Wind in Their Sails

Alum Uses Sailing to Connect Children to Environment
by Liam Farrell | Photos courtesy of Call of the Sea

Charlie Hart ’62 believes the past provides a good guide for inspiring future sailors and caretakers of the natural world, even if the specific blueprint is 200 years old.

A board member and former CEO of Call of the Sea, a nonprofit marine education organization based in Sausalito, Calif., Hart was part of the team that this September was scheduled to launch its new signature project, a 132-foot-long recreated tall ship.

Modeled after a 19th-century example called Galilee, the brigantine Matthew Turner—named after the original’s builder—will serve as a floating classroom sailing the West Coast and South Pacific.

“The kids are going to love it because it looks like a pirate ship,” Hart says. “Everyone likes a pirate ship.”

The Matthew Turner is just one part of Hart’s footprint on California marine education.

As CEO of the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, he leads an organization that educates more than 12,000 children a year through everything from sailing and vernacular to an overnight program at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park that mimics life on the sea in 1906.

Many participants are from low-income schools, Hart says, and only about 5% have ever been on a boat. Just pausing for 15 minutes to listen to the whistle of the wind and the lapping of waves can be transformative.

“Little things like that … make an impression,” he says.

Hart, who learned to sail on the Chesapeake Bay, was a U.S. Air Force officer and had a long career in Silicon Valley. He was chairman, president and CEO of MediaAlive and CEO of Micronics Computers and was named to the Micro Times 50, a list of the most influential people in the computer industry.

Nonprofit leadership was the next chapter. Before spending eight years leading Call of the Sea, Hart was chairman of the board of the San Jose Symphony, CEO of the Ballet San Jose and president of the HealthStore Foundation, operating health clinics in Africa.

An experienced sailor, he believes boating education and experience on the water are having a positive impact in his community, and sees an improvement in water quality and marine life since he settled in the Bay Area in the 1970s.

“The end goal is to create better stewards for the environment,” Hart says. “The water is different. It’s paying off.”


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