Slicing through the fog

Having set sail from Valparaiso on Saturday, Race for Water has set a course for her next destination, the port of  Talcahuano, at the gateway to Concepcion, a city located to the South of Chile. Though the previous passage will go down in history as one of the slowest the current delivery, though short, is proving to be rather uncomfortable since the crew has had no visibility since the start. A peasouper of a fog is hounding them…

Jean-Marc Normant, captain of the ship: “We have fog on the menu! Making headway without seeing in front of you isn’t very comfortable! We have the equivalent of a boat length of visibility. Fortunately, the radar enables us to detect the majority of the obstacles and the GPS-linked electronic cartography indicates our position and our movement. These means of navigation have radically changed the sailor’s lot. Paper charts and the sextant are no longer much in use so in some ways it’s out of enjoyment that we get out the pencil and the protractor to position the boat. :-)”

Valparaiso the Mythical, Valparaiso the Desired.

Anne-Laure Le Duff, second in command: “It took us 21 days to make Valparaiso the Mythical. Through to the very last moment, we called it Valparaiso the Desired. Even whilst it was just a few miles ahead of us, it was still refusing our advances. We had to sit it out for a night to the North of the Concon headland, some 7NM away, before we were able to moor the boat in the military port. Autumnal weather scooped us up in the early hours of the morning and our arrival took place in the rain. It was with undisguised glee that the land-based and sea-based teams got back together. It has to be said that we’d played hard-to-get too due to the rather inclement weather conditions.
The stopover lived up to expectations. It was intense, with over 350 people climbing aboard in less than a week, children, students, local decision-makers, representatives of Rapa Nui and rounding off in style with the President of Chile himself, who honoured us with his presence.
The surroundings were extraordinary: from military frigates to a 300-metre container ship, from sea lions to pelicans, from the cerros or hills to the snow-capped mountains.
It was highly emotional: the chance to hook back up again with the big R4W family, the new encounters, the beauty and the light illuminating this landscape at the end of the world.
This week just flew by and we set off again as tired as we’d arrived, but full of energy (as much in our batteries as in our minds), a smile on our lips.
The last hugging and kissing on the dock, the warps slipped off the bollards, a sea lion swimming alongside us, a blast on the foghorn and here we are, sailing again to our greatest delight!
Four days at sea with a select group and one guest… the fog!”

Presidential visit: the Race for Water team welcomes aboard the Chilean President Sébastian Piñera

On Saturday 16 June, in Valparaiso, a symbolic meeting took place aboard the Race for Water catamaran. In fact, the President of Chile, Sébastian Piñera, accompanied by five of his ministers and members of the Rapa Nui authorities had the chance to discover an innovative project for the Easter Islands with the President of the Race for Water Foundation, Marco Simeoni, and Gunter Pauli, father of the Blue Economy and the President of the ZERI Foundation. 

To guarantee self-sufficiency in terms of energy, water management and the recovery of waste on the most remote island in the world, such is the challenge our two Foundations have set themselves for 2020!

Relive the presidential visit in photos.

    

 

 

Workshop à Valparaiso : considering the waste management problem 

Thirty-four Chilean environment specialists responded to the Race for Water Foundation’s call to participate in the “Plastic Waste to Energy” workshop organised aboard the vessel in Valparaiso on 12 June.

Exchange to make progress

If all the people present at this event are experts in their field, then at some point they have all needed to exchange and compare ideas. That’s the aim of these meetings,” explains Camille Rollin, specialist of the Plastic Waste to Energy projects for the Race for Water Foundation. At each of the vessel’s stopover destinations, the young woman has joined the crew to organise and host these encounters. “It’s exciting and very enriching for our cause, the preservation of the oceans, to know about and understand the geographical, historical and environmental constraints of every country we visit. We’re all aware of the need to preserve our environments. In terms of the way to achieve that and the means put in place, everyone has their own idea. Understanding all that, enables us to offer concrete solutions like the technology developed with our partner ETIA, which promises to transform plastic waste into energy, giving value to plastic and providing a new source of remuneration for street collectors.”

Various interventions

During this workshop, 34 protagonists involved in environmental matters gathered together to tackle the different topics, which were as varied as their profiles. The local context was discussed initially.


Mr Pablo Fernandez, in charge of the issue of waste for the Circular Economy advisory board of the Ministry of the Environment opened the discussion by presenting the new law stretching out the responsibility of producers and the encouragement to recycle. Its aim is to reduce the production of waste and push for reuse, recycling and others types of recovery.

Though Chile is among the countries, which produce the least amount of waste with 1.1kg of waste per person/day, it ranks poorly in the processing of the latter as its main means of management is the often non-controlled dumping in landfill sites.

Mr Aldo ARIAS, Director of the Swiss company Fromm in Chile continued the discussion by pointing out that the system for collecting waste in Chile isn’t efficient. Indeed, whilst his business involves converting plastic bottles into strapping for products on pallets, he cannot find enough raw materials in Chile. That’s not to say that this raw material, namely plastic bottles, is lacking. “No, it’s just that this type of waste doesn’t reach us as it’s not collected. Just 14% of the bottles come from Chile! For the rest, we’re compelled to import them from Ecuador, Peru, Germany, Colombia, Bolivia and Argentina. It’s nonsense!” And it’s worth noting that this is not in line with Fromm’s wishes, but the local authorities have no plans to come up with another solution in the immediate future.


Jorge SCHARP, the mayor of Valparaiso discussed the unique topography of the city of Valparaiso, which is built on hills, and the poor state of repair of its fleet of bin lorries and the lack of means available to manage the situation properly, which is just one of the subjects to be dealt with…

In Chile, environmental awareness is slowly filtering into the minds of some inhabitants, but there is still a huge amount of work to be done since on a cultural level Chileans are still used to throwing things away with no concern for waste management.

“Education is key. People need to know how to sort, recycle and understand the impact of their actions. Ideally, there would even be a law in the educational programme that introduces the concept of such training,” says Camille Rollin before rounding off the morning reminding those in attendance that “There’s a state of emergency” and that to face up to the challenges of the 21st century, there must be efforts made on every side. “Naturally, we’re thinking first about regulations, but if we want to combat plastic pollution of the oceans effectively, the reduction of the waste generated by every one of us is the best possible solution. It is essential that manufacturers, and packaging producers in particular, assume more responsibility too. It is imperative that they consider the end of their products’ life when they’re designing them. Finally, the Plastic Waste to Energy solution put forward by the Foundation enables a form of waste management, which is adapted to the different local contexts. This small and medium capacity technical solution favours waste management and decentralised energy production, which are recognised as being efficient.”

Race for Water arrives safe and sound in Valparaiso!

On the morning of Sunday 10 June, the Race for Water vessel tied up alongside in the military port of Valparaiso, thus bringing to a close the seventh oceanic leg of her circumnavigation of the globe at the service of the oceans. Using the wind, the sun and the ocean, the 100-tonne catamaran powered solely by renewable energies took some 21 days to make the journey from Peru to Chile. Gathered together around Marco Simeoni, President of the Race for Water Foundation, the whole team, with the support of the Chilean Navy, Agunsa and the Swiss Embassy, partners of the stopover, have begun a packed week, coloured by a series of encounters and highlights.

Navigation and energy management

Jean-Marc Normant, Technical Director and captain of the Race for Water catamaran gives us the low-down on the sailing conditions during the passage from Lima in Peru to Valparaiso in Chile, a delivery trip that was a little longer than planned and required some special attention regarding the energy management.

JM Normant: “Conditions were favourable at the start with a little sunshine, which enabled us to make headway at a reasonable speed. Following that though, a thick wad of cloud coloured play and we were punching into both the tide and the wind. We gradually had to reduce the boat’s speed to manage our energy as best we could since the solar panels were only charging a very small amount. On the last two days the wind shifted round until it was pushing us along at 6 knots! That was an incredible sensation for us after making headway at just two knots for the previous 18 days. It’s also important to note that there was one considerable asset: hydrogen! Thanks to the electricity it provided us with, we were able to get through a barrier of cloud without too much of an issue. In terms of the kite, we went about the exercise of setting it up in some boisterous conditions bordering on 30 knots without actually launching it. Indeed, unfamiliar with how the system handles with a lower voltage than usual we didn’t take the risk. Ultimately, we’re not too surprised by these conditions or our slight delay as we’re here in the midst of winter in the southern hemisphere”.

LEARN – SHARE – ACT

Now that the boat is alongside, the crew is getting down to work on its missions to represent and raise awareness about the preservation of the Oceans alongside the ACT and logistics teams.

During the press conference, which took place today aboard the boat, our stopover partners took the floor:

Edgar RÖDIG, Ambassador of Switzerland to Chile: “The Oceans cover 71% of the surface of our planet and their pollution is a problem, which affects the whole world. Switzerland, despite being a State without any direct access to the sea, is committed to preserving the Oceans and working on solutions to prevent plastics ending up in the ocean. For all these reasons, the Swiss Embassy is proud to support the Race for Water Odyssey, a highly important, innovative and sustainable project.”

Representant of Chilean Navy : “The Race for Water Odyssey’s arrival in Chile is very important to us in terms of both its environmental and technological aspects. It is contributing a great deal to raising awareness about plastic pollution among citizens, opinion leaders and young generations.

In this regard, the Chilean Navy, recognising that the sea is a key factor in the development of the country, has been working for over 10 years to promote environmental awareness through activities such as educational exhibitions in schools and colleges and an international day to clean up the beaches across the country, which is something that thousands of volunteers actively participate in throughout the various regions that make up the country.

Within the context of future challenges, the Chilean Navy’s Maritime Authority plans to obtain an inventory via the development of a data collection monitoring programme, which will enable them to gauge the scale of the problem and have a standardised methodology. At the same time and over the course of this coming year, it has planned to launch a marine waste management plan hinged around two areas: environmental education and the sampling of marine waste and microplastics.”

The low-down on the week’s programme:

Monday 11 June:
11:00 hrs: Press conference
15:00 to 17:00 hrs: Visits from secondary school students
16:00 to 17:00 hrs: Conference at the Santa Maria University with Marco Simeoni andCamille Rollin

Tuesday 12 June
10:00 to 13:00 hrs: “Plastic Waste to Energy” workshop
15:00 to 17:00 hrs: Visit from the public authorities and International Institutions

Wednesday 13 June
09:00 to 11:00 hrs: Visits from schoolchildren
11:00 to 12:00 hrs: Valpo Surf Project (ONG)
14:00 to 17:00 hrs: Visit from the public authorities and International Institutions

Thursday 14 June
11:00 hrs: SuizAgua conference in the presence of Camille Rollin

Late afternoon on Saturday 16 June or the morning of Sunday 17 June (according to the weather)
Race for Water’s departure for Concepcion

Upcoming:
Technical pit-stop in Concepcion from 22 June to 30 July
Stopover in the Juan Fernandez Islands from 3 to 8 August
Stopover on Easter Island from 31 August to 9 September

Happy World Oceans Day!

The inspiration behind this World Oceans Day? Plastic pollution. A set of themes at the very core of current international concerns, the United Nations is honouring it this #WorldOceansDay. The Race for Water Odyssey teams, currently in Chile, are rallying together for their cause.

Today, 8 June, plastic pollution has been set as the main theme for this World Oceans Day. This decision by the United Nations aims to draw the attention of the widest possible audience to the devastating effects of this large-scale pollution, as well as encourage the implementation of practical solutions. These two areas of focus are something that the Race for Water Foundation has been defending for over ten years. The nub of its missions include participation in numerous scientific studies, campaigns to raise awareness and the promotion of sustainable technological solutions to recover plastic waste on land and prevent it from reaching the oceans. This vast programme is being rolled out during a five-year odyssey around the world that began in France in April 2017. Together with the teams from the Race for Water Odyssey 2017-2021, currently in Chile, join the movement thanks to #WorldOceansDay. Together, we have the ability to make our voices heard in order to implement tomorrow’s solutions.

Our oceans, our planet’s equilibrium

The blue planet is a miracle, which has still never been observed elsewhere in the universe. The source of life on earth, the oceans are the guardians of today’s biodiversity and regulators of the global climate. Crucial to the overall operation of our planet, the links between the land and the seas are the result of a fine balance that is as subtle as it is extraordinary. However, the latter is having to face up to a threat that is even greater than it is recent: plastic pollution.

Let’s transform a global problem into more lasting solutions

Floating plastic bags, litter from straws or invisible and harmful microplastics, whether they are at the centre of the oceans, in the sand on our beaches or even in the stomach of marine mammals, have a major impact on every environment. “For over a year, we have been criss-crossing the seas and meeting the populations dotted along the coast and on islands, who are feeling the full force of plastic pollution. Very often, the latter are powerless in the face of the sheer scale of this disaster in terms of both ecology and health. Our aim is to understand the local issues and assist with putting in place an innovative economic, social and environmental model via the use of a sustainable technological solution, enabling plastic waste to be converted into energy. The income obtained through the sale of this energy enables collectors of rubbish to be paid, thus encouraging plastic waste to be collected on land, before it reaches the water. A genuine complement to recycling solutions, these compact and containerised recovery units can be speedily implemented right up close to populations, thus limiting problems related to transport and logistics. In short, the high-temperature pyrolysis process used for energy conversion enables mixed plastics to be processed, facilitating their collection still further. In this way, we hope that not one single type of plastic waste is left littering the countryside on the pretext that it cannot be recycled or converted,” explains Marco Simeoni, President of the Race for Water Foundation.

An ambassador vessel and a harbinger of hope

Making full use of a truly iconic vessel, the Race for Water Odyssey teams have gone out to meet with whole populations in a bid to raise awareness about the issue with plastics, as well as offer them suitable technological solutions. “Our atypical vessel, powered by a mix of renewable energies, encourages people to notice us so we can then exchange ideas with the widest possible audience. During our last stopover in Peru, we met business leaders, political decision-makers as well as local NGOs and we’re in the process of putting together a team aimed at implementing a project that demonstrates our value chain for plastic waste, in an area where local populations need it most,” explains Marco Simeoni.

When the vessel makes landfall in Valparaiso, Chile, on 9 June, the Race for Water teams are once again rallying together, keen to get out and meet up with this new population face to face in order to understand where they’re at with this issue so together we can think about the solutions that need to be put in place, whether it be as a consumer, a government or a manufacturer. “The very recent law prohibiting the use of plastic bags gives us hope that things are heading in the right direction!” concludes the President of the Foundation.

To mark World Oceans Day, here’s a flashback of the scientific mission that forms the focus of the work carried out by 6 European researchers from the EPHEMARE project, which we welcomed aboard Race for Water in Guadeloupe in September 2017.

Jérome Cachot, Bénédicte Morin (University of Bordeaux in France) and Fransesco Regoli (Marche Polytechnic University in Italy) are working tirelessly to protect the oceans from plastic pollution.

This documentary  was filmed by 3 European cameramen from Markenfilm Crossing, with the support of our mediaman Peter Charaf.

It is shot in 24 languages within the various centres that makes up the European Parliament in Brussels, as well as in Berlin, Ljubiljana, Strasbourg, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Paris…

Happy viewing!

(c) Parlamentarium Multimedia Content http://www.europarl.europa.eu)

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Wave-piercing…

This Wednesday 6 June, Race for Water is entering the northern limit of Coquimbo Bay, a bay dotted with numerous islands of all manner of sizes. 

Jean-Marc Normant: “The majority of them are fairly high and protected to the West by steep and rather unappealing cliffs. From Race for Water we can see them whiten in the foam. There’s not that much breeze, around 20 knots, but a good swell.
Result: our ‘wave-piercing’ floats on which our pod sits have transformed into submarines.
The seaweed is beginning to colonise virtually the whole deck to port and starboard!!! It’s impossible to do a clean-up at sea so we’ll wait until we’re in the shelter of the port of Valparaiso.”

The catamaran and her crew are set to reach their destination over the course of the day on Saturday 9 June.

As the song goes “We’re bound for Valparaiso” but…

As the song goes “We’re bound for Valparaiso” but…

“It’s a bit laborious, still punching into the wind with cloud cover. The forecasts are giving us sun today and tomorrow, However, after these two favourable days, the wind will really pick up, still due South at 30 knots. At that point, we’ll be level with the southern tip of Coquimbo Bay.”

With accompaniment above Race for Water: “We’re crossing tacks with a few albatrosses, these great travelling birds, their planing unequally as they skim the waves, beautifully making the most of the swell to surf… The coastline is staggering, with its genuine sand-coloured mountains dropping away into the rough seas of the Pacific.”

“Obviously it’s not an area, which our solar-powered boat can frequent due to the lack of sunshine, but at the same time, the landscape and the fauna we’re being treated to are so special and majestic that, quite simply, we’re very happy to be here.”

Jean-Marc Normant, ship’s captain.

First test of the Plastisphère protocol aboard Race for Water

Making for the military port of Valparaiso, this week our sailors successfully completed a first “Plastisphère” protocol test as entrusted by Linda Amaral Zettler and Erik Zettler of the NIOZ. In this way, they’re ready to take samples of the plastics left in their care between the coasts of Chile and French Polynesia from late July. This initial test enabled them to ensure that all the elements are in place so they can follow this protocol to the letter once the catamaran leaves the South American continent.

Kim van Arkel, the Foundation’s scientific adviser explains to us how the 6 men and women that make up the crew on-board divided up the tasks to follow the letter of the protocol.

“Anne-Laure, our second in command, is transformed into the scientific manager to roll out the tested protocol,

Jean-Marc is at the vessel’s controls and Basile reports the vessel’s position and other data that may prove useful to understanding the environment, such as the surface water temperature at the start and end of the sample taking.

Anne is our Manta net launch expert, particularly since our previous sea missions with the scientists from JPI Oceans, who were hosted aboard in Bermuda, Cuba and Guadeloupe.


The Manta net is so-called as it looks like a Manta ray with its mouth open. In general, it’s launched from the boat to pick up particles floating on the surface of the water (photo 08-22-DSC_4315).

As for Margaux, our new steward, she has been transformed into a special offshore correspondent and has created this photo reportage, which enables us to visualise the test as if we were there!

Once the Manta net is retrieved, that’s not the end of the procedure! When it’s back on-board you need to rinse it with sea water to loosen all the particles and microorganisms from the fabric (photo 1), recover the collector (the tip of the Manta net, which contains the samples of microplastics taken at the surface) (photo 2) and carefully analyse the contents of the collector. (photo 3).

    

Next, using tongs that have been sterilised beforehand (photo 25-51-DSC_4451), you have to once again delicately take as big a sample as possible of a plastic particle (photo 28-54-DSC_4466 + 30-57-DSC_4472). The data is written down in the log to keep a written trace of the first “Plastisphère” protocol test carried out aboard Race for Water. (photo 33-62-DSC_4484 or 4487). The sample is finally placed in the freezer at -20°C. Once all the samples have been taken they’ll be sent to the NIOZ for analysis.

The main aim of the project being to identify the organisms which have associated themselves with these plastics, the trickiest element of this operation is to ensure the revealing DNA of these attached microorganisms does not deteriorate as this is of particular interest to Linda and Erik within the context of this Plastisphère project”.

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“Hi from South Pacific!”

Having put in a long tack to get closer to the coast, Race for Water is now heading South, hugging the shore and negotiating a heavy swell, which is rocking her at best… The low-down from the second in command, Anne-Laure Le Duff.

“It’s been 12 days since we left Peru. We’re into the rhythm of the open ocean, the watches split up the days and nights, the swell rocks us or shakes us and the wind blows at varying degrees of intensity according to the days. We’re slowly but surely making headway towards Valparaiso.

It’s been a studious week. The girls have donned their painting overalls, Jean-Marc has been transformed into a plumber and Basile has slipped on his electronics engineer cap. In addition to the boat-related work, the captain has concocted a few unexpected safety exercises, the aim being to train, improve and test the existing procedures.

At the start of the delivery trip, two man-overboard exercises were carried out.

This week the topic has been Fire. The first was in the workshop. Like a shot, each person took up position. Two members of the crew kitted themselves out in fire-fighting garb with fire extinguishers, another coordinated the fire-fighting, another remained on watch on the bridge and a third prepared to lend a strong helping hand in case the fire took hold.  The captain put an end to the exercise and then a debriefing followed, drawing up all the possible scenarios and the various corresponding actions.

A few days later, it was in an area of the boat up forward that a fire was announced. This time the scenario was different. Here too, everyone knows what they have to do. We test the procedure put in place and subsequently discuss its weaknesses and strengths. We go about the exercise calmly and with the utmost seriousness. The debriefing takes place on the bridge and everyone reviews the event. In this way, we share everyone’s feedback and if need be we can readjust the roles and actions.

Safety exercises must be carried out on a regular basis as they help you to get a good handle on your role and the equipment used and enable you to hone your automatic reflexes, which will be decisive in a real-life situation. A well-trained crew is a crew that will keep its cool when the time comes. Indeed, as our captain says “train hard, fight easy”. There will be others then and they’ll be different types: Man overboard, abandon ship, a leak and a fire in other compartments.

Between daily life aboard, the work and the exercises, this journey is offering us some special moments.

For some hours, we’ve been making our way along the Chilean coast. It’s a gripping spectacle. Ochre-coloured mountains, without any vegetation, dropping away into the greeny-blue of the ocean. The contrast is breathtaking. It’s a wild, hard and magnificent landscape. Out on the water, the birds play with the swell, skimming the surface with the tips of their wings, enjoying following the wave. Contemplative souls get lost in this very beautiful immensity. We’re recording these images on our retinas, aware of just how lucky we are.

Meantime, the boat is a merry-go-round on a rollercoaster. The powerful swell is causing her to pitch like never before and suffice to say that nobody is walking straight aboard anymore and it’s nothing to do with the Pisco!

The sun is setting and the night watches come round again. We’re continuing southwards, happy to be at sea.”