Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 45

Noon Coordinates: 35°11'24.00"N 164°39'0.00"W
As we return to Honolulu and near the completion of our historic 6,000 mile voyage through the plastic soup to the International Dateline, I should tell you something about the extraordinary research vessel that made all this scientific sampling of ocean plastic pollution possible. My “Little Kelp Plant” Alguita was not built on an assembly line. She was the product of a lifetime of sailing experience, years of research into vessel design, and collaboration among experts from the other side of the world. Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita, Is 25 feet wide and 50 feet long, her two aluminum hulls set wide apart to provide stability.

We have gotten the winds we wanted for our sail back to Honolulu, with a gigantic cyclonic low smashing the high that creates the gyre, and are currently whooshing along on a beam reach at 9-11 knots in a blustery 25-35 knot gale. Free fuel (wind), free energy (a kilowatt of solar panels), and free water made from seawater by a solar powered reverse osmosis system. With conditions like this, our range, like that of the albatross, is truly unlimited. Our most recent voyage was a lot like that of the foraging mother albatross, Amelia, in Carl Safina’s lovely book, Eye of the Albatross - leaving the Northwest Hawaiian Islands we passed through the Musicians Seamounts, reached the International Dateline, headed due north to the subarctic frontal zone, grabbed the westerlies there and headed back down to the islands. Alguita has provided hot water for showers, cold water to drink, fresh food to eat (we still have squash, eggs, onions, cabbage, garlic, yams, leeks, and a small watermelon and a pineapple), frozen food to thaw, a propane stove to cook on and an oven to bake in. We have done day and night dives and refilled scuba tanks with our electric air compressor. We even patched a leak in the underwing, which gets impacted by debris like heavy fishing floats smashing into it as they pass between the hulls. So our vessel is an amazingly versatile and functional one, not only for living safely and economically on liquid, but for studying its unknown, but important qualities. Thanks to the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, we have been able to keep Alguita involved in research important to marine conservation for the past 15 years.

Captain Charles Moore
1000 miles north of Honolulu

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