28th November – ‘A Perfect Day’ & Our Super Sailing Psychologist

November 29, 2014

“It’s such a perfect day…” was the Lou Reed lyrics we were all singing as the night fell. We had a glorious sunny day that made us all pull out our arsenal of non-toxic suncreams, or as close as we could get to that. In between busy lives, accessibility, reasonable price for a yet non mainstream product, nice texture and smell, sound protection for UVA and UVB, and difficulties in understanding what exactly an environmentally friendly and safe list of ingredients should be, we ended up with a big variety of brands.

It seems the only rules of thumb we could get to is that the simpler the ingredients, the fewer of them and the more natural they are, the better. The rest is really about personal choice and possibilities; enough options now exist for making wiser choices.

 

As we waited for science time, Anne, Emily and Shanley set up the sextant to practice the art of position finding using the sun. Once the angle of the sun and the time were taken, Sea Dragon’s position was calculated using a number of tables and the almanac. It seems that our skipper and mates still know the art of using the elements to guide us should all our modern technology fail us – shiuff/phew!

Diana also ventured out on deck fishing using the frozen flying fish that we kept as bait. However, something quite smart and with a good appetite got the best out of us, the bait but not the hook! We did try to capture it by putting our camera under water for a while, but that will be an unseen that remains unseen on this trip…

The manta trawl collected almost no plastic but did gather some little forms of our flying fish friends. It seems the further we sail away from the gyre, the less plastic we are finding. The “Corwith Cramer” research vessel who we are collaborating with had 234 pieces of plastic in one of their latest trawls. After 2 weeks of catching samples from 2 to around 60, this just shows the variation of microplastic floating in the Atlantic.

The sunset arrived but this time it lasted a bit longer as we adjusted our hour once again. The setting was just about perfect for an emotional talk from Elaine. She shared her passions for life – her kids and husband, sailing and her career as a psychologist and also how she overcame several adversities in her life. The most striking one being the loss of both her parents to cancer in the space of 1 year, but it was also a loss that made her want to live every moment of her life more fully. A dedicated and successful student and practitioner of the science of human brain and behaviour, Elaine feels that a better understanding of people’s motivations is a fundamental piece in the sustainability puzzle. One that needs to be better understood and for which cognitive and behavioural sciences are key.

As the sun gives space to a glowing perfect half-full moon, we keep sailing onwards and singing inwards “it’s such a perfect day”…

 

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