(Plain Press, October 2014) For the sixth year in a row, the Great Lake Erie Boat Float offered the opportunity for those concerned about the environment to design and test the seaworthiness of boats made from recycled materials. Participants in this year’s Great Lake Erie Boat Float, held on September 6th at Edgewater Park, had the additional challenge of floating their fledgling craft in a lake while facing two-foot waves. Individuals, scout troops, and groups from nonprofit organizations entered their boats made from recycled materials in a competition designed to raise awareness of the impact of plastic pollution on the environment and the Great Lakes.
The crew of each boat was asked to go out three hundred feet into the lake and back to prove the seaworthiness of their craft. A team from Fairview Hospital, with their entry, Fairview’s Fabulous Floating Junket, won the prize for having the most seaworthy craft. Bill Mackay and Aaron Matisak constructed their craft using barrels that once held chemical treatment used in the hospital’s cooling towers. The paddles were made from electrical supplies and dividers from shelves.
The boats were also judged on the best use of recycled materials. The winners in this category were David Saja and Leila Jackson with their craft, Oh Rubbish. Materials used to make the boat included insulation Styrofoam and plastic jugs. The craft was held together with plastic bag ropes, construction fencing and duct tape.
Habitat for Humanity staff members Martin Carlton and Rebecca Smiddy won for the most creative craft for their entries the SS Restore and the Habitanic. The Habitanic featured chairs for the paddlers. The paddles used by the team were snow shovels.
Part of the fun of the event was seeing if the crafts would float. Several did not make it. A cardboard craft disintegrated early in the contest. It was soon followed by the Lean Mean Green Paddlin Machine – which consisted of an exercise bike mounted on pallets with buckets underneath enclosed in plastic.
One contestant came all the way from Connellsville, Pennsylvania with his craft, Little Bud, which was constructed from Bud Light cans held together with polyurethane. The craft proved to be seaworthy.
A co-ed Boy Scout Venturing Group, from Twnisburg, called their boat the Toxic Waste after the barrels they used to make it. They used a piece of a dog kennel as a frame, two barrels used to remove toxic soil and buckets that held candy for the annual Twins Day Parade to help keep the frame afloat. However, Lake Erie got the best of their craft, as the two-barrel boat spit apart as the crew tried to mount it in the rough waters of Lake Erie
Cleveland’s office of Sustainability even got into the act. Staff members Matt Gray, Kristin Hall, Michelle Harvanek and Anand Natarajan entered a craft made from a piece of fence, Upscale Cleveland noodles left over from an art project, plastic bag ropes to bind the pieces together and paddles made from halves of binders.
Judging the event were: Diane Bickett, Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste Management District: Hyle Lowry, Ohio Coordinator for the Alliance for the Great Lakes and Bryan Stubbs, Executive Director of the Cleveland Water Alliance.
Drink Local, Drink Tap was on hand to encourage Clevelanders to drink tap water instead of bottled water and to sign up volunteers for activities such as beach cleanups.
Cathi Lehn, Ph.D., Sustainable Cleveland Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, noted the importance of raising awareness of plastic pollution. She cited a recent study that indicated concentrations of plastic micro beads in Lake Erie were higher than in the oceans. She asked people to rethink making a purchase of products containing these micro beads. She asked people not to buy facial cleansers that contain these micro beads and instead to use a more natural product.
The Cleveland Metroparks, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the City of Cleveland’s Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative sponsored the Great Lake Erie Boat Float. The Cleveland Lakefront Parks Conservancy funded the event.