April 8th, 2010, posted by Max Jourdan Tags: Max Jourdan, Plastiki, Plastiki daily update

Don’t be fooled by the glossy photos and the shiny editing. I’m going to give it to you straight, Plastiki tramp-style.

23.3 degrees of latitude. Sounds exotic; so why is it so flipping cold? Jo told me that: ‘By day five, you’ll be in a pair of shorts and T-shirt.’ I’ve woken up on deck wrapped in a wet, grey, wool blanket; the kind the Salvation Army hand out to homeless people in winter. This one’s got trendy badges and logos sewn on. Maybe El Niño has got something to do with my feeling so cold. Or global warming and all that. Once I drove down to meet James Lovelock, philosopher, inventor and environmental scientist. He proposed the Gaia Hypothesis – that planet earth is a living organism. We walked around admiring his garden while he predicted global Armageddon.

I subsequently fell asleep during my watch. They must have taken pity on me and let me slumber on. I don’t know what woke me, an inadvertent weather helm wave or this hard thing pressing onto my ribs. I rummage in my pocket pulling out a rusty knife and a red plastic beaker. In the dark, pouring myself another glass of that Argentinian Malbec, I hadn’t noticed that the beaker is crusted with dried soya milk flakes and caked in a layer of grease. Someone must have used it to drain the bacon pan yesterday morning. I’m not a drinker; but if I’m to be judged by the Plastiki’s T-total standards, I’m a fully fledged alcoholic. Though I did catch Olav sneaking a shot of cooking rum in his coffee, so I’ll put him in the same boozer category.

‘Did I remember to brush my teeth last night?’. Mouth all dry. Hair stiff like salty rope. Glasses frosted with spray. GOOD MORNING PLASTIKI. Let’s stand up and greet the first rays of sunshine. I shuffle to my feet in a stumbling dance to Ian Dury’s ‘Wake Up and Make Love With Me’ playing in my head. Don’t think anybody is impressed. I’m wearing oddly matched boots; must have have picked up Vern’s by mistake. Trousers are torn and disintegrating. Maybe dragging them by a rope in the boat’s wake for a few hours and drying them in the sun was a mistake. But it’s better than wearing the smell of tuna blood. And you should have seen that Bowline knot I made.

I’m hungry and need coffee. The solar oven was an eco dream. Haven’t had any bread for a week or so. Café Flore. Paris, France. ‘Une tartine de pain. Non, deux croissants. Beurre et confiture. Un café au lait. Le café bien serré. SVP.’ What we got here? Yesterday’s black bean chilli! That’ll do fine. Moist and congealed, but at least the coffee is boiling hot.

I glance at my face in the shiny metal surrounding the galley port hole. ‘Jezuz. The not fully grown, goat hair beard. White hairs magnified in the metal curvature. Red nose. Forgot the sun cream yesterday. And the blood shot eyes. Must get sleep. And the thinning hair. I’m the old man aboard this plastic tub. But my Gramps is ninety seven this year and calls everyone, ‘Les enfants’; so age is relative. I’d like to see myself as as a hipster hobo riding the Plastiki Pacific Slow Boat to Somewhere; but really I’m the official Plastiki tramp.

The coffee kicks in. Got a buzz and nature calls. Let me tell it to you straight. The Plastiki crew is divided over the use of the on-board toilet. For the boys ‘number 1’ is a no-brainer. Day or night. Whatever the sea conditions. A firm hand on the forestay running down from the mast and a fumble through layers of zips and Gortex will suffice. Jo has her own way of doing things. I’m sworn to secrecy, so you’ll have to ask her. As far as I am concerned, for more important matters, the ‘head’ is a place to be visited only in extreme circumstances: during a typhoon or hurricane or if I should be physically incapacitated in some way. Loss of limb, that sort of thing. Most of us would rather hang off the bows to do our business…

Quick bucket of sea water over the head before a morning nap? Maybe not today. Kind of sleepy again. Crawl through to my hutch. The cabin smells. Like six teenage, grubby campers are living here. Five men. One woman. Poor Jo. Bed still warm from the previous occupant. Pleased not to be sharing a sleeping bag. Morning light filters round through the round window; remember Play School on TV? Good morning. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

4 comments  | Comments are closed



  1. Laurel says:

    Max, you are hilarious! Love your descriptions. I too would have dragged clothing on a rope behind the boat to get rid of the smell of tuna blood. Sounds like the same thing needs to be done to most of whats in the cabin! Having grown up with brothers, I know what you mean by “grubby” smells. Anyway, keep blogging! It’s great fun to read what you write.

  2. Terry from Ct. says:

    And you keep your sense of humor~~great ‘descrip’~~~made my smile for the day, and has given me more empathy for what transpires in order to get “your message in a bottle.”

  3. Michael says:

    I really enjoyed all the detail in your post, Max. I really felt as if I were there on the boat.
    Thankyou – have a great voyage !

  4. Mark says:

    Thanks Max … Great to get PLASTIKI reporting in “smelly-vision”.

    As Terry from CT. says: it made me smile and really did make me think about what you are ALL going through out in the Pacific.

    PLASTIKI has been designed so well that I sometimes forget how radical the boat is, and that although you undertook sea trials, nothing could have prepared the “virgin-sailors” amongst you for this amazing adventure across the Pacific.

    More “Notes from the PLASTIKI Tramp” Please!