Three ad­ven­tur­ers sail an un­usual boat and de­liver a dire mes­sage

SAIL - - Cruising Under Sail -

If you were in Got­land, a pop­u­lar is­land va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tion off the coast of Swe­den, on the morn­ing of July 3, your hol­i­day might have been in­ter­rupted by a star­tling sight: a tiny is­land of trash ap­proach­ing shore with peo­ple aboard. It was, in fact, a sail­boat made from plas­tic waste, ghost nets and drift wood col­lected from the Baltic Sea. The boat, aptly named Trash-Tiki, had made a 90-mile open wa­ter cross­ing from Trosa on the main­land of Swe­den to the is­land. The crew of three, Sšren Kjel­lqvist, Glenn Matts­ing and Joakim Odel­berg, set out with the aim of rais­ing aware­ness about the harm­ful im­pact of trash in our oceans.

“Last sum­mer me and Sšren rowed across the Bar­ents Sea and landed on Bjšrnšn, one of the world’s most re­mote is­lands. The first thing that met us was the coast­line full of plas­tic and that’s when the idea was born for this project,”

Matts­ing says. Though Swe­den is con­sid­ered one of the most sus­tain­able na­tions in the world, the crew of Trash-Tiki thinks it’s es­sen­tial that they di­rect their ef­forts to the oceans as well.

The boat it­self is made from garbage lashed to­gether into a plat­form with a mast rigged in the mid­dle and a tent for shel­ter. They as­sem­bled it dur­ing Allt fšr sjšn, Swe­den’s largest boat show, to raise aware­ness for the cause. They then tested it for three months be­fore set­ting off for the is­land. The crew, who rightly con­sider them­selves ad­ven­tur­ers, faced rough con­di­tions and gusts of up to 20kts. De­spite the strong wind, they av­er­aged just half a knot of boat­speed and took four days to reach Got­land. The voy­age now com­plete, the team hopes that they’ve sent a strong mes­sage to politi­cians, de­mand­ing a re­duc­tion of plas­tic us­age and clean­ing up of the oceans.

For more on this project, visit sub­tech­sports. com/trash-tiki —LM

Stum­bling upon art while out sail­ing is an un­ex­pected plea­sure. Find­ing col­or­ful glass balls that have washed across from Ja­panese fish­ing fleets is cer­tainly mag­i­cal. But it’s the pur­pose­ful art left for the en­joy­ment of oth­ers that most moves me. One ex­am­ple was a deer made en­tirely of drift­wood, lean­ing against a tree on the path around Mon­tague Har­bor in Bri­tish Columbia. What a de­light! But who was to know there was an en­tire drift­wood art museum in the Oc­to­pus Is­lands near Van­cou­ver? We only learned of it by chance. The price of ad­mis­sion was getting past the “dragon,” the bois­ter­ous cur­rent in the nar­row Hole in the Wall chan­nel. The strong­est tides in the North­ern Hemi­sphere rush through this part of the In­side Pas­sage, and the dragon rests a mere five min­utes at slack cur­rent, twice a day. At the ap­pointed time, we fol­lowed the await­ing boats to the Oc­to­pus Is­lands Ma­rine Pro­vin­cial Park.

Once through, we dropped the hook in a quiet cove, mar­veling at the beauty sur­round­ing us, the si­lence of the for­est and the sur­round­ing moun­tains. There is a code of honor here: don’t run your gen­er­a­tor, don’t talk too loudly. Ev­ery pad­dle stroke is heard, as it ev­ery beat of a raven’s wings as it flies over­head.

On this day, the sun was shin­ing, the sky was blue, so we headed our dinghy to­ward a trail that en­ters the sur­round­ing rain­for­est. At the head of the bay two sculp­tures awaited, rocks bal­anced grace­fully atop each other, like Ja­panese cranes. Some­one had placed them there.

And, in the Zen style of im­per­ma­nence, the rocks would top­ple and wash away with the in­com­ing tide.

Sit­ting on a boul­der and ad­mir­ing them while lac­ing up our boots, we took a deep breath to regis­ter what a sa­cred spot we’d found. We must have car­ried some of that aura with us as we stepped from the shore­line into the for­est, be­cause a cou­ple soon ap­peared who shared one of the lo­cal charm­ing se­crets of this area. We were look­ing up at the shafts of light on the bark of tall Dou­glas firs and hem­locks and mar­veling at the lu­mi­nous moss­cov­ered boul­ders when we heard the jin­gle of a dog ap­proach­ing. His own­ers trailed closely be­hind and paused as we scratched be­hind its ears.

“Did you no­tice the Ja­panese crane sculp­tures in the bay on the way in?” I asked. Yes, they had. Then, all of a sud­den, the woman’s face lit up. She glanced over at her hus­band, who rolled his eyes.

“Have you seen the art museum?” she blurted out. “I tell ev­ery­one I meet.” My hus­band looked con­fused. I wanted to know more. “It’s there, right at the en­trance. There’s a sign posted on a tree that says ‘pri­vate is­land, no camp­ing’.” We’d seen that sign and what ap­peared to be an old cabin on the way in, but had de­cided to pass by. “Boaters stop and add to their art ev­ery year,” she con­tin­ued. “You won’t be­lieve it.”

She was right. It was truly un­be­liev­able. The rick­ety cabin looked spooky, maybe even un­safe, as we en­tered and let our eyes adapt to the dark­ness within. Be­fore long, I saw what she meant: a su­perb and clev­erly crafted art col­lec­tion of drift­wood and items found at sea that few had ever seen. There were sea crea­tures, bird­houses, unique sculp­tures, signs and flags. Fam­i­lies proudly dis- played their names and the dates they’d re­turned to add to their piece of art, year af­ter year.

Af­ter that ex­pe­ri­ence I be­gan to take no­tice of all the ways art is ex­pressed in na­ture, from a log washed ashore that has been carved by wind and waves into a whale, to pur­posely pick­ing up a leaf and leav­ing a smi­ley face for oth­ers to find un­der­foot, to the to­tally sublime, even mag­nif­i­cent beach man­dalas cre­ated by Jon Fore­man of Sculpt the World. Like the Zen cranes, his art is tem­po­rary. Washed clean and sent back to the sea. Maybe one day we will get to see his art too. But we’ll leave that story for another day. s

The ad­ven­tur­ers aboard Trash-Tiki

Art in the raw at an an­chor­age in the Oc­to­pus Is­lands

The fleet­ing beauty of Jon Fore­man’s beach man­dalas

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