Make way! Davis High School students board Flotsam & Jetsam to clean the Cuyahoga

School may be headed out for summer, but two students from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School who are interested in maritime careers were on the Cuyahoga River and Inner Harbor last Thursday, May 30.

The were not out for a leisurely sail, but aboard the tandem vessels, Flotsam and Jetsam, to help the Port of Cleveland and maritime and aerospace education partner Argonaut clean debris and trash from Northeast Ohio’s waterways.

The students were joined by two deckhands, and one of the two captions, who are graduates of Davis.

Jared Magyar, the Port’s vice president of operations and facilities, says the day was fairly uneventful as far as picking up large debris or coming across strange items. 

“It went very well,” he says. “We had good weather, and it was worthwhile. There was nothing really too crazy that they found floating in there, but this is a good way for the students to maintain some maritime experience. Plus, they enjoy doing so.”

In fact, Magyar says most of the time on these excursions the students come across nothing more exciting than woody, organic debris and plastic. “It's just garbage,” he says. There are really never any cool finds. It's just junk.”

But occasionally, Magyar says the vessels encounter the large tires used as bumpers at industrial docks.

“Occasionally those tires will fall off. Just the size of those tires is just crazy,” he laughs. “The kids always find it amusing, how big they are, and their imagination runs wild—what kind of machine could that be from? They have fun with that.”

Magyar says the Port does not measure the river debris it picks up every day. “They don't actually weigh the stuff,” he explains, adding that Flotsam & Jetsam take about 300,000 pounds of debris out of the water each season. “What we do at the end of the season is we tally everything up based on how many dumpsters were picked up.”

Argonaut is a nonprofit corporation founded by D. Andrew Ferguson and Douglas McConnell with the goal of engaging young people in high-quality educational experiences and increasing interest in maritime and aerospace careers.

The students also help with mechanical, fueling, safety inspections, and operations of Flotsam & Jetsam. 

The partnership with the high school is growing, and the Port is currently developing the Maritime Learning and Resource Center for the school.