Friday, May 30, 2008

JUNK on Channel 7 news!

During the program time for "Lost", JUNK aired on the 11:00 Channel 7 news! We hope being side by side w/ Lost wasn't some sort of commentary.....

Read more!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

10 safety questions for Dr. Marcus

Anticipating the barrage of safety questions Marcus and Joel would get, our friend Randy Olson conducted this little interview, below. If you still have unanswered questions, come on by Sunday and ask Marcus and Joel directly.

One request: don't ask "Are you guys going to make it?" Pretty please......

Randy's commentary about the project is dead on.

Q1: What's the worst case scenario?

M.E.: Besides falling in or getting run over, the worst case scenario is that plastic trash continues to fill our oceans.

Q2: I was expecting you to say, "we end up lost at sea." Isn't that the worst case scenario?

M.E.: We've filed that scenario right next to, "killed in a car crash on the way to the launch," which is about equal probability.

Q3: What makes you so confident in the seaworthiness of the raft?

M.E.: One word ... "redundancy."

Q4: Which means ...?

M.E.: That everything is backed up at least once. It's the key to safety on a journey like this. We have three GPS units, 2 satellite phones, 2 VHF radios, IPERB Coast Guard Beacon, and 3 months worth of food and water. And when it comes to flotation, we have more than just two -- we actually have 12 pontoons, so if one were to rupture we can easily stay afloat on the other 11 while we fix it.

Q5: Is this the most dangerous crossing anyone has ever attempted from California to Hawaii?

M.E.: Well, I'm not the first to raft this passage. In 1958 4 men drifted on a 20 ton wooden platform without even any sails from Hermosa Beach to Hawaii! They didn't have any of the incredible technology we'll have - no GPS, satellite telephone, or the five gallon bucket of Hershey's kisses I've packed away. We anticipate it will take 6 weeks for 1.5 tons of JUNK to sail the same distance.

Q6: Are you worried about getting caught in a hurricane?

M.E.: We're going at the best time of the year for weather - May/June. It's when most people try to schedule this journey. There's always a risk of severe weather at sea, but the hurricanes generally tend to form off Baja and move north if the water is warm. To our advantage, this year the water has remained unusually cold off California which greatly reduces the likelihood of a hurricane moving up. But if one hits, our only choice is to hold on till it blows over.

Q7: Do you have enough experience for this journey?

M.E.: Yes, we both do. Joel Paschal, my sailing partner, and I met in Hawaii earlier this year as crew aboard the ORV Alguita. We traveled with Captain Charles Moore 4000 miles across the North Pacific Ocean to quantify the accumulation of plastic trash.
It was on that expedition that Joel, Anna Cummins and I talked about the project "Message in a Bottle". We designed our raft and planned our journey under the watchful eye of Captain Moore, an experienced sailor having crossed to Hawaii and back over 10 times.

Q8: What's the risk of getting run over by an ocean liner?

M.E.: The risk is slim, but not impossible. We will be crossing through shipping lanes. Our redundant radio equipment and AIS, which allows ships to identify each other, will keep us and other ships in communication. Also, our 20 sailboat masts used for the deck, and aluminum airplane fuselage for a cabin, creates an enormous radar signature. We have a better chance of being seen by big ships than typical fiberglass sailboats do.

Q9: Don't you think if the raft were to be lost at sea people like Jay Leno would have a lot of fun with it - to say that two guys went out to draw attention to the problem of plastics in the sea and ended up adding another 15,000 plastic bottles to the problem?

M.E.: Well, as I've said, the risks of the raft not making it are the same as any other sailboat. But more importantly, let's look at the facts. Over 10,000 pounds of plastic trash enter the oceans every day from just the city of Los Angeles. Our raft has a total of about 350 pounds - a drop in the bucket. If adding that relatively small amount more of plastics to the oceans is enough to get the issue talked about on national television its absolutely worth it, because right now, virtually no one is giving this issue much thought. It has to start somewhere.

Q10: But still, in the end, anyone venturing out into the open ocean is risking their lives. Why are you doing this?

M.E.: Yes, we are risking our lives, but the issue of petroleum-based plastic and our national dependence on petroleum, warrant urgent action. My quality of life, the future of our nation's economy, environmental quality, and human health, are at stake. I remember 17 years ago, as a young Marine in the Gulf War, standing in Kuwait City covered with drops of oil from the burning wells, saying to myself, "Why have we done this?" James Baker, former Secretary of State, the man that sent me to war, said recently, "We had a written policy that we would go to war to defend secure access to the energy reserves of the Persian Gulf." THIS IS NOT WHY I CHOSE TO SERVE MY COUNTRY!

This expedition aims to alert my nation to the plastic marine debris issue, the legislation that will cure this plague, and the corrosive national policy toward energy that fails us all. Read more!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Junk Floats!

Yesterday, we returned from our test run with Junk, halfway to Catalina and back. The picture below says it all.

©Peter Bennett/Ambient Images

Not only did Junk float, she performed beautifully - a solid, sturdy, and most unusual looking craft. Many passing boaters did a double take, jaws dropping when they heard Junk was destined for Hawaii.....

Now, the final push to get her provisioned, solar panels installed, and final touches added before our JUNE 1ST Bon Voyage.

Join us to wave Junk farewellfrom 2:00-3:00 at the Long Beach Aquarium. Read more!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

JUNK's maiden voyage Sunday

This coming Sunday, at noon, Junk will set forth on her first test run, or "shakedown cruise" before the big June 1st departure.

Captain Charles Moore and a crew from Algalita will tow Junk with the ORV Alguita out to Catalina, where Joel and Marcus will have a chance to see how she handles wind and waves.....

Hard to believe that what looked like this just a month ago:

Came to look like this a week ago,

......and by Sunday will be a complete boat, with masts, sail, and two sailors with some serious cojones.

We'll return to the Aquarium marina Monday around noon. After Monday, Joel and Marcus should have a much better idea of any final tweaking that needs to be done, and an inkling of what they have in store for them...... Read more!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Raising the mast - to new sponsors!

Masts off to Patagonia and The North Face Junk's two newest sponsors!

Friends Bryan Hays and Lois Cunningham at Patagonia, and Karin Carter at The North Face helped connect Algalita's mission with their companies vision, outfitting our intrepid sailors with weatherproof gear and support for the journey ahead.

This past weekend we raised the mast, one of the last major tasks before Junk's "Shakedown Cruise" this coming weekend, her first short voyage to Catalina and back to test her mettle.

As the final June 1st departure fast approaches, Marcus contemplates the journey ahead......and wonders just how small a shared fuselage will become after 6 weeks at sea.

Read more!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Junk hit the water!!

After exactly 2 months of round the clock hustle and bustle, Junk is finally in her element, floating in the Long Beach Aquarium's adjacent marina.

All photos: ©Peter Bennett
Getting her into the water was a Herculean feat - requiring the muscle of about 14 people, including several unsuspecting onlookers who were cajoled into lending a hand....

Thanks to some impressive management by Marcus and Joel, what looked like an impossible task went off without a hitch.

Piece by piece, the frame, pontoons, and airplane were loaded onto a trailer, towed to the marina, and heaved and hauled to the waters edge.

Junk now sits in the water, looking for the first time like a bona fide boat. Much work remains to make her seaworthy - fine tuning, equipping, and provisioning, but the most challenging hurdles are now behind us.

Save for the obvious one.......the voyage itself.

As the launch date approaches, interest in the project grows exponentially. In the last few weeks alone, Marcus has been filmed and interviewed for Planet Green's Supper Club, Mario Van Peebles show "Mario's Green House", The Sundance Channel's The Green, Peter Greenberg Worldwide, city radio in Portland Oregon, and a Swedish TV channel. KNBC will also be featuring the project in an upcoming episode of their show Going Green.

Here's Marcus chatting plastic with Van Peebles at a recent Friends of the LA River event.

Mark your calendars for Sunday June 1st at the Long Beach Aquarium, details to come.

*Thanks to Peter Bennett from Ambient Images for the tremendous professional photos. Peter will hopefully be lending his photography skills for upcoming Junk events. Read more!