Science, Stories and Spirits

Leaving Workum, after visiting two very stimulating activists for a better world, left my head in a pleasant whirl. Lucy Gilliam has been working with New Dawn Traders for ages and has set up the Exxpeditions with Emily Penn in order to investigate plastics and other pollutants in ocean waters in female only research/sailing crews. Her partner Arjen van der Veen has had a long and colourful history with Fair Transport and before that, the small transport vessel Pierius Magnus that crossed the Atlantic in 2001 to help kickstart sail cargo.


Two conversations stay in my mind for now, the others are scribbled notes and a collection of ideas that will bear fruit down the line.  Exxpeditions have undertaken to look not only at the presence of pollution in ocean waters, especially in the form of plastics, but also to look at the presence of pollutants in their own bodies. This action brings about a swing of perspective. The dreadful expression attributed to Stalin that the death of one person is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic, gets turned on its head. Mercury poisoning is a statistic until you are talking to someone who measurably has mercury poisoning and quite likely picked it up by doing ethnographical fieldwork and drinking water tainted by the run-off from gold mining that is poisoning the water of millions of people.

Another conversation looked into the framework that would make the ship based celarring of drinks more widespread. Several barrels of good French wine were transported on the Tres Hombres in 2015, making a complete loop of the northern Atlantic. The wine makers were amazed at the improvements in the wine over the 5 month journey. This is possibly also one of the reasons for the quality of the various Tres Hombres rums. Linie Aquavit sells itself based upon the process of cask aging on a journey across oceans, often to the south Pacific. Why isn’t there an amazing sail-travelled cask Aquavit, Genever, Obstler or Whiskey being created? When can we order some?

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