Wednesday, August 6, 2008

999 miles to go!

Actually, fewer at this point. I'm currently out of the country, thus a slight lag in blog posting - breaking the 1,000 mile mark happened a few days ago.

Meanwhile, Marcus and Joel are preparing for a diet of peanut butter and jerky. Which, all things said and done, sure beats the plastic fragments many marine creatures are feasting on.....

999 miles to go! We’ve got three weeks of meals, then it’s peanut butter and fish till Hawaii. If we can average 42 miles toward Oahu per day, then we will be fine. We’re 0-3 on fishing. The other day I got one with the spear, flung it on deck, and watched it flop back in the water. Three feet of steaks, sushi, curry and jerky back in the sea. Then Joel hooked one, but it got caught on the netting of the pontoon and wriggled its way off the hook. Then yesterday I missed an easy shot with the spear gun. It’s one thing if you’re fishing for sport, but when you’re hungry it’s a different story. We will probably drop the sails today and take a dip in the drink for better luck.

We got an email from Don McFarland the other day. He’s the fellow that rafted to Hawaii on a 20-ton wooden box in 69 days back in 1958. I remember thinking, “We’re a lighter raft, fewer people, and better technology.” We’re 65 days at sea, with three weeks to go. We planned and provisioned for 50 days. Don said they used t-shirts to sieve the ocean for plankton. “Tasted like lobster,” he said. We’ve been trawling the ocean as well, but our samples are proving to be more plastic than plankton. Very filling I imagine, but not very nutritious. There is no way I would eat this stuff....unless we ran out of fish and peanut butter perhaps.

Meanwhile, our boat is suffering the predictable wear and tear of a long journey. Inevitable entroy, requiring constant vigilance and maintenance, as you'll see here:

Now for a few responses to recent blog comments:

Janelle in Tanzania, I was in Arusha years ago and walked up Kili to see the melting glacier. One thing I also noticed in East Africa was the use of disposable plastic without an infrastructure to deal with it. I saw bottles and bags everywhere. What do you see there today?

Sumwearnnyc – Yes, kind of like Life of Pi, but no tigers. Just Mahi Mahi.

Kim – You mentioned your use of plastic on your blog being a different focus than ours. Could you share any details with us?

Quasivoid – You said, “the disagreeable feeling it gives us is not an excuse to do nothing about it.” My sentiments exactly.

Maki – The image of other organisms eating or becoming entangled in plastic has been documented in 267 species thus far. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation visited the North Pacific Gyre earlier this year (That’s where Anna and I met Joel) to study plastic marine debris. We caught small fish in our nets called “Myctophids”. Recently, in the lab, we’ve dissected them and everyone had plastic in their stomachs. Make that 268 species.

Anonymous – Yes, we are sampling the ocean surface with a 1 mm net. We’ve been finding small plastic fragments in every sample.

Ron – Thanks for adding us to the list of masochists that raft the ocean. Thor H. just might be looking down and smiling, or laughing. One big difference between our rafting voyage and all others is that we can’t eat plankton. When we trawl for the stuff, most of it is plastic.
Regarding a contribution, please check out the “Message in a Bottle” link on our blog and sponsor a bottle. You can sponsor a case, send us an email with a message, and I’ll write it out an put it in one of the bottles on our raft.

Wallace J. Nichols – We haven’t seen any turtles yet. I would love to see a loggerhead. When I was in college in New Orleans years ago, I was involved with the Sea Turtle Stranding Network. We documented turtle deaths along the Gulf Coast. We never had a chance to do a necropsy on stomach contents. It seems you’re doing more with sea turtles than the average person. Do you have any info on stomach contents, or stories of entanglement to share? If I see any turtles, I’ll try to get a photo and look for tags.

Jessica – It is difficult to go 30 days without plastic. It’s all around us and nearly impossible to avoid in the developed world, or actually anywhere else as well.

Curt in Seattle – Provided I make it to Hawaii before the end of the month, I’ll be in Seattle giving a talk around Sept. 9th. I look forward to reading the details about the successful legislation in your neck of the woods. Although recycling programs are necessary, they are failures by themselves. Legislation is the key. Thank you Seattle for taking a lead.

Brad & Alicia – You’ve got the right idea “Bring Your Own!” is the slogan we should champion. Begin with your own reusable bag, coffee mug and water bottle. Thank you for making these fine suggestions on our blog.

Beachgal – Thank you for your kindness. This morning we crossed the 1000 mile mark. We will feast today on Mac and Cheese and our second to last can of mixed veggies. Who knows, we might just have some beef jerky on the side. It’s party time!

Anonymous – You asked “How do you post videos?” Joel and I have video cameras on board, which we download scenes to my computer. I edit 30-45 second videos and compress them to under .5mb. Using my satellite phone and an external antennae, I email the file to Anna Cummins, our blog writer. At a minute per second it takes a while. Anna then uploads the file to YouTube.

Lai, Prasoon, and Russki – Thank you for your good wishes. We’ve got roughly three weeks to go, as long as the raft holds up – and our food.

Pherehormonal – Thanks for the squid facts, and catching that they use both water jets and fins to move. I forgot to mention the water jets. After I sent that photo to Anna, our blog writer, Joel caught a beautiful cuttlefish. We let it go, too difficult not to anthropomorphize the black eyes and raised brow. Really beautiful animal. BUT, if we could harness them to the boat to make us go faster, I probably wouldn’t hesitate to lasso as many as I could.


Sampy S. said...

Are you crazy?

Anonymous said...

Way to go guys! Grandma Nettie is faithfully following your voyage from Conesus Lake, NY, a Finger Lake that is facing its own ecological issues. Lots of folks are watching and waiting to see you reach shore.
Clay had a Northern Pike on the line when we were there, but it swam off with the Dick's lure! I guess Clay wasn't hungry enough to grab him...
Catch yourself some fish!
Happy sailing! Clay, Ali & Sophie

jess said...

Congrats to the crew of the JUNK on your journey so far! I've been passionate about the disposable plastics crisis we have going on for some time now and am sharing your adventure with everyone I know. Way to be creative to bring awareness to this important issue!
Joel and Marcus- I wish you fair winds, a strong mast, and a fresh catch!

Maki said...

Thanks so much for the response to my comment!! I'm so honored.. Wow268 species.. I'm speechless. And the sad thing about it is that so many people are still unaware of what's really going on in the ocean, therefore they'll keep damaging the marine life and ocean itself.
Less than 999 miles to go guys!!! I love ocean, but I surely can't do what you guys are doing - You are true heroes in my book.. Thanks so much!!!

arachesostufo said...

wow, not crazy, he is an explorer, a temerary.

Janelle said...

hey marcus...yeah. its TERRIBLE. not sure about up on kili but in and around arusha there is just PILES of plastic lying around - clogging up the beautiful rivers coming off meru, lying around..its AWFUL and not getting better...people need to be educated about it. would love to set up something. did an anti plastic tirade on my blog...! thanks for yours and GOOD LUCK!!! hope the mast doesn't crack anymore..and that the food lasts...will be following you guys all the way...SAFARI NJEMA! x janelle

Anonymous said...

Regarding the crack on the mast. The mast appears to be an aluminum alloy. If you have a drill and can drill about a 1/8 inch hole at the very tip of the crack or slightly beyond it, it should stop the crack from traveling further. It's called a stop-hole in the aircraft maintenance field... would likely buy you quite a bit more time.

Best wishes for good currents! :-)