Welcoming a Champion to Santa Cruz

Posted by: Thomas Parker

The sun was bright and the sky was clear Tuesday morning as I skateboarded down the hill into Capitola village for work. It was only 8:45am but the temperature was already in the 70’s and the warm breeze told me it was just going to get nicer, a day for the ages. My excitement was only partly due to the beautiful weather though, as today was also the day that all of us at Ocean Champions would head to the harbor to work with Surfrider Santa Cruz, Save Our Shores, O’Neill Sea Odyssey, Clean Oceans Project, Ocean Revolution, FishWise, The Outrigger Club and the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz to welcome Margo Pellegrino to Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz marked the midpoint in California for Margo’s mission to spread ocean awareness along the pacific coast by paddling the entire length via outrigger canoe. Her goal is to raise awareness on four ocean issues that are also priorities of Ocean Champions: the impacts of sewage, fertilizers and storm water run-off; the problem with plastics; overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices, and the acidification of our oceans. The journey – “Seattle to San Diego paddle for the Pacific” is being sponsored by  the Blue Frontier Campaign, an organization dedicated to “promoting unity, providing tools to and raise awareness of the solution-oriented marine conservation community”.

As the heat crept higher throughout the morning so did our excitement as we waited for the call telling us that Margo was approaching the harbor. At approximately 2pm we were informed by June, Margo’s land support crew, that she was about 20 minutes away. People began scurrying in every direction as some ran out to greet her from the jetty, others set up camp on the deck of the Santa Cruz Surfrider Foundation, and an exuberant group of us walked down to meet her at the harbor dock.


The wonderful music of the Sons of a Beach Ukulele Club began to drift our way from the Santa Cruz Surfrider Foundation deck where they were preparing their own special welcome for Margo that included a modified “On the Boat Again”. The whoops and cheers of those on the jetty soon began to accompany the music as Margo made her way into the harbor, accompanied by two accomplished members of the Santa Cruz Canoe Club, Yoko and Judy, who had paddled out against the wind to meet her and escort her in. As she rounded the corner we joined in the celebration, yelling and whooping with excitement.


All the commotion had intrigued many passersby so that when Margo finally glided into the dock, our little group had grown to fill up the whole space with people eager to be part of the adventure. It was at this moment, when Chris greeted Margo with a big hug and placed a beautiful purple lei around her neck, that I realized just how incredible this whole day really was, and how grateful I was to be a part of it. I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself, knowing that I had contributed to this grand adventure and the greater cause of ocean awareness it represents.

Margo had obviously dealt with answering the myriad of questions thrown at her previously on her trip, as she was very good at satiating everyone’s hunger for answers.  She answered questions about how far she’d paddled, how far she had to go, which routes she’d taken, when she’d done which, who she’d met along the way and even told us stories about the Oregon cold, where she had been forced to paddle wearing a wool sweater covered in a down jacket and a raincoat for a windbreaker.  As all this was happening, more people began to come down to the dock from where they had been posted on the jetty.  We quickly built her an enthusiastic escort from there to the deck of the Santa Cruz Surfrider Foundation, where live music, good food, warm sunshine and enthusiastic fans waited to congratulate Margo, hear her stories, and become part of the amazing mission to spread ocean awareness she has embarked on.


So for all of us here at Ocean Champions and for the city of Santa Cruz that loves its oceans so much, I want to say good luck Margo. We’ll be cheering you on to San Diego!

Date Posted: August 27, 2010 @ 8:12 pm Comments Off

Posted by: Chris Laughlin


Ocean Passion represents so many things:  sailing, sea kayaking, scuba diving, beach strolling, sunrise/sunset gazing, and many more.  Today, I’m compelled to voice my ocean passion for surfing:  a feeling, an energy and a fluid sport like no other.  It’s one of the reasons I love coming to work every day for Ocean Champions.  It’s one of the HUGE motivating factors to do everything possible to protect and preserve this incredible planetary resource for generations to come.  It’s never been quite as poignant as it is right now, as I begin to introduce my 19 month old son to the beautiful big blue.  Watching his eyes light up as we talk about the “osheen” and listening to him babble in delight as he runs into the whitewash on the shore is music to our ears!  I can honestly say it’s the most excited we’ve seen him react to any force of nature thus far, and why not, since it’s THE most exciting force of nature to his parents!

During a recent recharging surf session at Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove, I felt so fortunate to be able to look down in the water and see our shadows on the bottom.  The water appeared to be so clear, and clean, and so incredibly beautiful.  I found my thoughts starting to turn toward the Gulf oil spill and the toxic waters there.  Devastation so immense that we don’t know the full impacts of it yet, and may not for quite some time. My thoughts start wandering toward the leaders and ocean champions in Congress, who are taking a stand to hold BP accountable, and who work to enact legislation to stop new offshore drilling and provide funding for ocean conservation and renewable energy.  I feel a mixed emotion of pride and fulfillment that Ocean Champions fights to keep these members of congress in office every electoral cycle, but disappointment too.  Disappointment because we need more ocean champions, and we need the public to realize the numerous threats that our oceans face.

And then…  a really great wave is headed my way and all focus shifts to paddling as fast as possible to get into the pocket!  The energy pocket that sets you into a glide so fluid and so amazing… and then… I can’t paddle back out fast enough to do it all over again.  Ahhhh.  Ocean Passion = Surfing.  Surfing = Ocean Passion.  I could talk about it all day.  But, instead, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.

-Jacques Yves Cousteau

Okay, maybe two.  I just have to include this one too:

From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.

-Jacques Yves Cousteau


Date Posted: August 13, 2010 @ 12:57 pm Comments Off