Three days, twenty-six trawls, countless pieces of plastic, and fourteen hundred miles till we reach the Azores. Though we added 4 new crewmembers in Bermuda - an increase in bodies and decrease in personal space – the additional 3 artists, filmmaker, and veteran sailor Joel Paschal are all adjusting to the unusual routine of boat life. Bursts of activity – trawling, cleaning, cooking, sailing – followed by long bouts of waiting. Staring out to sea. And catching regular sun and moon rises – here’s Stiv greeting the day with his best Titanic rendition... (Photo above)
Since leaving Bermuda, our trawls have looked nearly identical to those we collected on our first leg – clumps of Sargassum peppered with small particles of plastic – whites, blues, grays, and the occasional pastel. Which gives staring out to sea a bittersweet tone – in this seemingly pristine landscape, impossibly clear waters stretching thousands of miles in all directions, our random samples all contain plastic.
We’re still on track with our goal of conducting a mega transect – sampling at least once every hundred miles, but the weather continues to be our wild card. After 3 dreamlike days, high winds now force us to slow down - we can’t get beyond our 100-mile limit between trawls unless we absolutely have to. Built for speed, this slow pace is torture for the Sea Dragon. At 10-15 knots, she slices through the water gracefully, an aquatic gazelle. At our trawling speed of 2-4 knots however, she plods and heaves heavily, engine growling, stray lines clanging in protest. But we have no choice but to wait – the heavier winds churn the sea surface, pushing plastic beneath the range of our trawl. So we’ll continue to pass the hours, meditate on the seascape, entertain one another, and await the next weather forecast.