Plastic Ocean #2

Managed to do a second ocean litter survey during the stay in Tobal (Aur atoll). Tobal only imports a very limited amount of stuff and only 200 people living there at the lagoon side so the litter from the ocean side (windward direction) is entirely from abroad.

The results of this beach sample are interesting because they allow to identify the amount of domestic litter found during the previous survey on Bok En, Majuro atoll. Assuming both places get hit by the same amount of ocean litter from abroad (both places have the same orientation to the main wind direction and are not covered by other islands), the litter that was found in Majuro even more or in addition compared to Aur can be assumed to be domestic.

The survey on Aur has a few interesting aspects. For example there is one type of plastic bottle that was found 36 times on this 20 m stretch of beach. Almost 2 per meter! These bottles were found all over the shorelines of the islands of Aur! Eventually I could find one of these bottles with a label on somewhere else and trace it back to a Taiwanese brand mainly selling in China. I suspect the Chinese tuna fishing ships use them and just toss them over board.

There will be another survey like this on Likiep atoll and eventually a proper report about the results so stay tuned!

Field Trip to Aur Atoll

Went on a 1 week field trip with a team from WAM to Tobal, the northern settlement of Aur atoll some 60 nm north of the Marshal Islands capitol Majuro. Two of the emission free sailing craft built by WAM under the Low Carbon Sea Transport Project (implemented by GIZ) are stationed there: a traditional korkor canoe and a HarryProa prototype (designed by Rob Denney). The HarryProa is actually a close relative to our Proasis! Both vessels offer transport service for the community without burning fuel.

Main purpose of the field trip was to check on both boats, carry out minor repairs and train locals. On this occasion the korkor was launched for the first time. This was actually a true historic moment: it was the first time a traditional Marshallese canoe has been launched in Tobal for 30 some years. Aur atoll unfortunately lost all canoes and the know how to build new ones long ago and solely relies on motorboats today.

Hopefully this project helps to revitalize the former marine capabilities of the village over the long term.

Plastic Ocean

As already reported we took the canoes for a trial and sailed to the uninhabited island Bok. It is only 50 m in diameter and nobody is living there. As part of an international cooperation I (Henrik) will collect litter on various places throughout the Marshall Islands. The litter is not just collected but sorted, counted and weight. In addition it is tried to figure out where the individual items come from, mainly by looking at the labels. This kind of survey is usually done on a 100 m long sample of the coastline. For Bok island I had to shorten it to 20 m. There was just to much trash to collect it all in time. The 20 m already resulted in 4 h work and a huge pile (about 1 cubic meter!). That said I couldn’t even pick all of it because it is pushed deep into the shoreline vegetation by waves. Its just crazy how much trash you can find on these uninhabited islands. But the most crazy thing is that after picking it all up I had to put it back on the beach because there is no place in the entire country to get rid of it!

Sea Trial with WAM Cat #3

The first two weeks in Majuro passed by quickly! Boatbuilding training at WAM has already started and we took the WAM Cat no. 3 out for a sea trial to uninhabited Bok island. This tiny island of about 50 m in diameter is located approx. 25 nm from the WAM campus. Its not an easy sail because its downwind first and upwind to get back home. It was very interesting to see the third version of the WAM cat performing since this model got a different transom shape.

Next week is going to be even more exiting because be go with a WAM team to Aur atoll to check on the Proa design sailing there.

Podcast Online!

We came together with Christian Weigand from Blue Awareness and made an episode of the podcast “Helden der Meere”. You can stream it either on the Blue Awareness website, on spotify or multiple other streaming services of your choice. It’s unfortunately in german only. In summary we talk about our experience in the Marshall Islands, especially with WAM and the Low Carbon Project. Main focus is on climate change.

Back in the RMI

While winter is hitting the northern hemisphere I (Henrik) are back in the Marshall Islands to continue the work with WAM. The main focus is keeping a track on the boats we built early 2020. Two of them are extensively used on the outer islands while three of them are actually undergoing modifications at the WAM workshop.

Approaching Majuro Atoll. Unfortunately it didn’t worked out to sail there.

So far the weather hasen’t been good enough to take some decent photos but they will follow at time. Maybe already a short preview on some obvious changes compared to 2018 and 2020 I noticed in Majuro:

  • Coastline erosion is prominent everywhere, trees are washed away
  • Beaches disappeared
  • Plastic trash is piling up
Trees are washed away by waves somewhere close to Ajeltake.
There used to be a nice beach with white sand right here in 2018. Kids used it to go swimming all the time. The main problem here seems to be illegal sand mining for concrete.

High and Dry

Sad but true: we have already winterized Proasis. We need to do some work on the bottom of the hulls anyway and I (Henrik) will soon go back to the Marshall Islands for half a year (make sure you stay tuned, updates will follow!).

We had the great advantage of using an electric winch and some nice custome made trolleys to pull her up the beach this time. The task was done very quickly and didn’t took many people.

Speed Run

Spontaneously took Proasis out in 15-20 kn of wind for a speed run. Top speed was 11.7 kn, but to exited to turn on the camera. The video below is shot at 8-9 kn.

The feeling of 10 kn and above is just magical. The platform starts to hum (very gently), spray is flying around the bow and the splashing noise is replaced by a pleasant shhhhhh from behind. everything feels light and free. Just like riding a magic carpet!