The Search For the Next Swim Escort/Rescue Boat

Continued from: What’s Up With The Swim? Part 2

Here is how it stands:

The easy parts of my swim are done.

In order to keep swimming–and keep my crew safe–I need a more robust swim escort/rescue boat.

CashAnd I don’t have stashed $100,000 under my mattress. (Or $1,000,000, or however much is in this fun photo of someone else’s money.)

I need to get creative.  To start, I  go of the idea of a brand-new boat.  Brand-new boats depreciate like crazy.   What I need is a relatively recently-manufactured 23 foot boat in good condition that I can convert into what I need for the swim.

Easier said than done.YachtWorldSS

Sure, I occasionally torture myself by looking at listings on yachtworld, hoping I will stumble onto the perfect craft.  This is preferable to staring at the ceiling from 3am – 5am, but it doesn’t really advance my cause.

The other morning, while I was running beside the ocean BUT NOT SWIMMING, I remembered Richard Audette.

Rich had been nice enough to answer my marine sewage and pumpout boat questions a few years ago. His company, Marine Boatbuilders, is based in Bristol, Rhode Island. They specialize in work, pumpout, and patrol boats.

When I called Rich, he said , “Oh, I remember you!”

I told Rich what I was looking for.  As luck would have it, Harbour Town Yacht Basin in Hilton Head, South Carolina (I love their lighthouse) had just traded in their 2006 23 foot pumpout boat for a brand-new model.

IMG_5239Rich said his team could convert the old boat from a pumpout boat into a custom work boat for the swim. (Check out this gallery of photos of the boat on Pinterest.)

Among other things, Rich and his crew will remove the wraparound fender, install a permanent swim ladder, and add stronger fittings, new lighting, and up-to-date communications and navigation equipment.  They’ll service the trailer, scrape and repaint the bottom of the boat, change out the bilge pump, the batteries, and the old wiring–basically make the old boat new.

All for only $35,000-$40,000 depending on exactly what options I choose.

It is a dream come true.  A bargain.  A steal.  The only catch?

I have to raise the money.








What’s Up With The Swim? Part 2

Continued from: What’s Up With The Swim? Part 1

What to do?

Well, first things first,  I needed a bigger swim escort/rescue boat.  Something over 22 feet long, with relatively new hull with a deep V design to cut through swells and chop on our transits to and from shore, plenty of deck space for swim and sampling gear, and a four-stroke motor that was in line with our environmental mission.

Of course, brand new boats like this can easily run $100,000.


A nice dream, but too big for a first step.

Two years ago, as a halfway measure, I got a deal on an used eighteen-footer that promised to extend our range a bit.


Alas, defective through-hull fittings nearly sank the boat. Twice.

That was enough for me.  I sold it at a loss it to a boatyard employee looking for a service project.

Back to zero.

What then?

Find out in my next post: The Search For the Next Swim Escort/Rescue Boat




What’s Up With The Swim? Part 1

518654919_leighton_img_1669Back in April 2009, I thought I would swim from my home base of Marblehead, Massachusetts down to Washington, D.C.–about 1,000 miles.

At the time, I joked that the swim would take a few years.

Well, it’s been a few years.

And my plans have changed.

I have swum nearly all of the coastline between Kittery, Maine and Scituate, MA, including part or all of many coastal waterways including the Forest, Essex, Mystic, Waters, Danvers, Piscataqua, and Merrimack Rivers, as well as Chelsea Creek.

I have logged a few hundred miles in all.

But the swim has changed.

It started when I added the Maine and New Hampshire coastlines to my route. I felt an undeniable emotional pull toward some of those places up north–a pull rooted in good, strong, childhood memories.

IMG_0764 copyPratt's2

But after I decided to add on the coastline between Maine/Canada border and Marblehead, I was forced to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t have the equipment I needed for the job.  Specifically, I didn’t have the kind of swim escort/rescue boats that I would need to keep my crew people safe in the Gulf of Maine and in many of the offshore sections I planned to swim.

I was able to delay the inevitable reckoning for a while by swimming all sorts of “easy” sections: near-shore sections and rivers that were do-able with a small inflatable and/or kayaks for support during the warmer months.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEventually though, I ran out of easy sections to swim. To continue, I would need to start putting my crew (and myself) into unsafe situations.

And that was a deal breaker for me.

What to do?

Find out in: What’s Up With The Swim? Part 2.

School & Camp Visits

As part of my current swim down America’s Atlantic Coast, I am on track to visit over 50,000 students and campers.  In assemblies and small class visits, I challenge kids to develop projects to improve the health of our ocean.


It might sound cheap to serve up ocean science with a whopping side order of sewage and sharks…but it works like a charm.

Water Sampling

During my swim I pause every 20 minutes or so, grab onto my escort boat, and  gulp a mouthful of water, or bite off a hunk of a Powerbar.

On these short breaks, I also sample the sea surface temperature and ph of the ocean using simple, accurate sensing equipment.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI link each water sampling result to an exact date, time, and GPS position.

Back on shore, I combine this information to build maps that show not only the progress of my swim, but ocean conditions along my route.

For an example of a map, click here.


1% For One Healthy Ocean™

1% For One Healthy Ocean is a commitment to supporting the seas that sustain us.

1% for One Healthy Ocean grew out of with a pilot program custom-built for Carol Kent Yacht Charters (CKYC).

Motor Yacht DEFIANCEAt CKYC, 1% of every charter fee goes toward funding a special One Healthy Ocean program that includes K-12 classroom visits, water sampling, and public education efforts like the development and promotion of the Boater’s Code of Ethics™.

Boater’s Code of Ethics™

Boater’s Code of Ethics™

We Pledge:

To educate the public, especially youth, about the global challenge of water pollution, and to support efforts to develop solutions;

To encourage manufacturers to build boats, marine accessories and equipment from materials that do not harm any form of life and that can be entirely re-used or recycled at the end of their life-cycles;

To remember that every part of a boat and its cargo could end up in the water, and to choose our equipment with this in mind;

Never to throw, pour, dump, flush, or rinse anything overboard;

To pump out sewage into approved receptacles on pump-out boats and at marina and dockside facilities, and never to pump sewage into the water;

To minimize plastic waste by using metal or glass water bottles, metal flatware, and ceramic, metal, or wooden cups, plates, and bowls on board;

To support healthy populations of sea turtles, marine mammals and fish by not using plastic bags–which can be mistaken for floating food–and by choosing fabric or cloth bags instead;

To prevent balloons from being released into the air, as many balloons eventually settle into oceans and rivers where they can be swallowed by animals, with often-fatal results;

To use non-toxic marine paints and finishes wherever possible, and not to use bottom paint at all on boats that are kept in the water for only short periods of time;

To take advantage of sheets and drop cloths to capture splatter and dust that otherwise might fall into the water during painting and sanding operations;

To avoid washing boats with soap while they are in the water, and, if a washing is absolutely necessary, to use a small amount of phosphate-free, non-toxic soap;

To ban the use of antibacterial soap on board, due to the threat the active ingredient Triclosan poses to water life;

To use the most energy-efficient propulsion systems available, to sail and row whenever possible, and otherwise to use four-stroke motors, fuel-electric hybrid engines, and/or high-efficiency diesel engines;

To consider balancing the climate impact of the gasoline and diesel fuel we burn by purchasing premium carbon offsets, and by exploring the use of vegetable-based fuel systems;

To wipe up fuel, oil and antifreeze spills quickly, and never to rinse these compounds into the water;

To recycle used motor oil, and properly dispose of unwanted fuel, lubricants, fluids, antifreeze, solvents, paints, and other toxic chemicals at government-approved facilities on land;

To style ourselves with the ocean in mind, by refusing to purchase coral jewelry, tortoise shell hair accessories, and cosmetics made with shark-derived squalene;

To clean up after our pets, and to remove animal waste from docks, boat ramps and beaches before it washes into the water and makes people and animals sick;

To prevent toxic chemicals and heavy metals from leaching into waterways by ethically recycling our unwanted marine electronics and other electronic  gear, in accordance with the Electronic Waste Code Of EthicsTM;

To organize or join cleanups designed to remove trash from beaches, riverbanks and shorelines;

To save animals from entanglement by slicing unwanted rope, cord and fishing line into small pieces and then disposing of it carefully on land;

To reduce stress on marine mammals and other animals by not approaching them too closely;

To safeguard fragile water habitats such as coral reefs, kelp forests and sea grass beds by not approaching them too closely or anchoring in them, and by reminding others that these places are easily harmed and can take years to recover;

To refrain from catching, purchasing or eating threatened or endangered species;

To support local conservation organizations working to protect our waters;

To give our business to cruise and charter boat operations that are committed to the principles in this Code;

To share our knowledge of the water with our families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and elected representatives;

To get wet regularly, to use and enjoy the water, and especially, to swim, snorkel, SCUBA Dive and play in the water—because these activities offer us not only hours of enjoyment, but unparalleled glimpses into the state of our favorite waterways;

To recognize that the waterways we know and love best are the ones we will work to protect.


Feedback about the Boater’s Code Of EthicsTM?

Ideas for improving it?Email us

Christopher Swain Bio

Christopher Swain Biography

“The ocean reflects the choices we make every day.”

–Christopher Swain


Christopher Swain is a swimmer.  In the ocean, he sees evidence of every environmental choice we have ever made.

Swain is not rich, not a scientist, and not that fast a swimmer.  He is a Dad who wants his daughters to grow up in a healthier world.

Swain attended the Waring School in Beverly, Massachusetts, before going on to Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut.  He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan in 1990, after completing a double major in Film Studies and French Literature. He earned his Master of Acupuncture degree from the New England School of Acupuncture, in Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1997.

In 1992, he founded the Children’s Forestry Project (CFP), a non-profit organization which created opportunities for under-privileged youth to plant groves and forests of trees on damaged tracts of land in Colorado, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The CFP’s work was recognized by groups as diverse as the American Film Institute, and the Shatse Gaden Monks of Tibet.

In 1995, Christopher started The Human Rights Company (HRC) a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the awareness and dissemination of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition to offering guest lectures on Human Rights in local schools, the HRC produced two high-profile public events, Walk Equal, a Walk for Human Rights, a torch walk across Massachusetts for Universal Human Rights, and the Connecticut River Swim for Human Rights, a 210 mile river swim in support of Universal Human Rights. Both events drew praise from local governments, schools and human rights commissions throughout the Northeast.

On July 1, 2003, Swain became the first person in history to swim the entire 1,243 mile (2000km) length of the Columbia River, in the Pacific Northwest. The purpose of his Columbia River Swim was to raise awareness of the dislocated peoples and disrupted ecosystems of the Columbia River Basin. His swim is the subject of the critically-acclaimed documentary SOURCE TO SEA: the Columbia River Swim. In 2007, SOURCE TO SEA received the Environmental Activism and Social Justice Award at the EarthVision Film Festival, and the Most Inspiring Adventure Film Award at the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival.

On July 28, 2004, Swain made history again, by completing a 315 mile swim of the Hudson River’s entire length. The purpose of this swim was to put forward a new vision for the Hudson River: a river that would be drinkable to all the way to Troy, NY, and swimmable all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, every single day of the year. Swain’s efforts on the Hudson are chronicled in the public television documentary, SWIM FOR THE RIVER, which was released nationwide in April of 2007.

In September 2004, Swain completed his Lake Champlain Swim For Clean Water, becoming the first person in history to swim the entire length of that 129 mile (208 km) international waterway. In Vermont, New York, and the Province of Quebec, he called for measures that would make Lake Champlain drinkable for future generations.

On November 12, 2004, Swain stroked into the Atlantic Ocean at Boston Harbor, completing an entire length swim of the Charles River in Massachusetts. The goal of his swim was to make swimmability the water quality standard on that waterway.

On April 27, 2010, as part of his One Healthy Ocean, Swain completed an entire length swim of the Mystic River in Massachusetts.

Swain’s Lake Champlain, Hudson River, and Charles River swims were a series of clean water swims designed in part to bridge the gap between the United Nations International Water Year 2003, and the United Nations Decade of Action “Water For Life” 2005-2015.

In March 2005, at the invitation of United Nations staff, Swain designed, produced, and emceed a launch event for the United Nations Water Decade at U.N. Headquarters in New York City. The event, called BLESSING OF THE WATERS, brought together representatives from every major religion, and indigenous peoples from North America and beyond, to offer their prayers and blessings for the waters of the world.

In 1991, Swain became the first non-native man in history to complete the traditional Apache Run For The Sun Initiation. In 2003, Swain received an International Earth Day Award at the United Nations, and an E-chievement Award on National Public Radio’s etown. In 2004, he was elected to the Men’s Journal Adventure Hall of Fame, and chosen as Person of the Week on ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. In 2013, his battle with blood-sucking Lamprey Eels during his entire length swim of Lake Champlain was chronicled on Animal Planet television show River Monsters.

In 2005, Swain was the youngest of twenty-one conservationists profiled in Rachel White Scheuring’s book, Shapers of the Great Debate on Conservation: A Biographical Dictionary.

In 2007, Swain received the Harry E. Schlenz Public Education Medal from the Water Environment Federation, and was featured in the International Swimming Hall of Fame book, Swimmers: Courage & Triumph.

Swain has survived collisions with boats, 12-foot waves, lightning storms, class IV+ rapids, toxic blue-green algae, Lamprey Eel attacks, and water contaminated with everything from human waste to nuclear waste. He has made presentations to over 70,000 North American schoolchildren. Stories about his environmental efforts have reached a worldwide media audience of more than two billion people.

Swain was born in New York City, and raised in Massachusetts. He lived in Oregon from 1999 until 2004, before moving back east.

When he is not swimming in dirty water, Swain is usually found playing with his two young daughters.

Organizational Structure

One Healthy Ocean is structured as a small social venture. (In our particular case, we are a business created for the purpose of improving the health of the ocean).

We are NOT a non-profit organization, and this is by design: we spend way too much time advocating for ocean-friendly legislation and encouraging other people to do the same. That means contributions to One Healthy Ocean cannot be tax deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Instead of tax deductible donations, we depend on the revenue from speaking engagements, school visits, Ethical Electronics Recycling Fees, sponsorship fees from events (like the One Healthy Ocean Family Beach Cleanup™, naming rights for highly-visible equipment like wetsuits and Escort Boats and individual opportunities like  “adopt-a-mile” and “adopt-a-water sample,” and proceeds from business to business partnerships like 1% for One Healthy Ocean.

We put every dollar we collect to work on the high-visibility, hands-on, ocean education and protection work that we are known for.