Day 13 S/V Kaisei: Not Quite ‘Hump Day’

16 08 2009

Sunday, 16 August 2009
Lat: 34° 05’ N Lon: 140° 15’ W

John Aloft

John Aloft

A word from the blogger:

Two weeks at sea with a dozen men and thirteen women on a tall ship, over a thousand miles from land in any direction, searching for the elusive “Plastic Dragon”– sailors, scientists, cameramen and me.

I had no idea what this adventure would be like, how I could contribute something and what I could take away from the experience. I’ve always loved the romance of the sea. My Coast Guard training gave me an early taste of shipboard life, but nothing really prepared me for the unique reality of sailing on a brigantine with a challenging mission. Today I climbed the rigging and stood watch for dangerous marine debris, such as ghost nets, and for current lines that might lead us to areas of greater accumulation.

The mission: get to the Gyre, find the plastic, collect samples for scientific analysis, experiment with marine debris collection techniques, communicate our findings, sensitize the public to the reality and seriousness of the problem, and hopefully enlist support for remediation. Simply put, save our oceans so we can save ourselves.

Like many people, I’d heard sensationalized descriptions of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” I pictured mile-long swaths of marine debris; “islands” filled with containers, cast off lawn chairs, tons of plastic bottles, nets, floats. I think I saw myself saving the world by locating it, communicating the extent of the problem, helping to develop methods to collect it, and ultimately seeing it recycled economically and cleaning the sea.

The plastic is all around us; daily watches result in seemingly unlimited articles of discards being spotted. Much of it started off as big pieces; many of which remain well intact. We are also finding an abundance of confetti-sized pieces being ingested by sea life. The sad reality is that the sea is not going to give it up easily.

I feel frustrated by the enormity of the problem and the struggle for solutions. I’m honored to be sailing with such a dedicated team of specialists. All of us have given a month out of our normal lives to this voyage. I predict this is only the start of our commitment. I know that I’ll never give up on the mission.

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One response

17 08 2009
Jo McPeak

John…this blog sounds like it is yours. What an experience. I love all the blogs from your companions. Thank you for doing this! Jo

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