Our First Spring Sweep Cleans Up Ship Canal

05-20-2013

On Saturday, Un-Cruise Adventures partnered with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance (PSA) for the first time to clean up garbage in the ship canal. The PSA has been organizing the Spring Sweep, the largest clean up event of the year, since 2003. With our participation this year, the Ship Canal was added as a clean up destination for the first time, complementing their efforts in Lake Union, Portage Bay and Union Bay.

Staff and crew of Un-Cruise Adventures, friend and family, plus a few other folks sent by PSA, volunteered to rise super early on a Saturday morning to help clean up the waterway in our office neighborhood. The ship canal is the waterway outside Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal where the fleet resides when not out on adventures. Company headquarters are here at the Terminal, too.

Our team of 28 people on the water plus the expedition and deck crew of the Safari Endeavour met on the boat at 7:30 am sharp. We took out 11 double kayaks and two inflatable boats.

kayak launch

Launching kayaks off the Safari Endeavour's kayak launch platform--Andy and Ryan in kayak on left, PSA volunteers on right

kayaks and dibs

Inflatable boats followed the kayaks to pick up full garbage bags and supply new bags

PSA tools

Emily and Tom look excited to have a trash grabber

PSA supplied us with gloves, trash bags and grabbers. Hauling in garbage in the water is a messy business! Kayakers held the trash bags in their laps and used the grabbers to GRAB all kinds of junk. When bags got heavy, full or super stinky, they were passed off to the inflatable boats.

We had a plan and we stuck to it. We split up into two groups with a dib following each group of kayaks. We decided to paddle down toward the Ballard locks first and work our way back from there as we scooped up trash. One group took the south side of the canal and one took the north. As the group paddled down, a few may have been thinking, "There's no trash here. We're going to come back empty handed." But no. The trick is to look near the shoreline. And as we found out, it congregates in pools here and there and everywhere--around pilings, hugging the shoreline, in marinas, under docks. It's there. It's just not floating down the middle of the canal. It gets pushed to the sides. We spent about two and a half hours out on the water sleuthing out the garbage.

Who says you can't look good picking up trash? Check us OUT.

Haley and Vinca

Haley and Vinca are looking good in their Necky kayak

Marlena and Sue

Marlena and Sue were dedicated trash picker uppers

Alyson Astrid

Alyson and Astrid take time out to flash smiles and a wave

Cory and Devon

Devon and Cory found a nice trash pool

kayaks find trash

This was one of the largest trash filled areas of the day but Anne and Todd (in kayak on left) and Cory and Devon on right cleaned it up nice (this is the after photo)

Todd and Anne

Todd and Anne look pretty nice for garbage haulers

We ended up bringing in about 300 pounds of trash. How do we know? Shana weighed it all, bag by bag, before putting it in the dumpster. She told us we should be very pleased with that amount--a pretty good haul!

Loading dumpster

Here's Debbie adding the last of it to the dumpster while Shana from PSA looks on

What's the strangest thing we found: A bag of rotten meat.
What's the grossest thing we found: See above.
What's the stinkiest thing we found: See above. (Well, you get the idea.)
What was the biggest thing we found: A 6-foot long rectangular piece of styrofoam.
What was the most common thing we found: Plastic. Plastic. Plastic. Especially plastic bottles/jugs.
What else is clogging up our waterway? Food containers, garbage bags, rope, cigarette butts, styrofoam, cans, and even boots and shoes.

All in all, a very productive day on the water doing some good for the Earth. Thanks to all of you who volunteered and turned out for the Spring Sweep. A big thanks to the Safari Endeavour crew for helping with kayak launch operations and most notably the dirty deed of cleaning out the kayaks and inflatable boats at the end of the day.

PSA reports that they had nearly 400 volunteers show up to help in Saturday's Spring Sweep. We don't know the total trash collected for all sites yet, but in addition to our 300 pounds in the ship canal, we know they found more than 2,000 pounds at South Lake Union. You can see more photos on their Facebook page here, including their new cover photo starring two of our staff--René and Gloria. If you'd like to find out more about PSA and maybe join a future event, check out their website.









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