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The polystyrene cave 




Weather = 10/10

Started off coasting to the pirates cove. Sailed along learning the names of the plastic pirates crew. 

We masked off a couple hundred meters out and dropped the kayaks and ‘yoks’.

Paddling in, getting scoops ready. Marched up to the cave and realised the onslaught of polystyrene. Scooping, wading, scooping, wading was visited by a boat. 

After some removal of plastics and waste we loaded up and paddled back.

After some group hoisting of the rubbish and some …… (really usure what was written here :)) we took the liberty to dive off the bow, relaxed with some biscuits and set sail.




It was so lovely to be back with the COS plastic free pirates, meeting new people and going on Annie for the first time.


The cave was really exciting to explore and I’ve never seen so much polystyrene in one place - it seemed quite overwhelming at first but we soon stuck in and it was very rewarding to see the difference we made.


Coupled with Moni’s delicious Spanish omelette, cuddles from Rosie and building Lego towers with Simon, I’d say it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday.




“The polystyrene cave”


Deceptively shallow, a cave full of individual polystyrene balls. No water surface could be seen. Lovely curved smugglers cave had a nice shine throughout.


After an hour-ish of scooping, looking back, the reflection of the water finally became visible. An indication that our job was almost done.




A call out on the group summons us to respond to a large pollution report from the environmental agency. A mysterious cave near messack point, none of us knew it existed. Legendary even to those living nearby. A perfect adventure for the clean ocean sailing pirates.


A sunny Saturday in May, 11 of us embarked on the mission. I joined on Delilah, launching from Mylor and met the rest of the crew on Annie on the carrick roads. We paddled to shore and found the cave. I stayed by the entrance while those of less claustrophobic nature worked their way to the back of the 150m deep cave, bearing head touches and buckets. Four hours of wading through a flood of knee deep water and polystyrene. Our crew filled four big dumpy bags with rubbish. 


Blinking into the daylight, out of the cave, we all loaded the boats and set off back to Annie.

Another great day by all.

Amazing how much difference we can make in just a few short hours.

Good job pirates.




Who knew a dark smelly cave full of polystyrene could be a part of such a lovely day. I thought we couldn’t possibly have much of an impact on the state of the cave, but we left it a whole lot better than when we found it. Amazing COS pirates!




Seeing Annette in the water for the first time was really something special - especially amongst the super yachts of Falmouth!  Our journey to the cave was smooth and a real joy to experience. 


Once anchored, we moved to the canoes and kayaks making our way to the cave there’s no wonder it took so long to finders the - the smugglers cave was well hidden. The irony was that it was not treasure we found, instead carcus of a pontoon and rotten polystyrene, Covered the surface. Wading through the cave with cautious footing we assessed the damage. Soon enough we were sieving through the mess, making a huge dent in the state of the cave. MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK - but polystyrene is lighter - it just kept appearing! It got to the point where as I turned around, belly deep in the cave and realising it was so much lighter - the rubbish had been cleared from the surface - the light was shining through. WE MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE! Big love to all involved.




On Wednesday we received a report from EA about the polystyrene pollution near Messack point. Steve started to organise clean up with our volunteers on the COS recovery group. He also contacted Truro harbour master, Pendennis Marina, Mylor harbour and Mylor moorings.

The weather was suitable for us to take Annie across the bay from Helford river to Fal on Thursday. It was a good motor sailing day. We had one front sail and one main sail up. After a short stay by Sandy cove and a clean up with Simon, Rosie and Steve we went to spend the night at Pendennis Marina. The wind was blowing us away from the pontoon so we had to try 3x. Steve’s great skills at parking got us safely alongside the super yachts.



Kate and David:


We set off from Falmouth by rowing boat. Not only that, it was a rowing boat called George that has starred in a prequel Game of Thrones episode. Steve and Rosie met us and we were greeted with passion and enthusiasm for there clean ocean sailing project.

We then had the pleasure of boarding Annie, with her charm and character. This robust vessel transported us along the rugged Cornish coast. We met Moni and Simon and the COS family. They are laid back, generous and warm.

A wonderful touch was kayaking todo the beach cleans in kayaks made from plastic recycled that was collect on previous trips the whole experience has been one that put no pressure on anything. We were able to hopefully help with the sailing and did our best to collect what we could from the beaches. 

The overall experience was wonderful and the cos team are doing extremely valuable work. If we could all do our bit, then our beaches wouldn’t need taking care of in this way. Wishing good luck for COS and taking care of our beaches.



Katy and Bruce:


We set off from Trelissick gardens and headed for St. Mawes. Greater by Monika, Steve and cute little Simon who live abroad with Rosie. Also our mutual friend Stuart joined for the journey. I was keen to get stuck in and help but with few experiences of sailing, the main thing I could do is steer the boat. 

Such a simple yet mindful task of nothing to think about other than where the bow of the boat was facing with the most stunning views and cups of chai coffee, with great company. This is what life is about (the simple stuff). It was great to speak to Steve and learn from such a master, but this just highlights his skills even more and how much there is to being competent and safe out on the sea.


When we moored up, Monika had made a delicious feast of beetroot soup and warm bread. Home cooking is always so much more appreciated. We then headed out in George to complete our mission of a beach clean. Which soon emphasises the sombre truth of how much plastic there is on our beautiful beaches, and our day trip is just the tip of the iceberg. Still it feels like an achievement and it’s humbling to see, we've done our part today to help our beloved ocean.


Then home we head, with a stunning commute back to reality. Already looking forward to tomorrow. A day on the water is a day well spent.





The most wonderful, relaxed, informative day! The people I have met are such a warm, interesting bunch of lovelies. The boat was a beautiful old vessel and a work of art - this day has exceeded my expectations and warmed my heart.

It’s such a positive experience for anybody lol to have, even more so for people dealing with life’s challenges and traumas. 

I can’t thank Steve, Moni, Simon, Rosie, Katie and the others enough for this special healing day. Food was yummy too!



Thea and Thurstan:


The regular crew were joined by us for the day - Thurstan and Thea. We linked up at Trellissick then rowed George back across the river to Annette before heading up Fal - a beautiful day for sailing a wonderful experience on this beautiful old boat. We each checked in - though Simon was a little shy - and in a-band-of-brothers style said our name, where we are from and anything needing to be said/heard. Thea happily took the wheel and though Ann-Louise moored at mylor was a little envious. She loved being at the wheel of a classic boat again, reminded often of soteria, on which she sailed to the Canary Islands a few years back. Raising the anchor and chain is a heavyweight job for the lads.

Our mission today was to experience, discuss and deusé the shape and detail of our adventure day on July 2nd. They will also like raising the sails, the boat, the company - all of it; the best first day sailing of any year I can remember. Anchored In the Helford, we are blessed - what a wonderful day - Thank you! 

We love that you do.



Mathew Haas:


The day we started off sailing out of the bay. I steered and we had to tack three or four times. We then left the bay and headed towards Porth Beor beach. We ate a delicious soup for lunch and arrived at the beach. We anchored and rowed to shore in kayaks, canoes and a dingy. We picked up the garbage on the beach. I played fetch with Rosie, a happy black lab. We rowed over to the other part of the beach and cleaned that up as well. We then headed back to the boat and I was able to borrow a wetsuit and we went for a swim. Steve even sat up the plank so  we could jump off! After we stopped swimming we dried off and had a snack and hot chocolate. It was a great day and I had lots of fun.


Merit Haas


Just talking to Steve and Monika is inspiring. They have had so much success with COS it is mind blowing. I am only 16 but it makes you think about everything you can do. When we showed up at the first beach it really didn’t look like there was too much if really any garbage but when we combined what we had collected it was quite a lot. We were also able to swim off the boat with wetsuits. It was super fun but definitely a little chilly. The whole day was so enjoyable and didn’t end up being like an overly worked time. We still got things done. There is a very good chance I will be returning to do this as it is so enjoyable. It is also rewarding and it feels good to have done good. 


Chris and Tara Haas


You guys are brilliant and so incredibly warm hearted. Thank you for a great day and see you again soon!




I had the most amazing day out on the boat with Moni, Steven, Simon and the other volunteers. Everyone was so lovely to hang out with. We cleaned Porth Beor which is almost impossible to get to by foot. At first glance it didn’t look toman but once we got stuck in it was shocking the amount of rubbish we discovered. There was so much rubber and polystyrene, especially along with lots of fishing equipment. Not only did we have an awesome beach clean, we also got to go swimming off the boat, the weather was beautiful. Also I got to help with the sailing of the boat, It was great to get back into it after not doing it for a while, I got to tighten and loosen the sheets when tacking. I also got to sail the boat back to the river. Overall the best work experience I could have ever picked! Hope to come out with them all again.



Carl Atkins:


Been welcomed onto Annette… Steve and his families’ home.

What an amazing way of life… feels natural and clean… unlike today’s modern ways.

Excited to get out there and clean up anything which shouldn’t be there… humans damaging mess.

Really proud to have met Steve and hopefully begin a journey in Clean Ocean Sailing. 

Thank you.


Zac Kine:


….. I appreciated the vulnerability shown by Steve and Moni, sharing their struggles as well as what they find meaningful and joyous. The vibe on this boat is relaxed and calming, I felt it as soon as I came aboard. A special boat, lovely space to spend time, homely. Love the cabin and the wood, lovely home for Simon!


Seb Thomas:


I traveled to you guys completely blind, with no idea what to expect, met two new incredible people and could not be in any more amazement with this experience. There are still people in the world that care and are willing to make a change. It’s been awesome to open up and hear others do the same. Hopefully somewhere in my story, I can find a way to give something back, like I’ve seen today.


Matt Hill:


Amazing how peaceful life aboard a boat seems… thank you, Steve and Monika for sharing your world with us. I feel humbled by the ‘give it a go’ attitude, commitment and responsibility you show in your work and way of life.


With the sea at your feet, this feels like true freedom, escaping the trappings and pressures of modern urban life. I feel blessed to be in your company with the rest of the ABOB team.


Even though we did not fully free the trapped net, I feel the benefit of teamwork and community spirit.


I also feel this is a good example of how life is - you can dream big, hold onto that dream, and rejoice in progress, however small it may be. Going on that journey is an experience in itself. One day the net will be free, one day the dream will come true.


All my blessings x


Graeme De Lyons:


I’m having a fairly full on time at the moment, and when the man who organized our ‘adventure day’ for the current ‘quest cycle’ had to drop out, I was fairly keen not to be the man leading the day for ‘A Band of Brothers’ (ABOB). But…


I reckon today is one of the happiest days of my life. I’ve got in touch with the energy of my great great great grandfather who sails to New Zealand. And of the Greenpeace crews who save the whales in rainbows and the bèsphe, clean seas, clean river, clean skies. 

I’ve done battle with a great monster of a rope embedded in a cave.


All with my brothers and our lovely hosts - with love.





Having already met Stuart, we arrived at Gweek to meet Steve, Moni, Benny, Charlie and Simon, and be introduced to Annie while we waited for the tide. It was a wonderful experience to come aboard and immediately feel welcomed and at home. We had a lovely dinner together - thank you so much for accommodating my plant-based diet! - and good conversation about the marine environment, conservation, and getting to know one another’s interests and stories. It’s been amazing to find such like-minded people.


Approaching high tide we maneuvered out of the narrow channel and got to see some of the ancient woodland bordering the Helford River. We moored for the night and I slept so well in the lovely wooden cabin, away from the noise of cars and planes, and away from the light pollution of the city.




We took the two recycled ocean plastic kayaks to Bosahan Cove and around Ponsence Cove and some of the small inlets between the two. The kayak Samson handles beautifully - I want one of my own for my kayak beach cleans in the Outer Hebrides. We found some small plastic fragments, cans, bottles, cable ties and the ubiquitous polystyrene - someone had even used a piece in a stone-balancing artwork! Had a short swim - no wetsuit, the water is so warm. We then prepped for sailing, I had the experience of hoisting the anchor and the headsail, which is such a different experience with a traditional boat, and being on this vessel with natural fibre ropes, using strength to hoist, instead of using a winch really put me in touch with my seafaring forebears. I feel really at home here, moved only by wind and tide, living at the pace of nature and channeling my passion for beach cleaning. Making connections like this gives me hope that I can increase my own efforts and try to follow through with my own projects back in Scotland. Thank you a thousand times for restoring my faith in human nature and a collective community who want to make a true difference to our oceans.


In the evening we approached Gull Rock and anchored to go ashore at Kibrick Cove to do a beach clean and have a shared meal cooked over an open fire. Stuart showed us some foraged plants and Benny and Charlie foraged a spider crab.


Collected a small volume of rope but took a lot of determination to unwind and cut them out of the rocks! Also a few bits of polystyrene and assorted single use plastics.




Learned a bit about how to make a passage plan, looking at the speed and direction of the tide and by looking at the tidal streams both on the chart using tidal diamonds, and also looking at the tide streams atlas. I got to take the helm today! Top speed at 6.1 knots felt like we were flying along. Weather overcast and cooler but the sun came out and warmed up by noon on the approach to Looe Island. 


Took the rowing boat, Canadian canoe and Samsan the single kayak to a series of inlets and caves to collect more trash. Most notably a firehose! But also plastic bottles, monofilament, cans, a bike tyre and many pieces of polystyrene and ropes. Excellent teamwork today to free trapped pieces from the backs of caves and out of rocks. Had another lovely campfire cookout on the beach, sampled some of the Hidden Sea Wine and played games. Hot sun, good company and calm seas - a perfect day.


Met Alan and Carol for dinner, and had some pics taken by Sam and Ryan from Eden Green Space. Foraged some sea lettuce for tomorrow and used some sea samphire and spear leafed oar wrack for meals today.




We were moored at Port Nadler Bay so in the morning Stu checked out the beach, then Benny, Charlie and Steve went in the Canadian canoe to do some beach cleaning while I did some pyrography for a couple as a wedding gift. And listed the patreons who will also have their names burned into Annie for supporting the project.


After a quick zero-waste snack, took Sampson out to some of the rocky inlets to clean up. At first glance they seemed devoid of all ghost gear but on closer inspection I found hundreds of short lengths of fishing line. In a single 1 m^2 patch of dry seaweed I got 101 pieces in just 7 minutes. The rest of the afternoon spent similarly, trying to avoid getting sunburn and collecting monofilament. Was ambushed by a gang of kids who asked if I was collecting kindling for a fire, but I explained our mission and was met with interest and ‘that’s kind of you’ several times over the afternoon. I was approached by a child with pieces of plastic - new converts to the cause! It was a great wee interaction. Then back to Annie for a wonderful (optionally vegan) meal cooked by Stuart and shared around the table. Such a wholesome and connected experience, using ingredients foraged from the coast and the zero-waste shops too. Lots of great conversations today. Played Pirates of Penrith and sampled some more of the Hidden Sea Wine and a variety of rums. Narrowly lost to Charlie but a close second! The aim seems to be to cheat as subtly as possible, or with blatant disregard for the rules. I will introduce my family to it ASAP!




Sailed around Looe Island and made a foraged mackerel trace from feather and reclaimed lines and hooked. Happy to share some skills and experiences I’ve picked up, especially connecting to food sources. No fish (yet).


Was gifted a copy of The Carbon Buddy workbook to read on the 18h bus trip back to Edinburgh, sad to be packing already - I wish I could stay!


Quick kayak and got to meet Joanne, we teamed up and got a good haul of rope before I had to head home. Last learning experience was flaking the anchor chain.


So sad to be leaving already! Miss you all already. Fair winds, me hearties!





After spending the night anchored off Looe, we had a relaxed morning swimming off the boat as we waited for high tide to allow us to access Looe Harbour and fill up our water tanks. It was a close thing as Annie just touched the bottom but Steve skillfully steered us in under the watchful eye of the harbour master. With our water tanks replenished and some extra supplies onboard, we left the harbour and the crowds of holiday makers behind and sailed round to the west side of Looe Island to continue our cleanup mission. The caves and inlets we paddled to were jammed in places, with polystyrene and plastic fishing floats, and it took a lot of effort to free some of them. A few pieces were beyond our efforts, but we managed to remove over 100 kilos from a short stretch of the island. We moved anchorage a short distance away to Port Nadler Bay, where we’d been a couple of days earlier and cooked up some mackerel on the bbq as the sun went down - tired but happy.





Up at 0300 in search of water and the stars were awesome. Clear skies, milky way, and even a shooting star. Back to bed and up at 8. Bay was deserted so Bessie, piloted Steve, took Rosie and Alba towards the beach, Jo and Stu swam (joined midway by the pups) with Moni and Simon on kayak. The heat was intense so a steady plod with litter pickers in the coves cleaned 4 days ago and the tideline of Port Nadler. Lighters, bottle tops and broken glass recovered as the bay began to be incredibly busy with jet skis, speed boats and paddle boarders. Very light winds to start motoring west with the bays … en route. Diving gannets a mile away signified dolphins, visible through binoculars. Round the blockhead into a bay with no name. Perfect place for a beach clean with dinner on the stove.




Very calm seas and almost no wind so the Iron Topsail took us south and around Dodman Point. Simon caught his first Pollock, decent size. We carried on round Nar Head to some gorgeous pebble coves and caves. Huge amounts of compass jellyfish en route. I’ve never seen so many. Jo, Steve and the dogs went ashore, initially thinking it was rather clean - it wasn’t. The crew all joined and tiny pieces weighing 10kg gathered - lighters, cable ties, fishing lines. An excellent dinner of garlic mushrooms, tofu, polenta, and of course the Molluscs Pollack.




Light varying winds en route back to Gweek, swell increased. Boys retrieved a wandering river marker buoy in the canoe and recently burnt rubbish left in the woods whilst waiting on the water depth to be deep enough for Annie’s big butt. :)





Annette was at Gweek, and we went for a walk with the dogs. We were looking for edible plants and berries and telling stories about food, cooking and family traditions. Stu promised me to find some sourdock - it’s the plant I love to make soup with. My family in Belarus always did that in summer, called it ‘Green Soup’. It’s my favourite summer dish, very refreshing. I couldn’t find any dock in the UK before. But here we did, and I was very happy about it! Enough sourdock for soup, some mushrooms and lots of blackberries. I cooked the soup and was so happy (looks like everyone liked it).


High tide came soon after lunch and we were sailing. I felt very happy about sailing too - I love sea and ships. It was a peaceful and beautiful sunset, and we had spinach and cherry pies for dinner. Sleeping was wobbly, but it’s fine - it’s the sea.


Sourdock soup: 

  • Cut potatoes to cubes and boil them until they are almost ready

  • Add sourdock (washed and cut), wait til the soup boils and turn it off

  • Add salt and black pepper

  • Boil eggs separately, clean, cut and add to soup

  • Serve with sourcream, bread and butter


Beautiful stars at night.




Helen and Sarah decided to go for a swim from the ship and I had to follow them. They said the water was warm, but it was actually quite cold - but I’m glad I went for it anyway.


We went for a beach clean after breakfast. There wasn’t much rubbish, but still we found some bottles, cans, packages and just pieces of plastic. The day was sunny and warm. We got on boat and set sail to find a new place for the night. We dropped the anchor near Falmouth and had gorgeous dinner with mussels and mushrooms and greens and blackberry crumble. And a great sleep!




We did the cleanups at a couple of small beaches. I found some small things - they looked washed up, not dropped by someone (like at the previous beach).


Also we (in George) helped some guy in the middle of the river - towed him back to shore. Rosie all of a sudden jumped out of the boat - it was still a long way to the shore, so we had to pull her back in - and she’s heavy!



Lawand, Emma and Floss:


Lawand says it was his first time sailing and it was very good.

He said ‘I haven’t tried the small boats before - I liked the kayaks. Thank you for being nice. I appreciate it.’


Emma said it was good to be out. Emma likes the quiet, the nature and the peace but she prefers the land. It isn’t wobbly! Emma also thinks it was great fun.


Lawand thinks he is Captain Jack Sparrow and would now like to live on a boat - Emma prefers to live on land.


Floss says - it was a perfect day which I loved sharing with Lawand x Emma x the Clean Ocean Sailing Crew.

She said - she really loved being in the quiet and the calm and feeling the sun on her face.

It was great to see that there was little rubbish x plastic pollution for us to collect.



Paul (from Stranger Collective):


With Emmie and Orla. The Gew and east.

‘I did kayaking on my own for the first time.’

‘I jumped off their plank!’

‘I found a very squished ball’


The girls had their first proper sailing and kayak trip today to go beach and cave cleaning along the Helford estuary near a headland known as The Gew. It was a proud moment seeing them go out to gather ocean pollution to reach places and take to the water in their kayaks solo!

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