Lisa Ehrhart and Pancho Cole carry a lobster trap Saturday morning during the first Northeast Harbor Fleet beach cleanup, held on Baker Island. The next cleanup is planned for Aug. 15 on Greening Island with sailing school students. PHOTO COURTESY OF MIA THOMPSON

Sailors “turn to” on trash

CRANBERRY ISLES — When the Northeast Harbor Fleet’s Green Team met by phone this past winter to plan activities for the upcoming season, they decided to combine their first beach cleanup with an existing event on the fleet’s calendar.

They chose the Connie Madeira pursuit race, July 21, which traditionally involves a group picnic on Baker Island and a race back to the fleet.

“We said, ‘Why don’t we just go out a little earlier, do a beach cleanup and then have a picnic?'” team member Mia Thompson said.

Fleet members met at the island at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, armed with large feed bags saved from Willowind Therapeutic Riding Center in Bar Harbor by David Folger.

Since they planned to race their own boats back to Northeast Harbor, they brought one inflatable dinghy to serve as launch and to ferry the trash out to Shearwater, the fleet’s committee boat. The Smith family arrived in their IOD Freight Train To Your Love to help with cleanup even though they couldn’t stick around for the picnic and race.

“Lots of trash was picked up from the area right above high tide as the plastic and styrofoam seemed to get blown up towards the trees after going ashore,” fleet director Fran Charles said. “Shearwater was filled up and it took a great effort to haul all of this stuff up to the dumpster.”

Plastic bottles were the most common item, Thompson said, along with fishing gear. Lobster traps were left in a pile on the island, along with scrap metal. Lobster buoys will be taken to the harbormaster to be returned to their owners, and some of the trash was claimed by Mary Bacon for an art project.

Next time, Thompson said, the crew will remember to wear long sleeves and long pants, as they had to fight through thistle and other scratchy plants. “I jumped in the ocean because I wanted to get all the ticks off!” she said.

Another cleanup and picnic is planned for Aug. 15 on Greening Island with the Northeast Harbor Sailing School, supported by the Ehrhart Family foundation.

The goal of the efforts are to “build awareness around environmental stewardship” among the sailors who love the water, Thompson said. Their motto is to “make it fun, make it count and make a difference.”

Green Team members include Thompson, Charles, John Roberts, Gordon Beck, Melissa Walls, Alison Schafer, Sydney Roberts Rockefeller, Barbara Myers, Bill Dowling, Jim Green, Wells Bacon and Pancho Cole.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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