After we had to wait for tropical storm Rebekah to pass the Azores, we finally set sail on Friday morning. The entire team was very excited and we could not wait to start sailing. The wind was quite strong (30 knots) and the waves were therefore high. Only half of the team struggled with seasickness, but after 24 hours, everybody was back on track and feeling great. The team spirit is high and we all took great care of each other during the first “challenging” hours. The cooking on board has been a real treat and every team is doing great in preparing delicious vegetarian meals in the “galley” (kitchen).
On day two the weather improved massively. Using data provided by Dr. Maximenko, eXXpedition’s research collaborator based at the International Pacific Research Center in Hawaii, and our leg sponsors Copernicus, we headed for the North Atlantic Gyre. We started sampling at the edge with the manta trawl on Saturday and could already gather data. There were many plastic fragments in the samples, even though we were just at the edge of the “plastic soup”. Furthermore, we took pictures of bigger plastic items floating on the surface, which we document to support researchers at the University of Plymouth in their approach to monitor marine debris from space.
Skipper Anna and her amazing team are very happy about each end everybody’s progress at the “helm” (the wheel), which allows us to go about 140 nautical miles per day.
Due to an amazing sky full of stars, bioluminescent algae and shooting stars, the night shifts are actually inspiring, as the talks get more philosophic when it is dark and quiet on deck and the only one listening is the big Atlantic Ocean. Besides sampling, we were all very excited to have seen spotted dolphins every morning, which would use the waves produced by our boat as a lift.
We are having such a great time, which we all do not want to go back to land.
Ps: we could go on writing for another hour, but Dr. Awesomeness Princess of Plastic Winnie asked us to get the science material ready for more sampling (Wohoo) so we have to go…