of all the possibilities of being stuck far from land with some crazy! Now all that is null and void. This is an organization and a crew with a cause, although they do seem fun. I had 10 boat offers and have answered them all no and cut my membership on the site.
Now, I fly to Trinidad soon and start my new Changing Courses story. Another wonderful irony (or is it a God thing?!) is that my landlords here, that I have become friends with are from where...oh let's see...TRINIDAD! So they are helping me with flight info and lodging there until the boat gets to the Marina.
I have this position until March 1. Then I will be re-considered by the captain to continue with them to Panama.
It would be hard to explain everything OceansWatch does but here is a sample of what was done recently based on the most recent Annual Report:
Sustainable Livelihoods & Education
Our Vision is that the people in coastal communities are empowered, educated and have sustainable livelihoods.
Our Mission is to work collaboratively with coastal communities that
request our support to empower them and facilitate their needs.
OceansWatch worked in consultation with the Vanuatu Fisheries Department who
lack the resources to visit their own remote coastal areas. Outcomes included:
35 Reef Check surveys completed in 19 coastal communities. Natalie Riddler
(NZ marine biologist) supervised the surveys and was supported by two other
6 OceansWatch members’ yachts hosted them.
48 people from Vanuatu were introduced to Reef Check surveying.
5 Vanuatu men were trained in SCUBA.
Chris at Vanuatu Fisheries with Katie
Thompson and some SCUBA trainees
Papua New Guinea
19 Reef Check surveys were
undertaken from Magic Roundabout,
in 5 communities.
A network of 3 Marine Protected
Areas was created on Karkar Island.
14 people were Reef Check trained
and 1 was SCUBA trained.
In Kavieng and Nonovaul OceansWatch repeated
their 2008 surveys and consolidated relationships
with local NGO’s and Fisheries agencies.
The OceansWatch team on Magic Roundabout
went with local Keithson to Moussau Island where
he was trained in SCUBA. The locals on the island
are Seventh Day Adventists who do not eat turtles
or shellfish, so both abound in large numbers. The
team was able to participate in some good
awareness-building meetings and undertook some
initial marine resource surveys.
Meeting with the community
At the request of the Tehakatu’u
tribe, Rennell Island. OceansWatch
helped the community set up a 40
hectare Marine Protected Area
(MPA) which is currently awaiting
approval from the Solomon Island’s
Fisheries Department .
3 Reef Check and numerous rapid
assessment surveys were
4 Solomon Islanders were Reef Check trained.
Marine conservation awareness talks were given to school children and adults
in all communities that OceansWatch visited.
Papua New Guinea
51 scholarships were awarded to primary school children at Mater, on Karkar
Island from funds raised by students at Kamo High School , New Zealand.
A pen-pal scheme was set up & letters have been exchanged between 5 schools.
White Oak Primary, NC, USA was partnered with a school in Garove, PNG and
letters and art work were exchanged.
More than 200 reading glasses were distributed through health centres.
An engineer from Auckland, New Zealand joined the OW team on Karkar Island
to clarify the design for a fresh water supply system for 1800 people in 3 villages.
The PNG government have agreed to finance the project.
The existing water system in Karkar
Other 2009 / 2010 Achievements
OceansWatch members David and Gail Funk delivered 50m of canvacon (sail material) to the community in Anuta so they can make sails for the canoes donated by James Wharram and Hanneke Boon on their
David and Gail from Fifth Season hosting Natalie and Lyndsey
OceansWatch members Isabelle and Schelmi Lammens delivered resources for the community of Utupia on the remote island of Asubuo in the Santa Cruz chain. These ere bought in New Zealand by Soenke and Judith Roever and transported to Vanuatu by David and Gail Funk.
The community in Utupia displaying the resources delivered to the community
An OceansWatch promotional tour of the East Coast was undertaken in Magic
Roundabout visiting ten ports.
Chris Bone was awarded a scholarship to attend a conference in Jan / Feb 2010
in the Cook Islands - Planning for Eco-system Based Management: Managing
the Environment in Small Island States.
Our new website was launched in April 2009 and is still a work in progress, as is
the automated membership system.
With the support of Sequoia Sun and Donna Lange OceansWatch set up an
organisation in North America, which is already doing great work in Haiti.
Trustee Jane Pares attended a Permaculture Design Course in New Zealand
with a view of incorporating the design principles into OceansWatch projects in