I’ve been Hawaii for a nearly three months now and I have been trying to understand and process a few things. First of all, I have been trying to understand Hawaii itself, as a location and subject of Apparent Winds. I have also been working towards a clear understanding as to where our mission stands with all of the changes this past year has brought. Finally, I have been processing where I stand in all of it.
Apparent Winds has been sailing for over a year. Hawaii was never a part of our route. What was intended to be a speedy circumnavigation, has turned into a deep dive in the Pacific. Barring any other major unexpected events, at the end of our 24 month voyage, we will have spent 20 of those months here in the Pacific Ocean. Although our route and itinerary have changed significantly, our mission has remained clear. Now, after 15 months, I feel more strongly than ever about the importance of this project.
We departed to learn what people are doing around the world to preserve their/our environment and their culture. We set out to learn from others and to see first-hand, what the planet looked like out there. Since the start of our travels, it has become increasingly clear how similar we all are. We share many common threads through the triumphs and the follies we all experience in our interpersonal lives as well as in our communities as a whole. The global pandemic has provided the opportunity for us all to see more of these similarities. It is clear that humankind has created many of the environmental and, of course, social problems we face, but we also have the ability to solve these issues.
The environmental issues we face are far more obvious and honestly, worse, than I had assumed. The overt problem is waste; plastic waste in the ocean and on land being the easiest to spot. I thought we would have left a lot of the plastic pollution issues behind when we left the Caribbean Sea, but the reality is that the Pacific Ocean allows for a large portion of waste to diffuse and then either collect on shorelines or in oceanic currents. The waste is there. In fact, I am more concerned than I’ve ever been that I might run into commercial fishing nets or other garbage in the ocean. It’s a real concern for safe navigation let alone a concern for the natural environment. I will never forget walking the coral shoreline of Tahanea, an uninhabited and extremely remote atoll in the Tuamotus. Despite the physical distance from the rest of the developed world, the shore was covered in plastic buckets, shoes, toys, fishing gear, bottles, etc.
Changing weather patterns may seem less obvious, but there hasn’t been a single place that we traveled where people aren’t outspoken about the changes in weather patterns. I hear time and time again about how rainfall and seasonal temperatures have shifted dramatically and about how strange and unpredictable the weather has been in the past 10 years. Ocean warming and the rise of ocean acidity are among the more covert yet critical issues we continue to learn about and discuss with people we meet along the way.
With all of the challenges we face, we can still find refuge and hope. Throughout this journey we have met countless people who are working to help change our bad habits, to clean up our waste, to educate both young and old about the impacts we have on our natural world. There are movements all over the world that are working to make our planet a better place. These are intelligent and hardworking people everywhere who, in practice, share the same mission with one another. Many of the initiatives we have seen are based deeply in independent communities. Often times, it is a sense of pride and cultural identity that give energy to these movements. There are many similar ideas and methods being practiced in order to make positive change, but there are also so many nuanced characteristics that give each community it’s own cultural identity. All of this gives me energy for the work that we are doing.
I am energized to share these ideas and connect people around the world. The challenges we face are often overwhelming, but when the problems are compared with all of the solutions that are being implemented, there is an obvious and reasonable hope. Apparent Winds set off to sail around the world for two years to learn, yet we have only seen a thin sliver of what the sphere of the world has to share. Now, I want to do more. The importance of sharing, communicating and supporting these efforts has become much more profound to me. With a restored sense stability and personal ability, I am working to make the most of what is left of this voyage while planning what comes next. I am still learning about Hawaii, but I have learned that this is an ideal place to gain inspiration for what humanity is capable of.
The white bits of plastic almost blend in, but the greens blues and reds give away the whole lot… Common place along shorelines throughout the pacific.