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On The Bay: August 8, 2013

Manhasset Bay Yacht Club hosts Charity Regatta

Leave it to the junior sailors of Manhasset Bay to make a statement about our environment.  The junior sailors from surrounding clubs came together for a day of racing at Manhasset Bay Yacht Club to raise funds and increase awareness of the environmental conditions of our bay and Long Island Sound.  Cameron Okie, Summer Outreach Coordinator, Save the Sound, spent some time at both yacht clubs’ junior sailing programs teaching the young sailors about the environment.  Then, as a conclusion to his series of visits, the sailors from the junior yacht clubs gathered at Manhasset Bay for the finale. 

As can be the case in late July, early August, the wind gods decided to depart to ports unknown, but that didn’t faze these kids at all.  By the time they arrived on shore, their smiles and energy could light up the entire Port Washington peninsula.  Of course, it helped that boxes and boxes of pizza awaited them, plus the excitement of raffles--would they be the recipient of the goodies gathered together for the auction?  And when the winners were announced, no sad faces for those who didn’t get anything--just happiness that their friends won.  Isn’t it great to work and be around this age group?

One of the reasons that Mr. Okie and Save the Sound decided educational trips to junior yacht clubs on both sides of the bay made sense is the problem of hypoxic dead zones in western Long Island Sound(LIS)  High nutrient concentrations cause oxygen levels to drop to almost zero in waters off Westchester and Nassau counties, meaning that fish, crabs, and lobsters are in danger.  So the people at Save the Sound created an exciting environmental education program for junior sailors at beach and yacht clubs.  At no cost to the clubs, a representative from Save the Sound would teach kids ages eight and above all about the sound’s environment, organize coastal cleanups and partner at regattas and event.  Enter Cameron Okie.

Cameron had this to say during the regatta, as the kids munched on pizza, “Save the Sound was a ‘sponsored charity’ at the Sailors for the Sound Green Fleet Opti Charity Regatta at MBYC on July 31.  I visited MBYC and PWYC three times this summer to educate junior sailors about the LIS estuary.  Together they tested water quality off the dock, discussed the Sound’s top issue of summertime low oxygen in Western LI Sound, and everyone had a chance to check out the animals that I brought including a chance to pet an American eel.”

Many thanks to the Nick Heid, Commodore, MBJYC, Kayleigh Caggiano, Vice Commodore, MBJYC and Caroline Rose Kenlon, Secretary/Treasurer, MBJYC. Also thanks to John Wachowicz, Head Sailing Instructor and to the Co-chair of Junior Sailing at MBYC, Kathy and Blaise Heid and Lynne Stebbins.  Thanks are also extended to the folks over at Port Yacht Club, both adults and juniors, who support junior sailing.

For all you sailors out there--both power and sail, please spend a moment to go to Save the Sound’s website to find out how you can help improve the water quality in our area.