News of JUNK's safe arrival in Honolulu travelled far and wide yesterday, including
a front page article on Hindu.com. Such are the wonders of the AP wire. How does if feel to set foot on land after 3 months on a plastic bottle raft, crossing the Pacific?
"We were surrounded by boats, blaring horns, waves and whistles, as JUNK was towed into Ala Wai Harbor in Honolulu. The first thing I did was reach for my fiancee, Anna. Captain Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation was there with a smile and a loud “Aloha”. Dr. Andrew Rossiter, director of the Waikiki Aquarium, presented us each with a handshake and a lei. There were perhaps 100 people there to greet us, including plenty of media representatives to cover our story, everyone asking, “Why did you do this,” or “Was it worth it?” If you've been following our blog, you know why. Yes, it was worth it. We would do it again.
I presented our last gyre sample from our marine debris trawl. In a glass peanut butter jar were hundreds of fragments of plastic and zooplankton floating around. “This is what you get when you skim the ocean surface. 2/3rds of the earth is ocean, and is now a plastic soup.” I also showed the shriveled stomach from the rainbow runner I caught a couple weeks ago, with 14 fragments of plastic in it's stomach. This is why we crossed this ocean. Then we talked about what we do about it.
Anna and I were soon strolling along busy streets to find a market and restaurant for fresh greens. Anything green, or a red tomato would do. As we walked I paid attention to my experience. I expected wobbly legs and quick exhaustion. What I experienced was unexpected. We found a restaurant and shared a spinach and tomato salad. We walked slowly. I was just taking it all in. The novelty of the open ocean is different from rush hour Waikiki, the noise, sights, smells, and concrete beneath my feet. The best analogy would be a monk walking through a burning building. I was used to the subtle novelty of an empty horizon and bottomless sea that shows you a unique world, especially when you travel at 1.5 miles per hour for 2600 miles. So much of our planet is ocean, so little of it belongs to us, and perhaps none of it does.
Today, one day later, I carry my cell phone. I wear shoes. I check email. Anna and I walked to Ala Wai Harbor to meet Joel. By the end of the day JUNK is gone. We've undone 3 months of work in 24 hours. We will rebuild the raft on the front lawn of the Waikiki Aquarium. Then we'll stuff JUNK in a shipping container and send it back to where it was built. It's been six months from the day I sketched the image of JUNK on a piece of paper, to the raft built, sailed, and dismantled in Hawaii. My dream for 4 years has come to a new beginning.