To our amazing community,
I hope this reaches you safe and well in these new and challenging times.
Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, we’ve been working hard to make a plan for the future of eXXpedition Round The World. The current circumstances and the implications on health and travel made it unsafe and impossible to run the mission to the original schedule.
These circumstances include:
- Safety of “close quarters” living as social distancing is not possible on board, and remoteness from medical facilities
- Closed borders of countries, lack of international flights and governments advising against all non-essential travel
- Cyclone season weather windows
- Vulnerable nature of remote island communities with ageing populations and limited medical care
We’ve weighed various options, negotiating cyclone season that runs in the Southern Hemisphere from November until March, and concluded to pause the remaining voyage legs, from Leg 9 in Tahiti onwards, for 12 months. This will allow us to continue following the original route to finish in the UK a year later than planned. By then, we are hopeful that travel embargoes will have been lifted and that we will have sufficient assurance that crews are healthy before going to sea.
A Year of Virtual Impact
We’re pleased we have found a solution that will hopefully allow us to deliver on our existing commitments, but also adds an additional year to the project, in which we will be able to make further impact. We are working on a plan for a ‘Year of Virtual Impact’ developing digital programmes that enable eXXpedition and our wider community to navigate solutions to marine plastic pollution, connect and collaborate on opportunities, and access online resources, talks and workshops.
To kick off our virtual impact, on World Oceans Day (8th June 2020) we launched the SHiFT Platform, a custom-built digital tool designed to help people and businesses find their role in solving ocean plastic pollution, from sea to source.
Keep the Boat Afloat
To keep our mission afloat and ensure we will be able to set sail again in 2021, we are also launching a fundraising campaign to Keep the Boat Afloat! COVID-19 has left us with an extra year of costs that we need to cover to ensure the future security of the project. As a non-profit, we work within very narrow margins and we just did not have a contingency for an event of this magnitude.
We are looking for support from our community to help us cover the costs of keeping our boat in good shape, the ongoing scientific programme and analysis, and for members of our specialist team to coordinate and run our Year of Virtual Impact. There will be more information on this coming soon.
We look forward to sharing updates and new initiatives with you soon, and working together to turn this unexpected situation, and lengthening of the Round The World project, into a great opportunity to create more impact.