POV

A Boat Out of Water

The Plastiki Expedition was a herculean effort of invention, hard work and bright minds from all fields.

Story by Icarus Blake - icarus@citizenbrooklyn.com Photos by Icarus Blake and Matthew Grey

David de Rothschild: A Sharp Eco Mind from Citizen Brooklyn on Vimeo.

The last time David de Rothschild called me to ask me if I wanted to embark in an adventure with him, I found myself shooting the building of  a boat made of plastic bottles for three years. The dramatic portion of the adventure unfolded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, looking for floating plastic debris while enduring unbearable heat and sudden, violent squalls. This time, it all seems more human. We are flying to Dallas with David’s dog, Smudge, and while David stretches his long body out of a nap, he explains to me that Plastiki, the bottle boat in question, has been traveling by road to reach Dallas where it will be exhibited in a fountain. This is ‘normality’ in David’s world.

Plastiki during a squall. photo  © Icarus Blake

Plastiki during a squall. photo © Icarus Blake

The Plastiki Expedition was a herculean effort of invention, hard work and bright minds from all fields. At the time, David’s obsession was with the consumption of single-use plastics in today’s world. Badly disposed of, and recycled infrequently, plastic ends up in the oceans for the most part. The ocean’s currents gather it in large patches called gyros. The Pacific patch, is the size of Texas. The idea of Plastiki was to raise people’s attention to the problem, and to prove that disposed plastic can be a valuable resource if re-purposed in a smart manner. Hence, the building of a boat entirely out of recycled materials, mostly plastic.

Plastiki at Fair Park, Dallas photo © Icarus Blake

Plastiki at Fair Park, Dallas photo © Icarus Blake

After almost four years from its conception, Plastiki safely completed its journey to Sydney, after an 8000 nautical mile crossing from San Francisco. The adrenaline was finally down. The Plastiki crew separated. Plastiki was brought back to San Francisco by cargo ship and docked there. She (yes, it’s a female boat) has come back to my mind often in a mix of rejection, melancholia, and euphoria… I’m sure it has been the same for all crewmembers. Meeting David has made us all more ‘sustainable beings’ and somehow, we have all tried to keep up with the mission. Then, after almost three years floating quietly in calm waters, Plastiki decided to take to the road. Literally. So began another voyage crossing deserts and cities. And, once again, Plastiki has arrived safely at her destination: the fountain at the Dallas Fair Park.

Photo © Matthew Grey

Plastiki on the road Photo © Matthew Grey

Hunter and Stephanie Hunt, a philanthropic and visionary couple from Dallas, had decided that this year’s theme for their institute’s annual Engineering & Humanity Week was going to be water. That’s when David got the call to bring Plastiki over while he was getting the Visionary Award for 2013. Piece of cake. I’m now watching David passionately speaking to hundreds of students while Plastiki gently floats in the fountain behind him. It’s a surreal vision, but, like I said, it’s this crew’s normality. It’s nighttime and we sit on Plastiki under a starry Texan sky. We could be in the middle of the Pacific. There is something peculiar about this boat; it’s more of a spaceship. She feels light and ready to glide towards the better world that she has been built for. The Plastiki mission has only just begun. Thank you David.
www.theplastiki.com www.EandHweek.org

David near the Equator photo  © Icarus Blake

David near the Equator photo © Icarus Blake

Photo © Matthew Grey

Plastiki napping at roadside Photo © Matthew Grey

Photo © Matthew Grey

Plastiki on the road Photo © Matthew Grey

Plastiki arrives in Sydney photo © Icarus Blake

Plastiki arrives in Sydney photo © Icarus Blake

David preaching a plastic-less planet photo © Icarus Blake

David preaching a plastic-less planet photo © Icarus Blake

David, Stephanie and Hunter photo © Icarus Blake

David, Stephanie and Hunter photo © Icarus Blake

 Happy students photo © Icarus Blake

Happy students photo © Icarus Blake

 

David and Hunter change the world photo © Icarus Blake

David and Hunter change the world photo © Icarus Blake

 

Debris collected by David in 20 minutes photo © Icarus Blake

Debris collected by David in 20 minutes photo © Icarus Blake

Plastiki center piece photo © Icarus Blake

Plastiki center piece photo © Icarus Blake

A fine example of upcycling photo © Icarus Blake

A fine example of upcycling photo © Icarus Blake

David receives the award photo © Icarus Blake

David receives the award photo © Icarus Blake

Smudge photo © Icarus Blake

Smudge photo © Icarus Blake

Plastiki & friends, Dallas photo © Icarus Blake -

Plastiki & friends, Dallas photo © Icarus Blake –

Plastiki at Fair Park, Dallas photo © Matthew Grey

Plastiki at Fair Park, Dallas photo © Matthew Grey

Plastki near Sydney photo © Icarus Blake

Plastki near Sydney photo © Icarus Blake

Plastiki during a squall photo © Icarus Blake

Plastiki during a squall photo © Icarus Blake

Plastiki, Pacific Ocean photo  © Icarus Blake

Plastiki, Pacific Ocean photo © Icarus Blake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Responses to “A Boat Out of Water”

  1. Cristina says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process of following David’s building of the Plastiki and the journey. I really admire David de Rothschild and I am so very proud of him. He is a wonderful human being.

  2. cheryl white says:

    Stunning pictures an video i have look at pictures a few time all the work that went into this this project such a great cause without david teaching us the true meaning about are world being in trouble with so much plastic pollutions in are ocean an on are own door step people will not be aware cheers for sharing this with the world.

    • Icarus Blake says:

      This David’s life mission. And it has been a pleasure and honor to be able to share his vision along the way. Thank you for the comment.