Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An extra happy holiday thanks to Kittery Point Yacht Yard

As we roll into the week before Christmas and the end of the year, we are thinking about all of the amazing people we have met, the incredible support we have received and relationships we have built with industry, corporate partners, waterfront organizations and individuals. All love the ocean, their lake, their river and all have made an effort to make it a better place.

Right now, one stands out. We just received the following Christmas email from Rozalia Project's partner and American Promise's homeport and expedition base, Kittery Point Yacht Yard. Tom, John, Chris and their team have made room for us on their docks, kept American Promise safe through Hurricane Irene and have now safely put her to bed for the winter.

The email starts like this:

A lovely card. But then, it goes on to say this:

This is inspiring. We are very grateful to work with an organization who, repeatedly, takes action to back up their commitment to a better environment. They are a certified clean marina, they have more than enough recycling bins that are right on the docks, their yard is immaculate. And they just gave up a Christmas party and presents to their staff in order to support the work we and the Gundalow are doing.

We are honored by this. It makes us double our resolve and we hope that, come this time next year, the hard-working staff at KPYY are proud to know that we did our best on their behalf. And that our Christmas/Hanukkah present to them may not be something you can hold, or put on a coffee table (well, you can hold what we pick up, but an old beer can or muddy old plastic bag may not be what they want on their coffee tables), but is a present of a cleaner ocean floor, a cleaner ocean surface, a whale habitat with less risk, information to further solutions to the problem and more than a thousand people (going for 2,000 next year) who will also make an effort and take action for a better environment.

Thank you Kittery Point Yacht Yard.

This is a sweet topping on an exciting year. We can't wait for more action, technology, outreach, research and strengthening/building relationships with all of our partners present and future.

Happy holidays to everyone.

For a Clean Ocean,

rzm, James and the whole Rozalia Project crew, Board, Advisors + Hickory and Smudge

Monday, October 31, 2011

A week of many exclamation points!!!!!!!!!

I have always linked big checks (physically as well as numerically big) with people who won the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes (if that was real). But thanks to your support and the hard work of James, Sloane, Laura, Laurie, Tom, our families, our partners and everyone who came aboard, voted, spread the word and helped with Rozalia Project this summer, we were selected as the national winners of the Interlux Waterfront Challenge! And with that honor came a big check (physically and numerically) of $20,000 to go toward our programs next year!

Interlux even brought me to the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show for the press conference and presentation of the award. It was a great day. Beyond just receiving the grant, I also got to talk with journalists from different parts of the marine world (from Soundings to Fisherman Magazine) and had the opportunity to tell and show people about Rozalia Project and what we do.

I have to admit that for a bit, we did know about this awesome award and were sworn to secrecy (which was a little tough I have to say) but this past week also brought a surprise honor.

In a smooth twist of scheduling, the VideoRay International Partners Symposium (VIPS) happened to be in Key Largo from Monday-Wednesday of last week. I am a regular attendee and presented about how Rozalia Project uses its quintet of technology together to achieve our goals. I also got to teach the new user workshop which I enjoy. This is a well attended event with incredibly bright people from all over the world and from throughout the underwater world. They use their VideoRay ROV's for everything from keeping our ports safe to search and recovery and underwater crime scene investigation to research and monitoring underwater structures. Our keynote speaker at the awards dinner was Chris Fischer from Ocearch. Those are the guys who catch, tag and release sharks - including great whites. And he uses VideoRay's to film the excitement.

The surprise of the week came right before Chris was about to speak, VideoRay gave out their yearly awards... and Rozalia Project won for Best Public Relations story! Brian Luzzi from VideoRay presented me with a beautiful clock/barometer set that will look great on American Promise (and of course tell us when the weather is about to change).

No time to bask in the glory, I am back in the office hard at work looking for interns, looking for partners, writing grants, sending out press releases, and organizing next year's schedule (and there must be more). But, it is certainly worth every minute now to tell all of you how much your support on Facebook, in the voting contests, by email and in person matters. Thank you for helping make this first full year one worthy of these awards.

Now we are psyched to see what we can do next year!!!

For a Clean Ocean and Lake,


Rozalia Project

Click here for the press release
Click here for a video interview taken by Fisherman Magazine at FLIBS

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Study results: there is a lot of trash and derelict fishing gear, and we're learning where to find it!

We are now releasing reports and results from Rozalia Project's work this summer. We are kicking it off with our most recent expedition, the Isles of Shoals neuston net study...

Rozalia Project discovers marine debris densities of up to 105,564 pieces and 2.25 miles of monofilament and rope per square mile in the tidelines and current convergences 
east of the Isles of Shoals
Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean conducted a 4 day neuston net survey of marine debris density and type in the waters around the Isles of Shoals of New Hampshire and Maine. This expedition was funded and supported by the Bonnell Cove Foundation of the Cruising Club of America.
The objective of the survey was to identify if marine debris/derelict fishing gear was found in greater densities in the proximity of tidelines and current convergences and if so, in what densities and make up. This research was conducted by the Rozalia Project as part of a larger ongoing study to come up with marine debris detection and removal methods.

The survey was conducted from Rozalia Project's 60 foot sailing research vessel American Promise, utilizing a 1 x 0.5 meter, 333ยต neuston net (provided by Sea Education Association), towed from a spinnaker pole 15 feet off the starboard beam of the vessel at speeds ranging from 1.4 - 2.2 knots. Survey tracks were run in depths of water from 65-330 feet.
The net was washed down when lifted out, to move items stuck on the net down into the cod end jar. The cod end jar was removed and contents sieved through paper towel. Fish, jelly fish and lobster larvae were returned to the sea immediately. The remaining sample was thoroughly inspected by eye for microplastics, fishing line and other marine debris. Once marine debris was removed, remaining organic matter and plankton were returned to the sea. All marine debris items collected were identified, catalogued and those under 2” stored. Larger items of marine debris such as plastic bags were recycled or properly disposed of on land.
Eight trawls, each 1 nautical mile in length were completed (see image below).
  • Trawls 1 and 2 were conducted west of White Island, Isles of Shoals
  • Trawls 3 and 4 were conducted on Old Scantum ledge, 8 miles SE of Isles of Shoals
  • Trawls 5 and 6 were conducted 1-4 miles east of Smuttynose Island, Isles of Shoals
  • Trawl 7 was conducted 2 miles west of Appledore Island, Isles of Shoals
  • Trawl 8 was conducted 1.5 miles east of Smuttynose Island, Isles of Shoals
  • Trawl 5 was the only trawl that was conducted through a visually identified tideline. Seaweed, foam and floating micro, meso and macro marine debris were all observed on the surface in this trawl area.
  • Trawls 3 through 8 were conducted under sail
The ledges to the east of the Isles of Shoals are a convergent/upwelling zone on the outer bend of a slowing Western Maine Coastal Current (see figure left). This is potentially a temporary terminus area for marine debris that has travelled half of the Gulf of Maine Gyre past some of North America's busiest commercial fishing areas of Nova Scotia and Coastal Maine. In addition, it is an area in proximity to and encompassing marine mammal habitat and feeding grounds such as Jeffrey’s Ledge, seasonal home to minke, finback, and humpback whales as well as the endangered Atlantic right whale.
Using daily sea surface temperature satellite pictures, we identified where the cold water of the Western Maine Coastal Current upwelled to converge with warmer inshore waters, this convergence on September the 13th produced a  visually defined tideline, as we sailed 1.0 miles east from Smuttynose island on the Isle of Shoals. The tideline was in a SW-NE axis. We conducted Trawl 5 at a 90 degree angle to the tideline, and bisected it at the 0.5 nautical mile distance of the 1 nautical mile length trawl.
Right: This image was taken at 1800 UTC, September 13, 2011. The red lines to the left show the border between Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The convergence is labeled with a black line and the track of Trawl 5 in red.
  1. Trawls 1,2,3,4,6,7,8 yielded an average of 4.714 pieces of marine debris. This equals: 8,731 pieces of marine debris per nautical square mile
  2. Trawls 1,2,3,4,6,7,8 yielded derelict fishing gear in the form of monofilament fishing line and rope/net fiber that made up 30.3% of the marine debris collected in these trawls
  3. Trawl 5 bisected a visible tideline and yielded 57 pieces of marine debris. This equals: 105,564 pieces of marine debris per nm2
  4. Trawl 5 yielded derelict fishing gear in the form of monofliament fishing line and rope/net fiber that made up 66% of the marine debris collected in this trawl
  5. Trawl 5 contained 22 pieces of monofilament that averaged 3.2cm/piece totaling 70.4cm
  6. Trawl 5 contained 16 pieces of rope/net fiber that averaged 9.6cm/piece totaling 154.1cm
  7. Trawl 5 contained 224.5cm total length of monofilament and fiber. This equals 2.245 nm of monofilament and rope/net fiber per nm2
  8. Tidelines and current convergences can yield up to:
    • 105,564 pieces of marine debris/nm2
    • 2.25 nautical miles of monofilament, fishing line and rope and net fiber/nm2
  1. More research is needed to increase the number of tidelines, convergences that are sampled by neuston net to give a good representative sample
  2. There is a higher density of floating marine debris associated with visible tidelines and convergences
  3. There is a higher density of floating derelict fishing gear associated with visible tidelines and convergences
  4. The Western Maine Coastal Current has a high density of floating derelict fishing gear
Rozalia Project is planning another expedition in 2012 to conduct neuston net trawls in tidelines and current convergences of the Western Maine coastal current. We will be working with the Blue Ocean Society of Portsmouth, NH, who have representatives on several whale watching boats. Their observers will contact us with the location of visible tidelines between the Isle of Shoals and Jeffrey's Ledge, allowing us to start mapping their location and size, as well as streamline our locating tidelines on a daily basis to run trawls. We also hope to partner with local draggers, lobstermen and tuna fishermen to provide us with additional realtime tidal data.
Jeffrey's Basin and Ledge are critical whale feeding areas, where a variety of marine mammals are frequently observed surface feeding. These areas of upwelling and current convergences with high densities of monofilament and rope/net fiber may also be locations where there are higher densities of plankton and copepods on which the whale feeds, thus increasing the risk of potentially harmful marine debris ingestion by the whales.
The high density of marine debris in these tidelines makes it feasible to remove. Rozalia Project is in the process of designing a trawl net that removes marine debris, but does not harm the plankton and other organisms that are bi-catch in the neuston net trawl. Our intent is that if results are successful, we will scale this marine debris net up to commercial size, so that fishing boats can be employed to trawl tidelines  for marine debris when they have exceeded fishing quota or due to grounds closure.
Thanks to this study, Rozalia Project is making the removal of marine debris and derelict fishing gear in the vicinity of the Western Maine Coastal Current a priority; for the protection of the oceans on the whole and the whales and marine mammals who call these waters home.

For more information about our work, to secure a berth on American Promise (intern opportunities available) or to support our work going into next season, please give Rachael a call 802-578-6120 or send us an email: rachael@rozaliaproject.org.

Stay tuned for next Wednesday's report about our side scan sonar survey for the Blue Ocean Society locating derelict fishing gear off the NH seacoast. And please remember to vote for us in the Interlux Waterfront Challenge facebook contest (last day to vote is Friday September 30th: https://www.facebook.com/interluxwaterfrontchallenge scroll down until you find Rozalia Project and click LIKE right under our description!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Many hands to pick up a lot of trash... the ICC comes to Vermont!

Though we have been doing the vast majority of our work along the (east) New England coast, it was very exciting to come home to VT for some marine debris work right on Lake Champlain on the west coast of New England. Saturday, Rozalia Project headed up Vermont's involvement in the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Clean-up. Vermont was one of only 4 states not to participate last year and that is ridiculous... our lake is huge, spans two countries AND directly connects us to the ocean via two major rivers so we really have no choice but to participate.

And thank goodness we did. It will be very interesting to see what we find next year because this year, we were all shocked at the amount of trash that was picked up within 1/8th of a mile on either side of the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center, our hosts for the afternoon. The reason next year will be telling is that this clean up came on the heels of two brutal disasters for the Champlain Valley and Vermont/Upstate New York. Last spring the lake stayed feet above flood level for over a month destroying waterfront property, docks and more. And of course, just over over two weeks ago, with Hurricane Irene, Vermont had it's worst flooding in nearly 100 years with the Winooksi River, among others, at 23 feet above flood stage. The Winooski drains into the Lake and the destruction caused by Irene had marine debris in the form of people's homes and whole yards  as well as many of the state's roads and bridges washing down our rivers.  

Among the haul, we certainly can attribute the large metal canoe and municipal intake pipe as results of the storm. However, nearly 70 pounds of recycling  and the majority of the 409 pounds in 1,864 pieces of trash looked more careless in nature. We followed close to expected worldwide numbers with our top five items (in numbers of items):
Food wrappers: 293
Cigarettes: 275
Styrofoam pieces: 254
Caps and lids: 217
Plastic bottles: 153

Other finds included the expected cups, cans, glass bottles, tape and plastic sheet as well as the less expected shotgun shells, tires and light bulbs with a bit of the wish-we-didn't-see-it thrown in - syringes (2), condoms (12), diapers (4) and a pair of undergarments. Eew.

As you know, I really love getting and seeing trash taken out of any body of water and I am psyched with the haul. But, a big highlight of the day was the people. There was a college sailing regatta happening at the same time, they were delayed due to lack of wind for much of the afternoon which was great for us. We have to thank all of the sailors who helped especially the Middlebury College Sailing Team. They rocked the clean up bringing back 6 overstuffed bags of trash and recycling plus tires and the intake tube - the whole time looking like they were having fun. My kind of people. I think I might have found an intern or two for next year from that group as well! We also had a great turn out from UVM. Coco, their sailing coach, singlehandedly filled two big bags with trash and kept the data card accurate and we had some more students come down the hill to scour the shore by foot and by kayak. It was a group of 3 UVM students who teamed up with Tom Peterson and his 30' sailboat and crew (Tom joined us on American Promise this summer) to recover the aluminum canoe off the rocks (among other bits of trash and recycling).
One of my favorite parts of the day were the kids. We had a bunch of families come down and the kids worked as hard if not harder than their parents. I LOVE seeing that (and all the kids who stayed for the Trash Bash got t-shirts, I couldn't resist).

As always we are rarely able to do anything alone and this day was no exception. Our first thank you is to everyone who came and helped picking up trash and keeping good record of what they found. I want to thank my friend Marsi Foster for giving up an afternoon at the harvest festival with her family to help me at the registration desk (she was perfect). The Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center were excellent hosts, as always, and a big shout out to Colin for giving us Chris, Bill and the other volunteers when your work was done. Thanks to CSC's efforts, CSWD is going to do a free dumpster pick up to remove the trash from the day. And to Gary Kjellen for cleaning up on South Hero and making the trek to Burlington to drop off his data card and say a few words about the Lake Champlain Committee.

Looking ahead we are psyched and inspired to keep the ball rolling in Vermont. Our mission is marine debris, we are Vermonters and we just had a wake up call that Vermont has no less marine debris than many of the coastal sites we visited.

Stay tuned as we head up additional clean ups this fall and next year's ICC in Vermont will be even bigger and more effective with sits across the state!

Thank you again for a great day and a great start to what I am optimistic will be many bigger, better ICC's and best of all, a much, much cleaner Lake Champlain.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Contest winners! We are dedicating a day of ocean clean-up to...

Andy and Pat Deshaies of Snow Island ME and Ursula King of Wellesley, MA. On our last outing in Portland for the Dodge Morgan celebration and then again for the presentation on Chebeague Island, we had cards for people to enter their names for a day of ocean clean up in their name. Now that the amazing road, power and phone crews of Vermont have reconnected us, we are happy to announce the randomly drawn winners from each event.

This means that on our next Rozalia Project outing on American Promise, we will work even harder on the days assigned to each of our winners and report on our progress. Thank you to everyone who submitted their names to receive our updates and keep in touch with our progress and programs.

A note about Hurricane Irene: We would like to say a big thank you to the Kittery Point Yacht Yard for their care and attention to detail keeping American Promise safe last weekend. When I woke up on Monday morning to find out that Granville was isolated from the rest of the world physically (we only have 3 ways out and all three had large sections of road and whole bridges washed away) as well as verbally (no power, no phone, only have 1 bar of cell coverage on one small part of one road and no internet), it was such a huge relief to hear, through the static of a bad connection, that the boat was 100% fine. I would also like to thank everyone who offered their help (to backpack or mountain bike food in to me, Hickory and Smudge or to bring in a generator, etc.), we are fortunate across the board. Our sympathies are with the people who lost homes and businesses.

The amount of debris caused by and carried around by the flooding here in the middle of Vermont is staggering. It will be interesting to see what we find on the coast as far as hurricane debris goes since all of that water was rushing to the sea. In the case of VT's floods it all headed either to Lake Champlain or out the Connecticut River to Long Island Sound.

We are off for our next Rozalia Project marine debris mission starting this weekend. We will be looking at convergence zones between cold and warm water and inspecting the entire water column to see if we can find areas of increased debris accumulation associated with these boundaries.

We hope you and your families are well after the storm and enjoying Labor Day weekend. Congrats to our winners!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

A new captain, no trash and a lobster attack (or 2)

For the first time, rather than James, I was in charge of the boat. Of the engine. Of getting on and off docks and moorings. And finally of preparing the boat for a hurricane in whose path she sits. I feel completely confident with navigation and confident in interpreting multiple weather forecasts, but James had the helm for all of the tricky maneuvers this summer. He, however, got a great job coaching at the Canada's Cup and we had some exciting plans for Rozalia Project so it was time to step up.

To start with the end - we did it without any drama - other than the lobster boat and tug boat
racing in Portland and some crazy attack lobsters going after the ROV off Chebeague Island. No surprises or broken equipment. Docking was all smooth. And even better, we enjoyed some of the best sailing all summer for the trip from Kittery to Portland and then from Chebeague back to Kittery. This may sound dramatic but going into this summer James really had the majority of the really big boat experience and knowledge.

All of this is really thanks to the solid, calm, competence of our friends and crew, Ernie
and Bette Reuter as well as Sloane's great sense of humor, willingness to do whatever is needed and my dad coming in as the 5th crew member at the halfway point. Having Ernie next to me for some tight u-turns in high current and very little space was huge; having Bette, as reliable as ever, keeping the bow in the wind while we wrestled with the main to get it nice and neat while not running into lobster traps and having everyone work together to discover new and easier ways to accomplish everything from putting sails away to launching the dinghy to dining on some straight-up deliciousness was awesome. We are grateful for their help. I am not sure they realize how much it meant to me to have such a smooth first, James-less mission.

Though we did not have any boat-related drama, I am happy to say that we did get to have some adventures. We were in our first parade! We joined in at the back of the MS Regatta Parade of Sail (sailboats under motor). That was fun - we figure American Promise was recognized by about 1/2 of the fleet and she will feature in a lot of people's photos from the day. We did not race but put up the sails
and hammered around the harbor reaching back and forth to watch as what looked like a hundred boats or more started and headed out to the harbor entrance buoy and back. Afterward I was treated to a visit by one of my best friends to meet her baby (who clearly is going to be a sailor judging on his fascination with the boat and his total coolness on Promise) and spend some time with her husband and parents (some of our favorite people).

The next day was the Dodge Morgan 25th anniversary celebration (of his record-breaking circumnavigation). It did not start until 4 so we had some time to move to a mooring
(to avoid getting pushed up against the dock by the wakes of the race boats) and watch the festivities. The lobster boat racers were up first and they started showing up to register at Portland Yacht Services at around 9:15 beer in hand, friends onboard and boats looking spiffy. The racing was great fun to watch with the boats getting bigger and faster with every heat. The racing ended with the huge tug boats going head to head. I am a fan of tug boats. I think they are cool. They are not exactly meant to skim above the water and pushed a huge wall of water ahead of them when at full tilt. Luckily we were on the mooring as the wakes were almost surfable.

Sloane, Ernie and Bette did a spectacular job getting the boat ready for the reception and after coming back to the dock, we headed off to the PYS Room with a View to watch Around Alone, the video from Dodge Morgan's voyage. I have seen the movie many times but it was extra exciting to see it while living and sailing on the boat. The Maine Maritime Museum was
gracious enough to let me introduce myself to the crowd (around 150 people) and invite them to tour the boat and learn about what we do... when the skies opened. Full-on
thunder, lightning and torrential rain.

Despite the rain, we had around 60 people wait for a break in the weather to come aboard. We met some great people some of whom had sailed on American Promise when Dodge had her. People were genuinely interested in our work and we are excited to keep in touch with a lot of the people we met.

The next day we were off through a carpet of lobster trap buoys to Chebeague Island
in Casco Bay. This was thanks to Manny Morgan and her partner Chris who were excellent hosts. We had around 60 island residents come aboard American Promise for a marine debris program. But, there was no marine debris! This was our first location without any trash for us to pick up. We did get to look at (and get chased by) some incredibly large lobster and crab on the
lovely and clean sea floor off the Chebeague Boat Yard. After that excitement we went to Manny and Chris' lovely house on the water for a delicious and fun dinner then back to the boatyard so I could give a presentation about Rozalia Project. We had an engaged and fun audience (I love giving presentations) and it
was great to be able to include photos from the day including a video from one of our lobster attacks (on the ROV) and some photos of the local kids wearing American Promise t-shirts that Manny Morgan gave me to give away (the shirts were from Dodge's homecoming 25 years ago)!

The night ended with Ernie as chauffeur bringing us all back to the boat via dinghy on a beautiful, cool, star-filled night.

Tuesday was all about sailing back to Kittery and it was beautiful. Not much to say other than that - American Promise sails great and there were grins all around as we fetched our way southwest going anything from 5-9 knots.

Wednesday was all about Irene prep. Sloane and I worked from 7am to 11pm to get Promise as ready as possible for high wind and a lot of water. We put on a bit of a show for the guys at Kittery Point Yacht Yard as we wrestled the main into submission getting it off the mast, folded and down below. It took a fair amount of pushing, pulling, crawling and then mercifully, halyarding. We also deflated the dinghy and put it down below with the headsails and everything on deck that could fly away including the paddleboards. We tied Promise to the dock with multiple bow, stern and spring lines, inflated the fenders, secured the halyards, dogged the hatches and left at 5am Thursday to get Sloane to the airport and back to her senior year of college.

So now, I am back in VT reunited with Hickory and Smudge. The house is about as far from the eye as the boat just on the west side (which is a touch better than being on the NE side of a hurricane where the boat is, though our forecast includes 8" of rain and up to 60 knots of breeze here in the mountains). I am confident that the boat is in as safe a place as it can be and in the very competent hands of the guys at KPYY.

The plan for our next mission (the last of the summer with the boat) is to do some research looking at accumulations of marine debris from the surface to the sea floor associated with the boundaries of the Eastern Maine Coastal Current. But, we will see how the next 48 hours play out. If Irene hammers the coast, we will change the plan and use our equipment to help coastal communities with debris clean up, locating and recovering anything big (or small) that might have sunk.

We are hoping for the best, not just for us, but for all the millions of people along Irene's path. I am guessing that includes many of you who are reading this... so, good luck. May you stay dry and have nothing more to talk about come Monday than your photos of some cool clouds.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Technology Starfish style and a beautiful place

After a week in the mountains (awesome) of not necessarily rest but a different kind of work (OK, yes a little rest) we are back in action on American Promise. The Blue Ocean Society (who are dedicated to marine conservation and do a huge amount of work in everything from marine mammal conservation to beach clean ups to awareness campaigns - getting people to clean up after their dogs...) brought us in to do some survey work as part of a NOAA Marine Debris to Energy Grant. The goal this week is to look for and identify derelict fishing gear off the NH coast.

This is exciting because it marks the shift in focus for us from the trash pickup/education part of the summer to trash pick up/research part. We are getting to get a little farther from the docks and putting the equipment through some different challenges. Yesterday was
all about the Starfish side scan sonar. Tritech is the company who makes the Starfish and who generously donated this unit for the season. This is a small, towed sonar that looks down and to the side. It 'sees' objects by giving us both bright returns and showing shadows (see photo right). The equipment is incredibly easy to set up and get running and the challenge is to learn to read the images. We are getting better and look forward to today when we do more with the Starfish and hopefully put the VideoRay down for some confirmation video.

This week is also cool because we have interns from the Blue Ocean Society aboard helping us. Yesterday's crew: Abby, Mike and Ben were great each contributing their expertise and experience from getting the GPS that goes with the Starfish to work to giving us lots of excellent info on the local marine mammals (they are in the photo at the bottom getting ready to set off for the day). We're looking forward to having them back and meeting more for the next few days.

As high tech as the Starfish and ROV, we found the iPad to be an amazing tool for our work yesterday. We used the Navionics chart plotting app to show our transects and then put in waypoints of areas of interest. Then, we were able to bring that info over to Google Earth and get some quick visual info. Even our interns (classically trained in handheld GPS units and GIS software) were impressed!

Lastly, but by no means least, I have to say how beautiful a spot we are in. James found the Kittery Point Yacht Yard by looking for a place to moor for the week that was protected and on the seaward side of the bridge that leads to Portsmouth proper (where the headquarters of Blue Ocean Society is located). It is beautiful and even better, the guys who run this yard are friendly, helpful, know their stuff boat-wise and are interested in what we are doing. They are psyched to be the hosts of the Trash Bash tomorrow and have allowed us to be on the dock rather than the mooring (yipppee).

Speaking of support, this week is also made possible with the help of Optima Bank. They helped us get American Promise in the first place and are enthusiastically supporting what we are doing with her. We even get Carol from Optima onboard to help with the survey work tomorrow.

So, as I head off for day 2 of the survey, I want to say thank you to Tritech, Blue Ocean Society, KPYY and Optima Bank and to invite you all to the Trash Bash tomorrow (Thursday August 4) from 5-7 at the Kittery Point Yacht Yard. Thanks to Boat US Foundation, we will have drinks, food and goodies to give away and the event is free and open to the public.

Watch the coming storms.


ps. I could have done an entire post on this... but on the way here from Boston we say 7 Minke whales, a seal and a jumping tuna! See the Rozalia Project facebook page for photos from that day.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kilroy was here

...or I should say, thanks to Kilroy Realty Corporation, Rozalia Project was here (in Boston). This was a big, huge stop of the Trash Tour: full of trash now out of the water, full of kids and adults learning about the problem of marine debris and full of some excellent support that made this week happen.

It all started with a spectacular sail from the Cape Cod canal, along the Mass coast and into Boston. Luckily Will Lippit from Providence Community Boating joined us for the trip and thanks to his presence, we were able to keep the sails up and short tack our way up the last 2 channels into Boston Harbor into 27 knots with just the 4 of us (Smudge and Hickory stayed wedged between the edge of the cockpit and the liferaft so I am not counting them as crew for this trip).

American Promise and Rozalia Project were hosted by Couragous Sailing and their excellent team of instructors and directors. They could not have been more enthusiastic or accommodating and (through no fault of their own) in need of our trash pick up services. The very first evening we were there, Sloane and I walked the docks with the nets and picked up 174 pieces of trash, much of it micro plastic. The next day we rented a car and headed south as I had the honor and pleasure of presenting about Rozalia Project at the Woods Hole Public Library. This little town on the Cape is the home of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Sea Education Association, the Marine Biological Lab and a lot of smart, movers and shakers of the underwater world. One, Jeffrey Brodeur of Woods Hole Sea Grant, arranged the presentation and treated us to a tour of WHOI. We even got to see Alvin (and in a moment of joyous geekiness, we took pictures in the frame of this famed manned submersible) and we met some of WHOI's scientists and underwater technology pioneers. Very cool.

After Woods Hole, everything started heating up literally and figuratively. We were very lucky to have some well needed and excellent help from Susan Shingledecker and Alanna Keating from the Boat US Foundation who joined us on the boat at Courageous (yippee). We ran 2 full-on days with the Courageous Sailing program kids and the Charlestown Navy Yard basin where Courageous operates is a target rich environment. The VideoRay equipped with Blueview sonar and Lyyn image enhancement were working overtime to find piles of beer cans, bottles, a few bilge pumps, some boat parts and a fair amount of big debris. We had over 107 kids and instructors participating on American Promise as netters, tether handlers, sonar operators and copilots. The next day, we kept going with another 80 sailors joining in the trash hunt or coming back for more. Thanks to the Blueview sonar, we were even able to help a dive team locate an old mooring block for future removal (the visibility was so bad, that the diver simply could not find what he was looking for). We did another dock walk in addition to the work underwater and picked up another 593 pieces of trash!

Friday was dedicated to Boston Community Boating and the Charles River. We had visited
CBI last year as part of the pilot program so we knew they had a lot of sailors and another target rich environment and this year did not disappoint. They have a beautiful new dock system and we set up near the Western end. Right from the start we knew this was going to feature our most varied and interesting recoveries yet. In the record 102 degree heat we used the ROV to
pull up: a wind sock, cans, boat parts, a whole outfit worth of trash: shorts, socks, a sneaker
(Nike), baseball cap, belt, glove, 3 pairs of sunglasses (none of value) and a glow necklace. We also scored CBI back a full Mercury mainsail that had been purchased the year before and a 30'+ lifting strap. Our most interesting find of the day however, was a Hood milk bottle that, at our first round of research, appears to be very old. It is stamped 1938 on the bottom and we are still working on ways to confirm its age. We still have some of the micro-plastics to count from the day at CBI but we picked up well over 200 pieces of trash and had around 220 people join us during the day or in the afternoon for the Trash Bash. And we appreciate my parents coming out in the ridiculous heat to check out the operation and even help with the tether and netting some bottles, cans and plastic out of the water!

This was our biggest week yet and we have some important companies and people to thank for making it happen with their financial and in-person support:

Thanks to:Kilroy Realty Corporation
Boat US Foundation
Courageous Sailing
Boston Community Boating
Woods Hole Sea Grant
along with our tech partners (VideoRay, Blueview, Lyyn, Tritech and KCF) this week we...

-picked up 1758+ pieces of trash including an historic bottle, Mercury mainsail, 3 pairs of sunglasses, Nike sneaker and pirate flag
-had 407+ people of all ages participate in the program, help get marine debris out of Boston Harbor and the Charles River and get to connect with their underwater world

If you want to check out more photos from our Courageous stop, photographer Russ Bolt took some great ones. See: http://gallery.me.com/russbolt#100094

We are now back in Vermont for a little bit of rest and then some solid work on the phone and on the computer. We have some projects that need finishing, people that need talking to, reports to make, a video to edit and we realized it will all be easier on land (and the dogs are thrilled). More later in the week as we look back at this first phase of the Trash Tour and plan for the next which will still be all about trash pick up action but this time with more of a research focus.

Thank you to everyone who made Boston week and the whole Trash Tour to date amazing. More stats and reports to come.

Stay cool.

rzm and the Rozalia Project/American Promise crew

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ahhhh, success...

So we are just wrapping up programming here at Sail Newport, and I can honestly say it was a great week. Not only did we get to interact with and educate a lot of kids, but we also pulled up an insane amount of trash out of the waters here surrounding Newport. It was incredible to see not only the amount of trash in the water but the forgotten and left behind derelict fishing gear. The Rozalia Project was able to pull 8 massive lobster traps out of the water. Even more shocking was the amount of trash built up in the actual fishing gear and traps; no could have predicted what we found in these traps, everything from beer cans and rubber gloves, to golf balls and PVC pipes. Essentially, there was an overwhelming amount of "trash within the trash." It was probably one of the most gratifying moments I have had thus far with the Project. Even the reactions on the kids' and instructors' faces around us indicated to me that we had shown them something that they would not soon forget. It was a great feeling to be apart of the team to pull those massive under water trash collectors out of the water.

Fortunately, this feeling of success has been one that has seemed to follow us throughout Rhode Island; in the past week we have been through Newport, Jamestown, Providence, and Bristol. While it has been extremely busy, it has also brought us some great kids and lots of opportunities to help communities clean their waters. Amazingly enough, these places while close in distance to each other, I found to be very different from each other. Providence seemed to possess its own kind of energy, and the Community Boating Center it is a wonderful place with an incredibly dedicated staff. Bristol and Jamestown were both quiet places for me, but we made some great finds. At the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol, we were able to take on the slightly different role of treasure hunter. There, employing the ROV and a little bit of diving, we were able to recover a beautiful antique bronze anchor, which we gladly handed over to the museum (it has a permanent home there, go check it out!).


Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Art of Going Slowly

We are just on the verge of our first Trash Bash Celebration for a Clean Ocean here at Providence Community Boating and taking some time to catch up on emails, phone calls, cleaning up the boat (and a little stand up paddleboarding on our new Bic SUP's).

It has been a great and satisfyingly crazy few days. My last post came from the daylight hours of what turned out to be a lovely and smooth, if not slow, overnight trip the length of Long Island Sound to Newport, RI. In some cases slow is good. Slow let us see 20+ firework shows at the same time along the length of the CT and Long Island shores. Slow let us enjoy only the sound of the water rather than the engine. Slow let us sail through The Race (the potentially extremely rough junction of Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean) very near slack tide. And slow let us arrive in Newport in the daylight to come alongside at the Museum of Yachting in Fort Adams. Despite the lack of sleep, we were happy to have a full day or recovery and some boat projects as well as time to watch the last start of the Transatlantic Race (go All-American Offshore team!!!).

After that, slow would not be the appropriate word for what has been going on... more like full-on. We had a great day with the kids at Conanicut yacht Club, around 92 of them! Thanks to a swiftly moving current it was not so much about picking up trash though we did recover a piece of dock fender, as it was about the ROV and the issues and problems of marine debris. CYC's director, Meg Myles, has been doing an excellent job integrating marine education with their sailing education and the kids were informed and excited to recognize creatures they had already learned about... as well as have an explore through the eel grass (which looked like swimming through a jungle). In many ways, I would rather fly the ROV around an environment full of fish, crab, sea urchins, starfish, colorful seaweed and little darting winter flounder than loads of trash. Unfortunately, we are not fooled by the clean bay as July 4th, Sloane, Laura and I picked up 2 huge bags of trash from the shores of Fort Adams in less than an hour.

Thanks to James' 5 am wake up and helming skills, we arrived in Providence in time to roll straight into trash pick up excitement with the Community Boating's STEM program (Science, technology, engineering and math) for the morning and then the sailing programs for the afternoon. This was the first stop where we had American Promise alongside a dock and it was very cool. We organized into stations: Laura gave boat tours teaching the sailors about the boat, its history, navigation and life at sea; Sloane led the net brigade recovering lots and lots of trash that was floating by on the fast moving tide and then sorting, measuring and recording the trash and I was in charge of the ROV/sonar/Smart Tether station.

Providence Community Boating was one of our pilot program stops and John and Will and their team of instructors do an incredible job giving the sport of sailing and access to the water to a diverse (and excited) group of kids and adults.

This stop saw us gain a piece of very exciting equipment, The KCF Smart Tether will let us know exactly where we are, where we are going and where we have been with the ROV, a luxury we have not yet had. We are especially excited to have this new piece of equipment going into the Newport stop where we know that derelict fishing gear is a problem. We will be marking the derelict traps we find so that Clean the Bay can come in behind us with their landing craft and pull it out!

So, the stats so far are approximately:
In 4 days of programs...300+ people have participated, we have picked up 500+ pieces of trash and have traveled a total of around 300 miles. We are on the verge of our first Trash Bash supported by the Boat US Foundation (yipppeeee, thanks to ALL of you who voted last month) and psyched to keep on rolling, meeting great people, having fun with the kids and picking up a whole lot of ocean trash.

If you or anyone you know are near any of our upcoming stops, we have lots of free and open to the public action:

Tonight (July 7): Trash bash, Providence Community Boating from 6-8pm
Friday July 8: Herreshoff Museum, Bristol, RI: boat tours in the afternoon
Saturday July 9: 10-3 trash hunting with the ROV off the docks
Sunday Jul 10: Time TBA boat tours
Wednesday July 13: 5-7pm Trash Bash at Sail Newport

Hope to cross paths (or wakes) with you soon,

rzm and the American Promise crew (right now: James, Sloane, Laura, Hickory and Smudge)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Spotters and Netters

We are now sailing east away from our first stop of Trash Tour 2011 in Oyster Bay and toward Narraganset Bay where we will visit 4 locations for marine debris programs and trash pick up. I just relocated from the very hot cabin/nav station to the deck and am loving the invention of laptops with decent batteries (it is a hot, sunny day with around 5 knots of breeze). **After writing this, we lost connectivity, so I am now posting after a lovely afternoon of up to 9 knots of speed and much cooler temps. Wind died again as we are approaching dusk and we are going to sail through the night to Newport to get ahead of
some storms forecast for tomorrow afternoon (and sail through the race with a favorable tide).

Thanks to the efforts of the Waterfront Center, Oyster Bay Marine Center and Oak Cliff Sailing Center, it was a great first stop. We had around 136 people participate in the dockside programs and we ran our very first on board program with WFC’s high school sailors.

Thursday morning, we welcomed 4 high school sailors and their 2 instructors/naturalists on board American Promise. After a history of the boat (and tour) as well as an intro to the types and problems of marine debris we designated some sailors as spotters and others as

netters. Before I give you the results, I have to say that we had not seen really any trash during the 2 days of boat work that we had before starting the program. There is a lot of current flushing in and out of the Bay, much of the shore is privately owned (rather than open for picnicking) and the oyster dragging process must get a lot of the trash off the bottom. That said, the kids did a great job spotting and picking up a box full of trash (we are about to weigh and measure it during today’s passage) all in a mere 30 minutes. On the way back, we balanced the low tech (but effective) nets with the high tech and revved up the Tritech Starfish side scan sonar which confirmed our expectations of a flat, uniform bottom (good for the oysters).

We triumphantly motored in to the area where the WFC runs their programs (nets held high) and picked up a mooring next to their oyster dragger turned education/tour boat, Christeen. That afternoon and all day Friday was spent with lots of WFC sailors, their instructors,

and the interested general public. We were using the VideoRay ROV and nets off the dock. We were happy to find that there was not a lot of trash on the bottom near WFC’s docks but there were some critters and some beautiful marine flora. Similar to what we found on the surface, you just need to look hard enough and even what seems like a very clean area of the water will give up its marine debris and we pulled out some plastic, a particularly elusive Bud Light can and a metal water bottle.
The WFC has a very diverse, well run and busy program incorporating marine education into their sailing and paddling programs and we found their young sailors aware of their surroundings and psyched to learn more. There was genuine excitement with each piece of trash we found and recovered and we even had some sailors and locals learn to fly the ROV and help with tether handling.

Sloane did a great job with her first marine debris program and we are now lucky enough to have Vermont sailor, Laura Dunphy, with us for the next week. Laura worked with me over the winter and won a Young Explorers Club grant to join us and study tunicates in Narragansett Bay (as I write this, Laura, Sloane and Hickory are napping on deck in preparation for an overnight sail into Newport).

Before heading for my turn on the helm, I want to say another big thank you to Alicia, Dave and all the instructors and naturalists at the Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay for being our

first hosts, to Oak Cliff Sailing Center for helping to make this happen and for spreading the word (and for some advice on our engine and for taking Sloane out on a classic boat for a Thursday night race) and to the Oyster Bay Marine Center and their launch drivers for the genero

us donation of a mooring and patience as Hickory and Smudge learned to get on and off AP and left handfuls of dog hair in their lovely launches. We appreciate all of the help and genero

sity and are psyched to head into Narragansett Bay for some more boat work, fireworks and best of all, trash pick up and education programs.

Think breeze (so we can keep rolling east under sail rather than motor),


(and the Rozalia Project/American Promise crew: James, Sloane, Laura, Hickory and Smudge)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trash Tour started... and meet our newest crew member

After two weeks (hectic weeks to be honest, it is a boat project as well as a trash project), we set off on Sunday June 26 as planned. On board were a great and appropriate group of people: me and James, my mom and dad (who not only tolerated us but they dog sat, fed us, let us take over their house, laundry and time and all with the most generous enthusiasm... beyond even the call of a parent), Tom Peterson (our very first supporter and a sailor himself), my cousin Laurie Bell (who had spent many years on the Clearwater sailing up and down the Hudson), Hickory, Smudge and our newest crew member for the summer, Sloane Suciu. This is the brave soul who answered our call for a changemaker/intern and she has been awesome. We will use this post to introduce you to Sloane... or, I will let her introduce herself (because there is just too much todo, blogging was part of the lengthy job description and I have to learn to delegate anyway). Tomorrow we start the program at The Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay (we are writing this from mooring CB10).
We have time for the general public to join us Friday later afternoon into the evening right off the Oyster Bay Pier! We would love to see you or your friends who are around the north shore of Long Island!
And now, meet, Sloane...


Hey everyone out there, my name is Sloane, and I am the latest crew member to join the Rozalia Project on its mission to clean up our oceans. I am a student studying at the University of Detroit Mercy, but am lucky enough to be with the Rozalia Project for the next two months. While we have only been on the American Promise since Sunday, we have already experienced so much, from picking up trash on the Hudson River to sailing around New York City. New York City from the water was incredibly beautiful and an experience I am sure I will never be able to duplicate. Removing debris from the Hudson prior to sailing into the New York Battery also proved to be very enlightening; within a few minutes we were able to remove over 80 pieces of trash, and undeterminable amount of micro-plastic. It seems to me that even though we have a very busy summer ahead of us, we are also in a position to do a lot of good by removing debris and educating the public on the part they can play in keeping the ocean clean. As with everyone else involved in the Rozalia Project, I am very excited to be here and am looking forward to meeting my fellow ocean enthusiasts!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Moving mostly forward

Before starting, I have to say the biggest THANK YOU this font allows to all of you who showed great enthusiasm and endurance voting for us in the Boat US Grassroots Grant funding contest. We ended up third which is as good as winning and we are waiting to hear from Boat US with the final contract (more on that when it happens - just wanted to say thank you).

I have been composing a new post in my head for a few weeks, especially throughout the last week as we have been in full-on high gear getting the boat ready for the official start of the Trash Tour. My feeling on boatwork is that the best one can expect is to move mostly forward in a day. And for the most part, we have been doing that - moving forward. Today - not so great, but the good news is that it is one of the first days since our big push that we have had a set-back that cost more than an hour or two. Today's issues notwithstanding, we have been rolling along. The interior is nice and newly white and now on the road to being organized. See photo right - those cabinets were literally a jumble of tools, fasteners, tape and parts from machinery that has not been on the boat since the original circumnavigation (anyone need Westerbeke generator parts?). I take no credit for this but give it all to our great friend Shirley Waterfield who was the driving force behind much of what you will see that is clean and organized on the boat. She could have her own organizer reality show.

Some of the issues that plagued us on the trip
up almost exactly one year ago are fixed - stuffing box being one of the biggest, James conquered that today, and the deck beam is done as well. Scarano Boat Building did an extremely and typically neat job (see photo right, and then go back to one of my first posts to see the rotten version). The rigging is re-run, deck repairs complete and the boom up. If all goes well, we will have the bottom painted tomorrow and boat launched on Wednesday. Then, after the next phase of (a lot of) jobs that require us being in the water, we will set off Sunday morning down the Hudson (a spectacular trip)!

In the nooks and crannies in between painting, scraping, cleaning, ordering and planning, I am working on a way for people to follow us (looking like the Spot Messenger) and I do
promise more frequent blog posts as well as Facebook updates with photos of trash and kids and trash and adults and trash and cool fish and pretty islands and our increasingly beautiful (and functional) American Promise... who is about to get some lovely new lettering and American flags.

More very soon. Keep your fingers crossed and best boatwork vibes coming our way.

Happy solstice,


Sunday, May 22, 2011

If only the fish could vote...

If you are reading this, you likely already know that we were chosen as finalists in the Boat US Grassroots Grants funding contest. And we are holding strong in second which, in this case, is great as more than just the top vote-getter will receive funding to be announced on June 13.

This past week I was in Brownsville, TX representing VideoRay (the makers of the ROV we use) teaching professors from the University of Texas Brownsville and Texas Fish and Wildlife officers how to put their VideoRay and Tritech SeaSprite sonar to use as part of their joint artificial reef program.

Not only was it great working with a group of bright people motivated to learn everything they can about the creatures of the
sea and how to make them thrive, but I got to check out some of the results of their work. Our first ROV dive site was an artificial reef off South Padre Island. We approached along a tag line attached to the superstructure of the wreck that had been painstakingly cleaned (of chemicals and oil) and then put on the bottom ready to be populated. And populated it was. The ROV was surrounded by hundreds of multiple species of fish as soon as we descended to the wreck. It was beautiful and a great bonus that I was with people who could name every fish (and tell me some cool facts about them as well).

As far as marine debris goes, in this case we were looking for fish instead of trash. We found a lot more fish than trash which was nice though I did see some plastic shopping bags floating around and when we were working in the port, there was the usual assortment of bottles and wrappers as well as plastic sheeting. But mostly this trip was about fish...

So many fish. I wish they could vote. If they knew what we were doing (getting trash out of their environment), I bet they would be psyched to vote as well. But they can't and so I want to to say that we are grateful for all of you that have been taking a few seconds each day to vote and to spread the word. We appreciate every effort on our behalf, on behalf of the fishes and on behalf of a clean, trash-free ocean.


To vote for Rozalia Project's Trash Tour via the web click here
To vote for Rozalia Project's Trash Tour via Facebook, click here