JD and his boatA man and his boat.Photo: John David SheltonMy name is John David Shelton, and I’ve been a proud member of the U.S. Navy for 18 years. A few months ago, I found out that I am being transferred from Florida to Virginia. I could have taken a bus or a plane. But I decided to go by boat.

Specifically, by secondhand sailboat. Over the next 30 days or so, I’ll be traveling to my new assignment with a little help from the wind, the sun, homemade biodiesel — and you.

You see, I believe there’s one issue that calls for all hands on deck: climate change. So I’ve turned my journey into an awareness-raiser for the planet. You know that coworker who ran a marathon for charity? It’s like that, but about 1,700 miles longer. And I am asking for your support.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

Sailing MapA map of my route.Since I have all the biodiesel I need, I hope you’ll sponsor my voyage by donating to Grist, my favorite source of timely, funny, common-sense environmental news. Together, we can help spread more awareness about climate change: the perils, the solutions, and the steps we can all take to slow it down.

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I’ve got a lofty goal of raising $20,000 before I hit the shores of Virginia (you can follow my voyage here). Every dollar you give will go straight toward shining a light on this important issue. Please put some wind in my sails by donating today — let’s send climate change into the briny deep!

Why I’m supporting Grist

As would be expected, a left-leaning environmentalist doesn’t find a lot of allies in the Department of Defense. I don’t remember exactly when or how I discovered Grist, but for years now, it’s been one of the things I look forward to finding in my inbox every day, whether I’m in the middle of the Atlantic, at an air base in Japan, steaming through the Suez, or in the deserts of Iraq.


In fact, I’ve learned so much from Grist that I started wondering how I could repay what I owe. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the Navy, it’s the idea that as an individual I can’t do as much as a whole shipload of people. Everything I’ve accomplished in the Navy and every success I’ve enjoyed would not have been possible without the help of others. So yes, I can contribute my $5 per month to the coffers of Grist, but that only goes so far. I now have the opportunity, with my fellow Grist readers, to do something truly big — I hope you’ll join me.

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UPDATE: At around 9:30 p.m. on Monday, March 29, 2011 John David Shelton’s boat hit a submerged object and began taking on water about 35 miles offshore near Tampa. He was rescued by the Coast Guard and is safely recovering with his family in Pensacola. If you’d like to send him your well wishes, please use the comments section below.