Constantine Cornwall

Sailing on plastic tides

After one month sailing and cleaning the coast from Gweek to Exeter, Clean Ocean Sailing successfully completed their mission to deliver one ton of marine plastic to Ocean Recovery Project for recycling into kayaks. The last leg involved paddling the ton of pre-sorted, recyclable plastic rubbish on canoes and kayaks up the Exeter ship canal, completing the journey with minimum environmental impact.

They returned home with more rubbish than they originally carried to Exeter on the 112 years-old Danish Schooner The Annette. Anchoring in many hidden places along the South Devon and Cornish coasts, the crew of enthusiastic volunteers were doing clean ups of otherwise inaccessible coves on both ways.

The crew collected over a ton and half of all sorts of flotsam and jetsam (plastic bottles, polystyrene bits, pneumatic tyres, tangled masses of ropes and nets, broken crab pots and barrels, to name but a few).

Such items can be found all along our coastlines, both in the UK and globally representing an unending plastic tide; “Its quite hard to realise that this cycle of work will never end. We collect marine plastic then find ways to process it, so it doesn’t end up in landfill. Yet before we even deliver it we collect again twice as much rubbish on our way there,” pointed out Steve Green cofounder of COS.

During the voyage The Annette and her crew had many opportunities to observe closely a rich marine wildlife including, Seals, Dolphins, birds and even some surprises such as jumping Tunas, Kingfisher and a friendly Fin whale. “We were very lucky to meet the Fin whale on a way back home, she stayed alongside Annie for several minutes; these are the moments which encourage us to carry on cleaning up our ocean. These amazing, curious and intelligent creatures deserve a better place to live than in a soup of human trash,” Says Monika Hertlova, co- founder of COS.

Sailing old wooden sailing vessels can pose unique challenges, with unique solutions as their oak planking swells and shrinks over time. During the return voyage the crew had their hands full manually pumping out seawater when the Annette sprang a leak somewhere off Berry Head and due to rough seas the electric pump malfunctioned. Whilst anchored by Start point, they had to dive under the boat and attempt some emergency underwater repairs. These repairs methods ranged from nailing on patches (unsuccessful) to carefully delivering sawdust to cracks in the planking whilst underwater (amazingly successful), “The repairs we have done on the way are only temporary and we must continue restoration work on her stern during this winter. It’s essential for our next mission to keep The Annette seaworthy,” Added Steve.

On their return to Gweek the crew unloaded all the collected rubbish, weighed it, sorted it and counted it. This will generate important information for understanding the extent of pollution along our beautiful, but fragile shores and marine ecosystems. Volunteers are invited to help with this last bit of work of the whole mission. “Please come and join us to see for yourself and share awareness,” Encourages Monika, “The mission wouldn’t be possible without generous support of people who care about marine environment. We already raised over 80% on our Justgiving crowd funding campaign, thank you! Everyone can help us complete even more clean-up expeditions by donating just a small amount. Together we can do it!”

For more information, go to justgiving.com.