Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Big dreamy skies drift into the ocean as the Velocity steams out of Port
Davey at first light, headed north across glassy waters.
Skipper extraordinaire Dave the Wave's cranking the old Pink Floyd on
the stezza and the rain starts coming down, exploding the surface of the
water as we roll past Breaksea Island and out into the open sea.
A big seal's going berko playing with the swell just out from the tide
line and the coffee pot's cranking as the cleanup crew on deck gear up
for another big day in the wild west.
We steam into 'Big Midden Bay' and anchor just offshore the southern
point. It's crazy wild country here; the sets are rolling into a couple
of k's of white sand and huge dunes, and rising up behind it all is
mountains and big skies rolling away into the east.
It's the sort of big country that catches the breath at the back of your
throat. That you might be lucky enough to see once or twice in the
course of a lifetime. Everything stops, just for a moment, and everyone
stands still on deck.
Then it's all rapid motion - the dinghies are loaded with cleanup bags,
wet weather gear, cameras, gumboots and humans and we hit the beach,
only to be stopped momentarily by the sight of some of the most
seriously bad plastic pollution that we've come across yet. Giant 30
foot high middens, that have watched over this bay for a very long time,
are studded with hundreds of pieces of rope, micro plastics and rusted
tinnies. The sea front is swamped with so much rubbish it makes you feel
pretty sad and pretty ill. Hundreds of metres of sand and dune getting
swamped daily by a plastic wave of trash that comes from across the
globe to land here, in one of the world's most incredible landscapes.
The cleanup crew goes into a 7 hour frenzy, picking up and dragging over
40 big bags of rubbish down the beach and loading them onto the
dinghies. Aboard the Diamantina III, the daily count is manic. The
rubbish pile is absolutely enormous and everyone's counting and
classifying at full steam. When there's only a few micro plastics left
on the big white tarp, the Delegator calls time and another cleanup
record is broken - the all time daily count total is smashed with 16,430
An hour to go before sunset, and the old wetties are pulled on, and
boards loaded onto the dinghies. Paddling across the salt water, looking
out at the mountains and dunes of this wild, wild place, we're all
hooting. Big day, big skies, and big big smiles.