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OceanGybe Round the World Research and Outreach Update

June 23, 2009

OceanGybe Round the World Research and Outreach Update

April 2009
In the 8 months since the last OceanGybe update, Khulula and crew have crossed both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. After casting off from Bali on October 2nd the crew headed for the small Australian outpost of Cocos Keeling in the middle of the Indian Ocean, staying one week before pushing on to Rodriguez, Mauritius, Reunion and South Africa in time to avoid the South Indian Ocean cyclone season.

Cocos Keeling is a tiny atoll located 1600km due west of Bali, Indonesia and 3500km east of the island of Mauritius. Cocos Keeling is downwind and down current of Indonesia, and while the 1000 residents produce very little garbage themselves, the beaches are some of the most polluted the crew has found anywhere thus far.  Beaches are ankle deep in sandals, water bottles, plastic toys and countless other items of 21st century consumerism, all having been carried downwind from Indonesia.

Standing on what should be one of the most pristine beaches on earth watching garbage and plastic refuse wash up the beach in the shore break will forever be etched in the minds of the OceanGybe crew.

No matter how much they cleaned up the beach, the ocean spilled forth more and more plastic jetsam and filled the cleared areas with new plastic trash. Hugh Patterson observed, gIt was the one of the most depressing moments of the trip to see our efforts to clean the beach covered, as though we did nothing, in a matter of moments by new incoming garbage. While on the islands, the team was able to visit the local high school, present our message of conservation to the kids as well as leave them with 4 donated Sitka Surfboards to spread the love of surfing around the world.

Leaving Cocos Keeling, the OceanGybe crew had left themselves with very little time to cross the Indian Ocean before cyclone season, and as a result, stops in Mauritius and Reunion were only long enough to provision, catch a couple waves, study the garbage on a local beach and then continue onwards to South Africa.

During the two month whirlwind stop in South Africa, Khulula came out of the water for a fresh coat of bottom paint, in addition to countless other fixes and upgrades in preparation for the Atlantic crossing and the year ahead. In between wiring electronics, fixing sails, replacing engine parts, etc the OceanGybe team were fortunate enough to speak to approximately 3000 students at Wynberg and Bergvliet High Schools, as well as class of students in the township of Khayelitsha.  Khayelitsha is an unplanned settlement of approximately 2 million on the outskirts of Cape Town.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit and speak with this group of eager students who even in the face of incredible personal hardship were committed to trying to keep our beaches and oceans clean. Building on this presentation, OceanGybe teamed up with Palama Metsi, a grass]roots surfing programme developed to bring inner city street kids to the beach.


Shafiek Khan, the program's founder /organizer /fundraiser /teacher/everything else mentors the kids and along with teaching basic life skills, like reading, writing, and personal responsibility, spreads the stoke of riding waves. The Oceangybe crew spent a morning with the kids, sharing their pure joy in surfing and the ocean, pushing them into tiny little waves on boards Sitka Surfboards donated. Ryan Robertson came dripping and grinning out of the water and announced, gI donft know who is having more fun, me or the groms!h It was an experience that penetrated deeply within all the OceanGybe team and served as a reminder of how lucky we all actually are.

In February 2009, Khulula and her crew set sail once again, this time from Cape Town to cross the Atlantic Ocean, their last uncrossed ocean. Khulula was bound for the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. Stopping at St Helena Island in the mid South Atlantic, they once again found large qualities of garbage from far away littering the beaches. This time from South Africa and Namibia following the Benguela and South Atlantic Currents 3000 km to St Helena.

After a month of sailing, Khulula dropped her anchor at Porto San Antonia on Fernando de Noronha, a UNESCO protected national park off the coast of Brazil. While on Noronha, local researchers educated the Oceangybe team on the effects of plastic pollution to the turtles, dolphins and protected mangroves of the island. During 10km beach clean]up walk, OceanGybe members discovered plastics from all over the world, illustrating the fact that due to their equatorial location, Fernando becomes the resting place for garbage from both the northern and southern hemispheres, as well as the eastern and western Atlantic.

Recently the OceanGybe has also teamed up with Dr. Hideshige Takada at the International Pellet Watch Program based out of the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. Dr. Takadafs lab analyzes types and quantities of organic pollutants that are trapped in plastic pellets as an indicator of ocean pollution. Collections of PET plastic pellets will be sent to Hideshige to analyze as we continue to travel the worldfs oceans and visit its beaches.

After sailing approximately 40 000 ocean kmfs and performing garbage studies in 16 different countries, the OceanGybe teams is beginning to create a sufficient database of studies that demonstrates the trends of garbage movement in the ocean. These studies, along with our own first]hand accounts of beaches, presents an irrefutable body of evidence as to the polluted state of our oceans; a global problem requiring global co]operation.

OceanGybe in the Media:
Zigzag , The Great Garbage Patch

Sail Magazine Article

International Pellet Watch Program

Global TV News Spotlight

Palama Metsi Surf Day

SBC Surf Website

Surfer's Path Website

Wavescape; Surfing in South Africa

Sitka Surfboards Website

OceanGybe is a global sailing expedition to explore the remote coastlines of the world, in search of garbage, adventure and ocean waves. We aspire to bring awareness to the vast tracts of undocumented ocean pollution that afflicts these coastlines and affects the peoples who depend on them for survival. It is an expedition to promote change. Change in both the direction of this great planet, towards a more sustainable and aware future, but also in ourselves. Visit: