The Devil’s Isle Challenge with PLASTIC TIDES


Areal Photo credit: John Singleton

Although I’m writing my thesis due in 2.5 months I’d planned to go to Bermuda to help my Plastic Tides partners out with the race they’d been planing for the last year – a 40 mile circumnavigation of the Island !

The event’s aim was to raise awareness about plastic pollution and raise money for a kids’ program: free year-round access to Stand Up Paddle boards (SUPs) in Bermuda. With amazing support from Bermudians, Islanders and even Cornell alumni, the event was a great success.

The day of the race, I was with our Plastic Tides Junior ambassadors all day – jumping on the board for the relay race to help them get around the Island. I ended up paddling for 6.5 hours which, after being locked up inside writing my papers, made me very very sore for the following two days !


I took someone’s race board at the end to finish the race ! In the back: junior ambassadors Kayla and Magnus

The day after the race, we organised a ‘Plastic Free festival’, and my assignment was to lead a hands-on permaculture workshop. I didn’t have any resources with me and I wanted to plant a few things at the event site to showcase a permaculture guild – an assemblage of plants that is mutually beneficial . After calling a few nurseries that weren’t able to sponsor us for various reasons I stopped by the Botanical garden with Keileigh – one of our helpers for the week. Sure enough, after asking to speak with the manager I got directed to the curator, Jamie – a friendly man excited to have some visitors ! I described the workshop I was planing on leading: a workshop about sustainable living and growing your own food. I explained I was on the lookout for perennial plants because of their environmental benefits compared to annuals. After a few seconds he said ‘you are planing a permaculture workshop’ ! After that, we spend the next hour walking around the garden collecting various plants for people to see and smell (lavender, geranium, peppermint, lemongrass…) and some cuttings (moringa, mulberry, noni…). I was thrilled that he had  moringa as I was on the look-out for this  for this ‘Miracle Tree’ as it’s an amazing, fast-growing, protein rich, easy to grow, nitrogen fixing tree that everyone should know about.

oWith a bucket full of plants I went home in our  moped ready for an awesome workshop co-lead with Steve Sainsbury, a local permaculturalist.


EVENT   RECAP :   The Devil’s Isle Challenge 2016 week-end organized by Plastic Tides.

On Saturday, 8 solo Stand Up Paddleboarders, 1 solo surf-skier, and 12 relay racers set out to circumnavigate the island of Bermuda – a 40-mile race strewn with exposed coral reef, wind, waves, ocean current and the fierce Bermudian sun. Three stand up paddle boarders completed the race with Chase Toogood finishing in 10+ hours and Josette Lata, being the first ever female to complete the circumnavigation. America’s Cup Bermuda sailors also performed very well with Anders AG79 Gustafsson completing the race on a surf ski in just over 5 hours — setting a new record for the fastest solo navigation around Bermuda via any paddlecraft. Our Plastic Tides Jr. ambassadors Magnus Henneberger and Kayla Markwardt also completed the circumnavigation with a quick security boat lift through the choppy swell beating against the cliffs of Fort St Catherine!

Sunday, began with a fun 6-mile race. During the day, entertainment included family friendly activities such as SUP limbo, the 365 challenge, a kid’s race and a beach clean-up. Since Plastic Tides’ aim is not only to raise awareness about plastic pollution but also to provide solutions, Céline Jennison and Steve S lead a permaculture workshop showcasing sustainable living techniques focused on growing your own food. This Plastic-Free event promoted the use of alternatives to plastic such as Gosling’s Rum glass cups at the bar, wooden utensils and bamboo bowls from Butterfield Bermuda, and water refill stations. Next year we’ll have time for some second hand t-shirt block printing and trash art too!

We thank all the attendees, supporters and volunteers, with a special thanks to our sponsors Keep Bermuda Beautiful (KBB) ,Greenrock! ,Badger Balm, Gosling’s Limited, PwC Bermuda, CellOne Bermuda, Multistrat Re, Mailboxes Unlimited, ElbowBeachCycles, Surf Sup Bermuda,Makin’ Waves, Runa, Bermuda Tourism





Plastic Tides Junior ambassador Magnus on the front !


junior ambassador Kayla with Christian






School visit: trash audit



Permaculture workshop