Just anything, as long as you can transport it by moped or motorbike, you will find it on the market of Barahona. There are so many people living from it.
This is another loud call from us to buy local, and don’t buy the stuff from the supermarket (mostly cooled vegetables, because of the long voyages from other continents in cool ships so an enormous use of fossil fuels). Just use your senses, including the common one, what products to buy.
We are at Isla Beata. The beach is incredible. We thought it would be very crowded. But, we saw only fishermen’s boats. After a short swim, we were received by the ‘commandante’ of the village. 20 people live here, all fishermen and their wives. Sometimes, when all the fishermen are here, the population is up to 60 persons.
The commandante offered us to use his internet to solve our problem. This is why we can send you this newsletter. Not the one we had intended, but the one we can. Have a great day!
We were curious about the relation between sun blockers and the coral reef. How much sun blocker gets into the reef? How much harm does that do? Or does it not? So, we dived in. Watch and see what we calculated.
We went snorkelling at Las Palmillas, in the South East of the Dominican Republic. And in 5 minutes we saw 2 starfish and 1 small manta ray, but also lots and lots of very dead seagrass. So, we wondered: what is the state of Coral Reefs in the Dominican Republic? We asked Luca, the owner of Coral Point, one of the biggest diving centres in the Dominican Republic.
Luca came to the Dominican Republic 20 years ago. The coral reef was much more colourful then. He is hopeful. A short while ago they saw seahorses. There is still hope. But, the sewage system has to improve. Big resorts and towns drain their waste water through the sewers without treatment.
Also, dangerous sunscreens, especially the ones containing Oxybenzone, have to stop. Read our next blogs to know more.
Do you want to know more? Sail with us? Let us know on email@example.com
During our ocean passage, we enjoy the darkness of the night. And the moon and the skies above. Very special, because we live in Rotterdam where there is always light. But maybe because we appreciate it so much, this is also why we noted that the skies are less dark than they used to be. Nowadays, the brightest sparks in the skies are not the stars or the moon. What is happening?
The satellites reflect the sun so we see them as bright objects moving in the sky. It’s at the same time confronting, comforting and confusing.
First the comfort-part: some of these satellites enable us to communicate. We use them to update our position and occasionally update our weather forecast when we are on the ocean. Satellites can gather loads of information to solve sustainability-issues. And they can enhance communication also in remote areas.
The confusing part is that, even in the middle of the ocean, we are ‘not alone’. And it is harder to experience the deep awe and relaxation of ‘the moon and the skies above’. Let alone knowing that there is debris of all those floating manmade objects in the skies. But these are perhaps ‘luxury-worries’. Indegenous people who use the night sky in their cultural practice raise alarm. The skies are changing and we don’t yet know if we can reverse it.
In some remote parts of the world, more satellites could improve the connection with the rest of the world. This might be in the very parts where the indigenous people live. But there hasn’t been any meaningful environmental review of these launches. And the people have not been consulted.
From 2019 to 2022, the number of functional satellites in orbit has more than doubled.
It might be 25 times this within 8 years, with possibly up to 100,000 operational satellites. In large part this increase is from the launch of satellite mega-constellations such as SpaceX’s Starlink.
The confronting part is that most satellites are related to energy-devouring systems. The ‘war’ on information and the military system all need satellites too. And these are the big owners of the satellites. With the rise in the number of objects in space, collisions and debris might grow. The collective reflection of sunlight from all of those objects actually raised the brightness of the night sky itself, which makes it difficult to see the stars.
Sailing and surfing
Perhaps looking into the real stars more often, instead of surfing the internet might be a wise idea. This gives you energy instead of using it. And, nature is – still – most impressive.
Ya’s motto is: use only what you need. It saves a big chunk of energy, so less windmills, solar panels, and money.
Now the Ecodesign Initiative of the EU makes legislation for this. Because it forces manufacturers to make their machines use only the energy they need. And that saves us lots of unnecessary use of energy and combustion of CO2. How does this work?
Let’s look at an example. Ever wonder why your vacuum cleaner gets so hot? Well, most customers believe ‘more power is better’. So, the 2.400 watt vacuumcleaner must be the best one. Well, it is not. A research on vacuum cleaners concluded that ‘some of the 2000 watt-plus vacuumcleaners are for 1.200 watt heaters’. After this study, the EU forced manufacturers to lower the maximum wattage while at the same time demanding better functioning. From 2013, the maximum power was limited to 1.600 watt, from 2017 even to 900 watt. These measures save 23 terrawatthours in 2030. For example, this is enough to light 23 million houses for one year. It is more than two times all the windenergy generated in the Netherlands in 2021 (8,9 terawatthours).
Ecodesign worked out more guidelines and in 2020, which all together saved some 1037 terawatthours of energy. This is more energy than The Netherlands used in 2020 (some 933 TWh).
Sustainable products initiative
The Ecodesign Directive is a success story. Thanks to boring EU-guidelines, the EU emitted 170 megatonnes less CO2 in 2020 (which is more than the total of Dutch CO2-emissions!). As a matter of fact, these ‘boring’ EU’s ecodesign rules, made by a group of dull and grey office workers, could account for one third of reduction EU has targeted ( a 55% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030).
With the recent EU -Sustainable products initiative, EU widenes the Ecodesign Directive to a broader range of goods. They also force the industry to make products durable, repairable, reusable and recyclable.
So you see, at Ecodesign, grey office workers work day by day, detail by detail, consistently doing the real work on sustainability in their boring offices. We think they do miracles.
Wherever we go, we try to discover as much local fruit and vegetables as we can. In Spain and Portugal we were amazed by finding good food during our walks. In Suriname, we found amazing brown and hairy fruit and more.
Of course there’s also plants that look as if you can eat them.
Our most intriguing fruit was the awarra or bush-gum:
We ate most of them right away: take off the crown and scrape with your lower teeth from the other end to the top. Chew and enjoy the rich, soursweet taste, spit out the hairy bits.
On Ya, we want to use only what we need. This is also true for our precious drinking water. So, whenever possible, we use the water we’re sailing on for washing the dishes etc. We take this water from the big tap with the electric pump, like you do at home. For drinking water, we use the smal foot-pump. Now what does this have to do with plankton? Well, if you take oceanwater from the tap, you would like to see some beautiful plankton under your microscope every now and then. Not plastics or carbon. So, let’s see what our water sampling earlier this year has brought the researchers from GOES.
GOES expected 10 to 20 particles of plastic and other matter between 0.02 and 0.2mm in size. Instead the sailors found between 100 and 1000 per litre.
Micro-plastic concentrations were on average 1 particle per litre, with higher concentrations near the coast.
Up to 1000 particles per litre were PCC (Partially Combusted Carbon) and some unidentified particles.
GOES expected 1 to 5 plankton per litre of water, but the sailors found less than 1 in 10 litres. There should have been at least 1 larger plankton animal per litre (above 50um) in the Atlantic Ocean. However, we found less than 1 in 10 litres.
Why is the large amount of plastic and black carbon so bad?
Oceanic water is meant to be pure, free of plastics etc. So, normally, you would only expect some 20 particles per litre, we now found up to 1000. These particles will be eaten by planktonic organisms and coral. As you know, plastic is toxic, especially when it disintegrates into smaller particles. PCC comes from the exhaust of ships. The exhaust gases are scrubbed with seawater and them dumped into the oceans. There will also be direct fall-out of particles from the atmosphere.
The plastics take in toxic chemicals from the seawater and amplify their concentration many thousands or millions of times, and then plankton or coral consume the particle with fatal consequences. Coral reefs and marine plankton are the root of the food chain for the planet and coupled with oceanic ecosystems they control the climate. Around the time a baby, born today, reaches adulthood, most of these systems will be dead – unless we take action on pollution.
About the mysterious ‘black particles’
The shipping industry burn in the order of 300 million tonnes of heavy, dirty fuel oil every year. Approximately 5% of this oil ends up as partially combusted carbon. Shipping industry dump 15 million tonnes of toxic waste into the oceans every year. The flue gases are now scrubbed from the exhaust and dumped directly into surface ocean water. This means the shipping industry is responsible for 15 million tonnes of toxic waste every year.
These carbon particles take in toxic chemicals just like plastic does, sometimes in even higher concentrations. So, they will contain molecular plastic, heavy metals and toxic chemicals. The worst part of it is that this is probably the result of another ‘Wrong good idea’, …
The coral reefs are dying and will be gone in 25 years along with any remaining fish, this is also happening all over the world. Shipping needs to be changed. It should be great again, without leaving the oceans polluted with plastics and chemicals. So then also, we can have more ‘plankton from the tap’.
We invited the children from Kinderhuis Johanna, Waterland and artist Dave Simson to paint the children’s dreams for the future on the jib. It was great! See all the work, and the sailing, in the next movie.
Next day we went sailing. So, the children hoisted the sail and, of course, they enjoyed seeing their paintings. Their footprints make heart prints on the sail, accompanied by all creatures of the sea. You see, this is the clean, healthy and happy future the children want to live in. Don’t you?