English banking family scion David de Rothschild and his crew are already 8 days out to sea in the much heralded Plastiki sail boat made almost entirely out of recycled plastic material, including 1,200 gas filled plastic bottles. And David is sending followers Twitter updates from @DRexplore daily.
The specially designed catamaran was featured last week in a special half hour program on CNN, in which De Rothschild and his crew sailed out of San Francisco Harbor following a very moving send-off that included environmental group representatives, local municipal authorities, reporters from various news media groups; and even a delegation of Pacific islanders in native costumes who blew on conch shells and recited special prayers to the sea gods to insure a safe voyage. The vessel plans to arrive in Sydney Australia in late April.
The six member Plastiki crew, which is led by David himself, includes Jo Royle (skipper), the only female crew member and the boat’s skipper. Another crew member is none other than Olav Heyerdahl, grandson of Thor Heyerdahl who achieved fame in 1947 when he sailed his Konkiki balsa wood raft from Peru to French Polynesia.
Olav Heyerdhal and grandfather Thor
Olav Heyerdhal (pictured right) is an accomplished scuba diver and hopes to help the Plastiki crew relive the experiences that his grandfather Thor experienced more than 60 years ago.
Compared to the Kontiki, the Plaskiti has all the modern electronic gadgetry needed to document their voyage, as well as be in communication with the outside world. The electrical power needed for this equipment as well as for lighting and other needs, will come from batteries that are recharged by solar energy.
Fresh water is being supplied by a small desalination device on board.
But taking all the media hype aside, the real mission of the Plastiki is to reach and study a huge “plastic island” of accumulated plastic trash and other flotsam which is floating in the mid Pacific and is estimated to be the size of the American State of Texas.
This was mentioned in a previous Green Prophet article when the craft was supposed to set sail, but was delayed for several months due to weather and other logistical considerations. The voyage is meant to bring world attention to the problem of pollution and other environmental problems brought on by a world population that is now only beginning to realize that the resulting global warming and climate change is being partially caused by over-use of fossil fuels and by a “throw away society” whose cast-offs of plastic bags, bottles, and other waste materials have created these “islands” of flotsam in all the world’s oceans; which not only are an eyesore, but are very dangerous to marine life.
Another crew member American Vern Moen is in charge of making the film of the voyage, The Plastiki Film, which will try to bring to light the condition of the Pacific Ocean, due to all the discarded plastic and other waste material now present in it. Another crew member, Max Jourdan, of mixed French and British linage, is involved in making a film of the voyage, on behalf of National Geographic.
The world’s seas and oceans, including the Mediterranean in particular, have become increasing polluted by oil spills, industrial and human wastes, and simply by garbage dumped into them by us, the world’s human inhabitants. This increasing problem was also brought to light during the search operation for the missing Air France Flight 447 in June, 2009.
De Rothschild conceived the idea of undertaking such a voyage back in 2006 when he became increasingly concerned about the plight of the world’s natural wonders, especially the oceans. His thoughts regarding the need to have better environmental use of plastic materials can be summed in his own words:
“We need to re-think our use of plastics so that it can contribute to solutions rather then compounding the problems. Together, this is the only way we can more forward and create the necessary solutions for our planet”
We wish the Plastiki and its brave crew success in the remainder of their voyage; which should help to make people realize everywhere that we all share a part in shaping this planet’s environment and ultimate destiny.
In the meantime, enjoy a video with David de Rothschild and Jo Royle who speak about the problem of plastic.
Read more on Middle Eastern marine environmental issues:
Jordan and Israeli Scientists Cooperate to Study and Protect Gulf of Aqaba
Coastal Erosion Threatens Evolutionary Hot Spots in Gulf Region
Garbage Trucks Dump Straight into the Sea in Lebanon