The Ocean Cleanup | Gyre Expedition #5 | Bermuda to Azores

Ocean Cleanup Photo

$3,800 / €3,500

June 26 – Jul 13, 2015

Depart: Bermuda
Arrive: Azores
Length: 18 days, 17 nights
Focus: Ocean Plastics




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Following our three very successful previous Gyre Expeditions with The Ocean Cleanup, we are pleased to announce another two expeditions this summer to the North Atlantic Gyre. Our last trip, Gyre Expedition #3, was an 8-day voyage, on which the crew took 12 separate vertical distribution measurements of the microplastics present about the Gyre. These measurements are necessary for Boyan Slat and his team to determine the depth profile of plastic pollution.

This upcoming 10-day trip will be very similar to it’s predecessor, departing from and arriving back in Bermuda. If you go on one of our expeditions, you really are part of the crew. That means learning how to sail and actually helping with the research. Of course, there will be a lead researcher on board to guide the experiments and to teach you everything you need to know.

These expeditions are heading to the middle of the North Atlantic Garbage Patch, where the highest plastic pollution concentrations can be found. The research that will be done during the expedition is very important to us. There are some uncertainties concerning the vertical distribution dataset left that we want to reduce. So your contribution is especially meaningful!

Find out more about Boyan Slat and The Ocean Cleanup here.


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Winston Godwin, our blogger for the last trip, beautifully wrapped up some of the experiences in the North Atlantic Gyre, which may be read below.

May 24th, 2014 – The Final Stretch

It’s the last day of this amazing voyage. We enjoyed our last supper courtesy of Winston and Beatrice. We had CHICKEN and veggies! With all the vegetarian meals, the chicken was a very welcomed change of pace. A few of us also enjoyed what would be the last sunset of the trip. Like the majority of the trip, the water the skies were clear, making for a great sunset. As the skies turned to black, the wind and seas began to pick up a bit, making it a little rougher. Watch 2 made up of Eric, Winston, Kasey, Max and Beatrice were the last official watch team of the trip. We woke up at 12am for our four hour shift. At this point we were still quite a ways from Bermuda. It was dark allowing for great bioluminescent shows in the wake of the boat. We began to pick up signals and sounds of Bermuda Radio, which were the first signs of us nearing the island.

Later, Eric pointed out a very faint flicker of what he said was Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse. Next we began to see a low, faint, orange glow of the island and eventually as we got closer, the glow of the island tuned into individual lights. Now that we were close to the channel, it was time (4;30) for everyone to wake up, fill out immigration forms and take their positions in preparation to dock. Once we all cleared customs, we packed our bags and had to clean down the boat. The overall mood of the boat at this time was bittersweet. It was nice to be docked in the confines of the harbor and not moving. But it also meant we had to start the painful process of cleaning. Once cleaning was done we all decided to grab one last meal as a crew at Tavern by the Sea. Over lunch we took the time to reflect and enjoy each others company. A few of us (Kim) took the time to reconnect with the wireless world and let our loved ones know we were alive. We all made our way back to the boat and gave the final hugs and well wishes for the journeys home.

Reflection: The boat has been scrubbed down and everyone has sadly begun making their way back home to their respective countries with memories that will undoubtedly last a lifetime. And here I am sitting on the dock, watching the sunset and reflecting on what an amazing experience this last week was. The information garnered is something I plan on sharing with anyone that is willing to listen. Coming into this journey I had no idea the extent or magnitude of the plastics issue at hand. Large plastics, while their are obvious and fairly easy to extract are only part of the problem. The other 90% of the iceberg so to speak are the tiny bits of micro-plastics that have been broken down by the sun, ocean, and marine organisms. These tiny pieces cannot simply be picked out or filtered. They stay in the ocean column for long periods of time and are even ingested by various sea birds and marine animals. The hope is that our hard work over the past week will provide a better understanding of the issue as well as contribute to possible solutions to the problem at hand. Yesterday before we all parted ways, I asked everyone to reflect on their experience the last week and provide me with their most memorable moment or something that they learned over the course of the last week. Here’s what they said.

Kasey – Don’t lie on your back on the deck in the sun. ALSO, puking over the side of the boat can be amusing for all involved.

Kim – Sitting on the bow while the boat is traveling 8 knots in 5 foot swells is the equivalent to an amusement park ride!

Mario – I’ll remember the overall experience the most. From the trawling, and the samples, the weather, and the people. I’m going to miss it all.

Beatrice – I left expecting to see a big floating garbage patch, however that was far from the case. We can’t see most of the pieces as we sail along so it looks like there’s nothing there. This makes the problem even bigger and scarier because we can’t truly see how bad the issue is. The only positive thing is the potential of the plastic eating bacteria. I think tighter regulations surrounding plastics and making they types of plastics more standardized would making solutions more plausible.

Jennifer – The night it was really rough and sitting outside with Kim as I was driving the boat. It was like we were floating in a sea of nothingness surrounded by stars.

Max – I think what I’ll remember most is the people and the connections we made.

Becky – I think what will stick with me the most was the day we did 4 trawls in a row. The first 2 trawls were great. However as the day went one we all began to tire. Even though we were exhausted we all managed to work together as a team towards a common goal. While deploying and recovering that 4th trawl wasn’t the smoothest, we sucked it up and got it done.

Julia – SAMPLES! And good work with great friends!

Shanley – The crew was definitely memorable but I think I’ll definitely remember Sir Bigglesworth and Theodore.

Eric – Sweet Trawling


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Julia Reisser – Mission Leader

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Background & Expertise
Julia Reisser is an oceanographer, PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia’s Oceans Institute. Julia’s research focuses on understanding the links between ocean currents and the spatial distribution of sea turtles and plastic pollution. She has been part of many oceanographic cruises and field expeditions in Brazil, Australia, and Antarctica.

Expedition Goals

Bart Sturm

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Background & Expertise
23 years old. Finishing my study informatics. I work for Peerby: In our spare time, some colleagues from Peerby are helping to make an app for The Ocean Cleanup to track marine debris. I’ve always loved nature and sailing. I joined a similar (but shorter) expedition one year ago and had an amazing time.

Expedition Goals
Testing and improving the app we made for The Ocean Cleanup. And adventure. Don’t forget the adventure.

Pierre Maufret

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Background & Expertise
Fishing with nets and implementation of crab traps. Sailing a little bit. Boat license.

Expedition Goals
Measure the impact of plastic pollution in marine environment. Define the limits of the Garbage Patch. Improve skills in navigation.

Kees van Bezouw

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Background & Expertise
I’m a Nanobiology/Biophysics student at the TU Delft in the Netherlands. I’ve also studied Biology for one year. I work at The Ocean Cleanup as a communications employee.

Expedition Goals
Besides the fact that it will simply be an awesome experience, I will try to: Get a better understanding of the problem, learn to do research, and help to solve the problem.

Tom Ventresco

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Background & Expertise

Expedition Goals
I’ve joined this expedition in part because I am excited about The Ocean Cleanup’s mission and impressed with its scope and vision. You are doing very important work and I would like to help. There are also some personal goals unrelated to the expedition: re-visiting Bermuda (my birthplace), and making an trans-ocean sailing passage.

Francesco Ferrari

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Background & Expertise
I have a Marine Biology Master degree and a bachelor in Marine Ecology. I started as a volunteer in The Ocean Cleanup, and now I cover the position of Lab Coordinator, researching on plastic pollution and new technologies to extract it from the sea.

Expedition Goals
Collect as much samples is possible of Oceanic plastic pollution.

Moritz Schmid

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Background & Expertise
I am currently PhD candidate in marine oceanography at Université Laval in Québec, Canada, but I have many research interests, which brought me, for example, to New Zealand or Alaska, where I did spatial modeling studies on Seabirds, plankton, and similar. Currently, I am working on submarine imaging and automatic recognition of organisms on pictures.

Expedition Goals
This mission means for me to continue my contribution towards the ocean cleanup and to help make the oceans a place less impacted by our lifestyle on the planet. It is my understanding that we humans are very wasteful with nature and ecosystem services provided to us. In order for future generations not to run out of resources and a habitable place, we have to care about our environment!


Harrie Pieters

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Background & Expertise
Currently working as a software developer for a startup called Peerby in the Netherlands. I further hold a degree in Industrial Engineering and Management.

Expedition Goals
Helping out The Ocean Cleanup research, and hopefully the planet
Learn more about the Ocean, and its current state
Enjoy 3 weeks on the ocean, and experience life onboard a ship

Jan Maarten de Gruijter

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Background & Expertise
Mechanical designer and engineer. I made the multi-level trawl, that is going to be used by The Ocean Cleanup.

Expedition Goals
To get many and good samples for better knowledge of the plastic-particles distribution in the oceans.

Tim de Rooij

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Background & Expertise
My background is in the social science, focusing on the development of the rural areas. In my studies my interest shifted to coastal and marine development, and next to that, education. During my internship in the Philippines, I came across the plastic problem for the first time, observing with my own eyes how plastics were discarded without consideration in the Sea. This is when I recognized the problem and my passion to do something about this issue arose. I noticed that it was the lack of the right education and lack of awareness of the consequences of this plastic pollution among the locals. In my view Education can be an important factor for plastic prevention especially in developing countries like the Philippines. So by combining my knowledge about social science, marine environments and education I would like to contribute to this ever growing problem. And what better way to build up experience by being on the frontline, joining a research expedition contributing to the Ocean Cleanup.

Expedition Goals
My goals for this expedition: Experience a scientific expedition; Build up expereince doing fieldwork; Increase my knowledge about the plastic issue in the Oceans; Contribute to the Ocean Cleanup project; Work together with people with similar passions; Witness the plastic gyre first hand; Increase my experience in sailing and navigating; Being part of a team; Share knowledge and experiences between the crew; Enjoy


Eric Loss – Skipper

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A native of California, Eric has been on the water since an early age. He has sailed more than 55,000 offshore miles, and has sailed everything from windsurfers to 115′ schooners, and recently he completed a single-handed circumnavigation by way of the great capes. He enjoys teaching all aspects of sailing, from boat handling and dinghy racing to navigation and seamanship. He is always eager to share his knowledge of celestial navigation. Eric has been involved in sail training for most of his life, and is an US Sailing instructor. He holds an IYT Master of Yachts Ocean with commercial endorsement and a USCG 100 ton master’s license. Eric is also an experienced diver and PADI Divemaster.

Shanley Mcentee – First Mate

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Shanley was born and raised in San Diego, CA and graduated with a BA in Environmental Policy and a minor in Environmental Science from Western Washington University. Having grown up by the sea, she holds a deep passion for Mother Ocean and our ever-growing need for protection and awareness of the problems our environment is facing. She enjoys anything having to do with the sea, from surfing to scuba diving to sailing, and loves offshore passages. She is PADI Rescue Diver certified and holds an IYT Master of Yachts Offshore with commercial endorsement.

Katie Jewett – Deck Hand

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Katie grew up in Mill Valley, California and worked her first job as a summer deckhand aboard the Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry on San Francisco Bay. She later joined her college sailing team and ever since has enjoyed learning how the wind can take her all over the world. Katie earned her degree from Stanford University in Human Biology with a concentration in marine policy and science communications. She now spends her winters in Colorado and summers living and working on the water. She loves storytelling through writing and film, and hopes to increase ocean literacy by connecting even the most landlocked, mountainous populations with the beauty and importance of the ocean environment. She holds her Wilderness First Responder and a Merchant Mariner Credential (AB-Special).


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Day 1 – Day 18 TBD

June 26th: Crew arrive on board Sea Dragon at 4pm

June 27th: Sea Dragon departs Bermuda

June 28th – July 11th: Sea Dragon at sea

July 12th: Sea Dragon arrives into Horta, Azores

July 13th: All crew leave Sea Dragon at 4pm.





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Travel documents:

Crew will require a passport from their home country that will allow them to travel to Bermuda. For specific visa information, contact the Bermuda Department of Immigration.

Contribution Includes:

  • 17 night’s accommodation onboard Sea Dragon
  • Services of experienced crew
  • Hands on research opportunities
  • All meals, drinks, and snacks on board
  • Sailing Instruction
  • Safety and foul weather gear

Payment does not include:

  • Transportation to and from Bermuda
  • Transportation to and from the dock
  • Hotel accommodation prior to the voyage
  • Meals and drinks when ashore
  • Travel insurance & vaccinations
  • Visas & gratuities
  • Alcoholic drinks onboard


Kit List
Please see our Travel Kit List.


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For more information on joining this expedition, please e-mail