Shifting Baselines

My phone rang at 8 this morning and the caller I.D. said, “Out of Area.” That was an understatement. It was Marcus Eriksen, calling on the satellite phone on board Junk Raft, from 5 miles south of Guadalupe Island, which is about halfway down the Baja Penninsula. We talked for about 15 minutes. They’re doing great!

They’ve been at sea for about two weeks now (while they left Long Beach on June 1, they ended up spending over a week at San Nicholas Island waiting out a storm). The raft is performing perfectly. They had added two smaller sails that enable them to make 90 degrees against the wind–so if the wind is from the north, they can head west.

Right now they are around the 28th parallel (degree of latitude). He told me a month ago that the plan is to head down to the 25th parallel which is where the express current to Hawaii heads westward.

They’ve also been in touch with Don McFarland, the fellow who was part of the raft expedition in 1958 that performed the same journey. Turns out they are following exactly the same course. Don said they came so perilously close to Guadaloupe Island that they had to throw out their sea anchors to avoid being blown up on the rocks–it was the most terrifying moment of their trip. But the Junk Raft guys opted to sail to the east of it and passed it with no drama.

So they have a long journey ahead of them, but their two weeks into it and everything is right on schedule. They’re guessing now that they will arrive in Hawaii in mid-August, but as Captain Charles Moore keeps pointing out, sailboats don’t have ETAs, they only have destinations.

This is really one of the most dramatic and exciting things I’ve seen in ocean conservation in years. Be sure to check out their blog, where Marcus is now posting a series of PSAs about the problem they are calling attention to: plastics in the oceans.

Right On Course: Junk Raft follows the same course as the 1958 rafting expedition to Hawaii.


  1. #1 Barn Owl
    June 25, 2008

    Great to hear that the Junk Raft is doing well. Thanks for the update!

  2. #2 speedwell
    June 25, 2008

    I assume they have people watching the weather out there pretty closely? This looks like it might be a slight worry, but they well may be past it by the time it has the chance to form anything notable.

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