The Clean Oceans Project

Plastic-Coated Paradise??

Photo by Mckenzie Clark.


…Yet another plastic-ridden beach thousands of miles from any significant metropolis…

Mckenzie and I hiked over the hill from where Swell was anchored hoping to find some wind-swell peaks to surf one morning.
Instead, we discovered this spectacular 1/2 mile-long beach coated in plastic trash (and Portugese man-o-wars!) from end to end. This beach faces the tradewinds on an island nearly 3,800 miles off the coast of Central America. We found shampoo bottles from Chile, a hard hat with ‘Miguel’ inscribed on it, polypropylene ropes, oil containers, broken jugs, toothbrushes, plastic bags, fishing nets, soda bottles, you name it…The plastic was brittle and broke easily when we tried to move it. Tropical sun breaks it down into smaller pieces over time, but they don’t ever biodegrade. What doesn’t reach this beach or others in the Pacific continues on to one of the five ocean gyres where floating plastic accumulates. We are literally turning our oceans into plastic soup!

Here and everywhere, the plastic continues to pollute, contaminating the surrounding environment with the toxic phthalates used in PVC plastic, bisphenol A or BPAs used in polycarbonate plastic, and brominated flame retardants or PBDEs used in many other types of plastic.  They enter the food chain from the bottom and move there way up effecting bird life, fish, marine mammals and eventually humans. Do you want your next order of fish and chips with or without plastic toxins?


Is this the kind of world we want to leave for our children?


Let’s reduce our plastic use!

Let’s demand alternatives to single-use plastic!

Let’s clean up the mess we’ve made of Earth!


Some corresponding organizations to support and follow:

The Clean Oceans Project

5 Gyres 

Algalita Marine Research Foundation

Surfrider Foundation

Plastic Pollution Coalition 

Mizu Stainless Waterbottles





Plastic-to-Oil & The Clean Oceans Project…

“Nothing but intense love for what you want will enable you to surmount the obstacles in your path…” –Joe Vitale

Jim Holm (far left), founder of The Clean Oceans Project, at the Plastic-to-Oil demonstration in San Diego.



My few weeks in California went by faster than ever…The memorial was fantastic and I left Santa Barbara feeling even more inspired than ever by the man who had helped me with the tools I needed to fulfill my dreams…


With the help of Patrick at North Sails in San Diego, and the generosity of Steve Waterloo and others of the Cal 40 fleet, I’d managed to track down a few used headsails. I would be heading back to Swell with plenty of Dacron to keep her gliding over the high seas a while longer…


The day before my flight, I was graced by the serendipity that, Jim Holm, founder of The Clean Oceans Project, would be in San Diego to demonstrate the Blest Plastic to Oil machine! This was a Japanese technology I had seen on YouTube earlier in the year. I8 had instantly sent out a fleet of emails, hoping to arrange to carry the ‘desktop unit’ of the machine aboard Swell. I envisioned sailing around collecting plastic all over the pacific and turning it into usable diesel or gasoline for my voyage and for the locals. After ample research, it was clear that the desktop unit was not super practical for Swell due to its weight and efficiency. With another solar panel or two and some muscular crew, I could probably do it…but space is so limited! Not discouraged, I had kept in touch with Jim Holm over the last few months, in hopes of finding an alternative way of introducing this technology to the Pacific islands, where limited if any recycling facilities exist, and plastic litters every shoreline from the most populated to the most remote.


What could be better than making turning plastic into a resource, and at the same time cleaning up shorelines and our oceans!?


…So I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to meet Jim and see this technology in person…In a back corner of the Driscoll Boatyard on Shelter Island, Jim and his fellow demonstrators stuffed the machine full of random plastic trash while explaining the incineration process, the products, by-products, and limitations of this incredible machine.

Jim’s positivity and determination was almost palpable. He exuded motivation to clean up the sea with this technology and explained his eventual dream to get a large machine put aboard a ship that was capable of extracting the plastic from the ‘North Pacific Garbage Patch’. He was doing all the touring and raising awareness of the technology out of his own pocket, but I was certain that his unyielding enthusiasm with such powerful science behind it, would eventually lead him to the right people, and the necessary funding to make his dream of cleaning up our oceans come true.


The Clean Oceans Project t-shirt makes it rather clear why we must do something about all the plasitc in our oceans!

Love is the secret ingredient to alchemy, even if in this case, it’s turning plastic into combustibles! …Be encouraged, Jim! Thank you for having the passion, courage, creativity, and energy to affront our plastic mess!