During the initial trip for Searcher no1 Journeyman between Stockholm and Ystad we could physically see some of the great challenges for the Baltic Sea. First have a look on the map; nine countries sharing the same water – not a walk in the park to find a political consensus, some serious differences. And the challenge gets worse; the Baltic Sea has a serious size problem. The deepth never really goes underneath 60 meters and even if we caught some heavy weather going south it takes some serious storms to stir the water enough to transport oxygen to the bottom. This also means that the water volume is more sensitive to pollution and eutrophication (the effect from to much pig-shit in the water) and this one of the reasons that the Baltic Sea sadly are on the top-list for most polluted seas in the world.
Heavy traffic, night sailing at 2 a clock in the morning in rough weather a bit south of Hanöbukten you realize the figures presented in a Baltic Sea report from SIWI, you don´t want to be in the fairway. The AIS system is just drowned with cargo-ships with funny names going in 14 knots. I don´t want to think about if something serious happens - at any given time, approximately 3500 ships are on the sea, including 2000 large ships such as oil tankers and cargo ships. This increases the risk of accidents and pollution incidents. Only 3 % of the water is exchanged annually. As a result it takes approximately 25-30 years for the Sea to replenish itself, meaning that any environmental damage may be sustained for a long time.
As the Captain of Journeyman, Jesper Weissglas, so wisely put it after me being impressed by the fact that we didn’t do any steering for 6 hours on our leg entering into Hanöbukten . “Lock the rudder and let the sails do the steering” – That´s exactly what we have to do in the Baltic Sea situation, create a common understanding and together change the game-play. It is all about people!