The Catamaran

by Maureen Bonner

March 31, 2006

March 10, 2006

We are currently about a day away from St. Helena. We are heading there to find a "smooth piece of water" so that we can check to see if we have rope tied around the port side propeller. By the way, this also marks our entry into the tuna fishing grounds – this is where we will start to look for pirate fishing vessels. We will maintain a zigzag pattern to try to identify and document as many illegal vessels as possible. We will also track ships from this area heading up into Las Palmas, sending their illegally caught fish onto Europe.

But back to the topic at hand – science and rope around the propeller?

Part of the goal of the Defending our Oceans tour is to gain a real understanding of surface waste in the world’s oceans. The data that exists at the moment is higgedly piggedly, this research will be a valuable contribution to our understanding.

I’m writing this email from the stern of the ship…wireless internet – cool huh…but what I am actually doing here is looking at this contraption that was built at the Greenpeace science labs in Exeter and shipped out to South Africa where it also joined the Espy. It is bright yellow – and has many different names depending on who you talk to and what has just happened with it, but generally in better times it is the "yellow thing". Essentially it is a steel catamaran that has a net that trails from its middle out behind it. The catamaran allows the net to stay open at the ocean’s surface. We have dropped it into the water twice. We used a crane to lift it over the side and then with a RIB in the water pulled it to the rear of the vessel. The first time seemed reasonably successful but modifications had to be made. The modifications were made and in she went again – it was quite choppy and the results were not so good – rope around the propeller – possibly – the net ripped in several places, the catamaran hitting the side of the Espy. Not a good test by any accounts – except a lot was learned.

Today the fitter on board is going to make a boom for the catamaran so that it will be fixed by steel to the side of the Espy – no trailing it behind us. We will run another test deploying and retrieving with this new system tomorrow while we are in the calmer waters of St. Helena.

Once it is rigged correctly it will sample surface debris as the tour makes it way around the world over the next year – providing Greenpeace and the scientific community with some real understanding of pollution in our oceans from which to start to effect change.

Well it is nearly eight – time for me to head to the galley for a galley maid I am.

Take care,
Celeste

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