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Stories to tell in the latest newsletter

by John Curnow, Editor, 30 Oct 2018 23:00 UTC
The World famous Whitehaven Beach. © John Curnow

Oh yes. We do have some stuff to say. First up, apologies for not sending a newsletter last week. I was somewhat GABO (got a bit on). I won't lie. I was at the Etchells Worlds Championship in Brisbane. I know, I still have a racing bug, but it only serves to act as a contrast agent for time spent cruising. It works just as effectively as some awful potion full of radioactive isotopes that you have when you get an MRI, but unlike those experiences, it is all winner, winner – chicken dinner!

Flowing on with the Queensland theme then, and I noticed recently that the Whitsunday Islands beat out Fiji and Bora Bora to be voted Best Island in Australia and the South Pacific! OK. That is pretty huge. Tash Wheeler, the CEO of Tourism Whitsundays wrote back to me and simply said, "Yes. Great news!" So evidently they were still on a major high from it all. Given that the group comprises 74 islands, why wouldn't you check it out?

Now before the Etchells, I went and did a few boat tests. They were great, even if the weather for one of them was far less so. In a little while we will have full reviews for you, but in the meantime, I can say that the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 490 is utterly brilliant. It is light and lithely, which is no doubt due in huge proportions to being resin-infused, with a foam core. I had been taken by its shape at the Sydney International Boat Show, so to finally get a go was just wonderful.

Next was the super-practical, recently refreshed and updated, and totally user-friendly Seawind 1260. The way the new aft module works in relation to the main saloon puts this right on the radar for anyone wanting to be in the mid-size cat market. There are so many Seawinds plying the waves, many as liveaboards, and that functionality aspect of them is clearly what drives new customers to the brand. As you can see, the sun came out for that day, but the wind still had many bullets to throw down at you, just without any of the prejudice of the day before.

David Turton, the Chairman of the Seabin Project, was actually racing at the Etchells Worlds, and did very well too. However, and more importantly for us, it meant I could have some one-on-one time with him, as he checked out one of the Seabins they have installed at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in Manly. This was actually really interesting, to not only see it in action and how it all works, but also to get a handle on how and why it has been designed the way it has.

In short, I am not surprised that the Seabin Project has been such a success. It ingests into its basket all manner of bio-mass like leaves etc, then plastics such as wrappers and cable ties, which I did not know actually float, microplastics, and polystyrene balls, which get blown in from absolutely ages away. And I certainly did not know that!

Of course, not everyone knows about just how bad cigarette butts are. You cannot feed turtles those, or any other living organism for that matter. Many humans do also not realise that they are actually solid plastic, either. Turton commented, "There are 5 trillion of them a year that are not disposed of correctly. So that's streets, parks etc, and thence storm water drains and into the seas. Each butt has 8000 particle of stuff in it that simply do not break down. In other words, it is ingested or whatever."

Remember too that they have a half-life of about a million years, so they are with us virtually forever. Turton added, "And you would never be able to see it when it does break down, because it is microscopic. In Spain and France 24-42% of the catch are butts, depending on where it is. If it is a high tourist area, that's lots of butts!"

In the images here you will see the petrochemical pad that look like a sausage. Now these can be recycled up to about 30 times, depending on your country's laws, or replaced at a cost of about $10 each. "We're next to the fuel quay here, and the pad will be black in a week, as it collects oil, scum and heavy metals. It is location-specific as to how long it will last. You can wring them out into a waste oil recycling bin, or simply replace them. The ones we use come from Patagonia, and are made out of recycled ghost nets as the absorbent material, which is really good."

"In Docklands in Melbourne, they had 720 litres of waste in one 48-hour period, and so the bin was emptied 36 times during that cycle, which is a really high load," said Turton.

Seabin have two sizes presently. They are 15 and 25 thousand litres per hour. "Anything more than 25,000 litres per hour and you get too much bio-catch, which is fish, critters and so forth. The studies we had carried out show that Seabins have a zero % catch with a 95% probability, and this was a big factor for us in the overall design for obvious reasons."

"We are focussing on the marine debris and the waste, and this is why they are these sizes. No one will drown in it, nor lose a limb, and the units are discreet. So you need a few more per installation, but you have none of the OH&S matters to take into consideration."

There are other benefits, which Turton explained, "The scum comes off the water's surface and so if it is dioxic, the Seabin will re-oxygenate the water, as a result of the volume passing through. Algal blooms simply cannot happen. In this way, you return marine life to an area that was previously stagnant."

As mentioned, Seabin has been a great success. Nice one. Yet the job is not done. Turton elaborated, "We currently have fixed ones mounted to floating quays, and then very soon there will be floating ones mounted to fixed piers, which is a much larger market again, five times the size actually. Importantly, it also gets us into places that the current version simply could not access. It is something in the order of 600,000 units."

"It has taken a lot of trial and error and it has been a lot of work to make a commercially viable unit. Most countries have their own set of laws relative to waste management, power to the units and so forth, but we have answers for just about all of them. Many certifications is the answer, and this too has been a long process."

Now when I spoke with David a while back it was 250 units that have been shipped all over the globe. It is up to 350 now, with the factory shipping just over one per day on average. "Our main commentary is on stopping at the source. Stop it from getting into the system and we can start to make a dent into the damage that we have already done," said Turton in closing.

To avoid it all being about the Southern Hemisphere this week, I saw a story about marine tourism in Greece being an important part of the economy. You think? I mean, I have been there, and it was a borderline moronic headline, so naturally, I read the piece.

The report produced by INSETE, the research institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), highlights that Greece's marine tourism sector directly contributes €2.3bn to the country's GDP. It covers not only yachting and boating, but also cruise travel and coastal shipping. It went on to add that the marine tourism sector directly accounts for 1.3% of national employment, or some 22,500 jobs. If you go wider to include the indirect aspects then the GDP contribution rises to between €5bn and €6bn, which is 2.9% to 3.5% of the total.

Of course, the Minister was attributed as saying it was important to Greece. So in the end I was right. Moronic, but at least there were some data points to back it all up. Seems like no one told them the old sailors tale about the weather, as in: stick your head out of the companionway hatch...

OK. Today you will find that we have information for you about the Great Barrier Reef, open days, seasickness, hijackings down, storms up, shipwrecks, Finland, how to go cruising, kit from Musto, gear from B&G, courses, Nordac from North Sails, freeing whales, battery banks, as well as much more.

So you see, there are stories, lessons, inspirations and history to regale yourself with. Please do savour... We're really enjoying bringing you the best stories from all over the globe. If you want to add to that, then please make contact with us via email.

Remember too, if you want to see what is happening in the other Hemisphere, go to the top of the home page and the drop-down menu on the right, select the other half of the globe and, voila, it's all there for you.

In the meantime, do you love being on the ocean? Well remember to love them back too. They need our help. Now more than ever! Until next time...

John Curnow

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