Sailing in Scotland, and “speaking out loud” against Plastic Pollution

Donate #onecupatatime

As you can see, we’ve been busy. 10 days ago we were in St. Croix – we laid the boat up in 22 hours, including stepping the mast. Catherine’s got a small below waterline repair that needs a dry-out period before attending. After a show in NJ, and in NY, Snuggs is here in Scotland jumping on the transit of @clubfalco from Copenhagen to the Mediterranean Sea.

We started a campaign to reduce plastic pollution: #onecupatatime

Several days ago was #worldoceansday, and on this day our parternship with the Moorings really came out. The team there decided to formally announce their support in their newsletter, so big shouts to Ian and the rest of the crew at The Moorings for believing in us – without solid partnerships we’re “dead-in-the-water.” Here is the LINK.
As pristine as Scotland is, it is no stranger to this plastic thing. Reality is, there are so few places, if any, on the entire planet that are. Of course the marinas here have some floaters – every single one does. It’s not like folks are just tossing plastic in the sea, it’s all accidental. I guess we should call it neglect – but until we stop using them entirely we’ll have to include ourselves in that pile of humanity. Saints to waste we are not, and it would be impossible to say that we’ve never had a single thing fly of the boat at one point or another. We’ve all got to get next to that fact, accept it and move forward.

A big deal here is the “take-away” food spots – fish and chips so huge and delicious you just gotta have it. That means lots of styro-foam and plastic forks. I will say that most of the places have a choice for a sweet printed cardboard box, but you better be specific and clear about it. If not, you’re getting the foam. There are plenty of areas in the states that are the same, and it never fails to stun me that we as humans are still even using the stuff. It goes to show how these things become so engrained as acceptable, the amount of time it takes to make changes just seems insane. Are we addicted? Complacent? It’s really hard to tell, and only shrouds the issue in further contention as to where the blame lies. A piece of advice – we start with ourselves and the choices we make. And how those choices affect others, human or otherwise.

Even though you expect a good pint in a glass here, we’ve managed to bump in to a couple of busy nights where the plastic comes out to play. I actually had to turn down some cask ale due to this as I hadn’t brought my own mug with me – my overly-romanticised view of the region just couldn’t stand the thought of anything other than the perfect pint. At least there was a security guard spending much of his time collecting the spent vessels, prior to their decommissioning.
One use and that’s it – how the heck did we get her as a race, so afraid of a little beer in the bottom tainting our “clean” mouths that we couldn’t possibly reuse the thing for the night. Oh no. My mouth is sacred – right. I wonder if you did the math for the night here, the cost of all the cups and of the percentage of the security guard’s wage in dealing with them, and compared them to washing how that would work out? Saying no to the pint wasn’t fun, but I had a nice whiskey instead served in glass. No one here in their right mind would be so daft as to serve that in plastic, that’s just plain sacrilege! Next time I won’t forget the mug – I’ll deal with the odd stare or two and enjoy the hell out of that pint knowing I’m on the level.
That’s what makes the campaign of #onecupatatime so important – it’s not but the location – everywhere in the world has this damn problem. It’s about the source of the problem, and that is us. We’ve got to stop saying “Screw it, I’ll save myself the effort” and see the backside of that equation. Just like any other there is an equal sign in the middle, and what goes in must come out. We’re just so busy making a buck or looking cool that we aren’t willing to jump two steps forward. It’s truly ridiculous and not changing anytime soon. Humans have become lazy in our technological advances. We just hire someone else to deal with it, and in the process of these things being recycled or disposed of “properly” the stragglers that get away are wreaking havoc in our waters – from the busiest cities to the most remote islands on earth.

The slow advances we have made are not nearly enough nor are they moving at a good enough clip. In this we ask for your help – not only to donate but to share and help us spread the word. We don’t want to do this thing perpetually – we want to prove the impact of a small decision by taking a sample group and providing them with a tool to use, one that no amount of social media hash-tagging is going to convince em to just “bring along on vacation.” We want to prove that plastic isn’t some system that we have to beat, it’s a material that we have allowed ourselves to become married to due to its inexpensiveness. It’s cheap, and when we over use it we become cheap, while still spending more money and resources on the material itself. It’s cheap in the mindset, which migrates through other behaviors as well.
It is the worst when we are having the most fun – on vacation, at a concert, at a bar that’s just “too busy to wash” or concerned about safety and breakage. We can’t leave it up to businesses, we’ve got to show them what we want. We want our bevvies! We want ’em tall! And when we’re dealing with the next morning, we want a clear conscience no matter how foggy the mind.

Thanks for being a part of it – bottoms’ up!!

Team One Cup


What a stunning part of the world these Isles are – the sights and people of Scotland and Ireland are absolutely incredible. Rugged, yet still with a sweetness likened to the morning dew. While transiting the Caledonia Canal we made through Lochness, and lucked out with 15 knots of wind on a dead run, wing-on-wing with the pole out. Falco crossed Lochness well inside of 3 hours. Epic.
After a night in Fort Augustus (about midway through the 60 mile system), we hit the next section and took a nice little dip in Loch Lochy – this of course after we realized we had run out of cooking fuel and a post-dip hot tea would be put of the question. A nice lunch of cold haggis and scotch will substitute anytime in my book. After a 2 second swim we kept on moving, and made the entry to Neptunes Ladder round 6pm. This is the last set of locks before you exit the canal.
Once we popped through the locks it was 30 some-odd nautical miles to the port of Oban (pronounced “O-ben), the “seafood” capital of Scotland. Very nice city, and as usual the people are colorful as they come. Speaking of color, enter “Eric the Fiddler,” whom we met at a lovely pub on the backside of town. A few pints later the stories were simply amazing – the man is a bit of everything from a linguist to an engineer, and we shared some lovely tunes with yours truly playing some ill-acquired spoons. Myself along with the rest of this delivery crew – Cpt. Steven, Jesse, and Dillon – we were real lucky to have had the privilege of the man’s company for a bit. A real taste of the country.
After Oban the winds pushed us on to Belfast about 115 nm South through the Sea of the Southern Coast of Scotland (how’s that for a mouthful?). No lie, charts call it by name. We know Belfast and it’s rich shipbuilding history (birthplace of the White Star Line, of “Titanic” fame), and while I was in the back of my mind expecting a bit of a dingy, blue-collar industrial type town, I was immediately smacked in the face by a truly interesting and happening little city.
The port entry is tight, but you roll through a vibrant shipping and ferry dock zone – one whole which is currently devoted to the construction of wind generators, the big-un’s. These folks aren’t like us Americans – they love to see their seasides dotted with windfarms that steadily unlatch this small country from the teet of fossil and nuclear power, all the while putting good shipsmen (or Ulstermen as they are referred to) to work sans hazard pay. The pic looks like some kind of giant aliean musical instrument – what the organ in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” should’ve been.
The only marina for small private vessels is adjacent to the Titanic Museum and a stadium. For you old Rock n’ Roll buffs out there, Stone Roses was playing the night after we arrived. Just about 5 – 10 minutes walk from the city proper, it is a great stop off point in the region I couldn’t recommend it enough. The marina is really inexpensive and well-kept, and such a short walk into town makes this a night-owl’s delight. Top that off with an extra few hours of light in the sky due to the high altitude and there is no limit to the trouble one can find if one wants…

So now we’re in the Isle of Man – 4 dudes on a boat, no-less. Isla des Mano, Quatro des Mano awaiting some more wind to get further South and start losing the layers. For the time being, though, we’re all having a great time – lots of hot tea and coffee going around at sea and toasty scotch and whiskey ashore with Northern Gannets, Muir and gulls a plenty. Now if we could only figure out how to land a fish…