SAILING INTO THE DOLDRUMS WITH THE PLASTIKI

Documentary maker Max Jourdan’s fabulous diary from last year’s voyage of the environmental craft Plastiki, with excerpts from David de Rothschild and fellow crew members, sails on fearlessly:

Late April. The Doldrums (Max Jourdan)

‘L’enfer, c’est les autres’ (‘Hell is other people’) purports the existentialist slogan. Inching our way along the seventh parallel under a blistering sun, I would tend to agree. The edge of ‘The Doldrums’. The ‘Plastiki’ is spinning around like a top going nowhere fast, even backwards at times. Some mornings you wake up with your entire soul in a minor key. Feeling like you just want to line the crew up on deck, make them beg for mercy and pop them all in the head with the flare pistol. Wham. 35 days at sea in a Tupperware box, like rancid cheese. What do you expect?

30 April. Christmas Island (David de Rothschild)

We arrived on Christmas Island yesterday, very early in the morning. We got a tow in (after overshooting the island) from one of the local ferry-boat handlers, who managed to pull us into the very shallow lagoon; getting in and out of these atolls can present real challenges. On shore we received a welcoming ceremony from the local community; there was an amazing dance from some local school kids to welcome us.

The first thing I did on land was eat some chocolate and drink a soda. We ate some local fare – coconut cakes and some coconut water. While we’re here we’re going to be meeting local environmental and agricultural groups, and visiting a number of bird sanctuaries and wildlife projects that have been funded by the New Zealand government. We will also be replenishing the hydroponic garden, maybe with some bananas. Community spirit here seems amazing; people are always smiling and very welcoming.

4 May. Leaving Christmas Island (David de Rothschild)

It’s been almost a week since we reached Christmas Island. Although it’s hard to tell really – we’ve all switched on to ‘Island Time’. It has been a very full schedule, lots of school talks and meetings. The boat maintenance consumes a lot of our days. Matt and Graham have been fixing the rudders which got a little damaged as we were towed into the dock. David T has been working on repairing the sail with Jo. We’ve also now replenished our kitchen stocks with some new food for the next leg of the journey.

We’re getting close to hitting the high seas again. We’ll be welcoming some new crew and fresh minds on board.

9 June. On Samoa (Jo Royle, skipper)

Mr T and I have been extremely busy since we got here; we’re trying to prepare the boat for another long leg towards Sydney, where we expect to see the worst weather we’ve seen on the voyage. I’ve serviced all the electrical gear. We’ve still managed to survive off 100 per cent renewable energy since we left San Francisco, which is incredible because we have lots of “Digital Dave [de Rothschild]” and “Digital Graham [Hill]” using our computers and communications.

After a few weeks with another female crew member, I will be back to being the only girl, which I’m a bit apprehensive about, as it’s always good to have another girl to giggle with. But I can’t moan too much; the guys are great. There are six of us living in this tiny cabin and we’ve been at sea for 60 days. To be honest, the most annoying habit is probably the boys showing me their spotty bums; they have very spotty bums from sitting down all the time and I don’t need to see that!

Western Samoa is actually environmentally leaps and bounds ahead of some English towns; we’ve got to catch up, otherwise it’s a bit hypocritical for us to go around the Pacific spreading this message. They already use biodegradable BioBags, as plastic bags were banned in 2006.

READ ON SOON…

Photograph of the boat’s navigation system courtesy of the Plastiki crew. For more information on the expedition and the message, go to the web-site http://www.theplastiki.com or by clicking

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