The OceanGybe Expedition officially began its voyage on July 5th, 2007. Leaving Cabo San Lucas, Mexico the crew steered a course directly for the Marquesas Islands some 5000 km away. Spending 24 days at sea, out of the sight of land, battling storms, unfavorable winds and lack of fresh food, Khulula and her crew safely arrived in Nuku Hiva on July 28th, 2007. As soon as the anchor hit the bottom, all crew members were overboard and swimming to solid ground as quickly as possible.
Since leaving the Marquesas Islands on August 5th, the OceanGybe Expedition has been exploring the remote islands and atolls of the Tuamotu and Society Islands groups, covering almost 8000 km along the way. Spending time chatting with local islanders, performing garbage studies on the beaches and investigating the outer reefs, has allowed Ryan, Hugh and Bryson to really appreciate the local islander’s non-destructive and communal way of life. “We can wander past any of the houses, lean over their fences and chat away as if we are long lost friends. Such is their welcoming nature”, states Ryan Robertson.
One of the major goals of the OceanGybe expedition is to document and compare the volume and type of Ocean borne garbage that is washed up on the various beaches of the globe. One initial finding is how difficult it is to find a truly virgin shore, one that is untouched by human hands. They do exist though, and the plastic pollution is varied, non local and alarmingly extensive. Please visit www.oceangybe.com for an initial review of these findings.
One refreshing finding is that generally all of the coastlines that have a human influence are cleaner than those that do not. Furthermore, there seems to be an inverse relationship between the size of the island, and the extent of the beach cleanup initiatives by the local islanders. Very conscious of the effects of their refuse, the islanders seem to be very good at keeping their beaches clean and tidy. Glass recycling stations and biodegradable plastic bags on many remote atolls show the desire to reduce their impact on their small islands. Despite this the problem of plastic based pollution has affected every coast, beach and atoll visited. “The ocean connects everyone on earth, so these people may be very conscientious of their refuse, but that doesn’t stop it washing ashore from thousands of miles away” reminds Bryson Robertson.
The majority of non-biodegradable and non-recyclable garbage is burnt in local burn pits; due to the high cost and complicated nature of shipping the garbage to larger islands. “Many islands’ total area is comparable to that of a normal city block, so they do not have the option of huge garbage dumps” noticed Hugh Patterson. Conversations with locals have shown the strong and proud nature of these peoples and their desire to keep their beaches and coasts clean.
The Ocean Swell Project, detailing ocean reef and wave interactions, continues with numerous excellent study locations being mapped out and background research completed. Detailed field studies will be beginning in New Zealand early in the New Year.
Currently moored in Papette, Tahiti, Khulula and her crew will visit the Cook and Southern Tongan Islands before travelling to New Zealand in early November. They plan to outwait the south Pacific cyclone season in New Zealand, spreading their message, performing more studies and presentations before heading out of the next part of the expedition in mid-April 2008.
OceanGybe is a global sailing expedition to explore the remote coastlines of the world, in search of garbage, adventure and ocean waves. We aspire to bring awareness to the vast tracts of undocumented ocean pollution that afflicts these coastlines and affects the peoples who depend on them for survival. It is an expedition to promote change. Change in both the direction of this great planet, towards a more sustainable and aware future, but also in ourselves.
– Hugh Patterson, Ryan and Bryson Robertson
OceanGybe is supported by The Surfrider Foundation, Queens University, Sitka Surfboards, Livity Outernational, Globe and New England Ropes.