Plastic voyager

36008 06

In an effort to draw attention to the impact of plastic bottles on the environment, 30-year-old David de Rothschild and his team are building a 60-foot catamaran out of plastics and plastic bottles called Plastiki. The catamaran’s name pays homage to Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s balsa raft Kon-Tiki that crossed the Pacific in 1947.

The boat is designed to be representative of construction materials that are easily and fully recyclable. The design team members include Michael Pawlyn, concept architect, Australian naval architect Andrew Dovell, cabin architect Nathaniel Croun, solar array designer Jason Iftahar, and boat builder Mike Rose.

Construction of Plastiki consists of filling the hull sections with about 12,000 plastic sealed beverage bottles that are held in place by retaining nets and longitudinal tubes. Each of the bottles are filled with 12 grams of dry ice and re-sealed with a ratchet style device. The hulls of the boat will be built by sandwiching plastic foam between sheets of recycled plastic cloth made from woven fibers of srPET (self-reinforcing polyethylene terephthalate, the type of plastic used in beverage bottles). The hulls will then be connected by rigid srPET tubes. The mast and miscellaneous hardware will be the only metal components used on the boat. Systems on the boat include a full complement of modern navigation and communication electronics all powered by solar arrays. The sails are Dacron. Plastiki will be assembled without any glues or resins and when the voyage is done de Rothschild hopes to recycle the entire boat.

Once the boat is built, de Rothschild and his crew plan to sail Plastiki from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia, in an effort to spread the message that plastic waste is a problem for our planet and that there are creative solutions out there. De Rothschild, who is an accomplished polar explorer hopes that the new boat will serve as a vehicle to educate and promote projects to eliminate waste. He also is founder of Adventure Ecology &mdash a web-based organization dedicated to increasing environmental awareness through adventure, education, the arts and lifestyle.

For more information on the Plastiki Expedition visit

By Ocean Navigator