Its Garbage!

Time: 08:10 local (We set the clocks ahead again yesterday, to San Francisco time!) Lat: 37 36
Log: 129 59
Distance from Hawaii: 1754
Distance to Golden Gate: 356
23 hour distance made good: 69.8 nautical miles

As you might see by the numbers above, yesterday was our slowest day of the trip. Most of the day was spent struggling to keep the boat moving in light and fickle winds.

That looks to be ending now, as the wind is picking up as the sun rises. The forecast is for it to continue to pick up as we approach the coast. The inshore waters are forecast to have winds of 25 to 35 knots and seas to 17 feet. The key for us is to catch the afternoon flood tide at the Golden Gate. It ends at about 4pm. If we are going to be later than that, my plan is to anchor in Drakes Bay for the night, and catch the next day’s tide.

For the last week or so we have been around and through the Northeast Pacific Gyre, better known recently in the popular press as the “Garbage Patch”. A great name, sure to invoke feeling of disgust and horror.

What does it look like? Well, ocean mostly. No huge rafts of trash floating out here. No Japanese towns washed out the sea by the tsunami. No great nets of plastic grocery bags straggling everything that swims. Nothing like the rabid descriptions I have read, and occasional, totally fake, picture. All you see is empty ocean. We do spot more bits of trash here than in other places on the ocean, but that is relative. While sailing I would estimate we notice one visible piece of trash about every 30 minutes or so. That’s a patch of ocean about 3 miles wide and 100 feet wide. A not entirely scientific sample, but should give you a feel for what’s actually here.

Interestingly, almost all of the trash is “new”. Very few pieces are encrusted with gooseneck barnacles and other critters and have obviously been in the water a long time, but they are the exception. Most things you see look fresh. Not sure what to make of this. Where does all the “old” trash go?

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