eXXpedition Round Britain is a three-part mission aboard S/V Sea Dragon, circumnavigating Great Britain in August/September 2017
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The eXXpedition team will sail around the whole of the British Isles, sampling the waters for plastics and toxics as we go, according to the protocols developed by the 5 Gyres Institute. Starting from Plymouth on 8th August, we will sail into the heart of all four of Britain’s capital cities, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and London, as well as to the Isle of Arran in the Clyde.
LEG 1 : Plymouth, via Cardiff and Belfast, to Arran (nr Glasgow) : 7th – 17th August
LEG 2 : Arran (nr Glasgow) to Edinburgh : 17th – 26th August
LEG 3 : Edinburgh, via London, to Plymouth : 26th Aug – 5th Sep
The Round Britain crew is full. If you’d like to join a future voyage, please Apply Here and we will be in touch as soon as the next one is announced.
To explore the issue of plastics, chemicals, endocrine disruptors and carcinogens in our personal and global environment.
Following the previous eXXpeditions, Round Britain 2017 will be an all-women’s voyage, as we continue our quest to make the unseen seen, from the toxics in our bodies to the toxics in our seas.
We embark from Plymouth, with the support of Richard Thompson, Professor of Marine Biology at Plymouth University and specialist in International Marine Litter research, to undertake the first continuous sampling, in one month, of all the waters around Britain, from polluted city waterways to the relatively pristine waters of the Minch and the Western Isles.
Sailing clockwise from Plymouth, we will round Lands End and make first landfall in Cardiff, home of the Welsh Assembly. Here we begin our shore side work with local people, holiday makers, media and politicians, conducting science workshops, beach cleans, media and creative events, according to the skills and interests of crew members.
From Cardiff we head north through the Irish Sea and over to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Our shore work will continue here in collaboration with local organisations, leaving after 2 days for the short hop to the Firth of Clyde, whose waters pour out of the heavy industrial city of Glasgow. We anchor off the Isle of Arran where local organisation COAST (Community of Arran Seabed Trust) will be welcoming hosts, enabling awareness-raising and scientific demonstrations to continue. Arran is also the end of the first leg/beginning of the second leg of the voyage.
Leaving the Clyde on August 18th, our original plan was to sail round the Mull of Kintyre and head through the beautiful waters of the West of Scotland, passing Mull, Ardnamurchan Point, the Small Isles and Skye to the Outer Hebrides and Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. There we would work again with local people and holiday makers, school children and media in whatever creative ways we develop. Then a long passage across the North of the British Isles, around Cape Wrath and through the Pentland Firth, where the waters of the Atlantic and North Sea meet, then turning towards the South again, we would eventually make landfall in Edinburgh, ancient capital city of Scotland and home of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.
ROUTE ADJUSTMENT on 16th August: Due to adverse weather conditions in Scotland due to the tail end of Hurricane Gert, the eXXpedition core crew made the decision to adjust course due to safety and scientific concerns.
We will alter course and sail through the Caledonian Canal, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, and Loch Ness and onto Inverness and Edinburgh. We are scheduled to arrive on 25th August in Edinburgh. Shore work continues here over two days, while the second leg of the voyage finishes and the third begins.
The science programme will continue as planned with the required permits. Our crew are looking forward to collecting valuable fresh water samples to complement our marine samples. Sea Dragon will be highly visible as she proceeds through the Scottish canal system.
From Edinburgh on August 27th we sail through the North Sea, continuing our sampling work as we go and preparing for the entrance into the Thames, through the Thames Barrier at Woolwich and into St Katherine’s Dock by Tower Bridge. As London starts its annual Thames Festival, our work will link with this, with the scientific data, with questions about our uses of plastics and the routes by which so many toxics, carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, reach our seas – and our bodies.
Leaving London and rounding the South-eastern corner of Britain, we will enter the English Channel, to complete our discoveries of the pollution around our islands. The Channel is a busy seaway and this part of the voyage will be as challenging as any other as we head back to Plymouth. Our final day will allow us to work together onshore for the last time as we bring back the fruits and discoveries of the voyage, new thoughts and inspirations.
As we plan this voyage, the problems of plastics – breaking down into microplastics – and toxics in the ocean are finally beginning to be acknowledged by politicians and media worldwide. Microbeads in toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products, single-use packaging, plastic water bottles, nurdles, the many persistent organic pollutants (POPs) found in most everyday manufactures products – and much, much more are all being recognised as devastating in their effects of oceans, ecosystems, aquatic life, mammals – and us. So we are setting off to build on this growing awareness by publicising what is to be found in the waters closest to home, where we swim, surf, sail, snorkel and fish.
By sailing into the heart of our capital cities we wish to draw attention to the role each nation plays in its plastics and toxics policies and we want to meet politicians and local media. In Scotland we’ll be able to work with schoolchildren, who return in mid-August and everywhere we’ll be involving local and holidaying people in seeing the results of our trawls and engaging with these under-researched and under-talked about issues. We will be linking this sampling to narratives of ecosystem and personal health and the products we consume.
Our data will be fed into wider studies. Water samples will be collected and analysed for the presence of toxics and microplastics under the auspices of Dr Jenna Jambeck, University of Georgia, a leading authority on how/how much marine debris reaches the oceans worldwide and a crew member on eXXpedition Atlantic 2014.
- To bring together an all-women crew – of sailors, scientists, artists, journalists, filmmakers, adventurers, psychologists and educators – to create a new Round Britain story about women in science, research, sailing and adventure.
- To collect data, footage and findings to add to the worldwide data set of plastics and toxics in the ocean, and so help to bring about change.
- To broaden awareness of the unseen -plastics and toxics/disease/women as changemakers – specifically in the capital cities, ports and harbours where we make landfall.
- To engage there with local people, holiday-makers, media and politicians, giving information about the implications of ocean pollution, from making everyday choices to action at the political level for a cleaner, healthier environment.