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Mike Dukes has been a member of Milwaukee's South Shore Yacht Club, located on Lake Michigan, since 1958 and was club commodore in 2000 and 2001.
From modest beginnings in 1913, the club has become one of the largest yacht clubs in Wisconsin. During its growth, Dukes says, the club has been proud to be called the "Harbor of Hospitality" on the Great Lakes. Its members also have become environmentally conscious.
South Shore Yacht Club members include boating enthusiasts whose activities range from competitive and casual day sailing, to an active power boating fleet.
Located at 2300 E. Nock St. the club has 550 members and 243 slips, with a one- to two-year waiting list for membership.
"I've been working with boats since I had a paper route and there are many differences in boating operations today from when I was a kid," Dukes says.
The club's sailors and boaters alike are more interested than ever in pollution prevention and have made investments to back that up.
"I recall when the heads would empty into the lake and no one thought twice about it," Dukes recalls. "In the late 1960s and 70s we started seeing the effects of the pollution because boating was becoming more popular and the volume of pollution was increasing."
Dukes says that manufacturers responded to this concern by building boats with enclosed heads and, by 1969, building boats with holding tanks. Even with that technology, Dukes says sewage disposal was tough because there were few places to empty holding tanks.
"Only major marinas and a few public places had pumpouts," he recalls. "But that changed as people became more conscious of the problem."
The South Shore Yacht Club invested in its own pumpout facility five years ago.
Dukes' boat, a 43-foot long sailboat called TARDIS ("Time and Relative Dimensions in Sailing" named after the time travel machine on the "Doctor Who" television show), is equipped with two heads and holding tanks.
Dukes stores his boat on the club grounds and he, his wife and their boating partners do their own cleaning, but hire help for painting. They begin spring maintenance as soon as the weather warms.
In the fall they also do their own cleaning and winter storage maintenance.
Dukes says club members are encouraged to contain debris from maintenance work and use less toxic paints. They share tips in the club newsletter, "The Compass."
"The club also is talking about ways to better control runoff," Dukes says. The club already has green spaces, gardens and trees. "We'd like to go further and maybe build a containment building where maintenance work could be done under more controlled conditions."
Members also recycle their trash and there is a compactor on the grounds.
"If you ask people to be environmentally smart," Dukes says, "then you need to provide the facilities so that they can do that."
The club houses oil collection containers for recycling and they hire an authorized dock person to work at the fueling dock and pumpout station.
Members of the junior program – ages 8 through 18 – are expected to participate in area beach and shoreland clean-ups.
"They become aware at an early age about the importance of keeping the environment clean," Dukes says.
Natasha Kassulke is Associate Editor of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.