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HomeClean Wake Projects

What are Clean Wake Projects?

To leave a clean wake is to show respect for others and for the environment so that those who follow in our wake will be warmly welcomed. It is SSCA's most cherished tradition. Following is a list of humanitarian and environmental projects that you may be interested in supporting. If you know of a deserving group that you think should be added or have a pet project of your own, review the Clean Wake Project Proposal Guidelines. Then send your suggestion to

Humanitarian Opportunities

Yacht Relief Alliance

Register your boat to deliver supplies, volunteers or identify available cargo to the storm-ravaged Caribbean.

In 2015 Dominica suffered badly from Tropical Storm Erika. In 2016 Haiti was severely devastated by Hurricane Matthew, and in 2017 Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria did major damage to the USA and a number of Caribbean islands. Many islands, including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Barbuda and Dominica have suffered from lack of power, healthcare, shelter and even food or clean water; in some cases that will continue through 2018.

International Rescue Group (IRG) is working in partnership with the SSCA to provide an information system to register available yachts anywhere in the world that can carry much-needed cargo to storm-hit destinations and source supplies. IRG is funding this Project and providing the data.

The Yacht Relief Alliance (YRA) is a coalition of disaster relief and humanitarian aid related organizations, agencies, NGOs, charities and individuals who provide services involving cruisers and boats. Members of the Yacht Relief Alliance work together to coordinate aid efforts worldwide and share resources. The SSCA is proud to host this Clean Wake Project as a founding member of the YRA.

Getting Donated Supplies to Shore

Sea Mercy

If the South Pacific is on your cruising horizon, here's Sea Mercy, a humanitarian Clean Wake organization with several project categories that welcome volunteers with the kinds of skills and willingness to help that are second nature to SSCA members. You can enlist via online registration before you cast off.

An example of SSCA's global reach was the response of SSCA members in the South Pacific and coordination cooperation stateside to help in the disaster response efforts of Sea Mercy on Vanuatu in the aftermath of the level 5 Cyclone Pam in March 2015. That Sea Mercy was able to step in quickly to assess the destruction and marshal necessary resources whether human, vessel or material, was an astonishing achievement and a solid introduction for SSCA. The organization learned the ropes in 2014 with Cyclone Ian in Tonga.

A relatively young but growing organization, Sea Mercy's vision is "to be the most effective preventive, curative, promotional, and rehabilitative floating health care provider to (11) remote island nations" in the South Pacific and deliver health care, education, and economic development assistance. In three years Sea Mercy has targeted 3 of those island nations: Kingdom of Tonga, Republic of Fiji, and Vanuatu.

Sea Mercy engages the attention of volunteers with the tag line "Sailing with a greater purpose. One vessel can make a difference... Our fleet can change the world". There is an extensive menu of ways in which cruisers in the South Pacific, based on their resumes, skills, talents, and interests, can participate in different programs whether long term, periodically, or in a quick response mode.

Enlist as a volunteer online by visiting

Daily Catch

Hands Across the Sea

Hands Across the Sea is dedicated to raising the literacy levels of eastern Caribbean children.  See

It is a successor to a previous SSCA Clean Wake project, “Boaters for Books”. Hands’ three-step approach is to (1) Send great books, (2) Create/rejuvenate lending libraries, and (3) respond to requests for books and teachings resources for pre-school to high school, from school principals, teachers, literacy coordinators, local NGOs, and Peace Corps volunteers affiliated with Caribbean schools.
During the 2014-2015 school year, Hands sent 39,500 books, 90 sets of encyclopedias, 60 boxes of teaching resources, and a dozen metal bookshelves to 107 destinations, reaching 24,300 children. Hands is currently working in the six island nations of Antigua, St Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, and Grenada.
There are many ways to help Hands, but if cruisers are in the eastern Caribbean during the winter months, there are hands-on needs such as painting, building bookshelves, culling a library collection; and working directly with children (reading aloud) or educators.
Hands Across the Sea, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization registered in Massachusetts. SSCA Commodore Willie Haskins will serve as liason.

Hands Across the Sea

Our Lady of Guadalupe - Clinicians Needed in Ecuador

Internists, pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, gynecologists, otolaryngologists, general surgeons, ophthalmologists, and anesthesiologists are being recruited to volunteer at a rural health clinic in the tropical highlands of Ecuador along the Peruvian border. This clinic serves a poor indigenous population with few other options for care. This modern facility is located on the grounds of a Catholic mission in the pueblo of Guadalupe. There are three examining rooms, an operating theater, two dental suites, optometric services, a pharmacy, and a laboratory. They have also organized mobile health fairs to other remote under-served regions. A hospital can be reached in two hours. 

Volunteers have come from the United States, Great Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, Austria, Australia, Germany, Ecuador, and Ireland. Surgeons have generally been accompanied by an anesthesiologist and nurse. Volunteers of all faiths are welcome. Knowledge of Spanish is helpful; however a bilingual nurse is on premises. Health care workers may come for a minimum of two weeks or for several months. Transportation is not covered but lodging and meals are supplied, with a separate residence overlooking the river valley and Andes. For information on how you can help, contact Padre José Gonzaat

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mexican Medical Missionaries

Bringing healing and hope to the people of Mexico. Learn more at

Mexican Medical Missionaries

Mount Airy Young Readers Program, Grenada, West Indies

One of the greatest joys of cruising is getting to know the local islanders. In Grenada the cruising community has found a way to give back to the wonderful Grenadian people. There is a small hillside village where children can come for help with reading, writing and math skills. The Mount Airy Young Readers Program was established in April 2006 by Mr & Mrs Everest Pascal and continues to attract local school children and cruisers willing to volunteer time to help them.  This program is intended to assist young Grenadian students who need extra attention to improve their literacy, social and life skills. 

Each Saturday morning, typically 25 or more children gather at the home of Jeanne & Everest Pascal for three hours. While Mrs. Pascal leads the program and is assisted by other local volunteers, the program is also reliant on volunteers from the Grenada cruising community. 

Participation by the students is totally voluntary. They really want to learn.  Local and cruiser volunteers normally sit with 1 - 3 children who are at the same reading level (although their ages may vary greatly).  Under the volunteer's tutelage, the children take turns reading from a book (hence the need for multiple books of the same title). Then the children are given words to spell and math problems to solve and are provided with a snack and drink of juice after every session. Because this is an all-volunteer program and it has no source of income, donations are always needed.  

While the program started in April 2006, the cruising community became actively involved in August 2008. Hundreds of cruisers wait out the hurricane season in Grenada and become part of the Grenada community.  By virtue of the cruisers being part of the program, more one-on-one tutoring is given to the children. Cruisers from all over the world expose the children to the world outside Grenada.

Literacy is so important to everyday living. Give back to the beautiful country of Grenada and their children by donating to the Mt. Airy Young Readers Program. Donations help with purchasing supplies and operating costs. To volunteer when in Grenada, ask about the program on the daily Grenada Cruisers' Net.

Associates Gary and Margi Lehnertz, Inspiration

Mount Airy Young Readers Program

PATA - an Animal Welfare Organization

Located in Manzanillo, Mexico, PATA emphasizes free spay/neuter clinics for dogs and cats (still an unusual concept in Mexico). PATA became a non-profit organization with the help of former cruisers Stan and MJ, previously of s/v SolMate, who are now permanent residents in Santiago. Stan and MJ are also responsible for developing and maintaining the PATA website. Cruisers anchored in the Manzanillo area are encouraged to volunteer for any clinics that are held during the winter cruising season. Go to


Sail Fest 

The annual Zihua Sail Fest fund-raising party for the education of disadvantaged children in Zihuatanejo, Mexico is held each February in the beautiful Zihuatanejo Bay located at Lat: 17.6° N, 101.5° W. In the true spirit of a rendezvous, vessels begin arriving in November from as far away as Alaska and the Caribbean and drop anchor until February to participate in what is becoming one of Mexico's premier sailing events, the Zihua Sail Fest. SailFest is a five-day festival that combines fun and games, heart-felt volunteerism and an outpouring of international friendship. Although the tone of the event is light-hearted, the cruisers’ goals are serious – to raise funds for the education of Zihuatanejo’s poorest children. Learn more at

Second Life Sails

The Second Life Sails project planned to assist Haitian fishermen who rely on sail-powered boats is now an SSCA endorsed Clean Wake project.

“Frequently people find themselves with used sails and surplus sailcloth as well as fishing gear that have useful life in them, but no way to get them to folks who would put that second life to good use,” said Frank Virgintino , author of A Cruising Guide to Haiti and frequent visitor to the enchanting Ile a Vache.  “A contribution of materials and gear that supports the principal livelihood of the island is a priceless 'thank you' to a community that has been very welcoming to cruising boats for generations.”

Ile a Vache fishermen build their own boats and are already talented at sailmaking and recycling, using materials from bed sheets to tarpaulins for their sails. Sailcloth would provide a more durable and reliable resource.

Cruisers’ used sails and fishing gear can have a second life. It starts when the donations are delivered or sent to either Marina ZarPar in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic ( or to Minneford Marina on City Island, New York ( 

The first delivery of used sails took place in February, 2013, to Ile a Vache where they were distributed by a free raffle. Second Life Sails is jointly sponsored by Free Cruising Guides and Marina ZarPar, which will handle the logistics and underwrite the cost of transporting donated sails and gear to Ile a Vache, Haiti.

If you have a used sail - or a stash of sails - too beaten up to use, but with sufficient life left to not just throw away, please consider donating it to the Second Life Sails project.

To read more about the Second Life Sails project and life on Ile a Vache, visit All at Sea's June, 2013 issue "Second Life for Used Sails Project". For further information on how to participate in Second Life Sails, email

Second Life Sails


Amateur Radio Safety Foundation is the umbrella that funds Winlink 2000. All donations made to ARSF go to Winlink 2000.

Environmental Opportunities

Research Sargassum Weed Infestation in the Atlantic and Caribbean

Sargassum weed is an increasing problem in the Atlantic -- the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean – ruining beaches, boat engines, rudders, and watermaker systems, etc. Some vessels have been reported being stuck in over five feet of mat, and on Virgin Gorda the watermaking system for the island was shut down for weeks.

Read more about the threat posed by sargassum in this article by Joan Conover, published in the September, 2017 Caribbean Compass. Cruisers are uniquely situated to collect and post data, e.g., Lat/Long, description of the mat (stream or horizon-to-horizon), as well as photos.  For the predictions about sargassum for 2019-2020, read this article also by Joan Conover.

To post your sargassum sightings, use this link to enter your data--

Sargassum Weed

EPIC - Environmental Protection in the Caribbean

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) is a non-profit organization registered as a 501(c)(3) in the United States and is a registered foundation in St. Maarten. The organization was established in 2000 with the mission to protect the Caribbean environment through research and community-based action. This mission is achieved through three core programs:

  • Conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Habitats
  • Songbirds as Environmental Indicators
  • Keystone Cays: Conservation of Key Offshore Islands

When approaching projects at new sites, the group’s methodology typically begins with scientific research, scoping meetings, and building partnerships. EPIC can then formulate a plan for conducting outreach programs and, ultimately, community-based actions to protect and/or restore habitats.

EPIC’s strategy could be summed up as Research, Outreach, and Conservation (ROC). Upcoming projects will:

  • Address conservation issues affecting wildlife reserves within the Grenadines.
  • Locate nesting locations for the endangered Black-capped Petrel and work for its protection.
  • Protect and restore the Simpson Bay Lagoon and other key wetlands.

Please visit EPIC’s website at or their Facebook page at Or for further information or to volunteer please contact:

Natalia Collier
Executive Director
Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC)
411 Walnut St. #6749
Green Cove Springs, FL 32043-3443
(707) 845-4261
Skype: natalia.collier

Citizen Science

A new Citizen Science study developed by scientists at Plymouth University, UK, is asking sailors to help scientists study and understand the phytoplankton. You can take part in this global study by downloading a free mobile app available for iOS and Android, and by using a self-made piece of equipment called a Secchi Disk. You can find out more at the project’s website or by downloading the Secchi App.

The phytoplankton, tiny plant-like cells that live at the sunlit surface of the sea, begin the marine food chain. From their position at the base of the marine food chain their productivity governs the productivity at every step above them, from the numbers of fish in the sea to the abundance of crabs on the seabed, and from the number of polar bears on the ice to the seabirds in the sky above. In 2010 three Canadian scientists published research that suggested the phytoplankton were declining in the oceans due to climate change and a warming of the sea surface. Their study proved controversial however, not least among other scientists, some of whom thought they saw contrary results. Part of the controversy stemmed from a lack of data - the oceans are a vast place and there are not that many scientists to cover them - and this is where any sailor can help advance phytoplankton research. The Plymouth scientists hope that sailors everywhere will participate in the Secchi App Citizen Science project to help build a long-term and spatially extensive dataset of phytoplankton observations form the World’s oceans. In addition to the website you can also follow the project at the Secchi Disk group on Facebook Why not take part?

Richard Kirby
Marine Institute Research Fellow
Plymouth University
Marine Biological Association,
Citadel Hill,
The Hoe,
Plymouth PL1 2PB
United Kingdom

Oceans Watch

Oceans Watch promotes marine conservation projects through partnerships between yachting and diving enthusiasts, coastal communities, and marine biologists. This is a fantastic opportunity to pitch in while you cruise. See


WhaleForce is an international cetacean (whales, dolphins, porpoises) survey that was established in 1986 by the Cochrane Ecological Institute (CEI),, a registered charity. SSCA member Clio Smeeton, founder of WhaleForce, was reared on a boat and, from experience, knew that blue water and coastal racing and cruising yachtsmen and women (and children) are in an ideal position to monitor cetacean occurrence and movement because they are sailing the sea for pleasure. Because the sea belongs to no country, no country takes responsibility for maintaining the health and the integrity of its (especially migratory) wildlife populations (invertebrates, fish, mammals, reptiles and birds). One way to address this is by undertaking non-intrusive monitoring of the seas and oceans.

Cruisers can participate in this important census by sending to Clio ( the GPS co-ordinates and a brief description of sightings of cetaceans and also significant pollution/garbage, and if possible, accompanying photographs, as well. A fascinating aspect of sending photographs is that there are still unidentified cetacean species in the sea, known to science only by a few bones. Thus the scientific opportunities presented by digital photographs of living examples of these, thus far, rare species accompanied by date, location, and description are vast. As cetaceans are at the top of the food chain they are the first to suffer from accumulated pollutants and from overhunting. When WhaleForce was started, information packages were placed on Tall Ships as well as Blue Water and ARC Rallies, and then on international yacht races; but the ideal respondents are those people who are not competing; who are sailing for the love of it and are therefore inclined to observe all about them.

The CEI can provide a cetacean identification book and a Burgee, and more information on WhaleForce itself can be found on the CEI website,

Editor’s Note: Clio is the daughter of Miles and Beryl Smeeton, s/v Tzu Hang, recipients of the 1988 Seven Seas Award.

500 Oakbrook Lane
Summerville, SC 29485
Phone: (754) 702-5068