After constructing a somewhat unusual vessel out of ordinary but not-maritime-friendly materials, Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal set out from Long Beach, California on June 1st to sail across the Pacific - well to Hawaii anyway. Their mission was to draw attention to the problem of plastic debris, in particular plastic bags, which have become prevalent ocean debris. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation’s project called “JUNK”, speaks for itself.
With a deck made from reclaimed sailboat masts, pontoons filled with 15,000 plastic bottles, and a cabin which had once been the fuselage of a Cessna aircraft, Eriksen and Paschal found it was slow going from the start. They had an estimate of time required for the trip, but that estimate went out the window immediately when they found their ½ mile per hour speed was less than anticipated. The raft could only travel downwind, and had some difficulty simply getting out to sea. Storms encountered were hard on the vessel, and a significant rebuild was necessary only 100 miles off the California coast. Supplies on board were stocked based on the estimated travel time of 6 weeks, and the crew had to cut back in order to accommodate the slower progress.
At one point, JUNK met up with Roz Savage, who was rowing from San Francisco to Hawaii in a very special boat, similarly for the cause of ocean debris. They dined together and traded a water-making machine for some food, then returned to their own voyage.
Finally, after nearly 3 months at sea, Eriksen and Paschal arrived in Honolulu on August 27th, and were met by a crowd of a couple of dozen well-wishers. “We made it!”, he exclaimed. “Where’s the food?”
There was food, and beer, and leis. And hot showers, soft beds, and a knowledge of having made a great sacrifice for an obscure but important cause. So, next time you go to your local market, bring your cloth bags. It really is a big problem.