Disney finalists lend a hand
THE Morning Light Project has attracted enough attention from our local media that it's probably not necessary to explain what it's all about. But in case some of you have been off sailing around the world, maybe a bit of background is warranted.
In anticipation of this year's Transpacific Yacht Race, veteran race competitor and movie producer Roy E. Disney began last year to assemble a crew of sailors to become "the youngest crew ever to sail Transpac."
There was more to the project, however, than in just taking part in the historic 2,225-mile open ocean race. The entire process -- from the nationwide search that produced 538 volunteers and ended with 15 finalists, to the training for and eventual completion of the race -- will ultimately become a feature film.
Because the majority of the Transpac course is sailed "downhill" with the northeast tradewinds, Disney has made sure that his Morning Light crew has had plenty of practice here in Hawaii's wind-swept waters.
This has also meant that the crew has had enough time while on land to get involved with some of our local activities.
Fortunately, one of the Morning Light crew finalists was Punahou School graduate Mark Towill, who introduced the crew to Polynesian Voyaging Society's Nainoa Thompson. This introduction paid off with a sail aboard the Hokule'a before it left on its epic voyage to the Far East.
Another example of the Morning Light's crew connecting with activities here was their involvement in last weekend's Ala Wai Harbor cleanup conducted by volunteers from the Waikiki Yacht Club and the Sierra Club.
A team spokesperson said that the crew has been committed to giving its time and talents to the community as a mahalo for the hospitality it has received while training in Hawaii.
So, equipped with scoop nets supplied by West Marine, the crewmembers fanned out around the Ala Wai's docks Saturday and did what 18-year-old Towill said was called a "scavenger hunt" when he was a junior sailor in the area.
"We would sail down all the little boat slips and whoever found the most trash won, making it a fun competition-type thing, but still doing a good cause at the same time," Towill recalled.
As anyone who has taken part in any of the cleanups of the Ala Wai Harbor's floating debris can attest to, it can be both richly rewarding and deeply troubling.
The reward is, of course, in seeing a garbage-free marina. But the troubling part comes when you discover that far too soon the trash is back due to the unthinking actions of both residents and visitors who continue to litter.
Nevertheless, the young Morning Light crew is to be congratulated for offering its time and energy to a local project of this kind.
And it's my guess their payback will come at the finish of Transpac when the aloha welcome for their boat becomes the biggest one seen in years.