In July 2014, the Riding Currents team (founded by Billy Dutton and Mark Ward) navigated a 22 foot duffy boat – a boat primarily used for calm harbors and lakes – from Santa Barbara to Ensenada, Mexico. Why risk their lives navigating a duffy boat 350 miles in open water? Dutton states, to bring awareness of a marine ecosystem in trouble, and reduce pollution of our most important natural resource – the ocean.
The founders of Riding Currents have enjoyed the ocean their entire lives and have personally seen the increasingly deleterious effects of trash and pollution.
According to Dutton, “More than 100,000 plastic bottles enter the world’s oceans per hour along with an additional 34 tons of plastic waste.” Mark and Billy came face-to-face with this reality during a recent paddle board excursion in which they picked more trash out of the ocean than their board shorts could hold. After that trip, they decided to organize an expedition down the Southern California coastline in order to inspire public engagement in the fight against plastics and to report on the quality of the water to local beach communities.
Mark and Billy named their project Riding Currents and started planning. They decided to use a modified solar/ electric zero-emissions duffy boat for their trip, making it ground-breaking and potentially risky. The team stopped at 14 harbors from Santa Barbara to Ensenada, hosting public events and collecting trash and data as they cruised down.
The Riding Currents data surprisingly found the harbors to have an alarming amount of trash when compared to the beaches, likely due to ocean tides and the success of organizations such as Surfrider Foundation, Zero Trash, and Heal the Bay that focus on beaches and bays.
In response to these findings, Mark and Billy launched Help Your Harbor. Help Your Harbor’s goal is to clean the harbor, report data to prevention institutions and agencies, build awareness of the issue, and create a community around a common goal. Our local chapter is Help Your Harbor Newport Beach, which – according to Mark – gets more than 17,000lbs of trash and 6,000lbs of recyclables deposited into it annually. So bring your SUP, kayak, and pool skimmer the first Saturday of every month to help Help Our Harbor with their mission.
Help Your Harbor is a community of families, clubs, businesses and individuals working together for the purpose of improving the health of California’s bays, harbors and marinas through volunteer trash and data collection from zero emission water crafts.
Help Your Harbor is advancing estuary conservation for the preservation of marine echo systems and the enjoyment of the community.