Hilary Kotoun

Hilary Kotoun, Hilary Wiech, Sailors for the Sea

Hilary is passionate about conveying the importance of protecting our oceans, lakes and rivers to the boating community through fun, engaging content. Whether it is in a magazine, blog or social media post, she enjoys translating the language of ocean science into a memorable and moving blurb, quote or article.

Hilary’s fascination and love for the ocean, and all its creatures, started at a young age when she lived aboard her family's sailboat in the Caribbean, and has continued through time spent on the Chesapeake Bay where she sailed on her college’s varsity sailing team, and now living near and enjoying the ocean in Newport, RI.  During this time spent on the water, she has seen both the unfortunate destruction of our waterways when we choose to ignore our own impact and the endless possibilities for hope for our oceans when protected by passionate people.

What is your earliest memory of the ocean?
When I was in kid and living in Indiana, my parents announced that we were selling our home and moving onto a boat and sailing around the Caribbean. On our first night sail, down the Chesapeake Bay everything on the boat was breaking. As I flushed the marine head these crazy glowing lights flash through the toilet as I use the pump. I knew I could not tell my parents about something else breaking...so I did not tell anyone about this mystery. Later that night I saw the glowing lights at the back of the boat and learned all about phosphorescence. 

What is the biggest threat to preserving the ocean and local waters for future generations?
I think the biggest threat is the notion that the ocean is ours to exploit - and if you don't exploit it, someone else will. I am fascinated by sharks and the first time I learned about shark finning and 100 million sharks being killed ever year, I was devastated. The fact that a few dollars per fin could wipe out a species that has been on this earth for 450 million years is the best example I can think of to describe the problem of exploiting the ocean.

What has changed more dramatically in your life time, the sport of sailing or ocean health?
While lately I have gotten to see and sail on some pretty radical boats that I would have never imagined 10 years ago - unfortunately it is ocean health that has changed more dramatically in my lifetime.