About Water Words


Corals and the Invisible Threat

A plastic bottle or floating chunk of styrofoam is obvious plastic pollution. But to fragile coral reefs, it could be the tiniest bits of microplastic that are most devastating!

Coral reefs worldwide are under threat from natural and human-made stressors. These stressors are tough to avoid when dredging and plastic pollution are added to the existing climate change. At EPA’s Coral Research Facility – an indoor wet lab in Gulf Breeze, Florida – scientists are focused on the study of how stressors like sedimentation, ocean acidification, and microplastics are impacting corals’ health.

Recently, EPA scientists studied how microplastics impact two different species of coral and found that long-term exposure to microplastics impaired the corals’ growth. Specialized lab equipment at the facility allows researchers to estimate corals’ 3-D surface areas using 2-D photogrammetry. Unlike other measurement methods that can destroy coral samples, photogrammetry is non-destructive and allows researchers to measure the growth rate of corals without harming them throughout experiments.

“What is still unknown are the exact mechanisms that are causing adverse effects,” EPA Coral Biologist, Cheryl Hankins explains. “Ingested microplastics could block the corals’ digestive tracts, which would either leave them feeling satiated, like they have a full stomach, or prevent digestion of their natural diet.”

Between our threatened corals and the mighty environmental role played by mangroves it’s important that we all stay aware of both the threats – and the ways that we can support large scale advocacy and actions. For instance, one company you can support and follow is Starboard. Learn more about their “plastic “blue” sustainability programs here. Lots of great stories.

Be a “blue” force all summer – pick up plastic during and after paddling, bring your reusable water bottle and reef safe sunscreen. Our Ocean/lakes/ rivers, streams and coral reefs will thank you. #starboardsup #bluetiki #coracoragoesgreen

Zen and a Meandering River

May 28 dawned sunny and warm, with a light breeze perfect for a day of paddling. The plan was to do a shuttle from a put in several miles south of the takeout at Rosland Campground (LaPine, OR). We knew this stretch of the river had a lot of winding turns, but the reality of the paddle was incredibly more than we had hoped for.

ZEN a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort. Along the squiggly, circuitous meandering of the Little Deschutes River it was easy to be lulled into a zen-like state – guided by the downstream currents yet aware of sunken logs and glorious green grasses (that could grab a fin and toss a paddler right into the 52 degree water). Just sayin’

Throughout the 3.5 hour adventure more than 90% of the time allowed us to enjoy wetlands, marshes and swift flowing current with out any interruption by “the hand of man.” A mere 30 minutes from home we were in a wilderness wonderland. The stability and long glides of my Starboard 12’6″ X 30 Touring board with ZEN construction was the perfect choice for the journey!

While most of the shoreline was marsh grasses and wetlands peppered with willows, evergreens and private pastureland (monitored by some scary looking longhorns) there was the occasional sandy bank with a sunny beach just right for a picnic lunch!

Ahh summertime – inviting ZEN as a lovely state of mind. Even our canine companion posed regally on the nose of Pam’s board as though she was in her own ZEN space.

Winging Wonderful – Soar with FreeWing

When I jumped into Winging (on the Starboard 4-in 1 10’4″ Wingboard ) I didn’t have access to instruction or lessons in my home town. Not to worry! I started the adventure of learning to Wingboard (and you can also learn to Wingfoil) with FreeWing and Coach Sam Ross on my home lakes in Central Oregon.

Starboard has created a 5 part video series that will take you from zero to hero, starting from the beach to gliding on (or above) the water. With tried and tested teaching methods and techniques from foil coach Sam Ross coupled together with clear visuals from Starboard’s on-water team, the learning experience becomes rewarding, simple, and fun.

This video series demonstrates technique and the use of the FreeWing GO – an easy to use wing that has been specially developed for entry-level riders looking to get into winging and progress to more advanced wing foiling/ surfing. Learn more about the beginner GO wing: freewing.star-board.com/freewing-go

Learn to Wingfoil Series for Beginners brought to you by FreeWing World // Production by Lightbox Film and presented by Sam Ross Coaching (Windsurf, Wing and SUP coach).

I was beyond stoked to get three FreeWings for my 73rd birthday in June of 2022. Over the winter exploring Tampa Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and other Florida waterways I had an exhilarating great time! SUP remains a fine alternate sport out on the water, but winging has given me ….. well, WINGS!!!!!

The “Plastic Habit” – Re-Invented

It takes little more than a quick look at social media images of the disaster that is plastic dumped into our waters to be overwhelmed. A trip to the grocery store or any retailer and the pervasiveness of plastic packaging is a hard hit in the gut for those of us who want to make a difference.

And that’s one of the biggest dangers of plastic pollution – the enormous and overwhelming size of the problem. Can our habit of refusing plastic whenever possible, of re-using the plastic we have or taking along re-usable containers for food, water and such really make a difference?

The solution begins with “YES” and it begins with us. Do you want a does of hope? Take a look at this Ocean Literacy Portal – UNESCO – to learn about the top organizations actively involved in ocean cleanup (2022)

Our individual actions and choices mean more and gain in motivation and commitment when we are part of a community. Our love of SUP, windsurfing and winging brings us together. The community developed by Starboard, Blue Tiki and SOMWR is the perfect place to feel connected, inspired and part of the greater solution.

BLUE TIKI FOR POSITIVE IMPACT – Learn more here Make an impact against plastic every time you hit the water!

The social hub of ocean action and literacy

Follow and be part of a community taking actions that help the ocean – SHOAL is an app. Share your initiative and inspire others with your examples! Learn about the 7 Principles of Ocean Literacy, and the steps you can take in your life to help preserve our Oceans. Connect with the world’s greatest scientific minds, and read articles to inspire you to take action in your daily life.

Counting Paddle Blessings – Zen

I had some fun today creating reels for the “unboxing” of my new Starboard Zen construction 12’6″ Double Chamber Touring inflatable board. This post is meant to share the story of a very wonderful 4.6 km paddle – but I have to say something more about this board.

The day was a cloudy 48 degrees and breezy but I could not wait to get to the river. Swift, stable, fast, agile, and with a glide that doesn’t stop, this board was incredible good fun. The kilometers flew by and I was the only one out on the water – what a treat!

The graphic from Strava shows my route and measures the distance I paddled. What it cannot count is quite a list: 3 curious beavers, 19 honking geese, 8 happy pre-schoolers waving from the bridge, numerous red-winged blackbirds warning me away from their nests in the protect riparian area, and a pair of quiet ducks.

I got a very sweet workout – and a LOT more.

Follow me on Instagram and check out my reels. For now – Aloha from Elder SUP and my TIKI friend.

Like a Kid in a Candy Store

It was a gray, rainy and cold (for May) morning when I headed down to Riverbend Park to enjoy the paddling demo hosted by Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe (and a great array of paddleboards). Also I wanted to catch up with Trevor who was hosting the Starboard tent.

In spite of the weather there were plenty of people out on the water and chatting with Trevor. He enthusiastically shared insights on “welded rail technology” and the beauty of having a “double chamber” inflatable. People with every range of skill set were discovering just the board for their summer fun!

As for me – there she was. The Starboard Inflatable 12’6″ x 30″ Touring Zen stand up paddle board delivers a balanced glide experience and premium features that have made Starboard’s Touring paddle boards become the world’s highest-rated by magazines and customers’ favorite worldwide.

If you care about the environment you’ll be happy to know that Starboard is a certified B Corp. And as Trevor shared with us all, Starboard works hard to insure their boards are manufactured and delivers as a 10X carbon net positive product.

How can they do that? For each board sold, mangroves are planted. A team is tasked with collecting plastic for re-use for each board sold. Collected fishing nets and plastic bottles are recycled into board bags and fins. Starboard’s commitment to plastic offset is nothing less than earth-changing. Learn all about it here.

And while a consistent habit of picking up plastic from our favorite beaches and waters may seem like it has a small impact – each of of consistently doing what we can not only makes a difference but it inspires others.



Celebrate World Ocean Day

Of course we salty life, ocean-loving paddlers celebrate the Ocean and its (bays, lakes, rivers, streams and marshes) every day. But the celebration will be ever more focused on World Ocean Day (June 8 in 2023). For action ideas you can simply FOLLOW “World Ocean Day” on Instagram.


It’s great to generate a “community of friends” online. I look forward to seeing you FOLLOW me on Instagram – then I can follow you back. What a great way to create action momentum for “blue life” choices.

For consistent love of Mother Ocean and our Earth – my heartiest suggestion would be to FOLLOW the the “good news” stories that can be found on Starboard’s STARBOARD BLUE website. It’s a consistent source of stories that will make you ocean-loving day! Starboard products journey has environmental actions integrated for a better climate and ocean health.
Their Plastic Offset Program, VCS certified blue carbon climate parks where millions of mangroves are planted, education and partnerships motivates us all.

If you have ever paddled along the edge of a mangrove you may have reveled in the amount of marine life and birds within its reach. Often young mangrove seedlings can be seen on the beach or floating a low tide. If you are collecting plastic debris and find these seedlings you can give them a head start in life. (How-to Video here)

Plan now for World Ocean Day by kick-starting awareness and action today!

Blue Life Actions – A Community

I am the proud owner of Starboard products. Beyond the quality and performance, owning a Starboard product allows us all to connect with a company and a community that makes a huge investment in the environment. Starboard began as a leading watersports equipment innovator. The company was awarded World Sailing’s Sustainability Award and an Olympic class.

Their corporate journey and philosophy is based on environmental actions integrated for a better climate and ocean health. Learn more about their Blue Tiki Community here.
Starboard’s Plastic Offset Program, VCS certified blue carbon climate parks, education and partnerships motivate private sector, governments & NGOs.
Blue Tiki solutions now go street level with SOMWR apparel, inviting you to wear positive impact. AND they are now part of a project that invites us all to be FUTURE FIGHTERS.

Here’s just one example of “feet on the ground action. This is the Starboard POP Team on the beach in Pattaya-(Photographer Georgia Schofield). There are dozens more stories to enjoy on the Starboard Blue blog.

We can all join in on “blue life” activities in our community – AND be part of a global community. Take a look at the Blue Tiki program and see how you can earn digital Blue Tiki – a social token for the future.

Carbon Footprint – Smaller is Better

Have you ever stood in an airport watching thousands upon thousands of people getting into hundreds upon hundreds of flights and wonder- What would my effort at reducing my carbon footprint matter in all this?

I recently picked up some plastic while on a beautiful spring day paddle. I posted the photo of both the plastic AND the better option – reusable hydration instead of liquid in plastic. Simple choices again and again by millions of us make the difference. To make choices easier – here is an excellent article from TERRAPASS – read it here.

Next, think about crowd-funding and the power of many to fuel ideas and innovations of a single person. Together we are much more than we can imagine. If the Earth and its waters are to be the beneficiary of our generous gift of “blue life choices and green actions” everything each of us does can contribute to the bigger BETTER environment.

Way better than re-using or recycling is not using plastic in the first place. That’s a pretty huge no-brainer. Making choices around the use of plastic – daily – not only reduces the carbon footprint of you and your family – is can motivate and inspire others.

As we enter the week AFTER Earth Day let’s keep the momentum going. Read about simple daily choices.

Earth Day Everyday

It’s easy enough to bring along a recycled/reusable bag to collect plastic and other items from wherever you paddle. And of course, it was an excellent practice for Earth Day

I found some post Easter plastic and a few other items. It gave me a thought. What a better photo to post – a beautiful Starboard Zen welded seam board by the river WITHOUT all the plastic!

I felt happy snapping the picture of a reusable hydration flask and no plastic on the pristine (now plastic free) shore. And YES! It was our first real warm spring day and the paddle was 4+ KM of happiness.