eXXpedition Round Britain crew member Nicole Gordon and all of Holly’s Watch update us on the start of leg 3 – sailing, seals, science and ‘styrene:
“Today was our first day at sea of Leg 3 – and for some of the crew, it was genuinely their first day at sea. For the first time on this expedition, sailing conditions were ideal. Favourable winds, flat seas and sunny skies and we even managed to ‘do science’ twice! Shortly after leaving Leith, we encountered a seal who was as surprised to see us as we were to see her! Bass rock with its huge gannet colony drew out the binoculars band but there was very little wildlife action. There were rumours of a dolphin sighting, but this, dear readers, I can not personally confirm.
Although large plastics were conspicuously absent throughout the day, the manta trawl revealed the more insidious problem of microplastics. A baby lobster and tiny crustaceans mixed with seaweed and with tiny polystyrene balls, part of bar code labels and filmy plastics. If this good weather continues, we may be able to do some microscopy tomorrow and then we’ll be able to see what other little nasties are present.
In the afternoon we sailed through the beautiful Farne islands – another opportunity for twitchers to get the binoculars out. Sadly no puffins but plenty of gilimots, gannets, cormorants and arctic terns.
I can’t begin to describe how exciting it was to take the helm of this wonderful boat and how much fun it is being part of this incredible crew. As I’m writing this, I’m settling in to my first night watch. We are still fully wind powered, the sky is starry and Newcastle is bright on the starboard.
Tomorrow we will be sailing past the Humber and the ‘sticky out bit’ that is East Anglia. We will also cross the Greenwich meridian and enter the eastern hemisphere.”