Oysters, Beer & Boards
The United States uses around 346 million gallons of fresh water every day—whether that be for irrigation purposes or hydration, water is an eminent part of everyday life. However, in the past couple of years there has been an influx of water problems all around the United States. Between the drought emergency in California, concerns over fracking and its effects on ground water, and the Oyster crisis in Apalachicola, Florida, there is no shortage of concern when it comes to our water. In an effort to raise money and awareness for a cause that affects us in such a large magnitude, BOTE and SweetWater Brewing Company out of Atlanta, Georgia have teamed up again this year to help the Waterkeeper Alliance.
The Waterkeeper Alliance is a non-profit company whose mission over the last 50 years is to defend their communities against anyone who threatens their right to clean water and to protect the world’s waterways. Today, the Waterkeeper Alliance is the world’s fastest growing environment movement, boasting over 270 Waterkeeper Organizations worldwide. BOTE Boards began working with SweetWater in 2012 and in 2015, SweetWater asked BOTE to get on board with helping raise awareness for the Waterkeeper Alliance. To Corey Cooper, BOTE owner and CEO, the partnership made perfect sense--BOTE makes paddle boards that are used on the water, SweetWater makes beer from the water and the Waterkeeper Alliance strives to protect the water. It was clear that all three entities have a lot in common. And just like that, a collaborative platform was born.
BOTE raised over $20,000 last year through local and national efforts with SweetWater’s “Save our Water” campaign and we are extremely excited to help the cause again this year. Both of our industries, standup paddle boarding and beer, depend on clean water. “Throughout the country, several of our retailers’ sales have been adversely affected by the health of their local water systems,” says Cooper, “Obviously stand up paddling isn’t the only reason we need to protect our water systems, but it gives us a great platform to raise awareness and money for the cause.”
Since the end of last year’s campaign, BOTE and SweetWater have been working on a new collaboration to raise money and awareness for our waters. The focus of this year's project is the Chattahoochee-Apalachicola River which is being affected by man-made water restrictions and causing damaging effects to the health of the Apalachicola Bay where some of the country’s most delicious oysters are harvested. The oysters that grow in this bay depend on the fresh water from the river to survive, and the oystermen and women who fish these waters, and their entire way of life, depend on healthy oyster beds. "In the last 10 years, countless oyster men in Apalachicola have lost their jobs due to lack of clean water from the Apalachicola River--a critical ingredient for growing some of the best tasting oysters in the United States,” says Cooper.
The Oystermen of Apalach
A group of hard-working folks, the oystermen and women of Apalachicola have had a tough go of it over the past decade. A dwindling supply of fresh water which feeds the oysterbeds they rely on for their livelihood has left their way of life in a precarious spot. BOTE Photographer Sean Murphy spent a day with some of these fishermen and got an inside glimpse into their world through the lens of his camera.
In an effort to raise awareness for this cause, a small team from BOTE decided to paddle the Apalachicola River and get up close and personal with controversy surrounding this important watershed. The team traveled three days and two nights spending every moment on the water to attempt to gain some insight of the environment and the vein that connects Georgia to Florida. Beginning at the Chattahoochee river basin, they paddled out to the dam locke to witness the water flow into BOTE’s native state. Staring at the booming water being shed from the locke, the crew realized how important this dam is to thousands of people as a source of fresh water, food, transportation and enjoyment. As they set forth downstream, camping on the banks, and paddling for the next couple of days, the realization of how eminent clean water is to everyday living had never been more apparent. “Ultimately, this trip helped us understand that resources that seem so abundant, like Apalachicola oysters or fresh water, are often teetering on the edge of collapse for completely preventable reasons,” says Cooper.
To help raise funds for this cause, BOTE has designed and produced a limited edition SweetWater Tie-dyed Flood BOTE Board where a portion of all profit will go to the Waterkeeper alliance. The 12’ Flood can hold up to 350 lbs, is Tackle Rac compatible, and supports BOTE’s newest innovation, the Travelink SUP Carry System. The board was inspired by both the SweetWater and BOTE lifestyles—with a tie dye nose and trout printed deck, this board perfectly exemplifies both company’s brands and styles. BOTE will be selling all boards online at boteboard.com and through BOTE’s dealer network. Many people take advantage of water and the environment that surrounds it, but here at BOTE, we have now made it our goal to be anything but mainstream, and we hope that you will join us in our effort to help keep our waterways clean.