Gyre to Gaia: Inspiring Ocean Friendly Design

We are looking for a mix of adventurous crew to join us for:

  • An ocean voyage adventure aboard 72ft yacht ‘Sea Dragon’
  • Sailing to and through the North Atlantic Gyre, northern Europe’s oceanic dump.
  • Exploring little known seas – and an urgent marine challenge
  • Rekindling our relationship with nature
  • Generating effective, original solutions for Designing OUT ocean plastic pollution
  • Transform sea plastic we collect into a Kayak
  • With a unique and lovely group of people

Common Seas is drawing together an inter-disciplinary crew, including designers, marine and materials scientists, students, philosophers, cooks, artists and writers, to sail from the UK to the Canary Islands, via the Azores. Through a carefully designed and facilitated journey we will experience, experiment, discuss and reflect on how profoundly we need the sea; what an extraordinary, wonderful, diverse environment it is; how lifestyle choices impact on it; and what we can do about them.

To book your berth please click here!

Crew so far include:

  • Studio Swine, Designers and creators of the award winning Sea Chairs, will use the voyage to up-cycle sea plastic into a kayak using their extraordinary latest invention. Click here to watch their beautiful film about the creation of Sea Chairs
  • Kate Rawles, the founder of outdoor philosophy, university lecturer and author who will help facilitate an exploration of ideas as well as oceans
  • Jo Royle, Founder of Common Seas and Plastiki Skipper. The Plastiki is a boat we built from 12,000 used 2litre pop bottles and a low toxicity highlight recyclable material we invented through the build process. To test the build philosophy and  raise awareness of plastic in the sea we sailed / drifted for four months across the Pacific
  • Marine plastics scientist will turn the yacht into a laboratory to advance our understanding of the impact of plastic on the sea

The aims?

  • Inspire a connection to the significance of the seas and their awe-inspiring biodiversity
  • Take ourselves physically to the heart of the issue of plastic marine pollution
  • Restore and explore our relationship with nature
  • Create new stories, narratives and creative ways of expressing our interdependence with the ocean
  • Develop practical SOLUTIONS to ‘design-OUT’ plastic from the sea.  We will consider practical techniques and novel approaches for addressing marine plastic pollution both upstream and downstream
  • Collect as much plastic as we can along the way and extrude it into a sea-kayak
  • Provide a creative space away from ‘land noise’ with a lovely bunch of people

To book your berth please click here!


Days at sea will include:

  • Trawling for plastic and operating our home made contraption to turn sea plastic into a kayak
  • Identify the material we find and try understand the journey it has gone through and its age – with help from University of Exeter
  • We will identify the contents of the tummies of any fish caught
  • Practical findings along with Kate’s years of environmental philosophical training will support us in creating solutions to DESIGNING OUT plastic from the sea
  • Film-making to bring our journey back to shore
  • Working a watch system 24hours a day – daily jobs include cooking at an angle, keeping watch, sail and boat repairs, navigating

Leg One Devon, UK to Azores

A true ocean passage; rounding the infamous Lizard; dodging ships as we sail out of the Western Channel; meeting a wonderful diversity of sea bird; keeping an eye out for basking sharks and dolphins. Making sight of the lush peaks of the Azores is a very special moment.

September 13: Guest crew will join Sea Dragon in Dartmouth at 2pm. Everyone will have an opportunity to settle into the yacht, and put away their personal belongings. Jo and Kate will give a welcome briefing, followed by some basic safety training.

September 14: Sea Dragon will leave the dock around 10am and sail south west out of the English Channel.

September 15-22: Sail from UK to Azores.

September 23: Sea Dragon will arrive in Horta, Azores.

September 24: After clearing Customs, crew are free to depart the boat by 2pm.

Leg 2 Azores to Lanzarote

We would hope for the sunshine and the wind behind us, as we will sail along the North East Atlantic Gyre

October 4: Guest crew will join Sea Dragon in Horta, Azores at 2pm. Everyone will have an opportunity to settle into the yacht, and put away their personal belongings. Jo and Kate will give a welcome briefing, followed by some basic safety training.

October 5: Sea Dragon will leave the dock around 10am.

October 6-10: Sail from Azores to Lanzarote.

October 11: Sea Dragon will arrive in Lanzarote.

October 12: After clearing Customs, crew are free to depart the boat by 2pm.

About the crew

Jo Royle is a Sea Champion, who leads global marine programs and sailing ventures that raise awareness of people’s connection to the sea and invents products and policies to create a resilient ocean. Her work is inspired from years spent skippering ocean voyages when she witnessed plastic building up on beaches as remote as the Antarctic. She co-directed and skippered the United Nations recognised Plastiki campaign to showcase solutions to the 20 billion tons of plastic in the sea. Jo is founder of Common Seas.

Dr Kate Rawles background is environmental philosophy, which she taught at Lancaster University for ten years. She left to set up Outdoor Philosophy – combining debate about human/nature relations with powerful experiences of wild places, in order to inspire and support more sustainable ways of living and working. She’s now a half-time lecturer in Outdoor Studies at Cumbria University and a freelance outdoor philosopher, writer and environmental campaigner. She works with Jonathon Porritt on Forum for the Future’s innovative ‘Reconnections’ project and has written widely on environmental issues. Kate is passionate about the potential for using adventure stories to communicate. Her book The Carbon Cycle; Crossing the Great Divide (Two Ravens Press, 2012), is based on a 4553 mile ride from Texas to Alaska along the spine of the Rockies, exploring N.American attitudes to climate change.

Studio Swine was co-founded by Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves. Studio Swine believes that desire is the greatest agent of change. To this end, it explores design through material innovation and creating new sustainable systems whilst placing an equal importance on aesthetics. Central to Swine’s practice is the notion of place-making and research led design that is the product of a region, its culture, crafts and resources.

Operating across a wide range of disciplines Studio Swine has worked with Veuve Clicquot, Heineken, Unilever & Droog. Its clients include those who seek imaginative and visionary ways of developing their brand messages, whether through product, interiors or unique commissions.

Studio Swine has received international awards including the Gold Prize at BIO23, Wallpaper*Award, nominated for Designs of theYear Award at the Design Museum London and recently awarded the Global Winner of Public Interest Design. They have run workshops at the Design Museum and spoken at TED as well as exhibiting at the Barbican, V&A, New York & London Fashion Week. Azusa graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Alexander from the Ruskin School of Fine Art Oxford before both gaining an MA in Design Products at the Royal College of Art.

More information

Cost:  £2,990, please contact us to discuss funding opportunities

Travel documents:

Crew will require a passport from their home country that will allow them to travel to the United Kingdom and Portugal.

Contribution Includes:

  • 11 nights accommodation on board Sea Dragon
  • All meals, snacks and drinks on board
  • Sailing instruction
  • Safety equipment and foul weather gear

Payment does not include:

  • Transportation to Dartmouth and home from Azores
  • Transportation to and from the dock
  • Personal expenses while in port


Telephone: (44) 07803 131 589