U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich was with 100 excited well-wishers who met the vessel when it docked Monday in Sydney. He hailed the voyage as “a journey from trash to triumph.”
David de Rothschild, a member of the British banking family, led a crew of six through fierce storms on the 15,000-kilometer trip from San Francisco. He said he conceived the plan after reading about the threat posed by discarded plastic to the world’s oceans.
The vessel was made entirely of waste materials, mainly 12,500 plastic bottles. The 18-meter catamaran was named Plastiki in a tribute to Thor Heyerdah’s 1947 Pacific crossing on a raft named Kon-Tiki.
Even the ship’s sails were made from recycled plastic. The glue used to hold the bottles together was made from cashew nut husks and sugar cane.
The crew relied for power on solar panels, wind and propeller turbines and bicycle-powered generators.