Jon T. Howard North Atlantic Gyre Blog #20

I was up through the night on the 2-6 am shift helping Anna and Marcus do some night trawling and videoing the samples we found. I shot some great footage that I will post when I get back to land in Bermuda. I am very thankful to have the Tactical Solar Lites that Hybrid Lights http://www.hybridlights.com/ gave the crew for the mission because we have been working every night and it is very dark once the sun goes down especially when there is cloud cover like last night. Every trawl has come up with some bits and pieces of plastic but not as much as Marcus says www.Algalita.org has found in the North Pacific, That is the good news but the bad news is we are still at least 500 miles from the center of the gyre where they believe there will be a denser accumulation of debris due to the currents in the Sargasso Sea. After we pulled up the trawl this afternoon we finally put up our main sail and jib(Yankee) sail for some great sailing. The feeling is so much different from when we are using the Sea Dragons engine to push through the swells. Make sure to follow our GPS at www.panexplore.com and also check out the videos being sent to www.5gyres.org/whats_happening_now . As night approached the captain, Clive Cosby, gave us the news during dinner that the winds would be picking up significantly and we would be in for a rough night. He wasn’t kidding at all and halfway through the night we were being pounded by winds up to 30 knots. The winds whip up the swells and had the Sea Dragon rocking and bouncing heavily all night long. We had to pull out our foul weather gear and layer up because the temperature dropped rapidly and we were being drenched with waves and spray for hours at a time during our watches. Let me give you an idea how it feels. Imagine getting on a ride at an amusement park that shakes, goes up and down and side to side for hours on end and you know you can’t get off. You are at the complete mercy of the ocean. That is what we dealt with for over 12hours while we waited out the winds. In the early morning of January 12th we encountered a large cargo ship that at one point was heading right for us. I watched as the approaching ship appeared bigger and bigger through the binoculars until it was as clear as day in front of us while we worked to maneuver around it. It’s hard to imagine something getting so close out in the open ocean after not seeing anything for at all for 3 days. Luckily we have radar and GPS and our captain made contact with the other ships captain and we sailed safely behind the cargo ship.

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