The ocean is broken

The ocean is broken

2013 / Allgemein / non research

The ocean is broken

The ocean is broken
By GREG RAY Oct. 18, 2013, 10 p.m.

Ivan's brother, Glenn, who boarded at Hawaii for the run into the United 
States, marvelled at the "thousands on thousands" of yellow plastic 
buoys. The huge tangles of synthetic rope, fishing lines and nets. 
Pieces of polystyrene foam by the million. And slicks of oil and petrol, 

Countless hundreds of wooden power poles are out there, snapped off by 
the killer wave and still trailing their wires in the middle of the sea.

"In years gone by, when you were becalmed by lack of wind, you'd just 
start your engine and motor on," Ivan said.

Not this time.

"In a lot of places we couldn't start our motor for fear of entangling 
the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That's an unheard 
of situation, out in the ocean.

"If we did decide to motor we couldn't do it at night, only in the 
daytime with a lookout on the bow, watching for rubbish.

"On the bow, in the waters above Hawaii, you could see right down into 
the depths. I could see that the debris isn't just on the surface, it's 
all the way down. And it's all sizes, from a soft-drink bottle to pieces 
the size of a big car or truck.

"We saw a factory chimney sticking out of the water, with some kind of 
boiler thing still attached below the surface. We saw a big 
container-type thing, just rolling over and over on the waves.

"We were weaving around these pieces of debris. It was like sailing 
through a garbage tip.

"Below decks you were constantly hearing things hitting against the 
hull, and you were constantly afraid of hitting something really big. As 
it was, the hull was scratched and dented all over the place from bits 
and pieces we never saw."

Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway 
domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and 

And something else. The boat's vivid yellow paint job, never faded by 
sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off 
Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.

BACK in Newcastle, Ivan Macfadyen is still coming to terms with the 
shock and horror of the voyage.

"The ocean is broken," he said, shaking his head in stunned disbelief.

Leave your thought here