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Meet Jake Russell of Beach Area

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jake Russell.

Hi Jake, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Born in La Jolla, CA 1959. My father was a waterman and a conservationist. I learned at an early age to respect the ocean. We were taught not to drop trash at the beach, and pick it up even if it’s not yours. After High school, I wanted an alternative education. Boats were part of the family and I already built a couple in the back yard so, I applied and was accepted to The Apprenticeshop. A Traditional boatbuilding school in Bath Maine. At the time I was the youngest apprentice ever. After 4 years I returned to San Diego and immediately got a job building a yacht for the owner of the Hotel Del Coronado. After that, I helped build the tall ship for the state of California, the Californian. Then, the Americas cup came to San Diego twice. I worked for many syndicates. Along the way I got my contractor’s license, I worked in construction in Mexico for 10 years. I returned to help with the family real estate business.

I knew if I had the chance to give back and make the ocean a better place I would. I got to go back to Maine, all these decades later, and enlist the best builders in the country to help build the R/V PILAR. I went back last year when the vessel was finished and drove off bound for California. Now, we are here! Our mission is to advocate for sustainable fishing, access, and the removal of ocean plastic. We hope to tag fish for research. We do not support industrial fishing. We hope to help ban Mylar balloons and show everyone on the water how they can help pick up floating trash when they see it. Also to shed light on current micro-plastic research and what happens to the fish that eat it.

We hope to make PILAR available for private and institutional use. We have set up a California non-profit at

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I have been working on this for years. Getting the boat here was a struggle. We drove it on its bottom from Maine to Florida during hurricane season. We then waited to put it on a freighter bound for Ensenada Mexico. My car was in Maine, so had some friends drive my van down to Florida I then drove back to California through hurricane Laura to meet the freighter. All during Covid. It took about 60 days.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Boatbuilding is an art. Nothing is straight or square like a house. PILAR is the only boat on the west coast that looks like this. She has beautiful lines. Not by accident.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Don’t stop never quit run hard learn from failure but don’t fear it

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: @rvpilar_
  • Facebook: R/V Pilar San Diego

Image Credits:

Barnacle Media

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