WPSU

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sailing for Peace

We'll be leaving Charleston's MegaDock--and the harbor's endlessly fascinating pluff mud--today.
(More delicious mud photos HERE!)
Locals say it's called "pluff mud" because of
the sounds your feet make as you pull them out of it!

Over the weekend we were having dinner in a little pub with a big-screen TV and a commercial comes on. Typical luxury-car ad . . .  with a twist.  The new hybrid Lexus gets 42 mpg. Which underscores a point I've been ranting about for years.  Car companies CAN make fuel-efficient vehicles, and the American marketing machine CAN make people want them.

Why struggle to convince consumers they want unattractive, low-performance mini-box cars because "it's the right thing to do"? Instead, make sustainability sexy. Desirable. Or at least practical  (see for example, the Hyundai Elantra, 40 mpg and marketed as "having lots of legroom!")

On the flip side, check out THIS story in today's NYTimes.  When people get better gas economy, they . . . simply drive MORE.  (Or use the money they save to buy OTHER products that burn fossil fuels.)

Solution? The NYTimes advocates two paths:  Develop more carbon-free sources of energy.  And, give judicious thought to taxes, penalties and incentives to change behavior. Your thoughts?

After one of my recent posts about solar boating, Carter Quillen wrote to remind me the original emissions-free mode of solar boating is . . . sailing.  Can't get much greener than that.

And if, while you're sailing, you're trying to help bring about peace in the Middle East, why, so much the better!

Sailing for Peace
Our dock neighbor  Fritha leaves the MegaDock, headed for a boatyard and a re-fit.
When we first pulled into the MegaDock in Charleston, we had to maneuver carefully to avoid a very large and very beautiful schooner, the Fritha (picture HERE).  This gorgeous "hermaphrodite brig," built in New Zealand, is the platform for the Fairhaven Project, which brings three Israeli and three Palestinian teens to the United States each summer to sail together off the coast of Massachusetts.

We got a chance to help the Fritha's captain and crew with lines and rigging in some very small ways that were nevertheless very exciting to us, given that our sum total knowledge of sailing comes obsessively reading from Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels (about the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars).

We also got a chance with to talk to Fritha's owner (and the project founder), Eric Dawicki, who told us his ancestors include New England whaling captains and Quakers--which explains his interest in sailing  for peace.

The core premise in O'Brien's books and the Fairhaven project is the same:  Take people from different backgrounds, with different world views and values, and throw them together in a small space (like a boat), where you can't simply leave when things get tough.  A place where you HAVE to work together to survive.

Come to think of it, the analogy sizes up from boat to planet.




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