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Keep it clean - Winter warms into environmental role

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As yachties and boaties, we have a vested interested in looking after our playground and it might not be as difficult as you think. This is the first in a series of regular environmental stories by Yachting New Zealand offering guidance and ideas. 

Helene Winter has just started the journey but feels like the destination is too important not to stay the course.

Winter has taken on the role of environmental advocate at the Bucklands Beach Yacht Club, although she emphasises she's just a committee member, and is looking into things the club can do to improve when it comes to environmental sustainability.

She was approached by Bucklands Beach commodore Sara Poore to lead the club's environmental endeavours, something Winter said she initially found overwhelming.

"It can be a little daunting and you wonder where you're supposed to start but, if you break it down, it's really not that difficult," Winter said. "I quickly realised there is already so much information out there and things that I could see we could do at our club.

"There's so much material online and Yachting New Zealand have already done a lot of good work in this area as well.

"It's important not to try too much too soon, so I would advise working away on one or two things at a time. See what works for the club, because every club will be different."

Bucklands Beach landed on running clean regattas under the Sailors for the Sea clean regatta programme and taking care of rubbish, including composting and recycling, and Winter has made some key connections with environmental companies as well as other local organisations like the Tamaki Estuary Protection Society.

"I didn't realise that there were organisations out there who have been doing this sort of work for years and years," Winter said. "Our club sits in the Tamaki Estuary and we can be involved in what they do. 

"We are a yacht club and also have a marina, and sometimes marinas can get a bad rap, so it's important if we can work with these societies. It's all brand new for me, I've only been doing it for about six weeks, and it's already been a real eye-opener."

Photo: Blake. Banner image: Pixaby.

Winter attended a Sustainable Coastlines litter intelligence workshop and applied that methodology to a recent cleanup of Little Bucklands Beach adjacent to the yacht club. Three of these cleanups are being planned each year, with the next likely to be in July.

There are already plans for the club to work more closely with other community groups and they recognise there's an opportunity to educate youngsters through their connection with schools and their learn to sail programme.

Winter often refers to a couple of passages when she gets stuck into environmental projects or comes across hurdles, one of which is, 'a good idea needs to grow'.

"This is just the beginning of the journey for me but the main thing for others out there is, just get started," she said. "If it's a good idea, just do it, don't hold back.

"Find the right person at your club who might be interested in helping and support them. You can't expect to change things overnight but we need to get involved."

  • Anyone interested in finding out more about what they can do at their club can email  
  • Find out more about the Sailors for the Sea clean regatta programme here
  • There's heaps of information and lots of good ideas when it comes to cleaning up the area around your club on the Sustainable Coastlines website.