Written by Olaf Hills who is part of the Healthy Seas Surface Squad. This volunteer group was formed in 2021 following training sessions with DWS staff who wanted to become ambassadors and take action with us to protect the seas and oceans!
Together with a friend, both competent sailors, we decided to raise awareness about Healthy Seas among skippers and the crews of pleasure crafts in the Baltic Sea in August 2021. Ecological considerations aside, we already know that fishing gear, whether active or lost, poses a considerable threat to pleasure crafts by becoming stuck in the propellers.
With a classic sailboat built in 1971 and some rare days of good weather, our small team managed to draw the attention of sailors in the harbors of Bagenkop on Langeland and Orth on Fehmarn.
People would address us intrigued by the Healthy Sea flag and the classical sail boat; its wooden deck was an eye-catcher anyhow. Most of the sailors engaged in discussions, and many knew already about ghost nets and were interested to learn more. Overall, feedback was very positive, and once the topic was raised on the quay and details presented in the cozy interior of the old boat, discussions continued afterwards on board of the neighboring boats around.
In September, there was another occasion to raise awareness with sailors, in the Croatian harbors this time, while anchoring in one of the bays alongside the coastline.
We carried out our own little clean-up just the four of us in a small bay on the island of Hvar. One evening we talked to crews of at least fifteen boats, so around sixty people, from different places. The advantage: boats are parked “stern” towards the quay in the Mediterranean Sea, so it is much easier to get in touch with people than in Northern Europe, where typically the bow points towards the quay, and you cannot talk to the crew members sitting in the cockpit easily.
I will definitely repeat this next year when sailing again and in the meantime, I will be including Healthy Seas in my regular courses for the official German boating permit when discussing the topic of environmental protection.