Month: May 2014

Sargasso Sea Expedition

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Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Here on board Sea Dragon, the last few days have been a whirlwind of activity. We returned from a very successful trip with The Ocean Cleanup on Saturday, and on Monday we head back out to sea with BAMZ, the punchily-acronymed Bermuda Aquarium, Museum, and Zoo. In the intervening time, we are getting the boat ready for our voyage to Iceland with The 5 Gyres Institute.

Science At Sea | Horta to Plymouth

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$3,600/ £2,780
Jul 8 – 22, 2017

Depart: Horta Marina, Horta, Azores
Arrive: Mayflower Marina, Plymouth, UK
Length: 15 days 14 nights
Focus: Marine Science and Sailing
Max number of students: 10

Enquire – For student discount please use the Enquire link.



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Join Professor Bill Edwards of Niagara University aboard Sea Dragon to cross the Atlantic while learning marine science.

Sea Dragon will serve as a floating classroom this summer and engage in an environmental science voyage on the Atlantic Ocean. This unique program will provide an unparalleled learning and adventure experience. A unique blend of science and sailing, the scientific curriculum focuses on oceanography, marine ecology, ocean chemistry, and marine debris and how they relate to climate change. You’ll learn modern ocean sciences in a hands-on environment while living, working, and studying on Sea Dragon.

You’ll join the vessel in Horta on the island of Faial in the Azores and spend a few days ashore, learning about the coastal ecology of these unique mid-ocean islands before setting sail to the UK. En route you’ll learn about the environmental issues facing the world’s oceans, see whales and dolphins, and gain real life experience in ocean science. Our expert crew will teach you how to sail as we explore the Azores then set out across the Atlantic.

This exciting experience is open to all – sailing experience is not required, but you’ll learn everything you need to be a full participant in the crew of the vessel.

Some of the topics we’ll cover are:

  • Coral reefs and Intertidal Ecology
  • Introduction to Marine Biology and Oceanography
  • Whale Biology and Feeding
  • Plankton Ecology
  • Beaches and the forces that shape them
  • Marine Chemistry
  • Ocean physics and circulation
  • Climate Change
  • Sargassum Ecology
  • Marine Debris
  • Marine Conservation
  • Physics of Sailing

We’re excited to be working with Dr. Edwards on this trip, and are offering a discounted student price to University and college students. Please contact us for details.



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Roger Guy – Skipper

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Roger grew up with boats and yacht racing around the Isle of Wight. After eight years in the Royal Navy as a Marine Engineer Officer aboard aircraft carriers, he moved across to the yachting industry with his wife, Lisa.

Since 1998 they have run a string of yachts from 80 to 62 feet and have sailed to the Baltic, United States, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Roger is a qualified Yacht Master Ocean and also holds an MCA Certificate of Competency as an Engineer (Y3), allowing Roger to also spend time at sea as the Chief Engineer aboard super yachts up to 56 metres.

Lisa Guy – First Mate

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Lisa started sailing when she could crawl and now races for fun. Starting out with the ethos of sailing is better than using an engine, in dinghies. Spending 8 years working in shipping recruitment, bunkering, and port agency.

Since 1998 working on yachts and sailing to New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Caribbean, United States and around the Med. She also more recently managed to build 2 houses in her hometown of Cowes. Loving scuba diving, snorkeling, cooking, horse riding, hiking. Exploring new places and seeing new cultures. Whether human or animal, highlights have been swimming with humpback whales in Tonga and playing with seals whilst snorkeling in Galapagos Islands.

Gavin Reid – Deckhand

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Gavin, born in the UK, has lived all over the world including locations such as Kuwait, Belgium and USA. It was this early experience of travel that inspired him to explore the world including some projects in Tanzania and India. Having initially decided on a career in International Development he ended up working behind a desk in London for 2 years.

To reignite his passion for traveling, Gavin signed up for the 2015/16 Clipper Round the World Yacht race, seeing it as an opportunity to learn a new skillset as well as a different angle to view the world.

After successfully completing the 11 month, 47,000 mile circumnavigation he was inspired to continue sailing and has since completed his RYA Day Skipper qualification. Becoming a deckhand with Pangaea Exploration is the next step as Gavin looks to develop his sailing experience to convert it into a career in sailing..

Bill Edwards – Professor

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Dr. Edwards is Professor of Biology and Director of the Environmental Studies Program. He came to Niagara University in 2002 from The Ohio State University where he obtained his B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Spanish and Ph.D. in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. At Ohio State, he acquired his interest in the interactions of aquatic ecology and environmental fluid dynamics. He continues this research on large lakes including Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and incorporates the roles of invasive species in an ecosystem. His current research explores the role of mussel beds in altering bottom roughness and nutrient dynamics in nearshore systems.

Dr. Edwards developed Field Ecology programs emphasizing field experiences in environmental science combined with scientific communication to non-scientists through field experiences snorkeling and wading through the tropics and on ships on the great lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. This work has included both research and teaching aboard ships and boats from kayaks and canoes, research vessels, EPA ships, the Brig Niagara, a 200’ traditionally rigged sailing ship, and a great sail exploring marine debris in the great lakes aboard the Sea Dragon. His other teaching interests include terrestrial and aquatic ecology (streams and lakes), theoretical conservation ecology, and oceanography.

Sierra West – Guest Crew

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Sierra is a First-year Biology Pre-med major at Niagara University. Although she has little experience in sailing and field ecology/oceanography, she joins our Science at Sea expedition and her field ecology professor Dr. Bill Edwards, to obtain a deeper understanding of marine biology and oceanography. Along with gaining hands-on experience of sailing and managing a yacht across the Atlantic Ocean.

Leena Marren – Guest Crew

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Leena is no stranger to the oceans as she spent her childhood Whale watching in Maine and taking Cruise tours in Hawaii. She joins Sea Dragon as a supplement to her Biology major with a goal of furthering her knowledge around the many aspects being studying in the classroom through a practicing hands experience, whilst living and deepening her exposure to sailing.

Rayenne Hale – Guest Crew

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Rayenne hails from Southern California and will enter her fourth year at Niagara University upon return from this voyage on the Sea Dragon. She majors in Psychology with minors in Statistics, Sociology, and Philosophy. Pursuing a life of deep spiritual connection and mindfulness Rayenne enjoys prayer, reading, cooking, and poetry, exploring nature and actively engages in both indoor and outdoor athletics.

Caleb Bach – Guest Crew

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Caleb’s background is serving his community, church, and his family.
His main goal is to learn every aspect that is involved in sailing and becoming a valuable crew member on this expedition. Caleb hopes to begin the steps needed to attain whatever international sailing certifications that these nine thousand nautical miles will permit. With this lengthy trip away from campus and his family, he plans on becoming more independent and self-sufficient upon his return.

Damona Brown – Guest Crew

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Damona is an international student from The Bahamas currently studying Biology at Niagara University. She loves being in and around the water and is interested in learning more about the environment and ecology. Her goal aboard Sea Dragon is to learn as much as she can while having fun. Damona is very excited to learn how to sail the ship and snorkel.


Keanan Jenkins – Guest Crew

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Keanan is an avid swimmer, an ocean-lover, and a future engineer. As a sophomore at Arizona State studying chemical engineering, he plans to use his education to combat climate change. Believing our oceans are suffering the worst of its consequences, he cares deeply about being part of the intervention efforts. During his freshman year in college, Keanan took courses in naval architecture and marine engineering at an institute in New York. Keanan’s primary goal is to learn more about the problems our oceans face and what can be done to solve them. He is excited to explore the topics covered in this expedition and plan to apply this knowledge to his future career. Learning to sail has been a dream of his, and this is the perfect opportunity for him to start. Finally, Keanan loves seeing and learning about the ocean’s wildlife. He has swum with sharks and stingrays in the Bahamas and snorkeled with dolphins in Hawaii, and he wants more interaction with more of these amazing species.


Veronica Lindgren – Guest Crew

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A seasoned sailor, Veronica has previously taken her Sailing course, skipper La Gomera.  She can be found regularly sailing around the waters of her homeland Sweden. Having been born and raised by the sea in the Swedish arcepelago, Veronica is very at home on the water and  has seen for herself  how big the enviromental issues concerning our Seas and Oceans is. She joins Sea dragon on this voyage to get a better understanding of the cost of these problems, to marine life, and ecosystems and how and where differences can be made, now and in the future; hoping to take home some ideas to help tackle the issues in her local sailing grounds, the Baltic Sea.

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July 8: Crew arrives on board in Horta at 1300, introductions and safety briefing.

July 9: Learning on board, First session with Bill. Snorkeling/tide pooling on Faial in the afternoon, followed by evening learning session.

July 10: Depart Horta, sail to Graciosa or Terceira, look for whales on route, arrive in the evening.

July 11: Morning learning session. Explore shore, in the afternoon. Depart in the evening for Plymouth

July 12-20: Underway to Plymouth

July 21: Arrive in Plymouth, clear customs

July 22: Crew able to depart the vessel in the morning, 0900.


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Contribution Includes:

  • 14 nights accommodation on Sea Dragon
  • All meals, snacks and drinks on board
  • Sailing Instruction
  • Safety equipment and foul weather gear

Contribution does not include:

  • Transportation to Azores and from Plymouth
  • Transportation to and from the boat
  • Additional nights spent ashore
  • Personal expenses while in port

All crew members will require a passport from their home country that will allow them to travel to both Azores to Plymouth. Please look into the specific type of visa you need for arriving at these destinations by sea:




Smooth Sailin’

Smooth Sailin’

The calm, clear skies made trawl deployment and recovery very easy. The weather, in conjunction with the ease of deployment, was welcomed by the very wary crew! The only ‘problem’ we had at one point was a pesky Cahow trying to investigate the equipent and whether or not he could make a tasty meal out of it.

Stars, Satellites, and Sea Lights

Stars, Satellites, and Sea Lights

As our eyes began to adjust even more to the night sky, we were able to pick out more and more aspects that only being on the ocean in the dead of night would present. The waves crashed against the bow, and we created a wake as we travelled further south. It excited some of the smallest marine organisms called plankton, causing them to illuminate and dance in the sea beneath us.

Trawl Baby Trawl

Trawl Baby Trawl

Another great day of life at sea for the books! Team 2 — Eric, Beatrice, Casey, Max, and me — started our watch at 4 am. Found it a little hard getting up and motivated, but that’s the price we pay for science. Being able to see the moon, the stars, and planets was breathtaking, and certainly not something we see everyday. There was also enough wind at the time to allow for straight sailing. As a result, we were able to turn off the boat engine and have the waves be the background soundtrack for our watch. We were also treated to a beautiful sunrise, painting the sky various hues of pink, orange, red and blue. Not something we get to see everyday.

Everyone was up and going by 7:30 am. With our bellies full of oatmeal, cereal, and a fruit salad consisting of apples, oranges, and mangos, we were fueled, and the first trawl nets hit the water around 8:05 am. It was important to get going as soon as possible as we had four trawls scheduled for today! The first two trawls were deployed and recovered without a hitch. We took a break for lunch and had a delicious pasta salad thanks to Jennifer and Kate!

After lunch, it was back at it for the final two trawls of the day. I think everyone was starting to feel a little tired at that point, and we had some issues getting the last two trawls underway. Some lines were too slack and others to taught, resulting in the apparatus being flipped the wrong way. The last trawl of the day had some of the nets flipped inside out, causing what would have been skewed data collection. Eric volunteered to brave the cool North Atlantic waters to dive in and fix the net issues. After that, it was smooth sailing.

In between trawls, the crew took advantage of getting to know each other and their languages a bit more. We found that between the 13 of us, we could visit Germany, Holland, South Africa, and any country that spoke Spanish, Portuguese, English or “Bermudian,” and get around just fine! We also found out that Casey was one third of a triplet!

We are keeping our eyes peeled for any wildlife. We are seeing a bunch of Cahows and other sea birds, however, one Cahow following the boat led us to believe it may be the same couple of birds we are seeing day after day… Other than the birds and Portuguese Man-O-War, it’s been fairly quiet on the marine fauna front.

The same team that prepped breakfast made mashed potatoes and a green bean, carrot, onion, and tempeh stir fry. Despite no one on Team 2 having much experience cooking tempeh, let alone knowing what it was, we managed to cook it perfectly, and with no leftovers! Life at sea with very little meat on board has been very interesting, to say the least, especially considering there are so few “vegetarians” on board. The few instances meat has made an appearance, the “vegetarians” were no where to be found. I’m starting to think I’m going to become a “vegetarian,” just like them.

The day ended with me conducting some visual transects along with Kate as the sun set in the background. Generally speaking, a large part of the day was spent in overcast weather, and as a result, we didn’t get the sunset we were hoping for. Nonetheless, still a great day. Spirits are high. I sense some fatigue, but everyone is continuing to push through it, making Julia a very happy and busy scientist!

Tomorrow is looking like another full day of trawling. Captain Eric has treated us with a bit of a sleep in, pushing our trawls back until the afternoon, allowing for some much needed recovery time! However, we still have our regular watch duties, so for now, it’s time to sleep, as I must be up in 3 hours for my next shift!

– Winston Godwin, May 20, 2014

Winston blog 4

Smells like salty team spirit?

Smells like salty team spirit?

Early observations of the samples show that most of the plastic and debris was being found in the top three nets, so approximately the first meter of the water column. Julia, the scientist spearheading this project, has her work cut out for her as she analyses the information collected. Once the two trawls were completed for the day, it was time for lunch – quesadillas or Casey-dillas, as they were renamed by Casey.

Casting Off!

Today we officially casted off for what will be the last time until we return to Bermuda. We were a little slow casting off due to the customs officers having difficulties with locks and keys. Once those issues were sorted, we were quickly on our […]

From Scattered Bolts to A Cohesive Unit

From Scattered Bolts to A Cohesive Unit

From Scattered Bolts to A Cohesive Unit:
Introductions and getting in ship shape
The first day was great! Started off getting to know everyone. We’ve got a mix of 13 crew members from all over, including the UK, Holland, United States, Brazil, Sweden, and one person all the way from Bermuda!
We spent the larger part of the morning assembling our multi-level trawl, which is paramount in collecting any plastic debris. It collects debris at various levels to create a depth profile of plastics within the gyre.
Once the assembling was complete, we got to chow down on tofu Caesar salad wraps (which were delicious!). Once lunch was done, it was finally time to test out the trawl. After some trial and error, we mastered maneuvering the trawl in and out of the water, and it was time to head back to the dock for a little debriefing and rundown of safety procedures from Captain Eric and First Mate Shanley. Dinner consisted of spicy vegetable stew with baguettes.
We were all feeling a little disconnected from social media and email and decided to visit St. George’s Square for a little internet and refreshments… I’m curious as to how we are all going to make out the next the next week, disconnected from civilization. Nonetheless, the crew is shaping up to be quite a promising group. Next stop, the North Atlantic Gyre! Keep your eyes peeled for the next update!
– Winston Godwin, May 17, 2014
Sea Dragon Bermuda to Gyre

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Race to Bermuda

Race to Bermuda

What do you call it when two sailboats are in view of each other? A race! We’ve finally got some breeze again after a few interminable days of motorboating towards Bermuda and have had a glorious day sailing upwind, doing 8, sometimes 9 or 10 knots through the waves.

Ruan and Lacey, who had just emerged from seasickness in the calm weather, are back to the struggle again, although all have found their sea legs – no more vomitous offerings to Neptune!  The new struggle is just moving about on a boat that is at a constant 20 degree heel, learning how to use the motion through the waves to propel yourself forward.

Just before sunset, we spotted a sail on the horizon, and the race is on!  Unfortunately, we looked at their AIS beacon as well, and have discovered they’re motoring straight upwind towards Bermuda, while we sail the longer course – hardly sporting.  Still, we’re sailing a lot faster than they’re motoring, so we’ve got some good competition for the first slot on the customs dock tomorrow morning.

-Eric Loss, Captain, Sea Dragon, May 7, 2014