John Gray’s SeaCanoe received the Skal Club International Ecotourism Award for Transportation at the 2008 Skal World Congress in Taipei, Taiwan. In 1983, John selected human-powered sea kayaks with which to explore tidal sea caves and remote tropical coastlines, promoting alternative non-polluting marine locomotion.
“The Skal Award is special because we did not apply,” said Gray, “but were nominated by Andrew Wood, Skal Int’l councilor – Thailand, thanks to feedback from numerous Skal members who actually experienced our trips since the formation of John Gray’s SeaCanoe in 2001.”
“Our guides, many with 12 years or more seniority, are the true winners. They capture our guests’ hearts and imagination day in and day out. Guest comments praising our guides fill my inbox,” said Caveman. “The SKAL award highlights their ongoing professionalism, including the awards from our old company, which dates back 13 years.”
Gray works from a broad-based environmental commitment. The University of Leeds recently published his case study about Puerto Princesa, Palawan, The Philippines. John lectures at Prince of Songkla University – Phuket, writes feature stories/photos, promotes conservation in on-going video appearances, writes a Phuket Gazette environmental column – and constantly collects marine rubbish from his kayak.
In 1976, the environmentalist co-founded and named “Keep The Country COUNTRY”, a Honolulu, Hawaii NGO promoting citizen-based planning on Oahu’s North Shore.
In 1983, he founded Natural History By Sea Kayak, in Hawaii, to promote nature conservation via local enfranchisement. Over the next five years, Gray explored Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Rarotonga, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia by sea kayak. He then looked to Asia. Thailand’s official timeline lists “1989 – John Gray formed SeaCanoe, an ecotourism venture, to show tourists the southwestern limestone caves known as hongs.” Gray explored Vietnam’s Halong Bay in 1992 and Palawan, Philippines in 1995.
For his 25 year anniversary, the lifelong waterman plans expeditions to most countries in which he pioneered commercial sea kayaking with local people. The schedule starts with a Phang Nga Bay Clean-up trip on Caveman’s 64th Birthday – January 14, 2009. Reunion Island is the one new “wild card.” Gray said, “It’s time for the Indian Ocean.”
Awards are nothing new to the Caveman. 1961 brought the Junior Achievement President of the Year and New York Stock Exchange Annual Report awards. Caveman conceived and hosted the documentary “Molokai’s Forgotten Frontier” produced by Honolulu news anchor Gary Sprinkle and videographer Mike May. The show won a 1985 Regional EMMY and a TEDDY from the US National Outdoor Writers Council for Best Environmental Education Production. In Thailand, Gray’s former experimental ecotourism company won six major awards in five years.
For more information, photo galleries and readings visit www.johngray-seacanoe.com .