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Discussion Starter #1
OceanResearchProject.org is engaged on a non-stop scientific survey 7,000 miles non-stop across the Pacific in a sailboat. Last year ORP surveyed the Atlantic for 84 days. This year the Pacific.

Matt Rutherford is a the leader of the expedition. He is known for his record breaking Around Americas solo voyage 2 years ago.

Here is his report after 15 days at sea:

The trade winds can either be a blessing or a curse. I sailed roughly 10,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean north to south while sailing around the Americas. On my way to Cape Horn I had to sail directly into these same trade winds for 41 days straight. Which is the longest I’ve ever been on one tack. I don’t like beating into the wind and seas for 41 minutes, let alone 41 days. I remember thinking how nice it would be to turn west, put the trades on my quarter and sail across the Pacific (the proper way). A couple years later, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

The easterly trade winds do present a problem for our research. It’s hard to slow down the boat enough to drag our Avani net when you have 6 foot seas pushing you along. Forentino gave us one of their “shark” drogues before we left, which is supposed to be used in heavy weather. We deploy it every day while collecting our samples. Even with a drogue we don’t slow down enough, a few days ago I had to start tying an anchor to the back of the drogue, burying the drogue deeper in the water. It’s rather silly to be down to a third reef and dragging a drogue in 15 knots of wind but that’s the only way we can slow Sakura down to 3.5kts.

We have accomplished phase 1 of our marine plastics research. Before we left Nicole spoke with several scientists to determine where scientists have and haven’t done marine plastics research in the Pacific. During phase 1 we were trying to find the southeastern edge of the North Pacific Gyre (Pacific Garbage Patch). We thought we found it few days ago, we had to sample in a southerly direction for a few more days to verify the finding, and now it’s verified.

Phase 2 is a comparative study. We will sail south of the Hawaiian Islands sampling for micro plastics in the trades winds. Most of the research has been done in the known Gyre region, very little has been done in the easterly trades. Buy collecting samples in the trades, when back on land, we can compare our findings with the known finding in the Pacific Gyre to determine how much of the micro plastics are staying in the Gyre and how much is getting displaced by the trade winds.

In some ways this expedition reminds me of my circumnavigation of the Americas. We are on a small boat with a monitor windvane, sloop rig, single line reefing, freeze dried food and a manual water maker. I used these same systems for 309 days while going around the Americas, in many ways I copied St. Brendan to keep things nice and familiar. On the other hand, I’m sailing with a strong, smart, beautiful woman. On a brand new boat, with no black mold, ice bergs, fog and general chaos. Not to mention this is a research expedition.

Daily life is pretty simple, although it’s hard for me to say when the day begins as most nights I hardly sleep a wink. I’m too busy keeping a course and listening for problems. Once we do “get up” we make a cup of coffee, which is breakfast, write a report in the ships log book and prepare to drag our net and collect samples. It takes a half hour to set up the spinnaker pole and deploy the drogue. While we are collecting our sample we pump the water maker. Nikki and I take shifts pumping the water maker for an hour and a half to make the 5 litters of water we need for the next 24 hours. After collecting our samples we pull the drogue, stow away the spinnaker pole and make dinner. I’m not really sure if dinner is the right word for it, as we one eat once a day. The rest of the day we manage the vessel, read, write and try to rest. Then we do it all over again the next day, and the next day, and the next day. The simplicity of life at sea.
 

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Are you joining our community or just advertising a website?

If everyone advertised their website only in posts then we would have a pretty boring community.

As for the science, lets wait till the research is complete.


Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #4
OceanResearchProject.org is hardly a commercial venture :)

They are some 2,500 nat miles off the coast of California now, by passing Hawaii

Just thought the SN community would find the expedition within their interest. It has all the attributes of a SN BFS

Pretty girl on board

Epic long distance sail

Small sailboat

Frugal lifestyle - no reefer, no hot water, hand pumped watermaker

Maybe we should wait and see if SmackDaddy gives his BFS stamp before leaping to any conclusions.
 

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Super Fuzzy Moderator
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I'm sure there are lots of us here who would find the journey itself quite interesting but not if it turns into an ongoing advert for the boat builder.
 

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cruising all I can
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I enjoyed it,more interesting than most of the usual garbage that's asked over and over without anything new being discussed or discovered.
how many times do you want to debate anchors,living aboard boats and overpriced accessories?
Only question I have is,why not upgrade the watermaker to a higher output unit run on solar, hand pumping every day to get a gallon or two would get old quick,
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Why not upgrade to a fancy electric watermaker ? Money :)

They don't have hot water, not a reefer, nor a real stove; just one of those single burner propane camping cookers. 8 boxes of freeze dried food plus a few bottles of scotch and a case of white wine.

no wind, depth, or similar instruments - just the simplest chartplotter & AIS. Plus a glue on floating compass that looks like it was a prize out of a cereal box. A second hand ( or third hand ) sextant and a Casio watch if the chartplotter dies.

They have about 60-120 hours of fuel on board. Figure a motoring range of maybe 300 nm in flat waters.

Autopilot is a simple windvane with a couple of lines tied to tiller. Robust and easy to repair.

Emergency rudder is on board and attaches to the windvane mounts. Life raft is certified. EPIRB of course.

The run a 100W hydrogenerator which generates between 80-100 amps a day plus they have a used wind generator which generates about 10 amps. They consume about 60-80 amps a day - much of this is running two ancient laptops for the science documentation.

They do have a zillion or so bottles on board for all the science stuff they undertake.
 

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cruising all I can
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Why not upgrade to a fancy electric watermaker ? Money :)

They don't have hot water, not a reefer, nor a real stove; just one of those single burner propane camping cookers. 8 boxes of freeze dried food plus a few bottles of scotch and a case of white wine.

no wind, depth, or similar instruments - just the siubmplest chartplotter & AIS. Plus a glue on floating compass that looks like it was a prize out of a cereal box. A second hand ( or third hand ) sextant and a Casio watch if the chartplotter dies.

They have about 60-120 hours of fuel on board. Figure a motoring range of maybe 300 nm in flat waters.

Autopilot is a simple windvane with a couple of lines tied to tiller. Robust and easy to repair.

Emergency rudder is on board and attaches to the windvane mounts. Life raft is certified. EPIRB of course.

The run a 100W hydrogenerator which generates between 80-100 amps a day plus they have a used wind generator which generates about 10 amps. They consume about 60-80 amps a day - much of this is running two ancient laptops for the science documentation.

They do have a zillion or so bottles on board for all the science stuff they undertake.
Y'all are hardcore, no doubt.
That was demonstrated by the last adventure.
this journey is also incredible.
just was thinking it must suck having to hand pump for drinking water. but I guess you've got plenty of free time!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
They are busy hauling and deploying the collection gear plus recording all the data.


Apparently one odd effect of being on a small boat for weeks is a lack of exercise. Perhaps the water pumping has a benefit of a upper body workout.

5 liters per day per person

Paradox - Sakura's track suggests they will pass within 50-100 miles of Hawaii.

Amazing dedication; if they do not stop for a day or two.
 

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Closet Powerboater
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They are busy hauling and deploying the collection gear plus recording all the data.


Apparently one odd effect of being on a small boat for weeks is a lack of exercise. ...
A young good looking couple confined to a small sailboat should never be in want of a way to exercise... ;)

MedSailor
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Med,

He did mention being tired. They have 90 days of food on board. How'd that old song go ? Something about a 'on a slow boat to China'
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Matt Rutherford report 21st day at sea

The TransPacificPollution Expedition is passing Hawaii on their non-stop 7,000 mile voyage. Some nice photos on their website OceanResearchProject.orh

"...The not so Hawaiian Islands (Day 21)
Categories: Trans Pacific Plastic Pollution Survey
One of the questions I heard most often was, are you going to stop in Hawaii?? If this is purely a research expedition and all of our research is done at sea stopping on land would be an inappropriate use of funding. I would love to sit here and tell you we are researching Piña Coladas on the beach, but that would be a lie. More important than that is the typhoon season is right around the corner. We could survive a tropical storm but a direct hit from a typhoon will kill us, it’s important that we make it to Japan before July 1st. If we keep making good time we should be okay.

Because the open ocean is out of sight it is typically out of mind. There are many misunderstandings. When it comes to plastic trash in our ocean the one I hear most often “is there is an island of trash the size of Texas in the middle of Pacific ocean”. Most people I meet believe this to be true.

The media likes to sensationalize stories and at some point five or six years ago some media outlet came up with the story of an island of trash, and the concept went viral. The truth is there is no island of trash in any ocean. If that was the case the problem would be much easier to solve. If the trash was all in one place we could just go there and clean it up. The reality is much worse than the fairy tale, the ocean is full of plastic trash, microplastics.

There are five major gyres in our Earth’s oceans. A gyre is a very large area dominated by a slow moving vortex like current. There is a gyre in the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, and Indian Ocean. Plastic floats, so if a piece of plastic were to be dumped into the ocean it will ride various ocean currents eventually winding up in one of these gyres. The churning motion of the ocean breaks up larger pieces of plastic into pieces the size of your finger nail or smaller. In the gyre regions, it is estimated that there are 48,000 pieces of broken up plastic per square mile.

Cleaning up the plastic trash is nearly impossible. I heard one estimate that it would take 64 freighter sized vessels working 24 hours a day for 10 years to clean just one gyre. Another problem is that an entire aspect of our oceans ecosystem is living right at the surface, where the microplastics are. If you tried to clean the ocean with a giant net you would destroy this fragile surface ecosystem.

There have been many interesting ideas for cleaning up all of this microplastic trash but none are realistic. The giant trash cleaning robots would be hugely expensive and would be destroyed by the sometimes violent nature of the ocean. I applaud these ideas, I hope a trash cleaning ship or robot can be developed and deployed, but it’s unlikely it will happen any time soon. Microplastics effect both man and marine species. The clearest example of this can be seen with sea birds. Many different bird species spend most of their lives at sea and only come to land to reproduce. It is on these remote islands that people have filmed sea birds feeding their babies plastic and countless other birds dead or dying from ingesting plastics.

It’s much more difficult to monitor the effects on fish, sea turtles, etc. If a fish dies because it has a belly full of plastic it will sink to the bottom of the ocean. The open ocean is on average between 12,000 and 16,000 feet deep. We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the sea floor. It’s nearly impossible to gauge how many fish are dyeing due to eating micro plastics. Not all fish that eat microplastics will die.

Plastics are full of nasty chemicals, the smaller fish eat the small pieces of plastic thinking its food. They absorb the chemicals into their body during digestion. The larger fish eat many smaller fish, absorbing larger amounts of these pollutants, and we eat the larger fish. We end up eating our own nasty chemicals through this process.

The answer to reducing the amount of plastic trash in our ocean is not at sea, it’s on land. We must reduce the usage of one time use plastic items, increase recycling and promote the use of true bio polymers. For every hour spent collecting samples we have to spend ten hours processing the samples in a laboratory in Baltimore (Baltimore underground science space). We count the amount of microplastics per sample, analyze the DNA of various foreign bacteria hitchhiking a ride on the plastics and also analyze the plastics for different pollutants...."
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Matt and Nicole are in the trades now - about 40% done.

Only 4,000 nm to go.

He is trying to get to Japan before Typhoon season
 

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Latest report 28 days out, some interesting photos at oceanresearchproject.org

Our earth’s oceans are dominated by various trade winds, horse latitudes (aka variables) and doldrums. Starting at the equator you will find a doldrums called the ITCZ (inter tropical convergence zone), both north and south of the ITCZ are the easterly trades. The easterly trades are by far the loveliest of all the places to sail (as long as you’re going the right direction). The easterlies are close enough to the equator to provide you with warm sunny weather and since they are so far south it’s highly unlikely that you will encounter a storm. Unless its hurricane or typhoon season.

The easiest, safest ocean crossings are in the easterlies, crossing the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean and crossing the Pacific from either California or Panama to any of the beautiful islands in Polynesia. Moving away from the easterly trades things become a bit more complicated.

From roughly 25 to 40 north (especially in the northern hemisphere) you will find the horse latitudes, or as it’s more professionally called, “the variables”. In this area that stretches 1,500 miles north to south the wind can blow out of any direction, you can get stormy weather, and you can be becalmed. After the variables at around 40 north or 40 south you get into the westerly trade winds. In the southern hemisphere the westerly trades have nick names like “roaring 40′s” and “screaming 60′s”. The westerly trades are much windier, wetter and more difficult. If you go any further north or south than the westerlies, you wind up in the Arctic or Antarctic.

One of the interesting aspects of sailing around the Americas is I had to sail through every one of these regions, sometimes against the prevailing winds. Sailing from California to Hawaii is a downwind sleigh ride, once you find the easterly trades. I know a guy who built a raft out of plastic trash and more or less drifted from California to Hawaii, it took him 88 days but he made it. After Hawaii, heading for Japan, things become a bit more complicated.

At this point we have sailed more miles than it would take to get from Annapolis Maryland to England, and we are only halfway there. We have been making good time averaging 120-135 miles a day, which is very good considering we are dragging a net doing research, and I’m a super conservative sailor. I never push a boat harder than it wants to be pushed (unless I’m trying to run away from a storm). I remember sitting at a bar in Annapolis 5 or 6 years ago listening to some guy bragging about how he had sailed across the Atlantic in 16 days. What I found out later is that he destroyed a brand new set of sails, broke this and broke that, he put 30,000 miles of wear and tear on his boat in a 3,000 mile crossing. Who cares how long it takes to get from point A to point B, blue water sailing is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

The Harbor 29 has been holding up well, although there was one small issue. New standing rigging will stretch and become loose. That’s typically not an issue, you just tighten the rigging at the turnbuckles. The problem is this boat has a semi high performance double spreader rig. The upper inner shrouds became loose and the only way to tighten them is to climb that mast. Normally this would be an easy thing to do, but climbing a mast under sail, then reaching out to the end of the spreader with a tool in each hand is a nightmare. You have to use two wrenches to tighten the rigging so how are you going to hold on to the mast? Luckily I received an ATN mast climber right before I left. This device lets you climb a mast comfortably without having someone winch you up. At a dock it would have taken 20 minutes to tighten the rigging but since the mast was like riding a bucking bronco it took two hours. I never would have been able to do it without the mast climber. You can’t have too many safety devices.

Halfway through this crossing and the ocean is starting to take its toll on my body. The salty air attacked my scalp and I had to cut all the hair of my head and face. My scalp looks like it has been burned and I’m as bald as a Buddhist monk. Since the boat is small I find myself sitting a sweating a lot, so I now have an epic heat rash in the last place you want a heat rash. I’ve dealt with this before on previous expeditions, it’s just part of being a Celt, you have sensitive skin. Nicole on the other hand has no problems and is holding up just fine.

I doubt we will be able to keep making such good mileage. We already had to turn south, looking for better wind as the trades were dying off a bit. I hope to stay in the easterlies all the way to 155-150 east, than sail northwest to Japan. My plans don’t mean much to Poseidon, only time will tell.

Matt Rutherford
 
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