We have just returned home after having lived for 92 days on board "Lady Roslyn" this season, sailing nearly 2000 nautical miles from northern Italy near Venice, through Croatia, Montenegro, the Ionian islands of Greece, around the Peloponnese and as far north as Skopelos in the Sporades before returning to Athens for winter.
We spent a very high percentage of our overnight stops at anchor - 68 of the 92 nights, to be exact - and as I reflect on the incredible summer we have just experienced, I feel the need to comment on the fact that no matter where we anchored along all the miles of coastline we visited, there was plastic trash in almost every bay and every cove we anchored in.
What is clear to me is that around the Mediterranean coast, governments and local authorities do not and will not, in the foreseeable future, have the ability to clean up the coastlines and bays in which we, as sailors, love to anchor. If we, in the sailing community wish to continue to enjoy beautiful surroundings which are not marred by pollution, we will have to do something about it ourselves.
In the last couple of weeks on board "Lady Roslyn", while sailing in the Saronic Gulf south of Athens, I decided to do something about the trash. One afternoon we anchored with 2 lines ashore in a beautiful cove just north of Russian Bay near Poros. As we sat looking out over the hills and listening to the birds in the trees, my eyes were drawn to all the trash caught in the rocks and on the small beach just off our stern.
I popped the SUP into the water, took a big blue bin bag and paddled to shore. Within minutes, I had cleaned up the little cove and filled a couple of the bags with plastic water bottles and white poly-styrene (by far the 2 most prevalent items of trash) as well as pieces of rope, fishing nets, lids and a plastic flip-flop shoe. Once full, the bags weighed almost nothing, didn't smell of trash at all and easily stored into the forward anchor locker.
Looking out over the cove and the hillside afterwards felt really good. The rocks and cove were cleared of trash so that we could enjoy a cleaner environment. However, it also felt good to know that we had "paid it forward" for another boater who might anchor in the same cove after we had left. They would never know that we had picked up the trash, but they would enjoy a view unmarred by the plastic pollution scarring our coastlines and marine environment.
We belong to a Facebook Group called "Med Sailing" which now has nearly 3500 members. Those members are all sailors who are interested in sailing in the Mediterranean sea and are either sailing there already or would like to sail there. This post is written with all of those members in mind, as well as all other sailors out there who feel the way that we do. The "Med Sailing Group" on Facebook allows members to post articles and places of interest on the Group and to post adverts and personal website links on Friday's.
I would like to see if the power of social media could be put to good use next sailing season. If the "Med Sailing Group" has only 1000 members of the nearly 3500 members on the group who are sailing regularly in the Med throughout the summer, and each of those sailors filled only 1 bin bag with plastic trash from along their journey every week, we would collectively remove 20 000 bags of plastic trash from along the coastlines of the Mediterranean each 20 week sailing season.
I know that individually, my contribution to cleaning up the coastline will not amount to anything, other than making me feel good, but collectively we can make a real difference not only for our enjoyment while at anchor, but also for those who will follow behind us.
So I would like to ask the Administrators of the "Med Sailing Group" to declare the Group open for "Trash Tuesdays", where sailors can post pictures on a Tuesday of the bag (or bags) of trash that they have collected during the last week and where they picked it up. I know that we all face issues of space, or a lack of space, on board. But I also know from experience that we usually stop off every few days in small towns or find places where there are rubbish skips to offload the trash.
Let's all give something back for the environment and to "pay it forward" for each other and see if we can make a difference along this coastline which we all enjoy so much.
Catamaran LADY ROSLYN