Log: The Vortex

[DAY 9] Sailors log

02:55 I get a tap on the shoulder and hear Josh saying I have five minutes. I acknowledge by mumbling and think of all the reasons why I should stay sleeping. I reach up to feel for my headlamp in complete darkness, place it over my head, and click it on. A red beam that shouldn’t strain your eyes, but somehow manages to, shines on my watch to show that I now have one minute to get my butt up. I stumble sideways to the head(toilet), peed, wash my hands in our hand pump sink, and put in my contacts, zip up my icebreaker raincoat, throw on my life jacket and walk to the top deck all in a matter of…seven minutes. Oops.

03:30 The wind has completely died on us. Captain Yoav comes to the rescue and we put out a full main and full yankee. Sorry to everyone trying to sleep as we crank every possible winch we have onboard. Upstair neighbors are the worst.

04:15 Adam and I talk about our aspirations, our favorite dance moves, and our significant others. It’s hard to be away from someone you love when you know it’s going to be a while. It’s especially difficult when you feel useless to them, almost as if you’re on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean…oh wait. 

05:10 The gorgeous orange and pinks begin to light up the sky. As the wind whirled it’s way through my hair and across my face, I could see the summer solstice sunrise peeking its way out of the clouds on the horizon. Sea birds cawed, and played in the sun beams as if they rejoiced in this magical moment.

06:30 Adam and I finished our watch. He went to the galley to make some porridge and I decided to attempt to fall asleep for an hour because we are currently on a tack in my favor. A tack is sailing jargon for our boat going up wind either slightly to port(left) or starboard(right). It is responsible for which direction the boat leans due to the sails pulling in one direction. We are currently on a port tack, so the port side of the boat is higher. In this case, when I’m in my bunk, I’m leaning up against the wall “comfortably” rather than a starboard tack where I am falling out of it. 

07:00 Hannah quietly walks into our room to wake Ben up for breakfast before getting him suited up for entering the water. In case you haven’t heard, Ben is the badass who swims for 8-9 hours a day through the great pacific garbage patch for the next 3 months.

09:00 The dinghy is dropped into the water for Corbin and Ty to carefully jump into from the boat. Ben placed his goggles over his head before jumping in the blue off the port side of I Am Ocean (rad boat name).

11:00 We have two separate filter nets that we drag through the surface of the water for 30 minutes. One of our nets is dumped onto a filter and we cipher through the vibrant blue zooplankton and stinging jellyfish to count all the micro plastics. Today we found 95 pieces of micro plastic. Just think about that for a moment. 95 pieces of plastic in only 30 minutes. And we haven’t yet got to the heart of the garbage patch. Our second nets contents get placed into a vile and frozen for scientists to examine it themselves. 

12:45 “Do you want 5 Spice Chicken or Mexican Dish?” Hannah asked us as she gets prepared to dump boiling water into a bag of freeze dried food for lunch. We will be getting that question often since we have 200 bags of only those flavors.

13:30 Josh found a new method of crushing cans. Rather than a plank of wood and a hammer, he used the plank of wood and his foot. We have to consolidate our cans because this is something you cannot throw overboard. David and I cleaned the bilges.. okay David got into the bilge and pumped out the water while I held the bucket so it didn’t spill back into the bilge. Team work makes the dream work.

15:00 As we sailed slowly through the day after our science protocols and chores were done, our only task is to keep an eye on Ben in the water. It is a lovely task on a day like today with calm seas, and a slight breeze. It gives everyone some downtime for naps, movies, reading, or looking through footage and photos for a world we are no longer apart of for the next 3 months.

17:00 Ben is done swimming for the day, he swam a casual 10 miles. They reported back to us that they found four different types of ecosystems living under larger debris, and brought back a couple separate ghost nets they found that would fit in the dinghy. A funny bit that Ben mentioned is that he had a little crab hitch a ride on his left shoulder as he swam. Yes, we got videos of it. Coming soon to a theatre near you.

17:45 I soaped up my hair and every crevice of my body with biodegradable soap, grabbed my masks, and took a plunge into the ocean. The boat pushed water past me, and as it slipped out of touch you have to be quick enough to grab the rope that is tailing behind. I latched on and washed soap out my hair with one hand as I held onto the line with the other. Once I was done, I put on my mask to take a look at what we have been traveling on. It was crystal clear, and dark blue. The sun rays were dancing around in the waves and I could see nothing but a beautiful, blue abyss. We are hundreds of miles away from land, yet we are jumping into the water to reenergize our mind and body off after a week of sailing. As myself, Hannah, and Josh brushed our luscious locks, Adam, Ty, Corbin, and Drew tried backflips off the boat. Tried.

18:45 We had chowed down the last of our fresh veggies yesterday, so now begins the fun of mixing a bunch of canned food together. Tonight we came up with a fancy meal of spaghetti with corn, mushrooms, garlic, and Alfredo sauce. Topped off with a little siracha hot sauce of course. We all sat around the table in the galley as our boat is heaved to. Cracking jokes and laughing until our bellies were full of salted carbs. 

20:15 We all congregate on the top deck for a team meeting under the stars. We opened a couple cans of pineapple and passed it around the circle to end the night with a sweet treat. The Milky Way shined brighter than I’ve ever seen before. Being on the ocean with no light pollution, not even from the moon that was hiding behind the clouds, is something extremely empowering this summer solstice night. As we continue to chat, I’m more thankful for this crew. I had only known them for 3 days before we set sail on this 100 day expedition, but the fun about new friends and new adventures is that it brings new energy into our lives. What more could I ask for?

22:20 I lay in bed reading Saltwater Buddha, the book that Drew lent me. My body is moving up and down in sync with the ocean, but my head feels like it is one notch behind. I can hear the water flowing past our vessel, as well as Drew and Ben snoring. Although the tack is not in my favor, I may as well try to rest my eyes.


26°39 N / 153°41 W

Heather – Deckhand / Assistant medic

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Photo credits @joshmunoz, @sea.marshall, @osleston

1 thought on “[DAY 9] Sailors log

  1. David, do you know why they call it a “head”? Since the square riggers sailed by Columbus didn’t have a potty, the crew would go forward to the bowsprit typically a carved figurehead to relieve themselves. Hence the phrase, I need to go to the head.

    What a.marvelous adventure you’re on. Hopefully there is a blender on board!

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