Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting "Lost" in the South Atlantic: Day 22

Blog 10-- Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We reached the center of the South Atlantic high yesterday and we are not here in vain.  Silently, I had hoped it wouldn't be a repeat of what I witnessed in the North Pacific Garbage Patch.  Like cancer that starts in one part of the body and spreads to another, so does plastic in our oceans.

It started with a blue hardhat that we spied moments into our 6am watch.  Soon, everyone was on deck busy plucking plastic.  Everyone but me.  My back continues to keep me up all night and flexibility is limited, so I journal entry all the stuff we are seeing and collecting.  Between the perfectly calm seas, feathery clouds to minimize glare, we were all yelling out sightings of plastic.  I wrote them down.  Most of the debris doesn't present itself until we are right on top of it.  Much of it swivels and swirls inches below the surface. Only bottles and buoys set up higher in the water-- things that contain air.  Just to name a few of the items that we plucked:  Plastic sheeting with mega bite marks in them, bottles, buoys, very fragile and degraded laundry baskets, large fragments bigger than my hand, crates, and the hardhat that had smaller items twisted in it like a corner of a candy-like wrapper!!

I also did several "Timed Observations" yesterday with bionic-eyes Rich, who confessed having something like 20-15 vision.  In three hours and from just one portion of the ship (because you cannot get an aerial view), we counted 63 items larger than 3 inches and as big as 3 feet.  Unlike the fragments we find in our trawls these fragments were huge.

We stopped the boat long enough for an underwater photo shoot.  My GoPro went in with Stiv as he videoed Anna in her Roxy sponsored wet suit.  We filmed the debris we had just collected from where we found it but with the water hovering around 60 degrees, they got out and we went on our way.

Now onto our evening activities...

I haven't mentioned it, but there has been an addiction formed on this journey instigated by the pro-surfers and it isn't just the chocolate bars that Anna rations out nearly every night after dinner.  It's a fitting title to what we are doing and where we are.  Many people get lost at sea, much of our plastic gets lost at sea, and many of us aboard Sea Dragon are in  a "LOST" marathon.

For years, my son has been trying to get me to watch the weekly series "LOST."  I have not watched a TV show consistently since I left Cortland, NY.  Back then the addiction was "Friends."  My good friend, Pam Sullivan, and I would meet at a litter bar appropriately named Friends.  So we would meet to watch "Friends" at Friends with friends.  Now Mary Maxwell and I usually meet at the "saloon table" on our night shifts to watch hours of "LOST."  Last night when it was our turn to be out on deck, we had to tear ourselves away from the 2nd to the last episode in the first season.  We watched Shannon put a gun up to Locke, pull the trigger and then.... we had to hit the stop button, climb into our foul weather gear, complicated lifejackets, clip-in lines and then head up the stairs into a dome of darkness.  The ocean gently lapped against our boat reminding me of Pleasant Lake in Syracuse, NY.  Slowly our rods and cones went to work poking holes in the blackness and the sky began to lighten taking our minds off of "LOST."  Well, for an hour anyway.

"Be right back," I assured Mary.  I popped through the companion-way within seconds.  Mary's whites eclipsed the stars.  And there we were happy as clams, hunched together in the glow of my Mac screen under the star lit canopy lost in "LOST."

More later,

Bonnie Over the Sea

Also, be sure to check into 5 gyres blog.  Stiv Wilson wrote an amazing blog post:  Convenience Can Break the Entire Ocean  What Bonnie and I (Danielle) did going plastic-free with our food choices for one week (and beyond for me and my family) is one way that we can break this cycle.  To learn about living with less plastic, visit Fake Plastic Fish's Plastic-Free Living Guide

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Observations in the South Atlantic: Day 20

Blog 9-- Sunday November 28, 2010

The next best thing to having a pair of good eyes is to be next to someone who does.  Rich Owen and I had been doing a field study we call "Timed Observations of Plastic Pollution."  It was Saturday, 10:00, I wrote down the coordinates and boat speed on my data sheet then started the timer for one hour.  When one of us saw something, the other would confirm the sighting and I'd write down the time, the color, and rough dimensions.  When the hour was up, we would get the coordinates to determine how far we went, tally the number of observed plastics and calculate how much plastic we observed over that time and distance.  But by 10:10 our focus had shifted.

"Whales!" Rich shouted, "Whale spouts!"  I scanned the horizon feverishly until my eyes focused on a water fountain roughly a half mile off portside.  It had to have been a big one for us to see the spout so clearly at such a distance.  Soon the one turned to a series of them and our marine biologist, Chelsea Rochman, confirmed through binoculars that there was a pod of them.  "My fiancĂ© studies whales, he could tell you what kind they are just their spout."  Grayson, I had thought to myself.  It's a non-fiction book by Lynne Cox we have been passing around aboard ship.  (Being out at sea invokes reading.)  The story is of a teen-aged girl who is training to break the world record swimming from Catalina Island to Long Beach.  One morning, she finds herself being followed by a baby gray whale.  You can't put the book down as it tells her story of how she reunited Grayson with his mother and pod.  Hearing Chelsea say the word pod brought back the amazing story of this child and her experience of somehow communicating with creatures of the sea.  It lends pause to the notion that the last place we should find plastic is in the ocean.

Sometimes marine life confuses plastic as being food and sometimes we confuse marine life for being plastic.  For example, Friday, Rich and I were doing one of our Timed Observations when we kept noting what looked like Styrofoam bits or bottle caps every 3-5 minutes floating 20 yards off starboard.  They were white and floated high in the water.  I'd write it down with a question mark beside it.  If they are plastic, why are they all about the same size and traveling so close together??  I knew from previous experiences at sea that like things travel at roughly the same speed and eventually catch up with each other, but this was truly unusual for it to be that consistent.  Saturday we found our answer in on of our trawls.  Several of these "white bottle-cap"  looking things were in our trawl.  They are clearly a product of the ocean.  Marcus calls them Gooseneck barnacle balls because usually there are gooseneck barnacles attached to them.  (Holly can you figure out what the scientific name of them??)  If we cannot identify the difference between plastic and marine life, how can we expect marine life to be able to?  Here's a twist to the story.  Every hour we take the high speed manta trawl out to see if we've caught any fish.  Tonight at 3am we pulled the trawl out, opened the codent to find not a single fish!!!  But we did catch a bottle cap!

The thing about being on the open-ocean is that you have to be on deck to learn what is out here.  If you're down below, you might not make it up the deck stairs to see an amazing opportunity like a sea turtle or dolphins swimming by.  I had missed both of those.  So we've all learned to be on deck as much as possible and if not have our ears pricked in case someone shouts out a discovery so we can "Flash Gordon" from below.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black yet Bright Day in the South Atlantic: Day 18

Blog 8-- Friday November 26, 2010   "Black Friday"

It was a beautiful day, though cool.  We had to dip down more southerly to get ourselves into the high pressure system which means it is colder.  It would be like driving to New Jersey or Pennsylvania from Wilmington, NC.

The sun was out all day and we all came in with red cheeks and big smiles.  The sea state is just above a 2-- winds around 15-20 knots and 1-2 foot waves.  A lot of trash.  I've been doing my hour-long timed observations. and counted a lot of debris today.  We even had a ghost net hung up on our trawl.  That's a first.  I've not seen that happen in previous voyages.

I processed a couple of our samples from start to finish.  I took some pictures and will share once I get to Cape Town.  Our plans are a bit sketchy right now.  We are running several days late and hope to catch up some time on the way in.  The captain has a flight to catch on the 9th and we all plan on going to a eco-tourism white shark cage observation.  Should be some great photos from that as well.  I'll give the particulars on their process once I know more.

In the meantime, we did our Black Friday shopping collecting free floating debris.  All of us are blown away by the amount of stuff we are seeing that the seas have calmed and we're in the high pressure system.

More later.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blue and Calm in the South Atlantic: Day 17

Blog 8-- Thursday November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday, finally we could all spend the day out on the deck.  It had been the first since the day we left.  It was the place to be.  The sky was completely blue and the sea state calmed to a three-- winds between 10-20 knots (a guesstimate since our wind meter is down) and 2-3 foot waves, though there was an occasional rogue wave capable of knocking us off our feet.

It was my watch from noon to 6pm, so I did what I usually do when the weather and visibility allows during my watch-- I spied the seas for plastic.  Through the course of two weeks, I had seen a laundry basket, several water bottles, a basketball, and numerous large fragments from unidentifiable items.  In all that I had witnessed in the very rough sea state, I saw more in two hours in relatively calm seas.  I believe a windrow of plastic was forming.  It wasn't the first time that I observed this phenomenon.  July of '09, I saw windrows of seaweed called sargassum form in the North Atlantic.  Because plastic floats like the sargassum, it actually does form a windrow of plastic during certain sea states.  I observed this in the North Pacific gyre with Captain Charlie Moore in the fall of '09.

The windrow was about 20 yards portside.  I stood on a three foot high wooden box at the bow of the ship with my GoPro camera strapped to my forehead hoping the fisheye lens would be able to capture the debris floating by.  Anna had been standing on the box moments before holding onto the guide wire and when a rouge wave would hit, she'd pull herself up, lifting her legs like a pole dancer to avoid getting wet.  But once she noticed the plastic floating close to the ship, she took action.  I filmed.  I had moved to the box to get a better angle  of the teamwork that irrupted-- getting nets out, taking down sails, and slowing the boat so that we could start collecting debris.  Anna was going after one bottle when I noticed another one coming at her.  I yelled to her, "Anna, look there's another one!"  Just then a rogue wave slammed into the side of the ship.  I had been holding on with one hand and pointing with the other.  I quickly grabbed on with both hands as I began to spin around the guide wire that Anna had used, but with not so graceful moves.  As my body spun, my feet were planted and something had to give.  Unfortunately, I felt my hands slowly slip off and I dropped down 3 feet hard, slamming my right side onto the edge of a porthole frame.  I heard a very distinct pop.  I lied there completely out of sight from the others.  I laid perfectly still telling myself, "I am not broken, I am not broken."  Though I was sure I had cracked a rib.

I slowly peeled myself off the floor, confident that I had talked my body out of being seriously injured.  I had to.  There was way to much action going on.  Marcus came to the bow to pull down the staysail, Dale maneuvered the boat so we could attempt to net plastics.  Some of the crew had cameras in hand to catch images while the others had nets.

Yet it didn't matter which way we went, the plastics alluded us.  In total frustration, Marcus took off his shirt and dove in, grabbed a floating water bottle, put it between his teeth like a retriever and started swimming back.  But just as the plastics had out maneuvered us, so began the challenge of pulling Marcus out of the water.  Ten minutes went by.  Every time he swam toward us, a wave would come and wash him back.  He struggled a bit to tell us the water was cold.  Fear started to set in.  At one point he was 30 yards out.  With the fantastic navigational abilities of Dale and Clive, we were able to get him back on board.  The exercise reiterated just how difficult it is to find, then extract someone if they go overboard.

As for me, I'll be gimping around for a little bit.  Mary Osbourne gave me her chilled water bottle to use as ice, then later applied some icy spray.  Chelsea Rochman generously gave me Advil and her bag of Jelly Bellies her friend labeled "Do not open until your birthday."  Prematurely opened by two days.  How sweet was that!!  Later, Dale gave me a chilled hemorrhoid gelatinous ring (you use what's available on a ship) and my watch team let me sleep instead of getting up for my 2am-6am watch.  I'm in good hands.

Our two samples yesterday were among the largest we've collected from the manta trawl so far.  (How I wish I could send pictures!!)  Evidence of plastic accumulates in the high?  Perhaps.  We should have perfect conditions from here to Cape Town to get good samples.

We'll be having Thanksgiving dinner out in the cockpit and will share what we are thankful for.  After yesterday, I've added a few more things to my list.

More later.

Bonnie spies over the ocean

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wind, Rain... and Blue!--South Atlantic: Day 15

Blog 7-- Day 15: Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday proved to be another trying day.  Our True Wind Speed meter stopped working, but one doesn't need to know the exact number to feel the sensation of the flying and floating with occasional speed bumps.  Flying up to 50 knots and hitting one head-on creates havoc, like in "Jaws" when he slammed Shawn Connery's boat.

It isn't just the wind.  Rogue waves can also be damning.  James Pribram had just stepped up on deck, clipped in and then wham.  An enormous wave came over portside and washed him from the cockpit (a sitting area in front of the companion way) and carried him 20 feet.  It flipped him over the mainsail traveler, mashed him into and then over the railing to the steering column... then he felt his clip snap into action.  Jerking him to a holt, it then dropped him on the wooden slotted floor a foot from the deep blue.  Had he not been clipped in, he may not have stopped.  The back of the boat was completely filled with water.  He said he had a vision of being in the water and watching the sails fade in the distance.  It was a warning to us all that it only takes one split second for things to go wrong.  Bruised but not broken our star surfer is okay.  James is not only a professional surfer, he has his own TV show called "Eco Warrior" and is a freelance writer.  Give him a Google... he's a multi-gifted character activist, athlete, and writer who's personable and handsome like my son.  (Sorry, had to throw that in)

Yesterday, I spent four hours on deck and watched the wind poke holes in the gray blanket that has been following us for nearly 500 nautical miles.  At 6am, the sky thick with gloom.  By 9am, the large blue patches reflected off the ocean creating a multi-blue plaid pattern.  Our observations of plastic trash floating by has increased somewhat, maybe because we are nearing the high pressure system, maybe because the sea state has calmed some to allow debris to pop up through the water surface or both.  Our samples continue to collect plastic fragments.

Marcus and I were discussing ways to convey to the world just what these samples mean.  I likened it to a fine quality of fabric that has a three mile radius and we are sampling just one small portion of just one thread.  His analogy was that we are sampling a razors edge in an area the size of a football field.

At midnight, I was back on watch and finally got to see the full moon we feared we'd miss.  It lit up the sky blocking out most of the stars but entertained me with a rainbow ring of brilliant orange and yellow.  Another first.

More later.


Be sure to visit 5 Gyres blog to learn more about the above photo :)
5 Gyres Blog: I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Even Angry Seas Can't Wash Away Plastic...South Atlantic: Day 13

Blog 6-- Day 13  Sunday November 21, 2010

I wish I could send pictures, words cannot describe and even pictures struggle to convey what has been unleashed upon us.

Twice a day the Captain gives us a weather report.  For the past week he says roughly the same thing, "It will just be another 24 hours of high winds according to our weather forecast ."  Today he paused, then added, "Yeah, whatever."  Funny to hear even him grumble a bit.  Too many days we've been hopeful for just one ray of sunshine.  Just one.  We can handle being knocked about collecting bruises, but no sun and high winds means staying down below if not on watch

For the past two weeks, whenever the weather gets the craziest, Anna and Marcus attempt to make us feel better by saying, "At least it isn't as bad as it was in the North Atlantic in January." Yesterday, the North Atlantic was surpassed.  Fifty-one knot winds pounded into our sails.  The "Cape Fear" movie sound effects howled and moaned as the water sprayed up over the deck.  Vertical rain pelted our eyes.  Yet, as the angry sea attempts to wash us away, it cannot wash away the plastic that we invariably see floating by.  Random parts of once bigger objects surface then disappear.  I wonder to myself where the other parts are.

More news.  It took two days to repair our main sail that tore last week.  Yesterday, the repaired tear was dwarfed by yet a larger one.  In fear of damaging another sail, we now lumber through the water at about three knots just using our Staysail.  Currently we are three days behind schedule, but the Captain assures us  that we will make up time once we get into the high pressure system-- our targeted research site.

I spent six hours on the deck Saturday regardless of the wind and rain.  The air is so amazingly fresh, nothing back home compares.  We have no idea what air should really breath like and most definitely, the air "fresheners" pull us further from what it truly is.  I enjoy watching the petrels and albatross laugh at the wind as they dart around the waves at 50 knots.  It temporarily beats staring at a computer screen for eight hours a day.

By the way, Butchie you were right (again).  My fingernail that I pinched in the tile cutter two months ago is on its way off.  I liken it to losing a tooth as a child.  It probably seems worse than it actually is.  But losing a fingernail is better than losing our opportunity to collect good samples.  So we wait it out another day.

Clear skies and calm seas please.


For more about what's happening with the crew in the South Atlantic, be sure to visit:

Rough Seas in the South Atlantic: Day 11

Blog 5  Day 11  Friday November 19, 2010

Rain-- inside and out due to the combination of, well, rain and waves crashing over the bow.  Water is stealth in finding any orifice to climb into and it found at least one.  After coming off a hair-raising watch, Rich and I climbed down to the galley to get some hot tea.  The captain made the order to tack portside and moments later a gallon of water poured over our heads missing us by inches.  Without a word, Rich grabs a pan and I look for something to wipe up the water.

"We're on a boat," the captain says nonchalantly, "boats leak."

A little background info-- there are three watch shift crews.  

Bay Watch: Chelsea Rochman, Anna Cummins, Marcus Ericksen, and Michael Lutman.

Surf Watch: Mary Osbourne, James Pribram, and Jody Lemmon.

And then there's my team... Rolex Watch: Rich Owen, Mary Maxwell, and Stiv Wilson.

We either do 8 or 10-hour split shifts per day.  (as Rich repeatedly says, "I didn't see this in the brochure.")  So Wednesday night, we were on from 6pm to 10pm shift (after being on watch from 2am-6am earlier that day.) The head winds were pulling us along through the waves and rain at about 25 knots.  THEN a huge 10 knot gain hit us in our already over-filled sails and the boat heeled dragging the handrails on the starboard side through the 20 foot patches of sea foam our boat laid-- like rubber pavement.  Mary and I were nearly pitched like stones from a slingshot from the portside into the drink on the starboard side.  Sitting yet standing on the wooden rail screwed into the floor of the cockpit for that very reason-- we braced ourselves...white knuckled fingers and toes.  The captain, who had been sleeping at the time raced up the steps in his undershorts, "Is everything under control?"  And soon it was once we reduced a reef line and took down the front sail.

These conditions are not conducive for getting good samples.  Like the sea life that hunkers down under the turbulent surface, so does the plastic.  Yesterday, we did manage to see a basketball float by but out of reach.  And our last samples amazingly still had plastic in them.  One has to wonder:  

How much plastic is really out here if we are still picking it up when it is known to be forced, down deeper into the water column when the ocean surface is rough.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

South Atlantic: Day 9

Blog 4: Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The wind continues to howl with headwind gusts up to 27 knots making it difficult to sail in the direction we need to go.  So we tack getting nowhere fast.

Everyone knows when we "come-about" everything moans in unison with movement, including a few stomachs.  Clanging like a really bad marching band as our world shifts to a new found position.  We are healing (leaning) starboard side and I'm almost standing while sitting using my feet to brace myself.  Walking is likened to the uneven room in Ripley's Believe It or Not Fun House.  To walk toward the port side of the ship is like climbing Mount Everest-- step and reach for something to grab onto-- step and reach.  It's a total body workout.

My jumping rope challenge is exactly that!!  I had to improvise to a swinging rope that I jump over while holding on for dear life.  As Anna Cummins assured me, "Your sponsors will understand.  They wouldn't want you to risk your life."  There are three locations large enough for me to jump without interruption.  One is at the bow (bad idea!!) in front of the steering column at the stern and if we aren't healing, I can jump in a 2 foot space on the starboard (right) side.  It's a challenge no doubt, but one I gladly take up in appreciation for the financial support that I have been given by those who support this cause.  Better than a third of my goal has been brought in.

Regardless of the rough seas, we have done 12 trawls.  Every trawl has collected plastic.  (Unfortunately, I don't have any photos to share with you... in the mean time please visit www.5gyres.com).  Yesterday, we also caught a mahi-mahi fashioning a bright blue, yellow and green dorsal fin with cobalt blue spots on its 29" metallic body.

We continue to eat well.  Last night it was sushi with a shot glass of wine.  We laughed as our "chef" donned a Rising Sun homemade bandana.  Priceless.

We finished the night with me giving a talk about my Plastic Ocean Project and how it has transformed me from a wallflower to an advocate for a better planet.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Jumping Ship Update

November 14, 2010

The seas have been too rough for Bonnie to jump until yesterday (November 13), when it calmed down to 18-20 knot winds.  She improvised jumping over the stay sail sheet which is a line that is rather loose.

Bonnie did a thousand jumps which is what Kim Fisher challenged her to do.  Thanks Kim!!

This brings Bonnie's jumps up to 3700 completed where she completed MJ Giammaria's challenge and started on the next batch.

Bonnie wrote:

"Thanks to all of you who helped me get here.  I wouldn't have made it without you."

And from me (Danielle), if anyone would like to help Bonnie further please don't hesitate to challenge her to jump ship... $1 = 10 jumps....every bit helps... visit www.theplasticocean.org to contribute to the exploration of plastics in our oceans and become part of the solution. :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

South Atlantic: Day 3

It's Saturday, the 13th, and we're hoping it's a lucky day for us.  Not that is has been totally bad.  NPR contacted us.  Marcus and Anna will be on so be sure to listen.  I'll let you know when. Our communication system is still troubled so I have to type everything on the ship's computer which is really tough. I cant send pictures yet which is another bummer because there is such beauty out here. We've seen albatross, petrels, and frigget birds. Last night the sky began clearing on my 10-2am shift and we saw stars in the sky as well as in our wake.  Bioluminescence sparked our white caps. Amazing gazing with my shift peops, Stiv Wilson, Mary Maxwell, and Rich Owen.

Jennifer and Danielle, I'm sure you're itching to know about the samples. We continue to find plastic in each trawl, but nothing like we found in the N. Pacific or the N. Atlantic. We're still 500 miles outside the small accumulation zone we are going to hit, then on to the largest one in the S. Atlantic.  We'll send pictures when it is possible. Jody Lemmon put out a fishing line and caught a lid-fish - a 15 inch garbage pail lid. 

No fish yet after 2 days, but we did catch plastic!!

Today we woke to our first blue sky. Like moths to a flame, it brought many of us from our berths early.  We're hoping the days of 30 plus knot winds and rough seas are behind us.

Stay tuned.


South Atlantic: Day 2

A day of illness and uncertainty by some crew member. A few have questioned the decision to climb aboard the Sea Dragon.  As we pass an ocean field of oil rigs, one imagined a way to get to a rig, climb aboard, request a helicopter, fly to back to Brazil and catch a flight home.  Can't blame them, we started our day with a torn mainsail, the water pump on a constant fritz, an hour of promising sun devoured by saturated clouds that let loose. But the biggest blow came when the captain reported a virus in our main computer-injected from a memory stick knocking out our weather and communications systems.   Our stomachs tightened.  Thirty knot winds punched our sails with random blows above while 12' waves threw upper cuts - a KO for Mike who has been suffering the worst seasickness.  Perhaps I'm the sick one, but I am still enjoying the adventure.  Confident we have the right people on board to keep the boat afloat while we contend with the conditions when we start doing our trawling.

I spied a palm-sized, songbird displaced on our deck.  It look up at me timid and confused wanting to go home as well. Last we saw of it, it took to the sea attempting to ride the gusts that ride the waves.  It flapped in a panicked state as a 10' wave came directly for it.  It disappeared behind the wave - surely it had been steamrolled, but no.  It rose above the wave just as it curled and we all cheered.

I tried to imagine its journey traveling 220 miles without food or water.  I had hoped it would stay as some sort of boat bird - safe from the wind and rain.  But realized even if it did make the journey to S. Africa, it would be the only one of its kind there, devoured in minutes.

At best, it could make it to the oil rigs, rest awhile before making the last 100+ miles. What are its chances? What were the chances of me, a 51 year-old woman from landlocked Elmira, NY crossing the S. Atlantic?

More later,

Sea Dragon Ship's Blog
5 Gyres blog

South Atlantic: Day 1 Noon Position

Day 1 Noon Position

I’m having a cheerio time being bounced around the ship sleeping in a cave.  Its fun - oddly enough.  My berth is under a double sized though it isn’t as big, its bigger than most.  I have to climb down into it.   It’s a completely different ride than Algalita’s 50’ catamaran I was on last year in the North Pacific.  It’s quieter, but heels a lot more and has much less open space for jumping.  I’ve completed 2700 jumps so far of the 30,050.  The challenge continues if anyone wants to participate www.theplasticocean.org

The sea is too rough for us to sample the first few days, with winds between 18-22 knots and a Sea State around 6. I’m the oldest one on the crew – comforting isn’t it?  But, our young Captain Clive Cosby is not only super human, trained in racing sail ships, and in fact sailed around the world with this very vessel, he is brilliantly funny.   Did I mention the boat I am on has been in the Challenge Race?

Half the crew has fallen ill to the steady rock and “normal” boat smells.  (I won’t go into that)  We’ve traveled 250 nm (nautical miles which are slightly longer miles) since our departure on Sunday at 6pm.  We got a late start waiting for the tide to fill the bay and the fuel to fill our tanks.  It took over an hour to pump around 1800 liters - $3600 worth.

The last night I stayed on the ship solo, readying my cave. Earlier in the day I took one for the team trying to catch the dock before our dingy bounced off it.  I lunged for the dock catching it with my fingertips, pulling the dingy of seven people with white knuckled proved to be unsuccessful and I went face first into the drink. So I decided to stay back, clean and use the bread maker on board.  The captain assured me it was easy.  The list of seven ingredients taped to the inside of the baking supply cabinet door, pen scratched, protected by cellophane.  “You can’t screw it up,” he said in his British italicized words.  “It mixes and bakes itself. Wake up in five hours and it’s done!”

After finally finding everything I needed that wasn’t in baking closet, I shut the lid, push select – 5 hours, “start” then went to bed with a warm and fuzzy thought that we would all wake up to warm “homemade” bread.

I woke up to the early morning sunrise with the captain gently calling my name crouched beside my berth.  “Bunny, look . . . our furst loaf of bread.  It’s going to be our boat mascot,” said chocking off a laugh.  I opened my eyes to a beautifully bronzed loaf of bread about 3 inches tall.   I sat up in shocked! But his giggle viraled mine.  I entered the galley and took a few wise cracks while Anna Cummins found the beauty in it and dared to take a piece.

It wouldn’t be until that night when Captain Clive absolved me when he pulled out his freshly created loaf only to find it was the same size.  Hah!

The moral to the story?  Don’t try to use beer yeast to raise bread, if the label wasn’t written in Portuguese, we might have figured it out.

More later.


Also, be sure to visit:

5 Gyres blog
Sea Dragon Ships blog

(By the way, "Hi!  I'm Danielle!  I'll be posting everything that Bonnie sends me from the South Atlantic to The Plastic Ocean Project blog.  Should you have any questions or curiosities about the voyage, please comment and I'll be sure to ask Bonnie for you!!)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Follow us across the South Atlantic

I´m in Rio typing from a cafe that you pay by the minute soll keep it short. We set sail on Monday leaving from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Cape Town, Africa. We are a team of 13. Already we have seen devastated waters along streams and rivers here and along the shoreline. Rio is one of those places that brings mountain ranges right up to the curb of the ocean. Houses are carved out in the mountains side and bring bright colored flats that liven-up the deep green vegatation. Beautiful. I´ll send pictures tomorrow. Until then, if you want to learn more about this 1st time ever transect looking for plastic in the marine environment, go to
The blogs:

5 Gyres Blog
Pangaea Exploration Blog
Live Map of Sea Dragon's position can be viewed here: https://mail.uncw.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=9a7db702e0a34cdd904e0a576a1e1afc&URL=http%3a%2f%2fshare.findmespot.com%2fshared%2ffaces%2fviewspots.jsp%3fglId%3d0P7xy7st1XCfoqrH8BzGKXcpWBMuEWFIaWEATHER
Friends and family can keep track of the weather we're getting here: https://mail.uncw.edu/owa/redir.aspx?C=9a7db702e0a34cdd904e0a576a1e1afc&URL=http%3a%2f%2fpassageweather.com%2f

More later.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

TEDx Great Pacific Garbage Patch

What started my curiousity regarding the issue of plastic marine pollution was learning about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in a grad course I was taking in 2008. So you can only imagine how jazzed I am about TEDx hosting a HUGE patch of some powerful and knowledgable people on this very subject. So make a date with your computer on Saturday to watch the conference on this very subject.
Watch live streaming video from tedxgp2 at livestream.com

Just an update on my fundraising for research in the South Atlantic open-ocean, I'll be jumping 29,050 times between being on Brazil soil to being on S. Africa's. My goal is 100,000 so if you can spare some change, make me jump. www.theplasticocean.org. Or if you prefer to make Jennifer O'Keefe jump, just say so in your donation and we'll get her in the act too!!!!