Green Coconut Run explores the Pacific

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Story by Kevin Majoros

The Green Coconut Run sailing voyage is in their third season of exploring and just last month, they arrived in French Polynesia. A recent blog post from Captain Kristian Beadle provides just a glimpse of what the adventurers are experiencing.

Beadle writes, “Not only was this a remarkable shift in climate, but we were able to see three distinctly unique archipelagos. First, we began in the lagoon-enclosed Gambier Islands, a remote corner of French Polynesia; next we went through Reao, an 18-mile ring of low lying coconut trees around a blue lagoon; and finally ended up in the fabled islands of Marquesas, with their sheer size and power.”

It all started seven years ago when Beadle purchased the 42-foot trimaran, Aldebaran, and set-up a cooperative model with 30 graduate school friends to allow for a rotating crew on the adventures.

Many of the original members are ecologists and health specialists with Beadle himself having an undergraduate degree in Global Studies/Chinese and an eco-entrepreneurship master’s degree from UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science. Co-op guests join for a week with four to six crew members contributing to running the Aldebaran on her journeys.

Before the Green Coconut Run began, the group could be found building their skills around the Channel Islands off the Southern California coast. It was on one of those trips that Beadle met his first mate, Sabrina Littée.

Season 1 of the Green Coconut Run in 2015 was a yearlong sail along the coast from California to Costa Rico while Season 2 in 2016 was an exploration of Central & South America. It was while they were in the Galapagos Islands that Beadle and Littée became engaged. Littée is a registered nurse and has a bachelor of science in Biology from UC Santa Barbara, and a bachelor in nursing from Oregon Health Science University.

Any typical day for the crew can be filled with exploring hard to reach coastlines, surfing, paddle boarding, fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving and hiking. Maintaining a healthy relationship with the ocean is in the forefront of their daily routine.

Using the power of the collective to fulfill the group’s dreams, this voyage re-invents the possibilities of cruising by sailboat. Besides having an incredible adventure, the Green Coconut Run aims to connect the yachting community with ocean conservation.

In their first two seasons, Green Coconut Run partnered with the non-profit, Adventure Scientists and collected water for microplastic sampling. Adventure Scientists equips partners with data collected from the outdoors that are crucial to unlocking solutions to the world’s environmental challenges. By leveraging the skills of the outdoor adventure community, they can gather difficult-to-obtain data at any scale, in any environment. Of the sites sampled by Green Coconut Run from California to the Galapagos Islands, 90% contained microplastics.

Another important agenda of the Green Coconut Run has been to bring awareness to the marine reserve community regarding overfishing. Exploring hard to reach areas has given them an insight into the benefits of projects such as the one led by Four Arrows, aka Don Jacobs, PhD. For years he has worked with fishing cooperatives along the Pacific Ocean to establish ‘no-take’ zones where no one can fish. Other marine reserves have shown that within three to nine years of no fishing, marine life returns in abundance.

“When we are exploring ecosystems that are untouched pristine areas, we see a lot of predatory fish because there is an incredible amount of marine life,” says Beadle. “The sharks we encounter are surprisingly shy.”

Another outreach program that has fit into their ‘Cruising for a Cause’ campaign is their tie-in with Unite to Light which is a non-profit from Santa Barbara which has donated more than 80,000 solar powered lights to villages without electricity in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. After ‘field-testing’ the lights for two years on Aldebaran, they began taking solar lights to remote fishing villages without electricity.

The Green Coconut Run will stay around French Polynesia for the remainder of Season 3 and welcome people to their ‘floating guesthouse’.

It’s important to educate the public on marine issues and communicate what we are learning all while tying it into adventuring,” Beadle says. “That’s the best part about all of this – bringing people together and celebrating these amazing places.”