Junkraft – Sailing Garbage Across the Pacific

A few weeks ago we brought you the story of the Plastiki, a catamaran being constructed out of plastic bottles with aspirations of crossing the Pacific.  Turns out, the Plastiki isn’t a totally original idea.

The Junkraft has already completed the trip from California to Hawaii aboard thier plastic bottle-constructed vessel.  Two eco-mariners,  Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal, sailed a raft built of junk to help call attention to a major oceanic environmental problem – the accumulation of plastic trash in the seas. Their vessel was built from 15,000 plastic bottles and a Cessna 310.

The Junk

The Junk

The journey is intended to help call attention to a number of different  projects. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation, who sponsored the voyage,  is studying the problem. An increasing number of environmental groups are backing legislation to cut back on the use of disposable plastics. Heal the Bay, another major sponsor of the voyage, currently runs a major program on the problem of plastics in the sea. Here is an excerpt of their message upon arrival:

At 1:00 am I took the helm, as Joel climbed into the cabin to sleep after having been on watch for 8 hours. A squall quickly overcame JUNK and left me and the deck drenched. The moon shot out from behind the clouds, illuminating the backside of the storm. By the light of the moon, a complete rainbow appeared. I’ve never seen one at night. I’ve 8 hours to keep the raft on a steady course for Honolulu, which is now only 40 miles away. There is so much to think about, so much to do, but still plenty of time to let my mind wander and ponder on this voyage. It’s been a long summer. 2,600 miles of open ocean crossed in 87 days. From our first week of sinking hopes on a sinking raft, through four hurricanes that swept under us, to the unbelievable chance meeting with Roz Savage in the middle of nowhere, we have had quite an adventure. We’ve collected 10 ocean surface samples using our marine debris trawl, managed to snatch a few large pieces of plastic debris that floated under us, and caught fish with stomachs filled with particles of plastic. Plastic is forever, and it’s everywhere. That’s been our point. The Synthetic Century should have ended 8 years ago, replaced by the Age of Sustainability. There are over 20,000 man-made chemicals produced by the billions of pounds annually that are dispersed throughout the globe in an open loop of consumption that often ends as waste to be buried, burned or to flow down coastal watersheds out to sea. It is unsustainable and deeply troubling knowing that many synthetic compounds are persistent in the environment and are harmful to wildlife and humans. Plastic marine debris is one of them, and is the most ubiquitous form of pollution visible around the world. It is clear that single-use disposable plastic products have no place in modern society. Read More…