Waste At The Bottom Of The Arctic Ocean

One brief paragraph of a recent study by the AWI has left me absolutely speechless: “In comparison, even the lowest values from the Arctic seafloor are ten times higher (than the waste concentration in the so-called garbage patches)”. They must be joking, I thought. No, they’re not!

plastic bag bottom of arctic ocean 2500 metres depth (cMBergmann)

plastic bag bottom of arctic ocean 2500 metres depth (cMBergmann)

First of all, how cool is that: You are on a ship, and every 30 seconds you get a new picture from the ocean ground beneath you. The OFOS (Ocean Floor Observation System) is the technology behind this, drifting a metre and a half above the ocean floor and delivering still and moving pictures.

In the past, the scientists from AWI have observed the ocean bottom for sponges, sea cucumbers, fish or any other living creature down below. In recent years, however, their attention has also been grabbed by litter on the ocean seafloor. Once they started having a look also at the waste in oceans, they produced some worrying numbers: between 2002 and 2011 the waste on the ocean floor in one square kilometre more than doubled (2.500 metres beneath sea surface). Continue reading

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Still Needed By Lina For Her Mini Transat Campaign

Hardly ever do I ask you to have a closer look and share articles with your friends. This post here is different, and maybe you know someone who knows someone who knows someone… Lina Rixgens is still looking for support in various areas of her Mini Transat campaign.

Lina has come a long way since her very first thoughts and ideas about participating in the Mini Transat (here is a small part of her story so far). She has, however, still quite a few tasks ahead of her. With a boat now available things have moved in the right direction. I am sure you are well aware that simply having a boat does help – but it is not everything. Lina has produced a list of things “still needed”, and if you (or a friend of a friend…) can help her and tick off one of those below it would bring her another big step closer to sailing and finishing the Mini Transat.

Apart from the items listed below, and my apologies for mentioning it again, every little helps – even the smallest donations. If you would like to support Lina, please try this link here and mention “Lina’s Mini Transat” in the subject line.

Please spread the word, share with your friends and make a young lady very happy… thank you! Continue reading

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Strawberries – Picking, Jam And Tummy Ache

some of the freshly picked strawberriesFreshly picked strawberries – so sweet, tasty, yummy. The same is true when enjoying them with whipped cream or chocolate, in ice cream or smoothies… the list could go on. To show the kids where their favourite strawberries are coming from I took them out for an afternoon of strawberry picking – plus some “work” afterwards.

Looking back at it, the “strawberry picking event” turned out to be a ninety minute happening (with not too much happening at all). The agitation and excitement of it all had been much greater in the couple of days before, as is so often the case. When it came down to actually doing it, it was kind of boring. So I’ve been told afterwards by those three young ladies having joined me.

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Lina’s First Classe Mini Solo Regatta

Sailing single-handed is one thing, racing solo on the Atlantic on a small boat you hardly know is something quite different. Despite having had a couple of days training only Lina’s handled the first two regattas pretty well.

Lina Rixgens first single handed regatta on Pogo2 mini doc

(c) Lina Rixgens

To say Lina Rixgens is new to solo regattas would not really be true. She is a World Championship-experienced sailor in class Europe, but sailing on a Classe Mini Ocean racing yacht is a different story. Just after Easter she has started sailing on mini doc, a Pogo 2 she will be training and racing on for the next two years up until the Mini Transat 2017.

Lina had a couple of days to find her way around her boat when the first regatta came up: the 150nm “Bretagne Sud Mini Lorient” (BSM) a two-handed race starting in Lorient. 76 Minis at the starting line, winds up to 40kn and a very tight time limit – well, only about a third of all series boats managed to cross the finish line in time (mostly brand new ones, and not mini doc). Lina’s partner on this storm training session was Katrina Ham, an Australien Mini-sailor with thousands of miles Classe Mini experience (including Mini Transat).

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Some More Facts About Marine Debris

When looking at the career pages of the AWI (Alfred-Wegener-Institut, based in Bremerhaven, Germany), the requirements for getting a job with them seem to be quite challenging: PhDs, Science Officer, Master Students, and a doc for their Antarctic station… There is a good reason for that: They are experts and extremely good at what they are doing. One of the items they keep looking at is marine debris and its origin, distribution and impact.

The text below answers a couple of fundamental questions on marine debris. This is rather similar to a previous post here on Active Outside (basic Q&A on waste in oceans), yet it does give more details and background information on various topics. All of the below (plus lots more) can also be found on the website of AWI. Some of their answers I have shortened a bit, and the reason for including it here as full text instead of including a link is also quite simple: I’d like to keep the content, even if AWI decides to (re)move their page.

Their researchers and scientists are doing a more than fabulous job, and their realistic view on this matter is something I value highly (e.g. their comment on estimated numbers of marine debris floating on the surface of the oceans).

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Hansajolle – Back To The Roots

yes, that's me at the tiller

yes, that’s me at the tiller

Having sailed on quite a few different types of dinghies, a planned tour with a Hansajolle on the river Elbe had me wondering whether this really was a good idea. The Elbe can be quite nasty, especially when tide runs against wind. The Hansajolle, however, had been planned and constructed with those challenging conditions in mind.

With “back to the roots” I don’t really want to imply that sailing on very old or ancient type of boats is my cup of tea. The reference is more in the direction of keeping it simple, reliable and easy to handle. This is something that always comes to my mind when sailing with small boats – with the exception of Classe Mini racers, of course.

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Beaches, Boats And Horses On Fehmarn

Keeping the kids busy and trying to avoid “death by boredom” (their wording) during school holidays can occasionally turn into a challenge. One week of this year’s Easter school holidays turned out to be as much fun for the parents as it was for the kids.

deserted beach on FehmarnOk, my kids are not really that bad when at home. They can go without parents for hours, only needing help when it comes to food and drink. This is usually fine for a couple of days, but two weeks can get very long in the end. So we spent one week of that Easter break near the Baltic Sea, an hour’s drive from home. It was on Fehmarn, one of my favourite islands round here.

It was the second week in April, spring having not really arrived yet, sunshine and rain playing hide and seek on an hourly basis, a nasty cold wind blowing – not really a combination to have the kids roam around outdoors. There was, however, not a single day with the kids asking for more action. The reason: horses!

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Chance Encounter: Two People, One Goal

A very long time ago (January last year, actually, but it feels a lot longer) I spent quite a few hours browsing the web to find some information on the costs of a Mini Transat campaign. I managed to pull some data together and came up with a pretty neat cost estimate – however, that is a different story. While doing my research I stumbled upon a couple of Classe Mini sailors’ websites, one of them being Lina Rixgens. What a goal she has set herself, and what a story it has been so far!

Lina Rixgens enjoying the first day of sailing with Classe Mini 732The very first information I found was a flyer for Lina’s Mini Transat campaign. Her project idea sounded pretty cool, and I was indeed a very happy person after she had rather quickly replied to an email and answered a couple of questions. Soon after I published a first article about Lina and her plans for a Mini Transat campaign. But – who is she, what’s her background? In brief:

  • young medical student, German, living in Belgium
  • has been sailing for more than half of her life, including Optimist, Europe, crossing the Atlantic with “High Seas High School” and racing around the Baltic Sea with ‘Haspa Hamburg’, a Judel/Vrolijk designed long distance cruiser-racer
  • regatta-proven, including World Championships in class Europe
  • highly organized, with a clear view on her goals and aiming to reach them asap (that is my personal view, though it may sound like taken from a consultant’s CV).

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Come On, Rainbow Pirates, Keep On Going!

The “Rainbow Pirates“ had quite a crazy day way back at the beginning of March. The result: a 2.050,- € donation! Another great step for the team of “Meer bewegen”, allowing them to continue their challenging task of getting disabled folks out onto the water and sailing.

"Meer bewegen" team picture swimming pool

“Meer bewegen” team picture swimming pool

“Pirate Party” sounds like a lot of fun, and it was indeed for dozens of kids and their parents. The team of “Meer bewegen” (the Rainbow Pirates) also had a couple of goals for this party day, those mainly being:
– the happiness of and fun for all those kids having turned up (location: swimming pool)
– reach a specific donation target (location: www)
– have quite a bit of fun themselves (location: both of the above).
Success rate of those goals: 100%.

What an amazing and crazy day it had been for them! Loads of children turned up and wanted to get onto “White Pearl”, the RS Venture with sailability kit. No chance of counting the number of times the White Pearl crossed the pool (hopelessly overloaded with eager sailors-to-be). Very happy and excited faces all around encouraged everyone involved to keep going not only all day long, but rather with the entire idea and concept of “inclusive sailing”.

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The Race Is On… Lina’s Got A Boat

Woohee, she’s got a boat! Lina Rixgens is now ready to tackle the intensive and challenging Classe Mini regatta scene. She will be sailing on 732, a Pogo 2, and is well on her way to close in on her main target: the Mini Transat 2017.

Lina Rixgens all smiles on 732 first sailingFor more than a year she had been talking to sponsors, looking at boats and trying to figure out how she could get out onto the water with and on a Mini all by herself. As mentioned in previous articles, she does not only want to sail around for leisure and pleasure. Her main objective is to complete the Mini Transat 2017 as the first German female sailor.

Things are looking a lot brighter now for this young sailor. Lina has already been on her first sailing weekend in Lorient, enjoying a marvellous couple of days on 732, a Pogo 2. Where did this boat come from, and what are her immediate plans?

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Catamaran ‘Seekuh’ Collecting Garbage In Water

How to get rid of all that garbage floating around in our waters? One of the ideas having caught my attention is the prototype of a catamaran called Seekuh (sea cow), currently being built and ready for its mission in summer 2016.

catamaran Seekuh (Sea Cow) (c One Earth - One Ocean)Plastic garbage in shallow waters, seas and oceans is omnipresent. Tons of plastic bags, fishing nets, bottles, cosmetic product waste and the like are polluting our liquid surroundings. Three quarters of all the garbage in oceans consists of plastics needing a couple of centuries to decompose. All that waste is a major danger to wildlife and, ultimately, humans (if you are rather new to this topic, check out these Basic Q&A regarding waste in oceans).

A catamaran called Seekuh (Sea Cow)

Worldwide, awareness to actually do something about all that waste in oceans has increased dramatically in recent years. Lots of projects and initiatives have been started, and a pretty cool one I found to be a catamaran called Sea Cow (Seekuh). What is this supposed to be, or mean?

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Lacking Vitamin Sea

stick on beach in WasserslebenSomething is not going the way it is supposed to, at least when listening to the prioritisation list of my heart. Just winter blues? Or a really bad case of not enough vitamin sea?

As usual in the first quarter, the kids are down frequently with all sorts of virus and God knows what infections. The sun is blocked by clouds, and it is either raining, freezing cold or, on a good day, just not nice enough to spend a lot of time outside. Continue reading

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Zero Emission Sailing Around The World

What a trip! Sailing around the world is one thing, nothing unusual for a couple of young chaps. The more than amazing element is that their sailing boat has not used a single drop of fuel, i.e. zero emission. Including cruising the 40 nautical miles along the Panama Canal. How did they do it?

The four guys from the Eco Sailing Project first had an idea, which turned into a plan, which turned into pretty cool reality. Wanting to tour the world they decided to go for the very sporty option: sailing around the world. And not just that: the boat should be self-sufficient in power and energy supply, surviving on re-usable energy only. Brilliant.

zero emission sailing yacht (c ecosailingproject)

zero emission sailing yacht (c ecosailingproject)

Once they had bought a 1978 built yacht, the old motor had to go, same as the exhaust system and the diesel tanks. Old stuff out and gone, lots of new equipment came on board: LED lights, solar power, wind turbine, e-motor. One of the items I found simply great is the propeller turning to hydro generator while sailing – how cool is that? An overview of their energy supply you can find in the little picture here. I love it.

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Classe Mini Sailors, What Is Your Biggest Frustration?

Sailing projects not completed, a sailing career abandoned, agony high instead of spirits rocketing. A question that keeps coming back to me: What frustrates you most with sailing in the Classe Mini?

gimme speed... Classe Mini 6.50 (D2V2)I have followed the Classe Mini rather closely in the last 18 months or so, and despite successful stories of winners and finishers, of smiles and laughter everywhere, there are quite a few sailors feeling extremely down. ‘Feeling down’ meaning they are in the middle of a major crisis. Lack of funding, injuries, race calendar, weather, boat size, boat handling, the list could go on. Those are only a couple of the reasons I have found when looking at Classe Mini sailors’ websites or social media entries. What a disaster! And that after so much bravery they had shown in the past.

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Five Things Not To Forget When Photographing In Winter

canoe walkway partly frozen

canoe walkway partly frozen

Take your camera along when going outside, a few dozen shots should always be possible, play around with settings, click again – we all know what to expect and what to do. Unless, of course, you decide (like I did) to take some wonderful winter photographs. Minus six outside, wind blowing with force 4, and it all felt a bit like the Arctic.

My little photo shooting session took place in Kiel, one of the canals having been my choice of location. There was not really any snow around, temperatures were below zero and the wind would have been lovely for a sailing tour – but not so on that specific morning. I don’t know what the wind chill factor for that morning had been, and I must say that I am used to (dry) cold outside. This, however, felt pretty bad. Continue reading

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