16 27.26 N
56 46.76 W
As we cruise ever closer to Martinique’s EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone), situated 200 nautical miles around it’s coastline, today was officially the final day of science! We completed our last Manta Trawl gathering plenty of sargassum (seaweed) as well as a totally different array of organisms – watching a crab chase a shrimp around a bucket for a while was a highlight.
We’ve now had dolphins dancing around the bow of the boat three days in a row. Although it is hard to capture the beauty of their swift and graceful movements on camera, with the help of the GoPro, Jen hung over the bow of the boat (weighted down by Jenna sitting on her butt) and managed to film fins cutting through the swell and brief glimpses of their bodies beneath the surface. Time on board is spent hiding in the small patches of shade, watching the waves and clouds. Amusingly, you’ll be lost in thought staring at the horizon, and then interrupted by someone shouting, “Boobies”! Obviously with an all female crew there is no shortage of boobies here! But these shouts are usually in response to spotting birds – brown boobies – swooping over the waves on the hunt for flying fish emerging from the water.
To pass the time on watch, we shared our favourite and least favourite things about sailing on this journey. We smiled as we talked about helming, sitting on the bow as we bounce up and down on waves, nautical charting, easing out the main sail, sharing stories by moonlight…in fact, it was pretty hard to find things we don’t enjoy! But there are those you are less surprised to hear like cleaning the heads, sweating over the hot stove in Caribbean heat and being on ‘puke patrol’ nearer the beginning of the journey. Hilariously Maria pipes up, stating that her least favourite thing is “…being downstairs doing…anything”.
Another form of entertainment on watch is the creation our own versions of songs as we push through moments of delirium and points of exhaustion. For example, to the tune of the well known, “Hokey Pokey”:
You furl the yankee in
You grind the yankee out
And shake it all about
You’re sailing on Sea Dragon
And there’s Ocean all around
That’s what it’s all about!
Yeah…you’d be surprised how long it took to come up with that one!
So, as the days get hotter, we all look at the Ocean longingly, dreaming of tying rope around our stomachs and jumping in, dragging behind the boat. We are told this wouldn’t be safe but we are counting the hours, minutes, seconds until we can jump into the ocean we’ve spent 18 days staring at from above.
We ended the day with a touching and impassioned talk from our Head Scientist and co-founder of eXXpedition, Dr Lucy Gilliam. She is an incredible human being, with a wealth of personal and professional experience that has made her an astonishing advocate for the health of our planet. From her school day passion to stop logging in the rainforest, to her current fascination and determination to save the oceans, she is an inspiration to us all. She made us laugh with her tales of working in the civil service by day, and being a caped bicycle crusader for the environment by night!
Once again, her talk highlighted how loss and hardship lights a fire within us to make change and speak loudly about the damage we are causing to the planet. Even more importantly emphasising that this damage is not just ‘out there’ but around us and within us, effecting our own health and wellbeing.
One of the most wonderful things about this journey is that Lucy is pregnant. She has crossed an Ocean with us, carrying and growing her baby boy in her belly as we cross divides, both geographically and psychologically. One of the most powerful reasons for an all-female expedition is to highlight just this – that we are the carriers for the future. We grow the future generation within our bodies and we want the inner (body) and outer (nature) environments we expose them to, to be as clean and safe as possible, not polluted and centred on a selfish global consciousness.
We know that Lucy will raise one of the most astonishing children – as free from consumerism and toxics as it is possible to get. This baby will have crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice before he is even born and as Lucy’s partner is the Captain of one of the only engineless sail cargo tall ships trading in the Atlantic Ocean, he will most likely grow up crossing oceans, adventuring and learning to respect his environment from day one.
Although we have had a boy ‘sneak’ on board what was meant to be an all-female journey, we have been honoured and humbled by his presence, as he is a powerful reminder of why we are here and why we need to make change now, so that children born into this world will look back on our generation not with disappointment and anger, but with pride at our actions to safeguard the planet.
By Jen, our eXXpedition Filmmaker!