Mark MattsonMark Mattson is a man of gentle demeanor but don’t be fooled by his calm, cool collectedness. This man moves mountains, lakes and rivers to make sure Canadians will be able to swim, drink and fish anywhere in Canada from coast to coast to coast. Like many of us, Mattson’s love of the water and boating started at an early age. And during his career as a criminal lawyer, Mattson had an opportunity to work on a case with the Ministry of the Environment that whet his appetite for wanting to protect Canadian waters. This and a chance meeting with Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. during a case involving Hydro Quebec fueled his appetite, and in 1995 Mattson left Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP to form the Environment Bureau of Investigation (EBI). 

Plastic Pickup in Paradise - Haida GwaiiWe hear about the plastic problem in our oceans all the time. Scientists on the media talk to us about an island of trash the size of Texas that’s formed in the mid Pacific. They show us pictures of turtles caught in six ring beer holders, dolphins caught in nets and dead seabirds washed up with their stomachs full of broken down micro plastics.  For me, it wasn’t until the problem arrived, wind ravaged and sun worn, strewn across my doorstep that that the magnitude of what those scientists were trying to tell us was realized. The beaches on Haida Gwaii have always been a magnet for the flotsam and jetsam that circles the Pacific. The archipelago sits off shore from the mainland and reaches out into the currents and wild winds of open ocean. Some beaches collect the debris and display it for a while and then it’s simply swept back into the sea to continue its journey, but some beaches here hold on to the debris and do not let it go. 

Boating and astronomy can be a match made in the heavens. The inky black canvas above the boat is punctuated by sparkling pinpricks of brilliant light. As if on cue, a meteor blazes across the sky, its dramatic trail tracing its path.
It’s a mid-August night at Beausoleil Island in southern Georgian Bay. The moon has already plummeted below the tree line on a cloudless night, setting the stage for the Perseid meteor show, an annual display easily observed from the deck of a boat at anchor.

The 30,000 Islands of Georgian Bay is a boater’s dream destination with crystal clear waters, endless anchorages, amazing angling opportunities, outstanding scenery and diverse wildlife and vegetation. It is also a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world biosphere reserve, a designation awarded in 2004 after seven years of intensive work by a collective of cottagers, boaters, residents, First Nations representatives and organizations with support from government agencies.

Many Canadian Yachting readers have likely experienced the beauty of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands. Nestled between Vancouver Island and the mainland, this archipelago of more than 450 islands and islets offers calm seas, a gentle climate and stunning landscapes. What many visitors may not notice are the immense pressures on this much-loved area and the work of numerous conservation groups to save these fragile ecological jewels for all British Columbians and visitors.

Many newspaper headlines appeared in the spring of 2012 with these two names highlighted. The Rideau, a recently designated World Heritage Site, and the Trent Severn, with a combined age of 325 years, were designated as transportation routes until 1972 when the Federal Cabinet moved canal operations from the Department of Transport to Parks Canada. In March of 2012, during Federal budget deliberations, Parks Canada (PC) was given a budget reduction target of $29.2M over 3 years.

altRSA Insurance and the World Wildlife Fund report on emerging risks as a result of environmental change. The disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico has made abundantly clear the increasing environmental risks to our shoreline. While, as recreational boaters we are directly effected by these risks, the issues are wide ranging, extremely complicated and of importance to everyone no matter where they live, since we will all be affected. Offshore drilling is just one challenge that will have to be faced along with increased shipping and aquaculture, and of course rising sea levels.

On June 8, World Oceans Day, RSA Insurance in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a global report on the marine risks that are emerging as a result of environmental change.

altBy definition, an alien species is a plant or animal occurring in an area outside of its known natural habitat as a result of accidental or intentional introduction by human activities. An alien species is considered invasive if its introduction and spread causes harm to the environment, society or economy.

Throughout history human activities including settlement and trade have caused the introduction of aquatic invasive species (AIS) quite often to the detriment of native ecosystems. Over 200 non-native species of plant and aquatic life have become established in the Great Lakes; this number grows annually.

alt“If you work hard at keeping your marina clean, green and safe, your boaters will too. There is absolutely nothing to match the effect of leading by example” according to Hub Steenbakkers, the proprietor of Collins Bay Marina in Kingston, Ontario. “It is more than setting or enforcing rules, it is all about educating boaters in the critical role they play in maintaining the environment and setting expectations that become the social norm for behaviour.”

At Collins Bay Marina, caring for the environment is an essential part of their business.

altIn many sectors there’s a developing interest in all things environmental and the boating community is no exception. Boaters are taking more of an interest to what is happening in their cruising areas – and in “Beautiful British Columbia” there is much current interest.

High on the list is the new pollution prevention regulation under the Canada Shipping Act. The regulation caused a serious uproar before it was made into law, as it seemed to be drafted with big ships in mind rather than small vessels – and because the bureaucrats in Ottawa appeared to have ignored some major recommendations of the west coast work group.

Almost Canadian, Almost Caribbean

Grand Turk IslandBy Mark Stevens • Photos by Sharon Matthews-Stevens

Late afternoon, Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos.

I’m chilling on the balcony of our beachside suite at the Bohio Dive Resort, gazing at sun-burnished whispering surf nuzzling the sand ten metres away.

A single couple populates the beach, shaded by a Norfolk pine. She leans over to say something to her partner every once in a while. Moments later he answers her.

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Cedar Island Yacht ClubBy Katherine Stone
The very first yacht club ever featured in this column was the Buffalo Yacht Club, back in 2012. I chose to start with this particular club as it was the only one that had clubhouses in two countries: the United States and Canada.Canada is deeply tied to the United States as their number one trading partner, enjoys many cultural similarities, and a shared language; so this seemed like a fun way to start what has now become an ensconced column in every issue. However, the Buffalo Yacht Club is not the southernmost yacht club in Canada, as that distinction lies with the Cedar Island Yacht Club...

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Fast, spacious and stable – the Leopard 45 is the stuff dreams are made of!

During those cold, cold, sunless, dreary months of January and February, I want to remember the fun I had in the sun on the water. Did someone say charter? In warm weather?In warm waters?

If you plan on chartering when the weather in Canada is less than ideal (mmmmm…that’s two months of bad sledding), then I suggest you charter, purchase to charter, or just buy to own and enjoy for yourself the newly redesigned Leopard 45 sailing catamaran.

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