Recycled-Plastic-Bottle Boat Almost Set to Sail

April 4, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Adventures, News | 5 Comments

david-de-rothschildBritish environmentalist David de Rothschild — an Arctic adventurer, children’s book consultant and banking-fortune heir (yes, he’s one of those Rothschilds) — wants to sail across the Pacific Ocean in a 60-foot catamaran he is building almost entirely of recycled plastic water bottles. He calls his vessel the Plastiki.

Thirty-year-old de Rothschild (depicted at left) embarked on the project “to raise awareness of the recycling of plastic bottles, which he says are a symbol of global waste,” we read in the Globe & Mail: “Right now, the 30-year-old Brit is based on a pier in San Francisco, where construction is under way on one of the most unlikely boats the world has ever seen. Twelve thousand plastic bottles will either be bound together with mesh for the hull, or repurposed into plastic sheets and beams held together with ‘bio-glue’ made of sugar and cashew nuts. The goal is to make the vessel 100-per-cent recyclable.”

It takes guts to trust a sugar-nut glue against the high seas.

“When it is finished — the plan is for this summer — Mr. de Rothschild plans to exit San Francisco Bay and sail 12,000 nautical miles to Sydney, Australia, as a documentary crew films the adventure. A significant pit stop will be at what’s known as the Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling soup of plastic that scientists estimate is twice the size of Texas. Through the voyage, Mr. de Rothschild hopes to demonstrate the unlikely things we can make out of our own junk — and what happens when we toss it out.”

As the idea took shape three years ago, de Rothschild “gathered a crew of boat builders, engineers and materials experts. They set up on Pier 31 about a year ago, and began experimenting with the different forms recycled plastic can take…. The original plan was to set sail in March. Due to a series of problems, the launch date was first postponed until April; now it has been pushed back to the summer….

“The decks and cabin of the Plastiki are made of self-reinforcing PET, a woven fabric made from plastic. This durable material is also being used to build the rigid skeleton, ribs and bulkheads on the boat.”

Bon voyage … soon.

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