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Skipper’s Corner – Love Being on the Water? Give Some Love Back!

You work hard and in your off time, you love taking your boat out into the bays to hang out and relax. Maybe your thing is fishing trips, anchoring up with friends, or just taking a quiet sail in the late afternoon. It’s all good. Would you just like to find a tidal river or cove to kayak or paddle your stand-up board or to put up a dive flag and explore the bay bottom while friends keep watch? Maybe your thing is evening cruises to a restaurant and a slow, safe return at night to your dock. These are just some of the things we enjoy as boaters.
If you own your boat, no matter what size, brand, or horsepower, consider yourself privileged and if you are amongst the lucky, you may want to consider “Giving back” to the environment. There are several ways to accomplish this. It’s not all that hard.
The first thing to consider is the environment we enjoy. When you are traveling across the bay the colors of the wetlands are astounding and change all boating season. The number of birds, fowl, fish, and shellfish is impressive even though most of our bays are currently under stress. One act of love is easy. Slowdown! When you race down a narrow channel throwing up a tidal wake, you are eroding the shores of the wetland and they collapse taking wild sea grasses, bank mussels, small crustaceans, hiding places for fish small bait fish and chunks of clay to the channel bottom. You may say “Well how does this affect me?” If you must ask that question, you shouldn’t be at the helm of an inflatable kiddie pool let alone a boat. Here are some of the results.

A – Loss of precious wetlands which filter the waters of the bay
B – Destruction of natural habitat for all fish and wildlife
C – Eventual narrowing and making areas shallower and un-navigable
D – More and more areas reduced to 5MPH-NO WAKE. You are already seeing this in some bay-controlling towns.

If I see one more boater throw empty beer cans or foil chip bags in the water, as they anchor up in the channel no less, I may go completely “Pirate” and board that vessel with a belaying pin and do some gel coat damage. Have some respect for your surroundings. If any boaters think the water they swim in is a roll-off construction dumpster for their use, well I can easily imagine how those folks empty their head-holding tank. Convenient -Yes! Stupid, uncaring and illegal -Yes! Most of you boaters know and play by the rules, but some could care less. Well it’s time to get them to love their bays and if you have a net on your boat and can pick up “Captain stupid’s” garbage as it floats within range, I know you’ll set an example of ‘’loving your bays’’.
The next thing you can do to “Love your Bay” is to join advocacy groups like Operation Splash, Save the Bay, Save the Beaches, the Littoral Society, etc. You can physically or monetarily help these great nonprofits. Volunteer groups from towns, states and advocacy, organize beach shore and river system clean-ups and natural shore replanting. Join in and help! It’s a lot of fun.
You can also help by purchasing seed oysters to hang off your dock in basket nets. As they grow, they filter/clean the water and later provide delicious seafood for your table. This has become very popular, but you must raise them where the water moves quickly and is not subject to oxygen depletion. This may not be for everyone as it requires work and a state license and fee. You can get your license, and obtain the oyster spat from your state’s environmental agency.
These are all important ways to “Love Your Bays!” There is one other way we can ensure the future of this resource, education! Groups are addressing this, some for many years and some new ones.
Long Island Traditions is one of the more established. They educate children in schools and promote adult programs that feature the history and social traditions of the bay and the sea life in its waters. Cedar Beach in the town of Babylon has its environmental pavilion open to the public as does the New West End Center at Jones Beach. Even New Jersey has Wetlands Keepers that educate the public on the site of the Freedom Tower in NYC. Let’s not forget the Peconic Bay Keepers, Atlantis Aquarium and so many others that you can bring your children to and bring up a new generation more inclined to “Love the Bays”

See you on the water,
Captain Eddy