Plastic bottle catamaran crosses Australian finish line

Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:56am EDT
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By Pauline Askin

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - A catamaran made from 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles sailed into Sydney Harbour on Monday after spending four months crossing 8,000 nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness about marine pollution.

The craft "Plastiki" and its six-man crew captured worldwide attention when it left San Francisco on March 20. The 60-foot (18-meter) catamaran was greeted by a flotilla of boats as it sailed through Sydney Heads, the gateway to Sydney Harbour.

"The crew are really very happy because everyone said they'd never be able to do it, you know a boat made of plastic bottles, held together with glue made from cashew nuts and sugar cane, and they did it spectacularly well," Kim McKay, a spokeswoman for the "Plastiki" told Reuters.

The aim of the project was to draw attention to plastic pollution in the oceans. The designers also wanted to prove that waste can be used as a resource through design and construction.

The project was the idea of skipper David de Rothschild after he read a United Nations environment report on the state of the world's ocean. De Rothchild, an adventurer and ecologist who founded climate awareness group Adventure Ecology (, is a descendant of the Rothschild banking family.

McKay said the 130-day voyage was reasonably trouble free with the craft standing up well to big seas and strong winds of over 60 knots between Noumea and Australia.

"The crew are elated to be in Sydney. It's the culmination of four years of planning and hard work," she said.

De Rothchild named the craft "Plastiki" in honor of the original Kon-Tiki voyage in 1947 by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl who sailed 4,300 miles on a raft made from balsa wood and other materials from South America to the Tuamotu Islands in French Polynesia in the Pacific Ocean.

The "Plastiki" will spend the next month at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

(Reporting by Pauline Askin, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

<p>Crew member Jo Royle watches from the deck of the 60-foot-long Plastiki catamaran, built from more than 11,000 reclaimed bottles and other recycled plastic and waste products, as it is towed through Sydney Harbour at the end of its Trans-Pacific crossing July 26, 2010. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz</p>