Cuba’s stopover

For the past three days, Race for Water has been in Havana, Cuba. Even in that short amount of time, we’ve welcomed lots of visitors on board—from school children, to government Ministers, to local representatives. They’ve all learned about our mission to preserve the oceans and prevent plastics pollution.

We call Race for Water’s mission an Odyssey of Hope, and it’s definitely earned that name. We’ve even created a new workshop that explains the Race for Water Foundation’s plan for reclaiming waste plastics, and this information is aimed at the general public. To prevent plastics pollution from harming marine life, we must see today’s trash as tomorrow’s valuable resource.

The photos above show Race for Water’s first few days in Cuba!

Eric Loizeau, ambassadeur de la fondation Race For Water, embarque à Cuba.

Après une première mission à bord du trimaran MOD 70 Race For Water en mai 1985 entre Valparaiso et Hawaï, j’ai le plaisir de retrouver une partie de l’équipage à bord de cet extraordinaire vaisseau spatial (c’est à quoi il me fait penser au premier abord), révolutionnaire dans sa conception et propulsé uniquement par le solaire, l’hydrogène et l’aérien, un modèle unique de transition énergétique réussie.
En tant que marin et alpiniste, je suis évidemment impliqué (et passionné) dans tout ce qui concerne la protection des océans et de l’eau d’une façon plus générale. Convaincu de la nécessité de partager mon implication et celle de toute l’équipe de Race For Water le plus largement possible, je vais profiter de mon passage sur notre bateau pour collaborer avec le Journal du Dimanche et France Télévision et envoyer régulièrement des reportages sur cette mission.
Ainsi, chaque dimanche à partir du 6 aout et jusqu’à la fin de ce même mois, je délivrerai au Journal du Dimanche des extraits de mon carnet de bord illustré de photos et tous les lundi et mardi un reportage vidéo destiné à la rédaction de France Info TV.
Mon départ pour Cuba est prévu le 2 aout, j’ai grand hâte de partir et vous ne pouvez imaginer mon excitation à l’idée de vivre de nouvelles aventures maritimes en compagnie de l’équipe Race For Water.
A bientôt sur notre Blog.
Eric Loizeau

Back at sea: Anne Le Chantoux checks in   

 

After 47 days in Bermuda, we’re back at sea. First mate Annabelle Boudinot rotated off the ship for a well-deserved two-month break, and Annelore Le Duff is now on board to replace her. A sense of peace and calm has settled over Race for Water, under the wide-open ocean skies. I must admit that the feeling of it being just the five of us is a little odd. We have our own cabins; it feels like a family, and our days are punctuated by the routine we keep on board the ship. Our Bermuda stopover already feels so far away, but I can’t stop thinking about it. What an incredible experience, with the America’s Cup, giving tours for school groups, meeting local politicians, and our scientific activities. We definitely weren’t bored!

E D U C A T I N G   T H E   P U B L I C   I N   B E R M U D A

A highlight of our stopover was the seminar we presented at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. For the entire week before the presentation, we spent every evening preparing: making a slide show, choosing videos, deciding who would talk about which topic, and what posters we should bring in order to raise awareness about plastics pollution in the oceans. When the day came, Quartermaster Olivier Rouvillois was in charge of taking pictures and video and posting to social media: he was running around like crazy! Logistics and stopovers coordinator Luce Molinier took care of the information table, and I (Anne) tested the microphones while Annabelle (Boudinot) and Engineer Martin Gavériaux took turns practicing their parts of the presentation. It was impressive: the Institute gave us a room that held more than 150 people. We barely had time to catch our breath when we were out on stage, with the projectors running.

 

Annabelle started things off like a pro—she described Race for Water and our mission to combat pollution in the oceans. She did a great job, then it was my turn. With all of the stress of the presentation, I misspoke and called the America’s Cup “the Bermuda’s Cup.” Everyone started laughing, and that helped me relax. Afterward, we took questions from the audience. Tons of people wanted to ask something, and the person with the microphone was running from row to row. But finally we had to wrap things up because the questions had gone on for so long!

P U B L I C   S U P P O R T ,   A N D   A   N E W   R E A L I Z A T I O N

Our Bermuda stopover showed me that the local populations support our mission more than I dared to hope for. They’re aware of plastics pollution in the oceans, and of the threat it represents to marine life and to humans—they’re excited to talk to us about it. Race for Water has become a magnet and a gathering place for people from diverse backgrounds who care about this issue. And we hope that they’ll continue to work together after we leave.

 

Out at sea, we’re all struck by the reality of pollution in the oceans. Between Bermuda and Cuba, the ocean water is dirty and we’ve seen lots of floating debris. But we’ve made lemonade of out lemons—we killed two birds with one stone by doing a man overboard drill that allowed us to collect a bunch of floating plastic bottles.

Anne

 

Checking in with the EPHEMARE scientists

The scientists from the EPHEMARE project are now back at their labs. On board Race for Water, they made full use of the ship’s scientific equipment and facilities; we recently checked in with them, to get their initial impressions from their intense week of work in Bermuda and their collaboration with the Race for Water crew.

“The living space on board Race for Water, with its spacious and modular living spaces, is confortable and convenient. Scientific manoeuvres are facilitated with the use of floats, the Zodiac and the platforms were a big help in our scientific work. And the on-board lab is well suited for doing an immediate analysis of our samples!” reports Christelle, from the University of Bordeaux’s EPOC laboratory. With scientists on board, Race for Water is a different place altogether. Anne, Race for Water vessel’s mate, tells us, “On board, we have scientific instruments, diving equipment, and a Manta net. When we’re hosting scientists, we do everything we can to help them do high-quality studies, as easily as possible and in a welcoming environment.”

 

The EPHEMARE research program is spearheaded by the pan-European JPI Oceans project (Joint Programming Initiative for Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans). It analyzes the toxic effect of microplastics on marine ecosystems. To further this analysis, the researchers took numerous samples in different coastal ecosystems, to better understand how microplastics are distributed in the ocean and how they accumulate in:

-Beach sediment

-Shallow marine sediment, five to eight meters deep, sampled with a Van Veen grab

-On the water’s surface, sampled with a Manta net and a plankton net

 

While the scientists were in Bermuda, they took samples on the beaches, while scuba diving and snorkeling in shallow water to collect organisms and sediment, and in the open ocean to sample the water column. On board Race for Water, the scientists dissected the sea cucumbers that they found in situ, to collect their digestive tubes. Back at their labs, they will then analyze the effects of microplastics pollution. By collaborating with Anne Hyde from Keep Bermuda Beautiful and Dr. Struan “Robbie” Smith, the European researchers also had the chance to visit the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science’s (BIOS) labs, where they talked to local scientists. They received invaluable on-site help from Philippe Max Rouja, a Bermudan scientific researcher. Christelle says, “Thanks to the excellent help we received from the Race for Water crew and the resources on the ship itself, we were able to sample the three zones that we had identified, and we’re going back to the lab with a lot of samples and data to analyze! It was also a great adventure from the personal point of view!” She adds, “We networked with researchers in Bermuda who are also working on plastics pollution. Those kinds of conversations are very important for us, and they help us push our research forward.”

 

In a few weeks, Race for Water will host a new scientific project in Cuba, including the European WEATHER-MIC project and researchers from Cuba—it’s sure to be a productive mix of people! We’ll report back soon.

International experts discuss plastics pollution: issues and solutions   

 

For the past week, scientists from the EPHEMARE (Ecotoxicological effects of microplastics in marine ecosystems) project have been on board Race for Water, studying ocean pollution. Hailing from England, Bermuda, the U.S., and Europe, they are a true team of experts. The Race for Water Foundation saw this visit as a chance to hold a broad-based discussion about pollution in our oceans. It’s certainly a hot topic for our guests and crew, who spent more than four hours in deep conversation, rigorously analyzing the issues and exploring a variety of viewpoints. This meeting of the minds provided a catalyst for further action on behalf of the oceans.

As the day of the colloquium dawned, energy engineer Martin Gavériaux sat on the solar-panel deck, waiting. Inside the yacht, everything was ready: flat-screen displays, video conferencing equipment, and the entire crew was ready to pitch in. Quartermaster Olivier Rouvillois was on photography duty, First Mate Annabelle Boudinot was at the microphone, Scientific Advisor Kim Van Arkel was on hand to provide support, Project Manager Luce Molinier handled logistics and organization, and Offshore Captain Pascal Morizot and Mate Anne Le Chantoux were in charge of security. All that was missing were the guests. A few minutes later, some 20 people came on board and took their seats in the on-board meeting room. Everyone was quiet, as the colloquium began.

 

First, Anne Hyde, Executive Director of Keep Bermuda Beautiful, spoke about the various activities in the Bermuda Marine Debris Taskforce’s portfolio: beach cleaning, school-based educational programs, trash art, quantitative studies on Bermuda’s beaches, and new initiatives. The attendees listened and took notes. Then, local leaders and experts involved in plastics pollution prevention spoke.

 

 

Martin Gavériaux then presented the results of the scientific study conducted during the first Race for Water expedition in 2015. The team found plastics pollution literally everywhere: on every island they visited. There is a real need for solutions, and that’s the inspiration behind the current Race for Water expedition; it’s an odyssey of hope. Next it was Annabelle’s turn to talk about the yacht itself, its on-board systems and the labs and other equipment that the scientists have on board.

 

Annabelle was followed by a young researcher from the EPHEMARE project, Camila Carteny. She told the group, “We’re here to study Bermuda’s waters, because they’re an excellent representation of the situation in the North Atlantic gyre, and the research was launched in 2015.” The presentation was detailed and instructive, including specific information about the protocols used. Attendees asked: When will the results be published? Will they have any influence on political and local decisions about plastics pollution and marine conservation? Scientists from different institutions challenged each other, learned about their colleagues’ research, and envisioned collaborating in the future. On board Race for Water, the Foundation’s dream was coming true: global stakeholders coming together to open a dialogue and take action. Without a doubt, this meeting left everyone with a strong desire to work together, and an equally strong desire to work on legislation to decrease the environmental burden of plastics pollution in the oceans.

These words last only a moment; and for that moment, we all see ourselves as advocates for a clean ocean… The Race for Water Foundation’s goal is to spark sustainable, ongoing actions and discussions, so we’ve created a platform called WGE and made it available to the colloquium participants. It’s a single point of contact where scientists, local associations and governments can interact, to organize local actions and share content.