Lines to Hawaii: Sailing, Surfing, and Microplastics
In this ROAM Original, Lines to Hawaii, snowboarder Travis Rice, big-wave surfer Ian Walsh, both at the top of their respective games, sail 2,500 nautical miles from Tahiti to Hawaii. Joined by first mate Graham Scott and filmer Amory Ross, the crew’s goal is to search for surf and explore some the most remote islands on Earth, the Line Islands.
Navigating the open ocean along a route inspired by Polynesians who sailed these waters using only the stars for navigation some 2,000 year ago, Travis and the team explore rarely seen specs on the map, including Malden Island, Flint Island, and Fanning Island. Their 19-day adventure included chasing waves that had never been surfed, cracking the sweetest coconuts they’d ever tasted, and putting their skills to the test to during a squall in the notorious Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, also known as the Doldrums. Ian, who was a novice sailor at the start of their voyage, earned coveted “Golden Shellback” status by crossing the Equator at the International Dateline. As a team, they experienced first-hand some of the most untouched, pristine ecosystems in the world.
The crew also took samples every hundred miles along their route for Adventure Scientists’ global microplastics study, which provided information on a stretch of ocean that had not yet been studied. Though the island ecosystems appear untouched, 73 percent of the water samples contained microplastics. Defined as tiny plastic pieces under five millimeters in size, microplastics are ubiquitous in our ecosystems. They have been found in the deepest trenches, off the Antarctic Peninsula, in remote Arctic sea ice, and in remote parts of the Pacific.
Find out ten ways you can help keep plastic out of the ocean.
The crew sailed 2,500 nautical miles over 19 days, exploring several remote spots in the Line Island chain.
At the edge of transitions on Flint Island. Photo by Amory Ross
Falcor gliding towards the Doldrums. Photo by Amory Ross
Hoisting the asymetrical kite leaving Fanning Island for Hawaii. It would be really light winds for the next 600 miles until they get past the ITCZ, or Doldrums, and into the tradewinds south of Hawaii. Photo by Amory Ross
Travis Rice collects water sample #13 for Adventure Scientists's global microplastics survey. The team has been collecting water samples roughly every 100 nautical miles to test for microplastics in some of the remote parts of the Central Pacific. Photo by Amory Ross
"Don't be here"... Looking at weather routing before heading North to Hawaii. They have to cross the Intertropical Convergence Zone, also known as the Doldrums, shown in blue. Ian calls this area the "DumbDrolls," usually little to no consistence wind and big clouds and squalls that you have to be prepared for as they can pack a wind punch. They could see a small storm with a slight anti-clockwise rotation passing just ahead of them in this shot. "Amazing to think about the true wayfinders and navigators that had none of these tools to see global weather and GPS. We have been reading up on the ancient art and incredible how much information is in the ocean if you know how to tune into it," says Travis. "Our mode of travel is completely different with speed and too much information at our fingertips, thanks to my KVH sat comms system." Photo by Amory Ross
Breadfruit is basically a giant potato, but it's a fruit not a starch. It originally comes from French Polynesia and Indonesia. It only lasts a few days once picked from the tree. Photo by Amory Ross
Ian Walsh living the red light life! Night watches on board Falcor consist of solo 3 hours on 6 off while on call for the shift before you when sail changes need to take place. Red light doesn't kill your night vision for looking for clouds and squall lines outside on our moonless transit. Photo by Amory Ross
On day 15 at 6:15 a.m., a big cloud system marched its way toward Falcor. The wind jumped from 10 knots to 29 knots within a few minutes and brought a really heavy downpour. "The fast changing variable conditions in the Doldrums have been an entirely new ocean learning experience for me," says Ian Walsh. Photo by Amory Ross
The art of finding shade, a floor that is cooler than a couch cushion and any tiny bit of breeze you can when the wind is completely shut down. This little area Falcor's galley (to the left), living room, cockpit, shade, social club, library, dinning room, gym classroom, and much more. Photo by Amory Ross
The simplicity of using the whatever wind there is. The team starts to feel the first few puffs of North Pacific tradewinds. Photo by Amory Ross
The final stretch to arriving at the Hawaiian Islands. Photo by Amory Ross
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