We sat in our lounge room in Australia staring down at the 45 marine charts that showed our 2042km kayak expedition through the Inside Passage, and it was hard to even imagine what was in store for us. The 3-month journey would take us from Glacier Bay, North West of Juneau, through the island passages of Southeast Alaska and British Columbia, to the southern end of Vancouver Island. Only books and words from other kayakers could help us imagine what awaited us. From the moment we dipped our paddles into the icy waters of Glacier Bay, Alaska, we were challenged, awed and inspired. The expedition was everything we wanted, and more than we bargained for.
Both of us are passionate about ocean conservation and have been campaigning about the issue of marine debris for over five years. About three years ago, we decided to give up single-use-plastic in our lives, and when we started planning this trip we decided we wanted to complete the expedition without using single-use plastic. The biggest challenge we faced was with our food, as we couldn’t just have our meals in zip-lock bags. Thankfully, we had the Lupii Cafe sponsor us and prepare, cook and dehydrate the 500+ meals we needed for our three-month expedition! We then stored it in three layers of newspaper with up-cycled silica gel packs, which were placed in heavy duty dry bags. The food lasted in very wet conditions, even when our tent was flooded in the middle of the night by the incoming tide.
Given the protected nature of the Inside Passage, we both weren’t prepared for the amount of marine debris that we saw along the way. Aside from the first week in Glacier Bay, there was trash on every single beach that we landed on. Some bottle brands we even recognised from our beach clean-ups in Australia with Tangaroa Blue! It was heart-breaking to not be able to pick it up. Instead, our strategy was to take it above the high tide line and collect data, photographing the rubbish, categorising it into material types and taking GPS coordinates of everything we could. The data is now being collated into a report which will be sent to Alaskan and Canadian agencies, so that we can assist in the reduction of this waste at the source. It was really special to be able to discuss this issue with the people that live along this rugged coastline. We would also like to thank all of our incredible donors for helping us reach $20,000, all of which goes to Tangaroa Blue and the Living Oceans Society, so that they can continue doing the important work that they do. Although we were continuously faced with plastic debris on our trip, every day was a reminder of our love for the oceans, as we were surrounded with Humpbacks, dolphins, porpoise, sea lions, seals, hundreds of bird species and thousands of intertidal critters. It’s these magical moments that inspire us to keep campaigning for clean oceans.