Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 15

Noon Position 33°37'42.84"N, 152°28'43.80"W

Day 15 Monday 9/21/09
At the stroke of midnight last night, Lindsey was finishing up her 2200 to 2400 watch when all halyard broke loose. Actually, it was the spinnaker. Lindsey ran to Jeff’s berth, but he was already on it. He knew what it was just by the sound. “The sail tore!” The three of us in the other cabin were aroused by the commotion and the captain confirmed the urgency by chiming a bell. While Gwen took the helm, we all clambered in different directions grabbing clothes and slipping on life jackets then pressed on into the cool night air. The wind howled just like in the movies. The captain, Bill and I worked the lines down from the winch table on the aft while Lindsey and Jeff finished pulling the remains of the spinnaker on to the bow. The captain, Bill and I worked our way to the bow to find Lindsey and Jeff sitting on the spinnaker so it wouldn’t take off into the 30 knot winds. While Bill collected the lines from around the sides of the ship, I unlatched the head of the sail and secured the spinnaker halyard. I then took Jeff’s place so he could finish bringing in the lines. The boat rocked over large swells and dipped into cavernous water trenches. Water slammed from all directions in a confused state as the spinnaker laid wounded on the bow The beautiful and enormous sail that has carried us 300 miles just on the last run, blew out on one side and tore a 30’ hole down one side. We all worked in tandem to get the Main and the Stay Sails up and by 1 a.m. the drama was over.

We’ve average 8.5 knots since changing the sails. Alguita climbs over and rips through some 10’ plus swells without hesitation. The ocean sounds angry beneath us as if challenging the unfettered stability of this catamaran. The bumping and banging take turns every few seconds, some sounding like a Giant trying to fist holes in the bottom. Most the time we can block out the sounds, but the punchy ones usually get this novice sailor’s attention.
Inside the ship everything expresses itself. The dishes clank, the spices rattle, hanging towels pendulum, while the water bangs below. Even the sink has something to say, it gurgles and sometimes geysers. Lindsey laughed straight out loud the first time she saw it. A foot and a half geyser shot straight up out of the drain then straight back down. I didn’t dare tell her how I found out it did that. I discovered this unique phenomenon while standing over the sink. Later the captain said it was mostly sea water since the drain connects directly to the sea. It made me feel a little better than thinking last nights dishwater ended up on my face.

Traveling this fast via wind has such a different sensation. It’s like front wheel drive instead of rear wheel with the engines. The cat seems to flatten out over the water better. Even though we are traveling this fast, the squall that has been tailing us finally took the lead creating some fussy winds that forced us to add the genoa. Jeff, Lindsey and the captain managed to “get’er done,” while I videoed. Nice work crew!
More later.

Q:Clay F. Grade 9 East Hills 4H San Leandro, CA How is the Pacific Garbage Patch ever going to get cleaned up? Who will pay for it? Will it be a joint effort or a single country? What methods can be used to collect the plastic and not marine life?

A: Hello Clay, You pose some very good questions that don’t have easy answers. The first thing we HAVE to do is stop the flow of trash getting out here. Plastic pollution that makes its way out here is mostly from land-based sources such as litter and poor trash disposal. It’s like an overflowing tub because of a running faucet. You wouldn’t clean the water up before shutting the faucet would you? No, because you would just have to keep mopping. The same with the Garbage Patch. If we keep cleaning it, but we don’t stop the flow to it, we’ll have to keep “mopping” it up continuously. We need to all work together, all countries and every citizen needs to help stop the flow of plastic pollution by using less, reusing what we can and use non-plastic materials. Lastly, we all need to be proactive in picking up litter whether we did it or not. It’s the only way to prevent it from getting into our waterways and washed out to sea. We have to change our habits of using plastic and maybe you could be the one that figures out a way to do that. It’s going to take young inquisitive people like you to help solve this puzzle.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to pick out the plastic without harming marine life. Almost everything we hand-pick out of the ocean has marine organisms living in it, on it, or both. There are people working on technology to attempt to clean it up, but nothing has been implemented yet. Thanks for the questions. And keep in touch. Bonnie

Q: Hello, my name is Sean Peterson and I am currently attending Las Positas Community College in Alameda, Ca. First I would like to thank you for your research and the creation of this blog; I feel it can be used to help bring public attention to the plastics pollution problem we face. I was hoping you might be able to expand on the divergent-convergent wave forms and why plastics travels specifically in the convergent zones. I was suprised to learn that the plastic was not simply scattered but rather traveled in packs. Thank you again for your research!

A: Hi Sean, Thank you for contacting us with this question. Like many oceanic phenomena, it is not uncommon to find patchiness, that is, to find areas of higher concentration from place to place. Under calm or relatively calm conditions windrows are set up and these windrows can be areas of surface convergence which act to concentrate materials in the surface layer and in our case, plastics. On a recent cruise I took into the Sargasso Sea, the same phenomenon occurred with windrows of Sargassum. In some cases the Sargassum trapped the plastics and carried them into the windrow, but as we’re finding out here, the plastics float like Sargassum and form areas of higher concentration. As the seas get choppier, the plastics float by at a much more random rate. Best, Bonnie


Anonymous said...

Hello this is Bryan and Ashley, juniors from RIver Ridge High School, in Florida. We were both very shocked to see this problem you have encountered with your sail. we were wondering what kind of precautions do you take for inclement weather like this? Do you have extra parts and supplies set aside for problems you my encounter?

Anonymous said...

Hello this is Cleo and Sally from Maine. We were wondering if there are garbage patches in the Atlantic and would they be in the Sargasso Sea? I am starting a science/art/garbage project. A piece of art made entirely out of garbage found at various beaches in Southern Maine. And why aren't more people using corn based products? Love the Tracking Trash book!