Spending 309 non-stop days at sea is bound to change you, and Matt Rutherford, first sailor to complete a non-stop, single-handed voyage around North and South America, returned to the land determined to do something about the terrible pollution in our oceans. So he's just crossed the Pacific again for this new quest.
Matt Rutherford examining the catch - not so bad
In April he set off with field scientist Nicole Trenholm on a nonstop sailing research voyage from Oakland, California, to Fukuoka, Japan. By deploying a high-speed trawl net off the side of their 29-foot Harbor 29 sailing boat while underway, the two sailors embarked on a continent-to-continent survey of plastic marine debris in the world’s oceans. Now, they've done it.
Route across the Pacific
Soon after Matt returned from his circumnavigation he immediately started working on starting a non-profit organization that would help scientists better understand the problems facing our oceans. By creating Ocean Research Project, Matt planned to educate people about marine issues and 'give back to our earths oceans'.
Matt Rutherford arrives showing his barnacles from over 300 days of continuous sailing around the Americas, including the North West Passage and rounding Cape Horn
The specially designed net has limited drag. It scoops up small pieces of plastic trash and plastic debris floating on the surface of the Pacific. Now that the trip is complete, the debris is to be cataloged and studied at onshore labs to help better understand the impact of plastic debris on marine life and on human health.
The 'expedition' vessel was a W.D. Schock Harbor 29 day-sailor designed primarily for inshore waters, but the boat he sailed around the Americas solo was even smaller. While the two hardy sailors allowed around 70 days for the voyage, they have completed it in under 60. Starting late had put them into the beginning of the typhoon season, but they have weathered the journey well.
Nicole - it wasn't all work
Events in recent years, including the 2011 Japanese tsunami and the ongoing search for the missing Malaysian jetliner, have brought new attention to the problem of marine debris, both large and small.
Ocean Research Project is committed to serving the ocean research community. Their mission is to provide data that explores man’s relationship with our planet’s oceans. For more information, visit www.oceanresearchproject.org
There'll be more images to come of Matt and Nicole's arrival