The Great Lake Erie Boat Float Returns to Edgewater Park This Saturday

click to enlarge COURTESY OF THE GREAT LAKE ERIE BOAT FLOAT
Courtesy of The Great Lake Erie Boat Float

Presented by Sustainable Cleveland and the Cleveland Metroparks, the 10th Annual Great Lake Erie Boat Float returns to Edgewater Beach this Saturday. Part design competition, part boat race, participants take to the lake to test the seaworthiness of human-powered boats made completely out of upcycled post-consumer materials.

For the last 10 years, this event has raised awareness about the impacts of plastics on the environment, in particular oceans, lakes and streams.

As we've covered before in Scene, local efforts, including plastic straw bans, have gained momentum in recent years to combat the plastic pollution problem, but we still have a ways to go to have plastic free lake water. Last year, Cuyahoga County council, led by councilwoman Sunny Simon, introduced an ordinance that would impose a fee on plastic bags (and paper bags) in an attempt to fund efforts to clean up Lake Erie, but that legislation has stalled.

In order to raise awareness of the pollution, all boats must be constructed of materials that have been previously used (that is, no newly purchased material, except duct tape). All materials must be clean and safe for the environment. No swimming, pushing, or towing a boat is allowed, all boats must be propelled by poles, self-made oars, paddle wheels, sails, etc. Most importantly, all racing crews must "leave behind no trace" of their boats. Boats must either be recycled or carried out. This includes any debris that may result from a boat malfunction.

In addition to the race, author Marcus Eriksen is promoting his book, Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism to Fight Plastic Pollution, at the Beach Book Box immediately after the Boat Float trophy ceremony. Eriksen is also co-founder of the 5 Gyres Institute, studying plastic pollution worldwide, and will serve as the special guest judge.

The boat race begins at 10 a.m. at Edgewater Beach and spectators are encouraged to attend. For more information, visit the Boat Float website here.