Yacht Boaz is a wonderful story about a neglected boat that has plotted a course, full of meaning and service, to the very sea that carries it’s weight.
The building of this boat was started by a Somerset West lawyer and continued slowly over many years. The work completed was of good quality, made with steel, smooth joints and sturdy welds. Sadly, the progress slowed down to a halt due to the illness and death of the builder. The boat stood on a small holding in Firlands, near the N2 in Gordons Bay for quite some time, while plants grew undisturbed around it.
It was going to take a great deal of labour and expense to finish this boat however luckily, the owner, who was attracted to the steel structure, had a business close by with resources to get the job done. This man was Keith Wetmore and attracted by the old fashioned charm of the boat, he soon acquired it. It has a lot of interior space, a large saloon, an enclosed pilot house, large engines and a high freeboard (the height of a ship’s side between the waterline and the deck).
Keith’s intention for the yacht was to use it for something else other than just pleasure. When Keith prucased the hull for the boat, he was thinking about going to Madagasgar. Madagascar has beautiful tropical forests on the East Coast and a magnificent bay called Antongil Bay, also on the East Coast.
In December 2014, Keith and his wife were travelling up the East coast of Madagascar, on a local ferry to the market town of Maroantsetra, north of Antongil Bay. Maroantsetra is cut off from transportation except by sea and air travel. The trip was about 36 hours long and quite a bit of rubbish had accumulated by the passengers.
This rubbish was deposited into plastic rubbish bags as you would expect. As Keith and the other passengers approached their final destination, a young crew member gathered all the plastic bags from all the boats and then threw them into the sea! Naturally Keith was horrified and this became a fundamental and influential turning point for him.
Later, while Keith was travelling in a rubber duck along a river, he noticed an endless stream of plastic water bottles flowing down that river and into the ocean. As explained in our previous article of Eco Bricks for the Win, plastic photodegrades in the sun and releases extremely harmful and toxic chemicals into the biosphere. Plastic in the ocean is also mistakenly eaten by marine life, ultimately leading to their cruel suffering and death.
And so, a mission was born for the boat who had been standing in field waiting for a purpose. This mission is to create awareness about plastic pollution, one nautical mile at a time. The yacht was registered as a commercial vessel with South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and certified for going to foreign lands. She was named after Boaz, who was a biblical redeemer. This is significant because Yacht Boaz is to redeem back the ocean in the sense as to what is being lost and destroyed by marine pollution (including deadly plastic). The ‘O’ and ‘A’ in Boaz stands for Ocean Awareness.
Yacht Boaz also conducts scientific research into the health of the Western Indian Ocean by means of an annual voyage from South Africa to Madagascar and nearby islands.
She also wishes to build a ‘bridge across the ocean’ connecting the youth of South Africa to Madagascar, and surrounding islands.
In raising awareness about plastic, this craft is promoting responsible use of plastic to consumers and the general public alike, fostering the importance of accountability and the impact that every individual has on the health of our oceans.
Humans use over 300 million tonnes of new plastic every year, half of which we use only once. Eight million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year. Over 700 species of marine life are known to suffer directly from the devastating effects of plastic pollution. Sea birds and mammals consume plastic, and an increasing number starve when their stomachs are full of plastic waste. Studies reveal an alarming fifty two percent of sea turtles worldwide have ingested plastic debris.
We can see that our oceans are under siege by an overwhelming epidemic of plastic pollution.
Before it’s too late, Yacht Boaz hopes to decrease the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean and that is with education, research and expeditions.
It is vital that we are informed, and that we get involved and become aware of how our actions affect our environment.
“ With every breath we take, every drop of water we drink, we’re connected to the ocean. It is our life support system, giving us more than half of the oxygen we breathe, regulating climate, and providing valuable resources.” Dr Sylvia Earle (SST Patron)