Friday, October 29, 2010

Connecting Cruisers to Civilization

Our friends Steve and Selena on Westward II and Gordon and Anita on Dragonfly took a chance on scantily charted, unprotected anchorage on Ginetu island. The calm weather allowed them to venture in deeply into the reef among coral heads and find a picturesque, peaceful anchorage with the cleanest, clearest water they've ever seen. The coral was vibrant and diverse. The beaches were clean, inviting, and easily landed by dingy. Unfortunately, the fish and lobster population was virtually nonexistent. After several diving trips, both Gordon and Steve gave up on the chance of ever seeing any decent sized fish or lobster. Either the island has been overfished by islanders and/or the rumored Taiwan long liners, or some other environmental disaster has destroyed the local fish and lobster population. It is exposed to the SE trade winds, and the surf might make it inhospitable, but other much more turbulent reefs have been fertile spear fishing grounds. So something else must be at play. There is no sign of settlement on the islands and in significant storms they would be uninhabitable, so long term hunting by islanders is unlikely the cause as well. This would be a great mystery for environmentalists and researchers to solve in collaboration with adventurous cruisers willing to investigate less-visited islands. I'd like to one day set up a website to broker contact between cruisers and the various governmental and private sector organizations that could benefit from access to data from remote locations. Marine mapmakers could benefit from the wealth of sounding data compiled and shared by cruisers. Climatologists environmentalists could benefit from all the weather and wildlife information that cruisers are constantly sharing with one another. Here's a partial list of some of the connections a sailing rally organizer or a cleverly designed website (,, or might facilitate.
1) Academic Institutions
a) Research into environment (trash content and current flow, biology of islands, sociology of island cultures, psychology (remote peoples are a unique group of test subjects for understanding modern technology implications, technology testing, medicine/epidemiology sampling or monitoring, satellite communication, astronomy (events only visible from remote places), climatology research, navigation/maritime/mapping research, electronic device user interface testing for "universality" global intuitive)
b) Logistics for researchers trying to maintain or communicate with partners/facilities/contacts in remote places
2) Governments
a) Regulation & treaty monitoring (nuclear weapons proliferation, hazardous waste disposal, environment, fisheries, global warming, etc)
b) Foreign policy research
c) National Defense Monitoring/Research
d) Public and international relations
e) Aid agency research and monitoring and logistics
f) Search and rescue logistics and communication and relationship maintenance
3) Individuals
a) Communication with family members (inbound or outbound)
b) Transportation of goods or money to family members (inbound or outbound)
4) Religious Organizations
a) Missionaries
b) Research
5) Corporations
a) sponsorship to piggyback on any publicity or fame in the trip
b) promotion of their brand to the remote places to get in on the ground floor in a developing economy
c) product testing in hash/remote locations (communication equipment, sailing/marine equipment, navigation equipment, cell phone coverage mapping, air cooled diesel generators, solar panels in tropics, water collection/purification systems, pesticides/seeds and agricultural technology, manual tools, cordless tool robustness testing, gasoline powered tools, outboard motors operating and being maintained in harsh environment with unskilled operators)

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