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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 5:43 pm | A Few Clouds 63º


Captain’s Log: Common Ocean Pollutants Flying Right Off Our Heads

Four times in one day recently I saw perfectly innocent people become guilty of polluting the ocean… with hats.

Listen, baseball caps are a problem! They generally come with no way to secure them to a person’s head, and they have that big flat brim to catch the wind and yank them off someone’s head.

Even people who carefully bend their brims lose their hats because the wind still catches them. Boaters lose these hats with alarming regularity and it doesn’t matter if they are sail boaters, powerboaters or even kayakers and stand up paddle boarders.

When a certain speed is achieved or when the wind comes up to a certain threshold (which seems to be lower than whitecap threshold), hats come off all on their own.

Out at the Channel Islands, having a hat blow off of someone’s head takes on more serious consequences. In the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park there are heightened levels of regulations and consequences for polluting. 

Lose your hat out there and you may guilty of breaking a federal regulation or two. I can just see you in the clinker when your cell mate asks what you are in for…

Okay, I’m kidding! I believe that enforcement personnel out there would be understanding. Maybe they would even help you out with some sunscreen for your now-exposed forehead.

I wear a wide-brim western hat at sea for sun and wind protection, and it is a great tool. I’ve never had it blow off in my decades of prowling the seas because it is securely cinched down with a strong chin-strap.

So why don’t baseball caps come with something to secure them? I’ve actually seen a few that do, but not many.

Cigarette butts are the most common pollutant at sea, and that really bugs me because it is malicious. By that I mean people make a conscious choice to pollute by tossing that cigarette instead of stowing it until it can go into a trash receptacle ashore.

In the case of baseball caps that are blown off of heads, however, there is no intent to pollute, so it is hard to get mad at people. It does make me think about all the hats out there that sink too quickly to circle back around for them and fish them out of the drink.

I’m waiting to catch a shark wearing a baseball cap! When I do, I’ll snap a picture for sure.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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