Seeing her yacht as a way of giving back, Claudia Potamkin, owner of MY Defiance, has been a strong advocate for International Seakeepers Society’s educational programme. Defiance is enlisted as a Seakeepers' ‘vessel of discovery’ and she is currently launching a new line of superyacht tenders to serve as educational vessels for the programme. TSO speaks to Claudia about the value of being involved with the philanthropic organisation.
What drew you to first become involved with the International Seakeepers Society?
Seakeepers encourages the yachting community to become contributors to ocean research and conservation efforts. The demand for access to the global oceans for scientific research is as wide as the oceans themselves and the current research fleet is no longer able to meet current needs because of the large costs and the retirement of obsolete vessels. I have been involved with Seakeepers for several years, first as an admirer of their fine work and for the past four years as a Vessel of Discovery member with my 72-foot Mangusta, Defiance.
What projects have you undertaken on board Defiance?
We’ve taken schoolchildren out in Bimini for an educational day on the water, launching a drifter, which is an ocean monitoring device that floats upon the sea surface and traverses the oceans via local currents. This one made it all the way to Europe.
We brought a group of children from the Newport, R.I. Boys and Girls club out for an educational day where they had an interactive discussion with two scientists, did an art project and studied first hand with samples we collected and studied through microscopes we brought onboard. We hosted young award winning filmmakers from Youth Making Ripples, an extension of the non-profit organisation Beneath the Waves, for a multi-pronged expedition to learn more about the local marine system and Miami’s coral reef system.
Through a programme that we launched called ‘Seakeeper Kids’ the opportunities for creative missions are vast. Invite a deserving group children and a couple of scientists and you can create your own research mission with Seakeepers.
How would you like to see the yachting industry change with regards to philanthropic endeavours?
Privately owned yachts are extremely helpful because of their tendency to cruise in remote and ecologically rich locations where large commercial traffic is minimal. There are so many nooks and crannies that private vessels can enter where commercial vessels cannot, so those that own a vessel have a platform to assist. It is just that simple.
If a yacht is not being enjoyed by its owners or on charter, it can be busy contributing to the greater whole. In South Florida there is a rich world of research needing to be done that smaller yachts with a shallow draft can access easily. Larger vessels can invite scientists onboard for term research missions. Each region of the planet has research needs specific to its waters. Wherever yachts are docked, there is work that can be done.
Would you recommend such ventures to other yacht owners?
The fact is that the health of the oceans is critically important to many aspects of our own lives. The benefits of becoming involved are great: there is nothing more satisfying than bidding goodbye to a group of young people who are buzzing about what they can share with their classes at school and teach their friends. I overheard one group talking about taking their mums shopping to find biodegradable products. They sounded knowledgable and proud of themselves, taking ownership of a new way of thinking.
In June 2016, you are launching a new series of 47-foot superyacht tenders, how will this fit in with Seakeepers?
The REVL Yacht team
REVL yacht owners will automatically become Seakeepers discovery yacht members, with the ability to craft missions of their choosing and frequency. Seakeepers started the programme with four vessels and is now at 140 vessels. The goal is 4,000 vessels, so we welcome everyone on board.
More information about the International Seakeepers' Society can be found here.