Day 25 S/V Kaisei: Beginnings and Endings

28 08 2009

Friday, 28 August 2009
Lat: 38° 01’ N Lon: 123° 25’ W

Cordell Banks off Pt. Reyes, CA
National Marine Sanctuary

Project Kaisei received permission to do some water samples in these protected waters. We will report our findings and those we hope to take near the Farallone Islands to the directors and scientists in charge of both marine sanctuaries. We were greeted here by dolphins and sharks and more seabirds than we’ve seen in over three weeks. The contrast between the lack of a profusion of life in the gyre and our entrance to the Cordell Banks National Marine Sanctuary was really striking. Project Kaisei strongly supports all of the National Marine Sanctuaries and particularly the Farallones and Cordell Banks. We are getting close to home.

Whether the building of a bridge or the demolishing of a skyscraper, the beginnings and endings of most things are often messy. The ending of our voyage is approaching and when one considers all of the marine debris we have collected, a messy ending is guaranteed. Here, Norton Smith tells of his experience at the beginning of the mission:

May 13, 2009 I arrived on the Kaisei to a maze of extension cords, dark rooms, complicated mechanical systems, and mysterious wires and pipes that seemed to lead to nowhere. No one knew how to run the equipment when I first went to inspect the ship. No engineer with experience was available that day. Mary Crowley planned to fly in chief engineer, Kevin Grogin from New Zealand as he was very familiar with the ship. Mary said that money was tight, but it was going to come, and thankfully it did. We washed the walls and floors and then built lab tables and shelving and a media section. As the weeks passed my doubts increased. What was I doing here? Each day we rebuilt pumps, rewired and re-plumbed systems and things started to come together.

Two weeks before departure some of the crew began arriving; the countdown clock was running. Equipment was ordered and began arriving. It was clear that we would leave, and I stayed busy and worked on the toilet system and other mechanical mysteries that had some chance of my solving.

Finally August 2, departure day minus one. An even greater chaos of items arrived– laboratory and video equipment, office supplies and more people. We would be 25 in total. At last we were off. It was an amazing day. Despite all the odds, and all the doubts, the trip had begun. It was a credit to the perseverance and vision of Mary and others. The management may have been a bit chaotic due to monies coming in slowly, some rushed decisions may have been made, but the trip was happening. We were at sea with a full crew and a lot of equipment and amazingly most of the necessary experiments were done due to resourcefulness and dedication of the crew in finding good ways to work. We created a successful, though sometimes stressful, expedition out of a vortex of chaos.

Norton Smith




One response

31 08 2009
Carol Carlson

Thanks for the inside look, Norton, inside the vortex. An amazing feat to pull off, mechanically, money-wise, people-wise, dealing with so many unknowns in such a short time. The news media will never know what it took (unless you tell them.) Thanks to all who made it happen.

As you land, before you go your myriad ways, I imagine you all having a time of closure or some kind or mutual enjoyment !!! to celebrate what you have done together.

I’ve enjoyed all of the blogs, photos and videos. Please take a well-deserved rest.

And: I continue to point people to your website and I see their excitement about the project. The plastic is not going away. So will any communication be on-going as messy marine collections are analyzed and your experience moves to the next step?

I am in Oregon. Anything I can do?


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