Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Earth Day 2015 Trashpedition Challenge

Every day is Earth Day for Team OSOM, but this year we thought we'd do something special for the annual event. We've had a tremendous year and adjusted to our new location in Northern California. We've had huge success with our "local boots on the ground" sister group PacOut Green Team, and after hundreds of hours on the roller coaster that is producing a documentary film, we're extremely excited to announce the short festival edit of Search for the Perfect Day is complete. Heck, we were even able to update our poor, neglected blog! Soon to follow is the full feature film, and that makes us want to celebrate!

So back to that something special...We've partnered with Trak Kayaks (Makers of high performance touring kayaks that fold into a rolling duffel bag) to celebrate with an Earth Day "Trashpedition" challenge. Help "clean up" Trak's new website by finding the plastic bottles hidden throughout it's pages. For every bottle you "Just CLICK to pick up", Trak Kayaks will donate $1.00 to Team OSOM to help us continue our work to educate others about the problem of plastic pollution in the world's oceans and waterways, and inspire others to refuse single use plastics and just pick it up when they find it. 

When you click the plastic bottles on the Trak site, not only does Trak donate a dollar to OSOM, but you will receive a special reward from us. It's how we say thank you, and it's from the bottom of our hearts. Click HERE to take the Earth Day Trashpedition Challenge, and HAPPY EARTH DAY from Trak Kayaks and Team OSOM!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Search for the Perfect Day Documentary Update

We....are.....almost....done. Have we faced challenges and unforeseen obstacles in producing our documentary, "The Search for the Perfect Day" ? Heck yes. We quickly maxed out our capabilities on all of our computers while editing six weeks of HD video, and as a result we've rented community space at Northwest Documentary in Portland to have access to superior equipment. This has been great, except we're limited to editing only two days a week. That being said we are very close to finishing the movie. We wanted to show you a snippet of what we've been toiling over for almost a year. Here is a little sneak peak: We're excited to get this project and message out there! OSOM stickers and T-shirts for our Kickstarter backers will start shipping out very soon. Thank you all for your support, and please remember; When you see litter, just pick it up!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Video: Surfing Sea Kayaks

Just a quick video with Team Member Chris Bensch surfing the P&H Hammer. We pick up trash because we love the ocean, and we wanted to share that stoke with you!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Ocean and Plastic Pollution Connect Us All.

What do China, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon have in common? The North Pacific Gyre. 

Between last spring and this fall, we've found hundreds of bottle caps among other plastic debris from Asia, which aren't sold in America. How is it that we are finding the same brands of bottle caps, thousands of miles apart, and even further from the country in which they are sold? 

The oceans connect us all. Literally. If garbage is dumped, littered, or blows out of a bin anywhere from Korea to California, it finds it's way into the North Pacific Gyre, which acts like a giant toilet bowl collecting debris in a current vortex. 

This photo by Chris Bensch taken in Santa Cruz, CA shows what happens to garbage and recycling at one stage of garbage/recycling collection and transfer. If it floats or blows it will find it's way into the storm drain, down to the river and out into the ocean where it wreaks havoc on ecological systems, wildlife, and humans.
Seasonal weather patterns and storms cause the gyre to shift positions, and when they connect with a shoreline, debris get's caught on beaches, reefs, etc. Storms can blow and push debris out of the vortex and into nearby shore currents and distribute debris on every beach, every where.

We found these bottle caps, and dozens more, plus thousands of bits of plastic left from these items as they break up from abrasion and UV, on the beaches of Kauai, Hawaii:

The photos below show debris collected from Hobuck Beach in Northern Washington. The garbage was spread over about a half mile of beach after a large storm. Note the Nongfu brand bottle caps. Nongfu is China's best selling brand of bottled water. It is distributed in several countries in Asia, but not in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.

The photos below show debris collected from Indian Beach in Northern Oregon nearly a month after the Hobuck collection above. Debris was spread over the entire beach after a storm,  but this collection was gathered entirely from a four square foot area at the high tide line. From a distance the beach appeared pristine. As we looked closer, we found the usual broken bits of post consumer plastic inundating the high water line. We even discovered plastic in it's raw form. The small white pellets you see in the photos below are what all plastic items begin as. Everything from kayaks to water bottles start of this way. These plastic pellets don't get to the beach from the storm drain, but rather enter the ocean from jettison, both accidental and intentional, from the hundreds of thousands of cargo ships traversing oceans every day. It's important to note that in July 2012 there was a huge amount of plastic pellets dumped in the ocean near Hong Kong in a shipping accident caused by a typhoon. It's hard to know for sure if the pellets we found are from the Hong Kong disaster or not, but as far as we were able to research it was the only mass jettison of plastic pellets in the Pacific in 2012, and it was also one of the biggest nurdle spills ever. The event was largely under-reported. We were made aware of the disaster through our mutual global network of beach cleaners and plastic pollution fighters. To date this is the only article we could find acknowledging the event: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health/article/1018164/typhoon-kai-tak-helps-clean-plastic-pellets-dumped-vicente
                                          From a distance, the beach looks clean...
                                         Closer inspection reveals plastic everywhere.

                                          Plastic the size of a grain of sand.
                                         The bits get smaller and smaller but always remain.
                                 Raw plastic bits, AKA nurdles, possibly from a spill in China.

So what can we do to stop plastic pollution? Stop buying it. Don't get us wrong, plastic is an amazing material. It's designed to last forever, and has limitless uses. We're not against plastic. We are against laziness, apathy, and disposable products. It makes absolutely no sense at all to make disposable products that are used from just a few seconds to a few hours, from a material designed to last forever. The result of this consumer habit can be seen above. Disposable plastic bottles and bags are the easiest to replace with re-usable alternatives. They are also the most widely used disposable items, so eliminating their use can have a huge impact.

If we stop demanding disposable plastic products, then production will drop to a point of equilibrium with lower demand. When production and supply decrease, so does pollution. Let's save plastic for use in things we need to last forever, not five minutes. After all, we are all connected by oceans.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Trip Report: Lumpy Waters Symposium 2013

We made our way to Pacific City, Oregon to Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe's 5th Annual Lumpy Waters Symposium on Thursday, October 17. Lumpy is a three day event offering kayak instruction aimed at advanced beginners, early intermediates, and advanced level paddlers looking to improve their ocean paddling skills on the beautiful Oregon Coast.
Classes range from "Fear to Fun in the Surf"; for those trying the surf zone for the first time, or paddlers who have not had formal instruction in the surf, to "Advanced Rock Gardening and Caving", and everything in between. For a complete list of classes click HERE.
The world's top coaches come to Lumpy from all over the world making it the premiere opportunity for ocean paddling instruction in the U.S. For a complete list of coaches, click HERE.
We set up base camp on Thursday evening before the students arrived, unloading mountains of food, beer, and fire wood. Although classes take place all up and down the coast, the Cape Kiwanda RV Resort in Pacific City is where it begins and ends each day.
Photo by Dave Slover
We caught up with our fellow coaches and made a few new friends at the Pelican Pub that evening as the world of ocean paddling descended on the tiny little coastal town. One of the barmaids seemed puzzled and flustered by the large gathering on a week night in the off season. I over heard someone tell her, "You know you're about to be over run by sea kayakers here pretty soon, right?" It was true. By Friday morning Pacific City would transform from a sleepy little board surfer town to the sea kayak center of the universe. Students come from all over the U.S., Canada, and abroad to take advantage of the high level of instruction offered in such a majestic setting.
Photo by Dave Slover
Friday morning I woke before dawn and hit the water at Netarts Bay, fishing for Dungeness crab to cook up for the crowd during the evening festivities. A few coaches hit the water at sunrise to take advantage of the mellow surf conditions and a chance for free play before classes began. Coaches and students gathered at noon for the official kick off to the symposium. Conditions couldn't have been more ideal: High temps near 70F. Winds less than 10kts, West swell 1-3ft at 12-15 seconds building to 6-9ft at 18 seconds for Coach Play Day on Monday following the symposium.
Paul Kuthe: Photo by Dave Slover
After the noon meeting people split into their various classes. Chris taught short boat surfing with Sean Morley to an eager group of students.

Chris Bensch: Photo by Neil Schulman
Photo by Neil Schulman
Photo by Neil Schulman

Crabbing proved futile. Despite fishing all day, only two keepers managed their way to the boiling pot, which made for a nice lunch on the beach for me but no crab feast for the group festivities that evening at base camp. Unfortunately crabbing has been slow this year compared to most, and the epic crab boils of the last several Lumpys were not to be this year.
After classes everyone returned to camp for dinner, drinks, and socializing before Rowan Gloag and Marty Perry of The Hurricane Riders and White Sea Magazine premiered a short video.
Saturday morning classes began earlier, with students having the option of half day and full day instruction. Conditions were perfect. As predicted, sea kayakers dominated the coastline.
Photo by Jason Goldstein

Photo by Jason Goldstein

Photo by Dave Slover
Photo by Jason Goldstein
Photo by Jason Goldstein
Photo by Neil Schulman
Photo by Dave Slover
Photo by Dave Slover
Photo by Dave Slover
Photo by Jason Goldstein
Photo by Dave Slover
Rob Yates: Photo by Neil Schulman
Sean Morley: Photo by Jason Goldstein
At the end of Saturday's classes, the group gathered for the evening's festivities. Saltwood Paddles provided two kegs to get things going right.

Photo by Dave Slover
After dinner Chris and I started off with a short Team OSOM round of ocean plastic pollution trivia. Asking the group questions such as; "How many plastic bottles are purchased every year in the US?" (answer: 21,900,000,000) and "What percentage of plastics actually get recycled in the US annually?" (answer: Less than 24%) and "How much garbage gets dumped in the world's oceans annually?" (answer: 14 billion tons). For those that answered closest to correct, we awarded stainless steel pint cups made by Klean Kanteen. Immediately following plastic trivia, we showed the trailer for our upcoming movie, "The Search for the Perfect Day".

Following our short presentation, Marty Perry unveiled his official Lumpy Waters Symposium 2013 video. It's not an easy task to shoot and produce a video in two days and have it be ready for showing Saturday night, but Marty pulled it off with style and grace, producing one of the best Lumpy videos yet.

After the videos, Danny Mongno hosted his ever popular Coach's Roast/Pub Quiz/Trivia Night. This is one of those things you really have to see to appreciate. Let's just say it gets a little rowdy and out of hand and people learn, drink, eat, and smell things they shouldn't, all in good fun. 
Paul Kuthe & Kate Ross Kuthe: Photo by Rob Yates

Sunday morning brought a little fog and a later start to classes than the previous day. Both deemed appropriate considering Saturday night's festivities. We gathered for breakfast before splitting into groups for the days classes.
Paul Kuthe, Leon Somme, Shawna Franklin: Photo by Dave Slover
Malcolm Kelly & Annette Pierson: Photo by Dave Slover
Rob Yates: Photo by Dave Slover
 Shawna Franklin: Photo by Dave Slover
Rob Avery, Matt Palmariello, Neil Schulman: Photo by Dave Slover
Leon Somme: Photo by Dave Slover
Jason Self: Photo by Dave Slover
Helen Wilson: Photo by Dave Slover
Chris Bensch and Ryan Rushton: Photo by Dave Slover
Cate Hawthorne and John Schlesinger: Photo by Dave Slover
Paddlers hit the water to slightly bigger conditions Sunday, with West swell coming in at 4-5ft at 16 seconds. Although the swell height prediction was average, the long period gave the breaking waves more energy than our typical eight to twelve second period here in Oregon. The result was increased challenges for students looking to take their newly honed ocean paddling skills up a notch.

Sean Morley: Photo by Jason Goldstein

Pushing your limits always comes with a cost, and this day was no different. A boat collision while paddling through the surf at Cascade Head resulted in a bit of fiberglass damage and an opportunity to practice incident management for the coaches and students. Although the damage appears significant, no one was hurt and the boat can be repaired like new.
Rowan Gloag: Photo by Jason Goldstein
Sunday's classes wrapped up and students and coaches made their way back home, tired and content. As is tradition, several coaches stayed for what has become known as Coach Play Day. With conditions predicted to pick up to 6-9ft at 18 to 20 seconds, Monday would prove to be meaty. The day began with fog and big, powerful surf, making it challenging for paddlers to get outside the break to catch a wave. Chris managed to get some footage of the end of the coach's play session. Sean Morley proves why he is one of the top kayakers in the world by catching an incredible ride in a surf kayak near the end of the clip.  

Lumpy Waters Symposium is a one of a kind event. The coaches and event organizers (Paul Kuthe, Suzi Elle, and Dave Slover) put their heart and soul into Lumpy Waters for the shear love of paddling.  Lumpy is more than just kayak classes, it's a gathering of kindred spirits and friends with the sole purpose of celebrating ocean kayaking in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. If you have the opportunity to attend next year, we highly recommend it!