David de Rothschild's catamaran made of plastic bottles completes its trans-Pacific voyage

The Plastiki, the catamaran made from 12,500 PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles sailed into Sydney Harbour yesterday (Monday 26 July). The project head David de Rothschild, heir to the banking dynasty, sailed approximately 9,000 miles across the Pacific from San Francisco to Sydney. “It’s totally overwhelming,” he exclaimed. “We’re so excited to be here.”

The Plastiki, which takes its name from Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition from South America to Polynesia on a raft of balsa husks, set off in March. The boat, whose six crew included Heyerdahl’s grandson Olav, travelled through a waste-strewn area of the north Pacific and stopped in the Line Islands, Western Samoa and French territory New Caledonia before leaving for Australia.

The Plastiki’s bottles are lashed to pontoons and held together with recyclable plastic and glue made from cashew nut husks and sugarcane, while its sails are also made from recycled plastic. The crew relied on renewable energy including solar panels, wind and propeller turbines and bicycle-powered electricity generators, and used water recycled from urine.

Skippers Jo Royle and Dave Thomson said sailing the Plastiki was “completely different” to any other vessel they had ever sailed, but that they had always been confident it would complete the journey. “She’s got here without ever a doubt in any of our minds,” said Royle.

The United Nations Environment Programme says more than 15,000 pieces of debris litter every square kilometre (0.4 square miles) of the world’s oceans, and another 6.4 million tonnes of plastic is dumped into seas each year.

For more, visit www.theplastiki.com