Creating awareness: Less plastic in the sea, starts on land!
Merijn Tinga, the plastic soup surfer and his monster downwinder part II:
Last sunday I started on what should have been the last stretch of my 400km kiteboarding expedition along the entire Dutch coastline – From Knokke in Belgium to the East Friesian isle of Borkum (Germany). All this on a self made board board weighing well over 15kg – 10 kilos of which is plastic garbage found on the beach; the same amount of garbage that washes up on our Dutch shores every 250m monthly! With this trip I hope to draw attention to the plastic-pollution and create awareness.
And it has been a super adventure so far. Immensely hard and exhausting crossing high seas and waterways on such a heavy board. I had to break of my first attempt in after two days and a morning (320km in total) because of my swollen ankles and cut open feet due to the sheer weight and the self made straps composed of fishing rope.
What drove me on though was the enthusiasm of the kite surfers along the way; running up to me to get their picture taken with me, giving me food and drinks or spontaneously offering me a place to sleep for the night. They where already impressed by the distance I covered but once I let them pick up the board they where stunned. I was welcomed as if I where a hero and this pushed me on until body could go no further.
Moreover all surfers I talked to recognized the plastic pollution on their beaches; told me how they organized beach clean ups or how they where disgusted by the way beach visitors would left their garbage behind.
Last sunday it had been six weeks since I aborted the expedition. My foot and ankle had recovered and I was ready to finish the last eighty kilometers of the ride. This time a whole lot of local riders would join me along the Dutch Isles. Having them ride along this sunday made the already perfect conditions extra special. The best part is when you reach the end of an island and have to cross over to the next. It is like jumping of a high cliff into mid air. It takes a while before you see the next island, the water turns from brown to cristal blue at points as you navigate around sandbanks from perfectly flat water into tide and current driven wave turmoil. Great to be able to share this with the three local kiters who were following me – and their first time to cross between the two isles as well!
In Schiermonnikoog new local kiters and friends came to accompany me along their island.
Jan-Leendert Blokker: “When I did hear that the Plastic Soup Surfer was going to continue his trip on our island Ameland I was stoked that it was so close to home. He sent me a mail when he was going to start, and so the day came. I asked Alexander Kiewiet and Marco Moll to join us.
Sunday 21st of September the trip started. Merijn (the Plastic Soup Surfer) had to do 80km to Borkum Germany, we only 60km to Schiermonnikoog and back. The wind was perfect and we were going real good. It took us just over 2 houres to reach Schiermonnikoog. Merijn carried on to Germany and we ware going back to Ameland.
We are proud of the fact that we were able to kite with Merijn at this part of his trip.”
I had become over confident and had started jumping of waves with my heavy board. And this proved fatal: first I noticed the board felt “spongy” and I was unable to carve a turn. On the beach it became clear : the board had sheared. Broken. I had to abort the expedition once again. Now only 2 hours from the finish – Borkum.
Still determined to become the first to kiteboard the total Dutch coastline, to pass beaches never surfed before and to keep on spreading the message: less plastic in the sea, starts on land, – I will repair the board and finish my quest this autumn for sure!
(A documentary about my journey is being made this moment and due to be released by the end of November. Please feel free to help by funding this project. – www.plasticsoupsurfer.nl)