After an extraordinarily long time getting to the marina via Tokyo’s very extensive train system we caught first glimpse of the Sea Dragon. The realization started to hit everyone then. No it wasn’t just a hostel holiday in Japan we were really going out to sea for a month. We all clambered on board and were allocated our bunks. I am not sure what I was thinking the size would be before but actually seeing (and later on hopping into) my bunk was certainly a reality check. The height of my bunk is the length of the end of my clenched fist to my elbow – about 40cm! So there won’t be much movement in bed that is for sure. It is 2 bunks off the ground (although there are just cupboards underneath mine) so it was a bit of a laugh trying to go from vertical to horizontal in a really confined space. I’m sure even more tricky when the boat is really rocking!
After I had unpacked my bag into my allocated locker I had a sudden pang of, I guess homesickness. Having had the luxury of internet access over the last week and speaking to my family on the phone a couple of times I really felt the full impact of what was ahead. I was going out to sea for a whole month and I would have very limited contact with the outside world. I wouldn’t know how long Evie would be off school with the flu or if Finn had lost another of his many wobbly teeth. It certainly made me think. I know this will be an unbelievably amazing experience and I am so lucky to have this opportunity to be a part of something so big, important and exciting but there will be more pangs of homesickness that is inevitable.
There is a really great crew of 13 onboard and everyone is looking forward to the journey ahead together. We have people from 8 countries; Australia, US, UK, Switzerland, Brazil, South Korea, Hong Kong & Mexico. It is a very international mix and even better we have such a varied mix of plastic reasons for coming onboard the Sea Dragon. Nick Mallos a Marine Biologist, works for the Ocean Conservancy in the US and is heavily involved in the organisation of International Coastal Cleanup (something DB Green participates in every year in September), Calvin is a Korean film maker, Paul runs Two Hands project in Oz (www.twohandsproject.org), Mandy Barker is an award winning photographer (check out her last series of photos called ‘Soup’ http://www.mandy-barker.com), Daniela works in waste management in Brazil, Laura is studying to be an environmental engineer in Switzerland, Shannon is joining the trip in the same capacity as me – to learn as much as possible & Lindsay is a journalist writing an article for the New York Times. There are the plastic gurus Stiv & Marcus from 5 Gyres to lead the research and our go-to for every plastic related question and last but certainly not least first mate Jesse & of course the very cool, calm & collected Captain Rodrigo.
So our interests in plastics and backgrounds are very diverse and we are all looking forward to having some great discussions over the next few weeks.
There is a fun atmosphere onboard and we have all bonded really quickly. Seeing the crew from Leg 1 on their arrival here made us realize how close a group we are likely to be after spending a whole month literally on top of each other. We were supposed to leave the Port of Tokyo this morning at around 10 am with a bit of fanfare (TV crew and well wishers), but a broken alternator has delayed our departure for Saturday and bad weather will keep us here until Monday.
Last night was our second night on the boat and we all slept very well but the water has been mirror calm and we were tired so it wasn’t surprising 🙂 Our shift pattern over the next month will be 3hrs watch, which depending on the time of day will involve meal preparations, cleaning, sailing and routine tasks. Then there is 6 hrs off. So we will never have more than 6 hrs sleep in a stretch but it is not too bad really.
We did the grocery shopping today for the month which was excellent – huge bags of pasta, boxes of cereal, numerous bags of chocolate, 25+kg of rice, goodness knows how many potatoes and onions, tinned tomatoes galore, nuts, chips, a whole orange tree, the biggest bag of pancake mix i’ve ever seen and a couple of giant nutella jars and so much more. And that isn’t including all the greens and veggies!
Apparently the first 2 weeks are great whilst there is still a lot of fresh food, then we have to get creative. There is a huge stock of frozen edamame which is good. Everyone has been devouring it at every opportunity as snacks on the run for the last week so I hope supplies last til the end!
The food storage is very creative. A lot of the dried or canned goods is stored under the seats in the dining area.
It is a dry boat too and at night after dinner there is usually time for a chill out together and some fun games. Over the month, everyone will do a ‘formal’ presentation on what they do so we get to know a lot about each other, work on solutions to problems we each have and basically take a good global perspective of the issue of plastics. There have already been a few good discussions on how the systems work (or don’t work) in each country.
I am so excited about talking plastic for a whole month, it is disappointing to have a 2 day delay but to be honest the thought of starting to sail straight into bad weather is not something that sounds appealing!