CRUIS­ING

16 Clean­ing up our oceans with the Roza­lia Pro­ject; Book Re­view: Cats for Cruis­ers; Joseph Con­rad and the sail­ing life

SAIL - - Contents - By Re­nee Tor­rie

“Choke! Choke! Choke!” Ash­ley yells. This is our tac­tic to pre­vent peo­ple from gath­er­ing in the boat’s be­lowdecks traf­fic lanes. With a gal­ley that’s per­fect for so­cial­iz­ing—and nine peo­ple shar­ing the ca­sual ca­ma­raderie that comes with life on­board—“chokes” are a com­mon oc­cur­rence as folks hus­tle to pre­pare for ROV launches, ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams and sail­ing.

We’re aboard the his­toric Amer­i­can Prom­ise, made fa­mous by Dodge Mor­gan’s 1985-86 record-break­ing solo non­stop world cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion. These days she be­longs to the Roza­lia Pro­ject, and each sum­mer she houses vol­un­teers, sci­en­tists and lots of pos­i­tive en­ergy. The Roza­lia Pro­ject, founded by Rachael Miller and James Lyne, is an or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cused on solv­ing the prob­lem of marine de­bris through their four pil­lars of cleanup: ed­u­ca­tion, in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy and so­lu­tions-based re­search. The pro­ject is clean­ing up our oceans, spread­ing the word about marine de­bris and creat­ing prag­matic so­lu­tions to one of the world’s most press­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems. I hopped on board Amer­i­can Prom­ise for nine days dur­ing the sum­mer of 2017, on a jour­ney span­ning Bos­ton, Mas­sachusetts, to Kit­tery, Maine.

For two years now, the pro­ject has fo­cused on its new ini­tia­tive, Ex­pe­di­tion STEM for the Ocean. The ex­pe­di­tion is de­signed to “inspire young boaters and coastal res­i­dents to be an ac­tive part of the so­lu­tion to marine de­bris in the near term,” through cleanups and so­lu­tions think­ing, and “in the long term by en­ter­ing [STEM] fields with an ocean or en­vi­ron­men­tal fo­cus” (roza­li­apro­ject.org).

Our pro­gram with Sea­coast Sci­ence Cen­ter at the Isle of Shoals, New Hamp­shire, was an il­lus­tra­tive ex­am­ple of how the Ex­pe­di­tion STEM cur­ricu­lum is im­ple­mented. We

met 12 mid­dle school stu­dents and kicked things off with a cleanup. In just 30 min­utes we col­lected, sorted and logged around 300 pieces of marine de­bris above the high-wa­ter line—items like rope, lob­ster trap parts, food wrap­pers, plas­tic bot­tles and caps. Find­ing a per­fectly in­tact sty­ro­foam Dunkin Donuts cup on a re­mote is­land six miles off­shore? It re­ally hit home. This was not a feel-good, “save-the­world,” easy cleanup. This was data col­lec­tion that showed us all the di­rect im­pact we are hav­ing on the ocean, in a hands-on way.

Af­ter an en­gag­ing dis­cus­sion about the de­bris we’d found, we rowed out to Amer­i­can Prom­ise. Aboard, we launched the Re­motely Op­er­ated Ve­hi­cle, or ROV, an un­der­wa­ter robot, equipped with a cam­era and grasp­ing claws. As Cap­tain Rachael Miller skill­fully “flew” it over the seafloor, her eyes glued to the com­puter mon­i­tor show­ing the video re­turn, the kids crowded around. They watched in awe, one say­ing, “Is that the bot­tom of the ocean?” Un­for­tu­nately, they also saw many aban­doned lob­ster traps, or “ghost traps,” a type of pol­lu­tion many haven’t seen be­fore. Long af­ter they’re lost or aban­doned, derelict traps and nets con­tinue to catch lob­sters and fish. When a lob­ster dies while trapped, its de­com­pos­ing body at­tracts more lob­sters, which are then also caught in the aban­doned gear. This cy­cle is called ghost fish­ing.

Sim­i­larly, ac­cord­ing to our crewmem­ber El­iz­a­beth Ho­gan, who works for World An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion, up to 10,000 gill nets are lost in the Baltic Sea each year, with each ca­pa­ble of killing $20,000 worth of seafood.

Af­ter be­ing in­spired by our ROV seafloor ex­plo­ration, it was time to brain­storm how to en­cour­age hu­man be­hav­ior change. Groups were or­ga­nized based on what marine de­bris is­sues “screamed” at us. My group of five worked on sin­gle-use drink bot­tles and the prob­lems they cre­ate. Ac­cord­ing to the Roza­lia Pro­ject, there are five main ways to inspire be­hav­ior change—ed­u­ca­tion, mes­sag­ing, leg­is­la­tion, re­design and in­no­va­tion—and we based our so­lu­tions off these con­cepts, ul­ti­mately propos­ing a vend­ing ma­chine that dis­penses full reusable metal wa­ter bot­tles, with a re­fill sta­tion on the out­side: in­no­va­tion.

Two other groups worked on the an­i­mal en­tan­gle­ment and ghost fish­ing prob­lem. One group pro­posed a doc­u­men­tary show­ing graphic footage of en­tan­gled an­i­mals—mes­sag­ing and ed­u­ca­tion. The other pro­posed a rope design that has 5ft seg­ments joined by a con­nec­tor or screw that dis­solves in wa­ter af­ter three weeks—re­design.

Lastly, the plas­tic bag group de­signed a per­sonal col­lapsi­ble shop­ping cart to put in your car with a bas­ket top that can be de­tached and car­ried, com­pletely re­mov­ing bags from the pic­ture. Re­spon­si­ble be­hav­ior could then be in­cen­tivized by a plas­tic bag tax—in­no­va­tion and leg­is­la­tion.

These so­lu­tions aren’t per­fect. But they’re the epic brain­power of 12 mid­dle-school­ers, and they’re what needs to hap­pen. I over­heard one girl leav­ing Amer­i­can Prom­ise say, “We could ac­tu­ally do this, you know.” An­other boy, min­utes af­ter the pre­sen­ta­tions, ex­claimed to no one in par­tic­u­lar, “I’ve got it! We should use wood for the rope con­nec­tor pieces!”

Also worth men­tion­ing are the Roza­lia Pro­ject’s ef­forts to prac­tice what it preaches by mak­ing Amer­i­can Prom­ise the green­est sail­ing re­search ves­sel on the planet. With the help of 11th Hour Rac­ing, the pro­ject has gone “green” with its propul­sion, elec­tric­ity and life­style on board.

First, with help from the Maine Clean Marine Diesel Pro­gram and Kil­roy Realty, Amer­i­can Prom­ise traded her gnarly old en­gine for a Tier 3 Marine diesel en­gine. It’s high-ef­fi­ciency, low-noise and low-vi­bra­tion.

Se­cond, the boat uses a com­bi­na­tion of so­lar, hy­dro and wind power for elec­tric­ity. In three years, Roza­lia has not once turned on the gen­er­a­tor or hooked up to shore power. That in­cludes pow­er­ing the ROV, a drone, pro­jec­tor, com­put­ers, elec­tron­ics and re­frig­er­a­tion.

Lastly, life aboard is earth-con­scious, with the crew eat­ing vegeta­bles only and re­cy­cling as­sid­u­ously. Noth­ing goes over­board ex­cept our biodegrad­able ocean-safe soap from spon­sor Lu­naroma. Even the dec­o­ra­tive light string is so­lar pow­ered. Be­yond its mis­sion state­ment of in­spir­ing oth­ers, Amer­i­can Prom­ise is an

in­spir­ing boat to live aboard in and of it­self.

Over the course of the 12 days, the ex­pe­di­tion did five small cleanups the crew found 2,087 pieces of trash, in­clud­ing 276 cig­a­rette butts, 236 rope pieces, 205 lob­ster trap pieces, 191 plas­tic bot­tles and caps, 124 food wrap­pers and 66 bal­loons. Clearly, we res­i­dents of Planet Earth—can do bet­ter. And while “re­duce, re­use, re­cy­cle” may seem like back­ground noise at this point, it works. Do you need that spoon on top of your ice cream cone? That plas­tic bag? That straw? Where will it end up? Is there a trash­can on your lo­cal pier that isn’t over­flow­ing? What’s go­ing to hap­pen to your 5-year-old’s snack wrap­per at sail­ing camp? Even in­land, many the storm drains of many cities flow straight into their

har­bors, bring­ing lit­ter along for the ride. All wa­ter leads to the ocean. If my Roza­lia Pro­ject ex­pe­ri­ence

has taught me any­thing, it’s that the first step in en­vi­ron­men­tal jus­tice is find­ing an is­sue you’re pas­sion­ate about. Marine de­bris was scream­ing at Rachael, so she started the Roza­lia Pro­ject. Sin­gle-use wa­ter­bot­tles were scream- ing at my brain­storm­ing group, so we made a plan to cre­ate a new vend­ing ma­chine that the kids then pre­sented to their school’s prin­ci­pal. What’s scream­ing at you? To learn more or get in­volved, visit roza­li­apro­ject.org. s

Amer­i­can Prom­ise reaches across Mas­sachusetts Bay with her so­lar pan­els, wind tur­bines and hy­dro gen­er­a­tor all work­ing hard (left); vol­un­teer Deb De­biegun runs a brain­storm­ing ses­sion (above right); the Roza­lia Pro­ject crew shows off the re­sults of a...

First mate Brooke Winslow re­trieves the ROV “Hec­tor the Col­lec­tor” off Stell­wa­gen Bank (above); af­ter a cleanup, the crew com­bines and sorts the col­lected trash be­fore re­cy­cling and dis­pos­ing of the var­i­ous dif­fer­ent items

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