It’s been a very busy time for the eXXpedition team since the impact of COVID-19 really started to bite in March. Not only did we have a crew at sea to look out for, it also became increasingly clear that there were going to be far-reaching impacts on our programme moving forward. 

After consulting with our expert advisors and seeing no change in the situation in the immediate future, we made the decision to pause our sailing voyages for 12 months. You can read more about this here.

Although this was a difficult decision for us, the safety of our crew members is always our top priority. As we supported the last of our 2020 sailing crew members to return to their homes from French Polynesia, we also shared the news of our decision with our upcoming crew members, and our Round the World partners and sponsors. The response we have received has been overwhelmingly positive and we have felt incredibly supported by our community.

It may be obvious that a pause of this length will incur extra costs, but what is often not seen are the increased logistical challenges faced too. Our risk advisors at the TRIP group and legal advisors Slaughter and May have been very active in supporting us in our decision making. With SV TravelEdge now waiting in French Polynesia for 12 months, we also need to make sure the equipment on board is taken care of. Our science partner PerkinElmer helped set up our science lead with the FT-IR in her home so she can continue the important job of analysing samples. Fellow expedition organisers Rubicon 3 supported us in safely transporting our Gill foulies to less humid storage! Our liferafts are provided by Ocean Safety, who have kindly extended our agreement to three years and helped us remove the rafts from the boat for servicing and safekeeping, until we are ready to start sailing again. These are examples of just some of the support we have received from our partners – we are very grateful to all of our partners and sponsors for their understanding at this time.

To continue our work on plastic pollution in 2020, we have launched our Year of Virtual Impact – a commitment to continue tackling plastic pollution using online channels and our amazing network of women over our unexpected 12-month break. This has begun with the launch of the SHiFT Platform, in collaboration with global tech leader SAP, which helps individuals find their solution to tackling the plastic pollution problem.

We are excited to make the most of the unexpected time our team will now have on land to make an on-going difference to the state of our ocean. We may not be sailing, but there’s a huge amount of impact we can make back here on land, and we’re ready to do just that!