Topsail Tattler

Sailing to #SaveOurSeas – A Clean Seas Odyssey Review

by | Oct 9, 2018 | Archived News (Live), Skipper's Notes

What a year. It started with one massively tall order; “to make a difference to the problem of plastic pollution entering our seas”, and nothing but the boat and some vague ideas to work with. So how did it end? Were we successful? Read on to find out more!

Starting a new project can be many things: exciting, worrying, risky, stressful, interesting, difficult. The Clean Seas Odyssey was all of this and more. For Rebecca and me it was our first time working together in more than the capacity of Skipper and Mate and this alone guaranteed that the project would be a learning experience. It also reminded me of the sheer amount of work required to get something like this off the ground, from planning the sailing elements to finding berths, building websites to finding interviewees to film there were a million things to do and only two of us to get them done.

We’d initially thought to start the voyage in May and this was the first target to fall by the wayside – taking with it our hope to visit Ireland as part of the voyage. However, by the time we finally cast off our lines on June 7 we had at least a working plan and the support of few incredible people to help us on our way. This theme, amazing support from those we met and huge difficulties in achieving everything that we wanted to due to our own lack of time and resources would turn out to be a recurring one throughout the next 3 months – and yet, looking back now from the security of our home pontoon we really did achieve something amazing.

By the time we arrived back in Bucklers Hard we had sailed just under 1000nm, visiting 33 ports, harbours and anchorages in 4 countries. We had hosted 12 Open Days welcoming over 350 visitors to the boat and been joined by 13 volunteer crew with skill sets ranging from graphic design to law and waste management to poetry. We’d conducted interviews with professors and scientific researchers, waste management experts, artists, experts in the circular economy and economics, business managers, environmental charities and community leaders. We conducted 10 beach cleans and sampled 68kg of sediment from 13 locations in 5 river estuaries and 2 island beaches. And we communicated about all of this via posts, blogs, video, and a daily haiku to our social media following, established in just 6 months, which now reaches nearly 1000 followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Have we made a difference? Who knows! But when we set out I had the following success criteria in mind: “If I personally can say that I understand better how to play my part in resolving the problem then I will feel that the odyssey will have been worthwhile. If we have built up a following on social media who read or watch or share or like or comment on our posts then I will feel that we have achieved some success in sharing our story. If we hear stories about folks from our network collaborating on some element of discovering more, or developing a new solution to the problem then I will feel that we have made a lasting difference. But before we even start I believe that we are already successful, because if nothing else we have got off our arses and done something.” And on that basis, I’d call it a win.


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