Shifting Baselines

JUNK RAFT Days Away from Hawaii!

Now it’s time to share the truth.

Back in the first week of June the Junk Raft expedition faced some very dark days. When they were first towed out to the Channel Islands one of the pontoons broke apart, forcing them to stop and gather the plastic bottles that came loose. Then, a day later they discovered the lids of almost 1000 of the bottles were working themselves off, filling the bottles with water, causing the raft to slowly sink. When Anna Cummins took a repair crew out to San Nicholas Island she told me the raft was basically sinking and would have been done in a day or so.  How ominous of a start is that for a 2000 mile open ocean journey?

Yet they went to work, fixed all the leaky plastic bottles, re-rigged the sails and the two eco-mariners, Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal, bravely headed off. Personally, I was offering up my suggestions for them to consider curtailing the trip and simply never go offshore–instead just hug the coast down to Cabo. Which is why I sit here on my couch while those guys are true environmental heros fully deserving of all the admiration they are about to receive.

It’s almost three months later and they basically kicked ass. Once they caught the westward currents halfway down Baja it was literally smooth sailing. Not a single harrowing day. No close calls. Just sailing on the trade winds until last week when they had a wonderful meeting and dinner on the high seas with British row boater Roz Savage.

They’re now set to arrive in Honolulu next Wednesday. Truly amazing. They will have a joint press conference the next week (early September) with Roz in which they will achieve their real goal which is to bring large scale attention to the work of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation addressing the shocking level of plastic trash clogging the oceans these days. And it is shocking if you look at some of the short videos the guys have posted on their Junk Raft blog–they’ve conducted plankton tows, 1000 miles from land, and found them to be full of bits of plastic, and caught fish with guts full of plastic. This is not the ocean of our grandparents.

Would you want to spend 3 months at sea on a floating pile of junk like this? Look at the brown lounge chair on the right side–bloody luxury!

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