Ship’s Blog

  • EXXpedition Blog Photo Day 1

    eXXpedition: Setting sail from Lanzarote

    After five days in Marina Lanzarote, taking part and leading workshops/talks for the Atlantic Odyssey, Sea Dragon and her team of 14 changemakers has finally set sail! After crossing the line with 34 Atlantic Odyssey boats, we set a course between Lanzarote and Fuerteventura heading out into the BIG WIDE ATLANTIC OCEAN!

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    eXXpedition Caribbean 2017

    Come and live aboard Sea Dragon as we hop between islands, sampling waters, surveying waste and reach out to local communities.

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    Adios

    Lanzarote, on the horizon for hours as a question mark – cloud or land? – came into focus as an extended sprawl of volcanic hills. A fantastically arid landscape, all browns and tans like the dried pelt of a brindled creature, a stark contrast to the lush greens of the Azores. Clusters of white buildings ran in lines like barnacles on a low-tide rock.

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  • Deck

    Studio Swine and the Golden Machine

    Reconfiguring our conception – and use – of ‘waste’ is a theme running through Studio Swine’s work, which has seen them crafting chairs from aluminium cans in Brazil, and extraordinarily beautiful, tortoiseshell-like table-tops and other objects from human hair and bio-resin in China. They first became interested in ocean plastic after Alex heard a BBC Radio 4 programme about a previous Sea Dragon voyage from Brazil to South Africa through the South Atlantic gyre. On our current journey, as we lower the fish-mouthed trawls into the sea for the daily collection of plastic and plankton, we’re witnessing an intriguing, real-time intersection of science and art.

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  • Eric Blog 1

    Ocean Friendly Design

    According to the UK Design Council, 80% of a product’s environmental impact is ‘locked in’ at the design stage. Take the humble toothbrush. Most of these apparently simple objects are made from three or four different kinds of plastics. For a toothbrush to be recycled, the different plastics would have to be separated, making toothbrush recycling, even were this technically feasible, an immediate non-starter financially. The toothbrush as a whole is a short-lived item, but actually, the only short-lived bit of it is the bristles in the head. The plastics in the handle will probably last upward of 450 years.

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  • Dragon Sailing1

    Plankton Poo

    Steph, who is normally based at the University of Exeter, talked about the research she’s been doing en route. She’s asking two main questions: 1) where on our route will we find the most plastic and plankton occurring together; 2) can we find ‘real world’ evidence (as opposed to lab-based evidence, which already exists) that plankton ingest plastic? The critical question is the second one, and the method is brilliant.

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  • Arjen 3

    Transitions

    That night, by now so used to falling asleep in motion, our berths surging and swaying through the waves, the sudden lack of movement felt unnatural and abrupt, as if someone had slammed on the brakes. These are truly strange transitions, I’m finding, from ocean and motion to stationary land; from the mini-world of our boat, at once small and yet travelling through an immensity of ocean and sky, to the endless-but-limited options of land-life.

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  • First Sampling

    Horizons

    On the early watch, a colourless sun turns the shifting waves to a runway of dynamic molten silver. At dusk, as the light leaches away, the sea turns pewter, then gun-metal grey, the wave surfaces etched and chiselled and constantly in motion. At night, there’s an immensity of stars, silent above the black sea. It’s the biggest space I’ve ever been in. It’s extraordinarily, exhilaratingly, utterly wonderful. And I suspect, as I notice my distinctly mixed reactions to the news that we might reach land tomorrow, addictive.

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    Cruising

    Highlights of the trip so far have involved dolphins; Steph giving an excellent talk about her research with laptop slides on deck and dolphins arching in the background; and bioluminescent dolphins lighting up a dark night like waterborne fireworks. From our perspective, in many ways so out of our element, that there are creatures so at home in the sea seems amazing. Amazing and, inevitably, bittersweet to watch them leaping and sparkling given what we know about how we are changing their world.

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    Brilliant

    Brilliant. That’s the word in mind today. The combination of people, skills, professions, interests and passions on board – marine scientists, photographers, film-makers, plastic pollution activists and campaigners, commercial project managers, conservationists, philosophers, generally interested folk and, of course, sailors. With luck and a fair wind, bringing these perspectives to bear on the horrible challenge that is ocean plastic pollution will throw up some genuinely constructive ideas and solutions.

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