Captain's Log

June 12, 1994

The following is a log entry (edited slightly by The Sun) by Captain Robert Glover of Pride of Baltimore II:

Date: Sunday, June 5, 1994

Time: 0700 Alaska Daylight Time

Speed: 5.0 knots

Course: 020* magnetic

Flotsam, trash, junk; no matter what you call it, it still comes from the human race. The last three days have brought us fairly calm seas, thus allowing the crew to see anything that floats. Pride II has been motoring along our track line to Alaska. The crew are amazed at the amount of trash we are seeing in the water as it drifts by Pride's hull.

Most of it is plastic, some metal (mostly fish floats; in fact, 50 percent of what we see is fish floats and nets), occasional wood, milk crates, dish-washing racks, 1-liter bottles, whiskey bottles, synthetic line, plastic foam. If it floats, it's out there.

Now remember, Pride cut a small visual track line on this huge ocean expanse. Our line of vision for flotsam is probably 1/2 mile wide and 2,400 miles long at best. We have been seeing the above-described flotsam glide by every 15 minutes at the rate of 3 to 5 pieces. Chances are this stuff covers the whole Eastern Pacific rim.

Thankfully in the last few years an international law now prohibits the discharge of plastics into the oceans of the world. Vessels still are allowed to dump paper, glass, wood, metal and food waste overboard. Aboard Pride we have filled two 33-gallon plastic trash bags with plastic in only our seventh day since departing Hawaii. For generations, as thousands of vessels have transitted the world oceans, everything has been dumped overboard. Now plastic is outlawed. How it is enforced? Frankly, by folks' own good will and consciences. I hope their consciences are strong. When and if I get the chance to make this trip again in 5 to 10 years, I hope all I will see is ocean, plain and simple, the way God made it.

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