JUNK makes front page in India!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
News of JUNK's safe arrival in Honolulu travelled far and wide yesterday, including
a front page article on Hindu.com. Such are the wonders of the AP wire. How does if feel to set foot on land after 3 months on a plastic bottle raft, crossing the Pacific?
"We were surrounded by boats, blaring horns, waves and whistles, as JUNK was towed into Ala Wai Harbor in Honolulu. The first thing I did was reach for my fiancee, Anna. Captain Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation was there with a smile and a loud “Aloha”. Dr. Andrew Rossiter, director of the Waikiki Aquarium, presented us each with a handshake and a lei. There were perhaps 100 people there to greet us, including plenty of media representatives to cover our story, everyone asking, “Why did you do this,” or “Was it worth it?” If you've been following our blog, you know why. Yes, it was worth it. We would do it again.
I presented our last gyre sample from our marine debris trawl. In a glass peanut butter jar were hundreds of fragments of plastic and zooplankton floating around. “This is what you get when you skim the ocean surface. 2/3rds of the earth is ocean, and is now a plastic soup.” I also showed the shriveled stomach from the rainbow runner I caught a couple weeks ago, with 14 fragments of plastic in it's stomach. This is why we crossed this ocean. Then we talked about what we do about it.
Anna and I were soon strolling along busy streets to find a market and restaurant for fresh greens. Anything green, or a red tomato would do. As we walked I paid attention to my experience. I expected wobbly legs and quick exhaustion. What I experienced was unexpected. We found a restaurant and shared a spinach and tomato salad. We walked slowly. I was just taking it all in. The novelty of the open ocean is different from rush hour Waikiki, the noise, sights, smells, and concrete beneath my feet. The best analogy would be a monk walking through a burning building. I was used to the subtle novelty of an empty horizon and bottomless sea that shows you a unique world, especially when you travel at 1.5 miles per hour for 2600 miles. So much of our planet is ocean, so little of it belongs to us, and perhaps none of it does.
Today, one day later, I carry my cell phone. I wear shoes. I check email. Anna and I walked to Ala Wai Harbor to meet Joel. By the end of the day JUNK is gone. We've undone 3 months of work in 24 hours. We will rebuild the raft on the front lawn of the Waikiki Aquarium. Then we'll stuff JUNK in a shipping container and send it back to where it was built. It's been six months from the day I sketched the image of JUNK on a piece of paper, to the raft built, sailed, and dismantled in Hawaii. My dream for 4 years has come to a new beginning.
Arrival words from JUNK
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
JUNK has arrived safely, to a throng of cheering supporters, journalists, and videographers. After a few hours of interviews, the crew headed out for a much deserved lunch of FRESH FOOD and drink.
Photos coming of the arrival as soon as we've all settled into the land reality. Meantime, some final thoughts from Marcus and Joel:
At 1:00 am I took the helm, as Joel climbed into the cabin to sleep after having been on watch for 8 hours. A squall quickly overcame JUNK and left me and the deck drenched. The moon shot out from behind the clouds, illuminating the backside of the storm. By the light of the moon, a complete rainbow appeared. I’ve never seen one at night. I’ve 8 hours to keep the raft on a steady course for Honolulu, which is now only 40 miles away. There is so much to think about, so much to do, but still plenty of time to let my mind wander and ponder on this voyage. It’s been a long summer.
2,600 miles of open ocean crossed in 87 days. From our first week of sinking hopes on a sinking raft, through four hurricanes that swept under us, to the unbelievable chance meeting with Roz Savage in the middle of nowhere, we have had quite an adventure. We’ve collected 10 ocean surface samples using our marine debris trawl, managed to snatch a few large pieces of plastic debris that floated under us, and caught fish with stomachs filled with particles of plastic. Plastic is forever, and it’s everywhere.
That’s been our point. The Synthetic Century should have ended 8 years ago, replaced by the Age of Sustainability. There are over 20,000 man-made chemicals produced by the billions of pounds annually that are dispersed throughout the globe in an open loop of consumption that often ends as waste to be buried, burned or to flow down coastal watersheds out to sea. It is unsustainable and deeply troubling knowing that many synthetic compounds are persistent in the environment and are harmful to wildlife and humans. Plastic marine debris is one of them, and is the most ubiquitous form of pollution visible around the world. It is clear that single-use disposable plastic products have no place in modern society.
We return to society tomorrow if all goes well, to the world of alarm clocks, calendars, cars and shoes. Three months is enough time to forget the world you left and accept a new reality. But not everything is forgotten. I long for my friends, family and fiancée. I crave fresh veggies and exercise. In three months I wonder how I will reflect on this summer? Will there be days when I will find myself wishing to be back on JUNK, even if only for a minute? I don’t know what this experience will bring, but it is my intention to use it as a starting point for hundreds of conversations about solutions to the plastic plague. We have, in half a century, transformed 2/3rds of the ocean surface into a plastic soup. Knowing what I know, it would be immoral to do nothing.
As I watch the sun set on the final day at sea, I am overcome more with humility than excitement. I am truly humbled by the efforts of so many people that have made this journey a reality. Donations of time and funds came pouring in once we committed to this project, and thousands of people followed our story online. From an idea sketched on paper years ago, to the final miles of an amazing adventure, I can only say “Thank you.”