Friday, February 24, 2023

Day 10 – The Final Countdown!

 

 

What to say about today… we could start with the sunrise, but I was still in bed after a little too many belly-laughs with the crew last night.  We could also tell you about the steam from New Harbour to Louisa River. The sea which had calmed itself after the heavy swell, the pods of dolphins as we cruised around the south-west and the rock faces which left us awe-struck. But best we get back to the business at hand; cleaning rubbish and counting trash.

 

We pulled into a calm anchorage at Louisa Bay and hopped the dinghies into the beach to hunt for rubbish. And hunt we did.  After beaches filled with micro plastics, tangles of rope and rotting fish nets, it was a treat to find Louisa Beach clean as a whistle.  After a long stroll through the sand dunes and across the wide beach, we arrived at the camp spot to find a nice pile of trash.  With the rubbish piled into bags and offloaded from the beach aboard the dinghies, it was time for a team swim.

 

All that was left to do was to enjoy the rest of the day.  We decided to cruise towards home and stopped at Osmiridium Beach to enjoy the hot sun from the water. Some chose to ‘froth’ on the beautiful break and others explored the hole and the amazing rocks at the end of the beach.  There were a few intrepid travellers who timed the set and cruised the ‘tinny’ into the shallow entrance of New River Lagoon.  The waters were filled with fish and soon opened into an expansive lagoon, with Precipitous Bluff hovering in the background. One of the most pristine and beautiful parts of this wild land.

 

After everyone was ‘frothed’ out, we returned to our boats and started the homeward steam to Recherche Bay for the final count.  The crews arrived in high-spirits and knocked off the rubbish count as the sun set.  Hands were washed and party shirts donned as Masaaki whipped-up a fresh sashimi platter and miso for the crew.  The sun now also sets on one hell-of-a trip.  Hard work, cut feet, sore backs and sunburnt necks are just part of the story.  To be part of such an amazing trip, to witness and help protect this beautiful environment, is a real blessing. Although today’s count from Louisa Bay was low at 971, the total rubbish count for the trip came in at 50,167. All those bits of trash cleaned and counted and on its way to its next life; to be recycled or re-purposed for art and other uses.

 

The South-West Marine Debris Cleanup has now picked up a total 761,222 pieces of rubbish and debris from these wild waters. 

 

Words by Jimmy.

Team photo by Oscy via clever timing and tripod devices.




Thursday, February 23, 2023

Waterfalls and Windows

After a good nights sleep, we threw the ropes early and started heading South. A couple of nights from home with the swell backing off and a fantastic forecast for the day, it was perfect to explore the coast south of Davey.  We landed at Windowpane Bay, a beach not visited by us since 2006, mainly due to the weather making it inaccessible.  Today it was perfect, a paradise and experience that will stay with us forever.  From the boats, we could see a large green rope pile on the rocks in the middle of the creek. We had been told about this by various fishermen & bush walkers and it was on our hit-list to retrieve.



As we walked through the rocky creek towards the mound, the enormity of the challenge became more apparent. We had estimated 'it' being 1-tonne of rope, maybe a few hundred metres in one coil.  We could tow it off the beach with the Celtic Rose and if it was too heavy for the boat to lift, we'd just tow it home.    On closer inspection, we estimated 'it' at 4-5tonnes and kilometres long!  A test cut, to see if we could portion it into manageable pieces, made us realise we'd be creating more rope-fibres than we started with.   

Then, some bushwalkers appeared from the campsite at the back of the gulch. One of their party was experiencing a medical condition and they had just set off their EPIRB, to call helicopter help from Hobart.  

We contacted 000 and relayed the situation, within 45min the rescue helicopter appeared in the skies. As there was an unusually large amount of people spread across the beach looking for rubbish, a small land flare was set off to identify the landing zone.  Initially emergency services hadn't received the EPIRB signal, which is a reminder that where possible getting into an open area when trying to contact the outside world is advisable.  The patient was stabilised on the beach before flying back to Hobart. 

The day sounds grim, but in truth it was a highlight of the trip and cruising around SW Cape to New Harbour in glassy conditions is a rare day. Over 5000pieces, a group team-clean photo and a few well-cooked steaks, it was a happy crew celebrating the sunset this evening.

Ps Uls surfed for 3-hours

Pps  She was frothin'!


love yas


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Pocket full of sunshine, beach full of plastic

 We were on deck wiping sleep from our eyes as Spain bay flushed with a crimson dawn and a small pod of dolphins made their way from boat to boat.

The crew ducked back north aboard Velocity and Nena, while the fuel thirsty Rumours and Celtic Rose stayed behind. Bucky, Grant and Daz taking the opportunity to vacuum their boats before round up two Stripeys and some Abs for our dinner.

After a scenic steam north we pulled in behind Green Island and shuttled on to Towtera beach. A sandy expanse with a solid dune system and freshwater creek. That this special place had been enjoyed by many before us was evident in the thick layer of shellfish in the dunes.

 

A couple of big bits of rope were balanced by the 5,867 bits of small plastic, the beach so scattered with them that at times it was easier to crawl along collecting rather than be constantly stooping to scoop them up. As we shuffled along under the baking sun, Dave and Harry made a nice backdrop scoring some good waves. When we loaded the dingy with trash, Harry hauled out an armload of rope, body surfed back in through the breakers before wading out with another load of bags.

 


A quick snack was scoffed as we rounded the corner to the Duckhole, a place historically so bad it’s seared into the collective memory..

 

memories waft back of an olfactory cacophony; sea-lice dance betwixt layers of rotting kelp, a decomposing pilot whale ripples in the rain.

The bay’s smell wasn’t as bad as folks had talked it up to be, but the layers of marine debris were. Just 68 less pieces were collected in half the time of Towtera. Many folks just sitting in one spot and sifting through the writhing sea lice for trash before shuffling to the next arm-span length of matted kelp. One notably large piece of trawl net was extracted using a 4m log as a lever, a team coaxed it to the surface foot by foot from beneath the kelp.

                     

After receiving enough sunshine to power a small solar town, we bailed from the beach. Nena taking some folks snorkelling and the rest aboard Velocity headed back to the surf where an excellent session was had. Quality waves, light offshore breeze, a cranking rip, bright sunshine, smiles all round, dunes backed by buttongrass mountains. Ula lent me her waterproof camera setup and I drank it all in through the lens. my stoke tanks were overflowing. To top it off we got so see Oscar whizzing way out across the bay with his kite.


The surf crew returned to Rumours and ‘Rose about 12 hours after leaving, exhausted and stoked. Cold beer and a delicious dinner of salad, fish and chips were ready fresh for us. We roused from near food comas to complete the count under lights as colour faded from the day and the stars woke up overhead. It was a high count day clocking in at 11,667 pieces in just 3.5 hours of beach time. Fingers crossed for another aurora, hope you’re headed to bed as full of life and utterly knackered as I am. 
Dan out.



*photos by Lee

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

 DAY 7 -  From Spain Bay to Stephens




We started our day in Schooner cove, and during a slow morning of getting ready for beach cleaning we said goodbye to our amazing team member Alice, who headed up to Melaleuca to fly back to Hobart. We had a quick steam around to Spain Bay, a beach at the southern side of the entrance to Port Davey. We cleaned up the lovely campsite at Spain bay, gathering up a large pile of rubbish from between the tea trees that walkers and campers had already collected. We then began the 30-minute walk over the headland to Stephens beach – a spectacular hike with panoramic views of button grass plains, islands, beaches and mountains, right down to Southwest cape!

Again, we found a large pile of rubbish that had been stashed at the campsite by walkers. This was a refreshing and comforting reminder that there are so many people that care about this wild and beautiful land. 

 We hoofed it to the end of the beach with the intention of combing our way back through, meanwhile taking in the incredible views that spanned in every direction. By far the most powerful part of this vast landscape was the massive dunes, and the cultural living sites that were scattered throughout. They glittered with huge abalone shells and stripy warreners, a consistent reminder in the landscape of human life – fun, laughter, families and thousands of years of connection to place. It became evident early on in our endless scour for plastics that many of our targets were within and around these sacred sites. There is a stark contrast between tens of thousands of years and countless generations worth of human gatherings, to an omnipresent layer of 8,182 plastic flakes, rope fragments and bottles that have been only 2 generations in the making and drifted in from distant sources. The humans that produced this waste have likely never stepped foot on these beaches. If there were any evidence that we need to focus on our sustainability on this earth, this is it. 

After an 8m swell and a few days of rain, we didn’t find as much rubbish as expected – likely having been buried deeper into the sand or washed back out to sea. 





We made our way back across the sunny headland, lugging all the bags of rubbish over the headland to begin the count on Rumours – mostly made up of tiny micro-plastics and small rope fragments. After a long day of walking in the wind and sun, we were treated to a beautifully made dinner and a specky mountain sunset, ready to do it all again tomorrow! 


Words by Ruth and Clare

Pics by Lee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Bramble Scramble


Day 6!

 

Three days in and I thought time had stood still. Now I’m afraid it’s coming to an end all too quickly. We headed to Bramble Cove this morning after a beautiful drizzly sunrise — a beach inside Port Davey — somewhere you wouldn’t think the toxic plastic crap would have reached, but there it was, on mass, although this time it was small, tiny in fact. The rope had broken down to tiny individual strands, 0.2 of millimetre strands spread everywhere. This is what I set my sights on collecting, and once I had my eye in it had found its way into every tiny corner of everything, sponges, wrapped around seaweed, rocks, sticks big and small, Neptune’s necklace (a type of kelp). The variety of kelp matched the variety of micro plastic (think of fairy bread filled with hundreds and thousands and you’ll get the idea). We made the most of it though, had some music playing and we found a groove that allowed us to settle in and focus on a patch and sit there for 3 hours in one square metre filling a small plastic bag with thousands of plastic pieces. Then back to the big boats that were rafted up in Schooner Cove where we were taking refuge from the 70kmh winds and an 8m rolling swell. One group set out to find surf for the afternoon while the others stayed behind, carved spoons and jammed. Our surfing crew had to cross the Breaksea islands to get to Earle Point where we surfed. With the backdrop of Erskine range and Mount Stokes, in this lost world we felt right at home, catching our breath in this awe-inspiring wonder. The natural beauty of the remoteness of the southwest reminded me of how crazy it was to see so many fine particles of plastic and yet how humbling it was to be able to be here and be a part of this mammoth effort to remove, collate and reference all this waste.   

 

Back at the boat a group of crew stuck around to settle into the afternoon sunshine. It seems that once one of our musicians picks up their instrument, it isn’t long until the full band is in swing. Fully amped up, with nothing less than a full drumkit and the beautiful mountain range in the background, this has got to be one of the rarest gigs to play in the southern hemisphere. 


9196 items collected, classified and counted on a wild cloud sunset.

 

Words by Stu and Alice.

Photo by Jimmy. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Whittling in the wind


DAY 5   Davey lay day

 

Awoke to the sound of the wind chop slapping away at the hull, along with some moans and groans from the team after what had been a large few days of rolling around the south-west picking up rubbish. We had arrived in the sheltered waters of the Bathurst Channel, knowing of the fast-approaching wintery gale to the west. For many sailors, fisherman and seafarers alike, the surrounds of Port Davey have been all too familiar, being the only safe haven within 200 miles of coastline to sit out a storm. It also happens to be one of the most truly beautiful places in the world, one of those areas that will leave you completely wide-eyed with a grin as wide as an untouched horizon. To have a safe haven to shelter from the roaring 40’s, within truly wild and rugged country, radiates this feeling in you that can only be experienced. It is as if the landscape is there for you like an old friend who’ll always be there when you need. 

 

To be able to have the opportunity to help this old friend of ours, the south-west, by cleaning up her untouched beaches and coastlines, is something that is truly special. So when the crew rolled out of their bunks to the bullets of wind rolling through Schooner Cove, it was nice to feel safe under the presence of ancient mountains and (relatively) sheltered waters. 

 

With the weather being far from motivating, the crew had a rather slow start too it. It might have had something to do with the cold Moo Brews and live music rolling into the night, but we’ll leave it down to the wintery weather. Despite what was looking to be a lay day tucked in Schooner, the crew wasted no time and got stuck into a yoga session on the deck of the Celtic Rose aimed at limbering up tight muscles we’d acquired whist digging fishing nets out of wet sand. A mean breakfast cook up, a couple of chilly dips in the black tannin waters and books in the patchy sun took us through the rest of the morning. To keep the cabin fever from setting in, Stu pulled out some lumps of driftwood and whittling tools to keep us all entertained for the afternoon. Wafts of aromatic Tasmanian timbers drifted around in the swirling wind whilst trinkets and tools were carved out of timbers that had thought they’d seen their end on a desolate western facing beach. 

 

We proudly cooked and served dinner with new salad spoons and spatulas feeling very accomplished for a lay day in the wind. All rested, energised, and ready for some more beach combing, we head into tomorrow due for large swells and lights winds, allowing as to tackle some of the outer fringed beaches of Port Davey.


Words by Oscar. 

Photo by Lee.

 

 

Miscellaneous Debris


DAY 4 — Mulcahy to Schooner Cove 

 

The crew woke up to some serious rocking and rolling this morning in Mulcahy Bay. Any early morning risers were rewarded by a pod of 100 dolphins at 6 am. We set off towards Wreck Beach where Harry, Ula and Gerhard managed to grab a beautiful little surf before the cleaning started. The overcast sky threatened rain, and the crew debated the state of the weather before we set off in the dingy. Halfway to the beach, the downpour started, leaving us soaked before we even set foot on the beach. Luckily, this first downpour of many for the day didn’t last too long. 

 

The first section of beach was relatively clean, a welcome sight from previous days. As we worked our way further down, we occupied ourselves with the tedious job of collecting microplastics. Once we arrived at the first riverbed, we were met by a pile of our regular finds, with lots of nets and ropes to be pulled out of the sand. 

 

As we made our way along the beach, the tide was low enough to show the top of the Svenor Shipwreck. The Svenor had caught fire in the Bass Straight, all crew abandoned ship, and it found its final resting place where it lies today. Pied oyster catchers scurrying along the beach were another gem along the way. 

 

It wasn’t long before the rain started again, leaving us all soaked to the bone. As the weather turned, we hurried to finish our last stretch of beach before hiking back to our starting point for pickup. As we trekked back, we collected the piles of debris we had left along the way, including 3 tyres, the big find for today. 


 

The crews boarded their respective boats and we set off towards Schooner Cove in Port Davey. The Celtic Rose spotted a trawl net on the way, which required a quick turnaround and all hands-on deck to pull out of the water. As we steamed closer to Port Davey we were met by the majestic scenery. 



Once we were safely sheltered in Schooner Cove, we rafted all four boats together for our count and to be treated to some delicious food. On Velocity, Masaaki prepared sashimi for the crew, caught fresh on the first day. Next along the line of rafted boats, the Celtic Rose hosted our ever-evolving live-aboard band, ‘Miscellaneous Debris’, who serenaded us with some catchy tunes. Rumours cooked up some crayfish toasties with Masaaki’s special recipe as an appetizer. Last along the line was the Nena where some were found doing yoga. 

 

We regrouped to help sort and count the debris. In total, we counted 6,821 pieces, approximately 80% of which was plastic.

 

Blog by Mandy and Kianna. Photos by Lee.