eXXpedition crew member and actress Ellise Chappell shares her experience of joining the North Pacific voyage and, one of the most moving moments of leg 2…

“When I found out that I had secured a place on Leg 2 of eXXpedition’s North Pacific voyage this year, I was absolutely overcome with joy, excitement and gratitude. I got the news back in March, so the build up to the trip was fairly long, with months to organise and prepare. Having never even been on a boat before, I ended up spending those months nursing bubbling nerves in my stomach and filling my head with a swirl of unanswered questions. The thought of being at sea felt so out of my comfort zone! I knew, however, that it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and one I couldn’t possibly pass up. Now here I am, on our last day, not wanting to leave! I can confidently say that it was well worth the wait.
In the space of a week, I have bonded with 13 sensational, inspiring women. Scientists, sailors, filmmakers, photographers, local government officers, managers, artists, leaders, adventurers, mothers, friends, aunts, warriors, ocean change-makers, role models – the list goes on and on. They have taught me so much, and together we’ve had some amazing, unique and eye-opening experiences.

As we made our way into Victoria BC on Thursday morning, we were greeted by bright blue skies and sunshine after having sailed through another night of thick, cold fog. To our excitement, we weren’t just greeted by the glorious weather that morning, but we were lucky enough to spot a pod of five orcas. I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say that it was pretty MAGICAL. After we had all scrambled on board to catch a glimpse (we’d all been grumbling the day before that we hadn’t seen any whales yet), Sea Dragon was filled with cries of giddiness and laughter.
On reflection, the experience of watching these beautiful creatures is rather poignant when you consider the reason why we’ve come together as a group in the first place. Orcas, being the top of the food chain, get the worst of the bio-accumulation of micro-plastic in their diet, which is only one of the threats they face. It’s a stark reminder of how important the work is that we’re doing here on Sea Dragon, and I feel overwhelmingly privileged to be apart of it.
Moving forward, I can’t wait to see what everyone on board goes on to achieve as ocean changemakers, especially now that we have had this incredible first-hand experience. I hope we can utilise our unique set of skills to continue to raise awareness and encourage others to take part in this undeniably important issue. In the words of fellow crew member Victoria Fritz, ‘a trillion small decisions add up to big solutions. And it takes us all.”