Wednesday 26 November — Leaving the Tropic of Cancer

November 26, 2014

23 00.36 N

40 55.11 W

Today is a very special day: we have reached the half way point in our journey! 1300 miles crossed and we have officially entered the tropics, leaving the Tropic of Cancer behind. Funny enough we were greeted with strong winds, choppy waves and frequent squalls that brought back memories of the beginning of the journey. The helm required a lot of concentration, as the 4 metre waves swiped us sideways.

This weather also meant we couldn’t put the manta trawl out so we had a documentary afternoon session instead. The theme was on endocrine disruptors and we screened “Endocrination”. We watched carefully as we followed the amazing lobby power of the pesticide and chemical industry in Europe, defending their interests. This investigative film clearly shows how this industry has been successful in highjacking the scientific process undertaken by the European Commission’s environment directorate to regulate endocrine disruptors.

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Product designer Caterina Falleni preparing different sustainable and biodegradable plastics to test on the sail.

Although it is no surprise of how short-term economic benefits are still prioritized over long-term human health and well-being, it is still troubling to see it so clearly. It also means that consumer education was never so important. Our individual choices are still ours to make. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are present in all sorts of industrial, agricultural, household, cosmetic and food products to name a few sectors. Many of their harmful consequences on our environment and our health are beginning to be understood. So while these substances continue to be unregulated, if there is one message that should be passed on to each of us it is to “learn more, use less”.

Sue talks about how joining Exxpedition is a culmination of many different strands in her life coming together.

As the evening came along, we all jumped outside to get some fresh air of hope and listen to the story of the night. This time it was Sue’s turn. She spoke passionately and beautifully about community spirit, drawing on her experience at the all-women’s protest in Greenham Common in the 80s. Her presence here is like an embodiment of the endurance of female power, and she eloquently helps us all to feel the strength that can and needs to be drawn from our shared journey. She reads us Joanna Macy and Anita Barrow’s translation of Rilke by moonlight, and we all get goosebumps…

And yet, though we strain                                                                                                                                                                                                                     against the deadening grip                                                                                                                                                                                                                           of daily necessity,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I sense there is this mystery:

All life is being lived.
Who is living it, then?
Is it the things themselves,
or something waiting inside them,
like an unplayed melody in a flute?
Is it the winds blowing over the waters?
Is it the branches that signal to each other?
Is it flowers
interweaving their fragrances,
or streets, as they wind through time?

Is it the animals, warmly moving,
or the birds, that suddenly rise up?

Who lives it, then? God, are you the one
who is living life?

We have truly formed a community on board Sea Dragon, one where we ebb and flow around, about and amongst each another. The quiet strength that comes from us all is growing day by day, forming something that feels new and brave and exciting. This contrasts starkly with how the trip was often perceived before we set sail. Each and every one of us heard comments like, “A boat of all women – a cat fight waiting to happen! Why would you want to do that?!” Comments that came from both men and women. Where does this come from, and why is it being perpetuated, when our experience here and Sue’s knowledge of working with women’s groups, indicate something far from that.

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