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Sailing the Pacific to save the Dolphins

by Nancy Knudsen on 26 Mar 2012
Dolphins - needing protection .. .
The Dolphin Project is an attempt to stop dolphin slaughter and exploitation around the world. Campaigns for dolphin protection are happening in a variety of locations around the globe, including the Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Egypt, and Singapore. But right now one young sailor is about to embark on a crossing of the Pacific to draw attention to the cruel plight of many of the world's dolphins.

Earlier this month Jim Sullivan launched his 'bullet proof' yacht Elusive Spirit for an 8,000-mile voyage across the Pacifi to raise awareness for the protection and humane treatment of Dolphins

About 100 people gathered on the day at Marina del Rey Yacht Club to wish him well. He says he expects the trip in the 30-foot sailing boat to take about three months, and is currently doing sea trials in preparation.

Earlier in his career Jim Sullivan was rolled three times in a previous boat, then holed and had to be rescued by a passing cargo ship. So in the past three years, with many thousands of dollars invested, he has transformed a simple cruising boat, built in 1968, into a hearty blue water beast that he calls 'bullet proof'.

Sullivan has poured over every inch of the boat seeking out areas of weakness and potential failure. He has added bulkheads, removed windows, replaced the mast, strengthened the rigging, added cohesion to deck joints and reinforced structural support all throughout the boat.

There are strategically placed handles and grab-ons everywhere you look for getting around safely and there doesn’t seem to be any area that hasn’t been thoughtfully considered. It’s clear that Sullivan vividly remembers what worked, or moreover, what didn’t work in his last voyage on essentially the same boat.
'When you walk on the deck, it feels like a cement boat,' says Sullivan. 'I learned a lot out there the last time and I’ve put it to good use.'

Also on board will be videographer Armando Valdez Kennedy, who will be shooting underwater footage of dolphins and whales along the way. The Elusive Spirit will sail north to 12 degrees, passing south of Hawaii, north of the Marshall Islands, south of Guam and onto the Phillipines.

The fundraising effort is called Pennies for Life and for every mile Sullivan sails, donors can pledge a penny that will go directly to this organization that fights for the protection and humane treatment of dolphins around the world and also to Earth Island Institute, which works to protect the environment.

'You have to show up, be there, and act,' says Sullivan defining his attitude towards the expedition. 'If you don’t make it – that’s okay – as long as you tried.'

Visitors to Sullivan's web site,, can track the journey in real time once it starts, but more importantly donate to support Ric O'Barry's Dolphin Project. O'Barry is a renowned dolphin trainer and advocate featured in the Oscar-winning documentary 'The Cove.'

About the Dolphin Project:
Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project is a campaign under the International Marine Mammal Project at the non-profit Earth Island Institute. This work has been chronicled in films such as A Fall From Freedom, the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, and in the Animal Planet mini-series Blood Dolphin. To learn more,!click_here.

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