By Emily Wolfe

What a coup! Our partners Marjo Boertien and Edwin Butter at Ocean Conservation have pulled off an incredible feat, enlisting crew members from 100 sailboats to collect 600 samples as they cross the Atlantic Ocean. 

Yes, that’s right, 600 samples.

The boats are part of the 2014 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, which sails from Grand Canary Island to St. Lucia. This map shows where all the boats are currently. You can also click on the photo to visit the an up-to-date version on the ARC website.

The first boats are in fact already arriving in St. Lucia— these are from the ARC+, a group of boats that launched several weeks prior to the main group and went first to the Cape Verde Islands before setting sail for the Carribean. 

“We were really glad to participate and made sure we did not send ANY plastic overboard,” said Philippe Tarbouriech, who collected samples from the boat Makena. “As a matter of fact, I even collected plastic loops on the beach in Cape Verde to make sure they would not strangle any animals and cut them up before trashing them in Mindele. Could not collect the plastic sadly… way too much. But your experience made me even more vividly aware of the issue.”

He sent in several photos, including this one of sample collection.

Philippe took this photo on the ARC+ 2014 leg between Cape Verde and Santa Lucia on November 21. The Makena crew went on to collect a total of six samples. 

“What I can tell you is [rinsing] the bucket three times, the bottle three times at 10 knots is a lot of work and action!” Philippe said. “The bucket bounces like mad on the water and when it catches… better make sure you are well attached. No [man overboard] incident to report, happily!!”

We’re thrilled about working with the ARC sailors and Ocean Conservation, and are looking forward to seeing more photos and results from this massive transect. 


Riccardo Miglia pours while Jérôme Winter holds the ASC sample collection bottle aboard the Makena. (Photo by Phillipe Tarbouriech)


Plastic debris on the beach in Cape Verde (Photo by Phillipe Tarbouriech)

Learn more about this and other ASC projects on our website, the Field Notes blog, and by following us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Google+.