Australians Daniel Greenwood and Mathilde Gordon are circumnavigating Vancouver Island in a 27-foot Catalina to raise awareness about the impacts of marine debris.
The novice sailors departed Nanaimo on May 25. On July 15, they cruised into the Ucluelet Harbour sharing tales of triumph and horror.
“Clearing the Nahwitta Bar was a piece of cake,” said Greenwood, 28, of one of the most treacherous bodies of water located at the northern tip Vancouver Island.
Rounding Cape Scott, on the other hand, was a nightmare.
“It was the scariest moment of my life,” said Gordon, 24.
With large waves and strong winds, the team said their boat went vertical.
“It was 30-minutes of very terrifying conditions,” said Greenwood.
The harrowing experience taught the adventurists the real meaning of “ship shape”, they told the Westerly from their sailboat called ‘Sea lion’.
Before setting sail for their epic two and a half month tour around Vancouver Island, Greenwood and Gordon launched the Seize Change Project, with the goal of exploring single-use plastic free, doing small scale clean ups, and partnering with like-minded organizations en route.
Gordon, who sea kayaked 2,042 kilometres from Alaska to Canada last summer carrying the same ethos, has been living single-use plastic free for three years. She said when it comes to plastic pollution, people need to stop blaming and recognize that we are all part of the problem.
“Our oceans are all interconnected and unless you’re still holding your Styrofoam cup that you got your coffee or the water bottle that you drank out of the other day, you can’t tell me that what I’m finding on the beach isn’t from you,” she said. “To solve this, and it is something that we need to do now, it’s not about a few people doing zero waste living plastic-free perfectly, it’s about millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
In preparation for the journey, they cooked and dehydrated meals and bought bulk supplies at Zero Waste Emporium in Victoria.
“Going without single-use plastics on a sailing trip is doing all the things that we would normally do at home and just making it nautical proof,” notes Gordon.
Carrying the slogan ‘Re-framing the face of adventure’, the Aussie sailors hope to inspire young explorers to travel with greater purpose.
“You can go on an adventure, and a lot of the time it’s a privilege and you’re lucky to be doing that, but why not give back in a positive way while doing that?” said Gordon.