Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rough Seas in the South Atlantic: Day 11

Blog 5  Day 11  Friday November 19, 2010

Rain-- inside and out due to the combination of, well, rain and waves crashing over the bow.  Water is stealth in finding any orifice to climb into and it found at least one.  After coming off a hair-raising watch, Rich and I climbed down to the galley to get some hot tea.  The captain made the order to tack portside and moments later a gallon of water poured over our heads missing us by inches.  Without a word, Rich grabs a pan and I look for something to wipe up the water.

"We're on a boat," the captain says nonchalantly, "boats leak."

A little background info-- there are three watch shift crews.  

Bay Watch: Chelsea Rochman, Anna Cummins, Marcus Ericksen, and Michael Lutman.

Surf Watch: Mary Osbourne, James Pribram, and Jody Lemmon.

And then there's my team... Rolex Watch: Rich Owen, Mary Maxwell, and Stiv Wilson.

We either do 8 or 10-hour split shifts per day.  (as Rich repeatedly says, "I didn't see this in the brochure.")  So Wednesday night, we were on from 6pm to 10pm shift (after being on watch from 2am-6am earlier that day.) The head winds were pulling us along through the waves and rain at about 25 knots.  THEN a huge 10 knot gain hit us in our already over-filled sails and the boat heeled dragging the handrails on the starboard side through the 20 foot patches of sea foam our boat laid-- like rubber pavement.  Mary and I were nearly pitched like stones from a slingshot from the portside into the drink on the starboard side.  Sitting yet standing on the wooden rail screwed into the floor of the cockpit for that very reason-- we braced ourselves...white knuckled fingers and toes.  The captain, who had been sleeping at the time raced up the steps in his undershorts, "Is everything under control?"  And soon it was once we reduced a reef line and took down the front sail.

These conditions are not conducive for getting good samples.  Like the sea life that hunkers down under the turbulent surface, so does the plastic.  Yesterday, we did manage to see a basketball float by but out of reach.  And our last samples amazingly still had plastic in them.  One has to wonder:  

How much plastic is really out here if we are still picking it up when it is known to be forced, down deeper into the water column when the ocean surface is rough.

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