Letter: Asking Where the Money Goes

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Letter to the Editor

Asking where the money goes In response to “Study: More dolphins, whales feeding in Santa Monica Bay” in April 17 issue of The Malibu Times, the story “missed the boat,” journalistically.

The photo in your story on the whales and dolphins in Santa Monica Bay shows the marine biologist Maddalena Bearzi at the helm of a 50-plus foot-long sailboat as she and her husband do research on whales and dolphins in Santa Monica Bay. The story tells of their co-founded Ocean Conservation Society (OCS) and mentions their funding need of $100K-200K annually. Yet the story doesn’t look into the obvious question of how much of that budget goes to the mortgage, insurance and registration fees, slip fees, and upkeep for that sailing yacht in the photo.

A look at the OCS website shows that the yacht is a Santa Cruz 52. Similar used yachts of that make and model sell for approximately $350-500K. The cost of the mortgage from the original purchase of the yacht depends on many factors, but could be in excess of $30K annually. Slip fees in Marina del Rey range from $8-16 per foot of boat length per month. Using a conservative $10 per foot per month gives $520 per month, or $6,240 per year. Maintenance and upkeep, including monthly hull scrubbing, inboard-engine maintenance, standing-rigging inspection and repair, electronics maintenance and replacement, and sail and line routine repair and replacement for a yacht of that size in salt water can easily exceed $20K annually. Insurance and registration fees could be $5K per year.

Keeping a 52-foot yacht is a rich man’s game. The missing part of this story is about how much of the annual budget of OCS is being used to support this couple’s desire to be out sailing whenever they want. Could they have managed to do their whale and dolphin surveys with a less expensive yacht? Are contributions to OCS going in large part to the operation of this yacht?

Cris Jones