The Oceanview Effect: Connecting Space and the ocean
The phenomenon astronauts experience when they look down on planet Earth from space is known as The Overview Effect. Coined by author Frank White, who described it as: “… a message from the universe to humanity. The message is that the Earth, when seen from orbit or the moon, is a whole system, where borders and boundaries disappear, and everything is interconnected.”
There is another way to understand the true nature of the planet, and it can be encountered here on earth: The Oceanview Effect. This is what sailors experience when they sail out of sight of land and head into the open ocean.
Charlie Enright (USA), skipper of professional offshore sailing outfit 11th Hour Racing Team, set sail from Alicante, Spain, on January 15, 2023, on the first leg of The Ocean Race, billed as the world’s longest and toughest sporting event. Enright, along with his four-strong crew, will race their 60-foot sailboat, Mālama, 58,700 kilometers [31,700 nautical miles, 36,500 miles] around the planet, raising awareness of the importance of ocean health.
Enright said, “As we race around the world and look out of a window, or the back of our boat, we see the natural fragility of our blue planet. But we also experience something else – we get to see firsthand the strength and power of the ocean that dominates and controls our world – the source of life on our planet. As human beings, to survive and succeed, we have to respect the ocean, understand it, and work with it. This is the Oceanview Effect.
“The ocean is the source of life on Earth; what we do to it, we do to ourselves. We need to all work together for positive action for the health of our planet and our people,” he concluded.
What’s the connection between outer space and offshore sailing? Enright invited NASA astronaut, Nicole Stott, to Rhode Island to compare their perspectives about these two phenomena that only a handful of people on earth have experienced – The Overview and Oceanview Effects.
Richard Vevers, Founder and CEO of The Ocean Agency and Emmy-Award-nominee, produced this short film to help share with others The Oceanview Effect.
Vevers said, “Very few people ever get a chance to escape our terrestrial world and witness the true nature of our ocean planet. We hope that by sharing the Oceanview Effect, we can help change that and make people see the fundamental importance of the ocean.”
What’s the connection between outer space and offshore sailing?
Enright invited NASA astronaut, Nicole Stott, to Rhode Island to compare their perspectives about these two phenomena that only a handful of people on earth have experienced – The Overview and Oceanview Effects.
Enright shared his thoughts on life as an offshore sailor. “The lasting impression [of sailing offshore] is perspective. An appreciation for what we are doing, that we are surrounded by the ocean in all its glory, the minimalism that we are able to live with. What we need to survive versus what we think we need to survive, and what we want in our lives on a daily basis. The life that you lead at sea gives you a really good perspective on what is important.”
Stott found real similarities between life on the spaceship and the ocean-going craft: “Your boat is like our capsule – it is your life support system, figuring out how to take advantage of your resources that you have available, to not only survive but also thrive.
“Like you on your boat, we do all this work to allow ourselves to live safely on a space station, this mechanical life support system that we build in space to mimic what Earth does naturally. And we do it really well as crew, we pay attention to how much CO2 is in our atmosphere, how much drinking water we have, the integrity of our thin metal hull, and the health and wellbeing of our crew mates. We do it as we know what we have to do to survive in outer space.
“And it is exactly the same kind of thing that is happening on your boat. Why can’t we do that on our planetary spaceship?
“What you are doing with 11th Hour Racing is finding solutions and raising awareness of the issues, and in space, we are doing the same thing, measuring the vital signs of our planet. We are both the guinea pigs of science. As we continue to explore space – where everything we do there is ultimately about improving life on Earth – we will continue to benefit from the solutions we bring back to Earth to help improve the health of our ocean and our planetary home,” she concluded.
Watch the full conversation between NASA astronaut Nicole Stott and offshore sailor Charlie Enright