Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 28

Noon coordinates: 34°22'55.20"N 169°12'14.40"W
July 7th, 2009

Once everyone was up and about this morning, Captain decided it was time to take down the main and put the spinnaker back up. The chute is our best shot at making a decent speed toward our sampling destination. We are running too low on fuel to continue compensating for the weak winds by motor sailing.

As we were prepping to drop the main halyard we discovered the line was jammed in the jammer-not good news. It turned out the repair job from yesterday was more of a problem than a solution; the repaired sheath was the jamming culprit. So, Joel foolishly (in his own words) volunteered to go to the top of the mast and replace the main halyard with the backup halyard. This required hoisting him up 50 feet or so in the boatswain’s chair. Immediately after getting up the mast he spotted a ghost net, which we were unfortunately too preoccupied to retrieve-safety first... Unfortunately for the already motion sensitive Joel, the sway of the vessel is amplified atop the mast. He got seasick and the unsuspecting Captain and I to got doused from above with Joel’s breakfast. One flying hammer later (good thing we had hard hats) and the switch was complete. Joel charged through his bout of seasickness and got the job done, earning the crewmember platinum star for the day.

We were spotting debris left and right, so after the halyard business we put out the Manta and an education trawl. While the Manta trawl samples will be analyzed back at the lab, the education samples will be used for outreach purposes. In fact, Algalita Educators Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins just wrapped up a 3 month education tour of the west coast of the U.S. They cycled down the coast stopping along the way to pass out education samples to educators, legislators, and community.

Interesting trash find of the day: a Japanese honey bear bottle and ½ a trash can lid. Wildlife citing of the day: a close encounter with a Black Foot Albatross. And by close, I mean close. We stopped for a swim in the late afternoon. While netting and documenting debris with cameras and video equipment, we managed to spark the curiosity of part of our albatross fan club (they are still following the Alguita). She landed right next to us and proceeded to ham it up for the camera. She was tagged, however she didn’t sit still quite long enough for us to get the information off of her band.

Early evening sent Jeff up the mast to finish the halyard repair process. Thankfully, he made it up and down the mast without any event to speak of. Our day ended with the accomplishment of what we had set out to do much earlier in the morning-raise the spinnaker.

We are making headway, although not much, toward our goal sampling zone. From the amount of debris we are bringing on board, it seems as though we are in the thick of the plastic soup at the moment. Every survey over the water surface unveils the presence of some sort of debris-small fragment or otherwise. At this point we have logged over 110 larger pieces of debris, and have yet to bring in one Manta trawl that was free of plastic. The past several trawls have been especially disturbing, blanketed with a layer of floating plastic particles.

From the thick of it,


Hi Jamie,
We have quite a bit of space to stow debris. Joel, Drew, Jeff, and the Captain rigged a cargo net onto the salon roof from one of the several ghost nets we picked up . We’ve stuffed the cargo net with the smaller debris we have collected (plastic bottles, buoys, bucket lids and such). The fragmented bits are being stored in bags, labeled with the collection date. There is plenty of deck space and material to rig debris storage. So until we run out of creative ways to stow it, we will keep bring the debris on board. (Check out the picture above!)

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