In 2012, Matt Rutherford became the first person to sail singlehanded nonstop around the Americas. Then in 2013, he and former NOAA researcher Nicole Trenholm began the Ocean Research Project, with an eye toward proving that small-scale sustainable research efforts aboard small sailboats are a viable alternative to larger well-funded efforts aboard well-staffed vessels. To this end, they spent several months at sea aboard the 42-foot steel hulled ketch Ault, collecting data on the state of the North Atlantic.
Now Matt aims to be the first to complete a continent-to-continent marine debris survey, sailing from California to Japan while trailing a net to collect samples, which will be processed by University of Tokyo’s International Pellet Watch Program and the Baltimore Underground Science Space. The ultimate goal is to quantify the quantity of plastic currently polluting the ocean’s surface and discover how ocean-borne plastics threaten marine life and human health.
Rutherford and Trenholm will be sailing aboard a W.D. Schock Harbor 29, the latest design by W.D. Schock. They plan to take off in mid-April following the Strictly Sail Pacific Boat Show in Oakland, California, so be sure to catch a sneak peak of the boat and wish them good luck if you’re there.