Dr. Marcus Eriksen, of the 5 Gyres Institute, has sent us a trawl that we are going to experiment with on the expedition. The idea is to pull it behind a kayak for a while, then measure the amount of plastic and other particulates that it collects on the way. The mesh is very fine – as it needs to be – but the result is that towing it is a difficult task.
I did it for about ten minutes on our recent excursion around Vashon Island, just enough to see how it worked and how hard it would be to do the pulling. As it turns out, this is the same one that was pulled by Roz Savage (for a single day), somewhere in the Indian Ocean on her round-the-world row. She stopped the experiment because towing it was getting in the way of her being able to rack up the miles she needed.
The focus of our trip this summer is on the flotsam that was generated by last year’s tsunami but there are other goals as well. The overall problem of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans is a major concern – or should be – to everyone, regardless of where he or she calls home.
We’re not planning to be in a heads-down quest for miles during the expedition. There will be a multitude of stops along the way, as well as significant down-time on remote beaches. Not only that, but there are three of us, which gives us a lot more latitude when it comes to towing techniques than Roz had. We could use an in-line configuration to pull the trawl, and there is always the opportunity to trade off towing duties on different days.
We’ve got another shake-down paddle scheduled in a couple of weeks; I anticipate trying some of these possible solutions then.