Recycled-Plastic Boat to Sail the Pacific; Somali Pirates Unimpressed

By Rachel Cernansky | March 11, 2009 4:15 pm

rothschild_plastiki.jpgThree sailors and a scientist are getting ready to sail 11,000 miles across the Pacific…on a boat made entirely of recycled plastic bottles.

Sounds like the opening of a bad joke, but the 60-foot catamaran is currently being constructed from more than 12,000 plastic bottles on a San Francisco pier. Each of the bottles has been pressurized with dry ice powder, which sublimates into carbon dioxide gas and makes the bottles rigid enough to withstand the endless seas.

The vessel, dubbed The Plastiki, will be launched in April and is expected to take more than 100 days to reach Sydney, stopping in Hawaii, Tuvalu, and Fiji along the way. The permanent crew members will be able to sleep in the watertight cabin made from recycled PET, and the passengers will rotate in throughout the voyage.

The man behind the project, David de Rothschild, says the objective is to spread a message about the importance of recycling. Aside from the metal masts, the entire vessel will be made from recycled plastic—and will itself be recycled when the journey is finished. Crazy, perhaps, but with the value of recycled materials plummeting along with the economy, we could use some creativity in handling all that waste—plus it sure beats dumping it in the ocean.

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Image: Adventure Ecology

  • UncleAl

    Bottle PET degrades in sunshine embrittling after a year. Uncle Al has put 600+ bottles into the California Current. Champagne bottles return about 15% from the Far East. PET bottles, when they were legal, returned exactly one bottle – from Kwajalein Atoll after a landing zone sweep (Vandenberg launch). After 19 months the bottle was crunched. Made front page of the local newspaper, held by a crazily grinning soldier.

    If anybody is going near the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (Tasmania, New Zealand, *Falklands*, Tierra del Fuego, South Africa)… would a foam 12-carrier fit in your luggage limit? The Mark V seal should be good for a century of saltwater and sunlight.

  • Sam Benson

    Impressed, great idea. These people have the stones to travel across the Pacific on a water bottle? cheers from a wimpy fiberglass hulled sailer.

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