Sailing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Mary T. Crowley, Sausalito
"Last August, we sailed from Sausalito on the brigantine Kaisei. it took four days to reach the North Pacific Gyre, a place where currents coalesce about 600 miles northwest of Hawaii. The world’s oceans contain 11 gyres and eight of them are collecting garbage—the worst is the North Pacific Gyre. I’ve been sailing my entire life and have spent 30 years in the yacht chartering business. I love to see people have quality experiences on sailing ships. However, between thirty years ago and now there has been a huge proliferation of plastic in the Pacific. And—after rendezvousing with a Scripps Institute of Oceanography vessel and reaching our destination—we saw it. It wasn’t an enormous floating island, but free floating plastic scattered across a vast area. Because it wasn’t contiguous, like an island, we could cruise through it. There were a lot of ‘ghost nets,’ or abandoned fishing gear. We also saw a dead giant squid, a palm tree and plastic patio furniture, toys, even toothbrushes. It’s amazing how familiar the garbage was so far out in the ocean. Our goals were to bring back photos and familiarize people with what’s out there. We also wanted to experiment with possible solutions. We brought back about 1,400 pounds of garbage and are planning another voyage later this year. Information is available regarding Ocean Voyages Institute's Project Kaisei at projectkaisei.org.”
"What's It Like?" is a collection of first-person accounts from local people doing extraordinary things. Submit your own personal story for consideration for a future issue. For guidelines, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.