Boat made of 12,000 recycled plastic bottles all set to sail

An explorer has come up with a sailboat known as ‘Plastiki’, which is constructed of more than 12,000 recycled plastic bottles.

Updated: Feb 27, 2010, 20:16 PM IST

Washington: An explorer has come up with a sailboat known as ‘Plastiki’, which is constructed of more than 12,000 recycled plastic bottles.

According to a report in National Geographic News, the boat has been developed by David de Rothschild, who plans to sail the remarkable craft from California to Sydney, Australia.

Joining him will be a crew that includes skipper Jo Royle, co-skipper David Thomson, and Josian and Olav Heyerdahl.

“We’re leaving San Francisco for Sydney, will sail down the coast to San Diego and Baja, then catch the currents and trade winds that take us across toward the Equator, toward the Line Islands,” said Rothschild.

“We can’t tack upwind. We can only move downwind in Plastiki. Our average speed will be five to six knots, the speed of a typical jogger. So our voyage will be the equivalent of a jog across the Pacific,” he added.

As what inspired him for the design of the boat, Rothschild said, “We tried to come at the challenges from an angle that was unique, to look at the things in the world that plastic was threatening to destroy. One natural model that bubbled to the surface was the pomegranate. It’s compact and tough, but when you cut it open and get to the seeds, they’re soft and fragile.”

“On Plastiki, the seeds are the bottles. Individually, they’re fairly soft and fragile, but packed together they become buoyant, strong, and stable. That’s where the inspiration for the makeup of the hull came from,” he added.

“At one point, we were introducing wire and plywood, but then we decided we had to stay true to our path: The plastic bottle needed to be visible in its original form, and it needed to be functional. The vessel needed to float and sail on the recycled bottles,” he explained.

“That principal is at the essence, the core of this project. The bottles are there in their original form, pressured to about 36 psi, equivalent to a truck tire, with carbon dioxide,” he said.

A normal, everyday boat has no more than three floatation tanks, and usually just one, the main hull, to keep the water out.

If you damage the hull - fiberglass, carbon fiber, glass-epoxy mix - that basically sinks your vessel.

“We let our vessel rest on the buoyancy of all those bottles, nearly 70 percent of the buoyancy in 12-plus thousand chambers,” said Rothschild.