Plastic bottle boat reaches Australia after stormy seas

July 23, 2010

(CNN) — After spending 125 days traveling over 8,000 nautical miles, the Plastiki is preparing to reach Sydney, its final destination, on Sunday.

The Plastiki’s arrival in Sydney will not, however, be the 60-foot catamaran’s first time to reach Australian soil. Winter storms producing near-hurricane strength winds forced the vessel and its crew to take refuge in Mooloolaba, Queensland on Monday.

Originally, the crew had hoped to land in Coffs Harbour, south from Mooloolaba, before heading to Sydney. After waiting out the bad weather, the Plastiki took off from its unexpected first port-of-call in Australia early Friday morning with hopes to reach Sydney in the next two days.

Brutal winter storms in the Tasman Sea made the leg from New Caledonia the most challenging. One night winds gusting over 60-knots surprised the crew, leaving them battling to prevent the mast buckling and losing the sail for eight hours.

“I’ve always been apprehensive of the Tasman Sea and this was my own worst nightmare come to fruition,” said Plastiki’s expedition leader, David de Rothschild.

Co-skipper of the boat, Dave Thomson called the waves some of “the biggest you’re likely to see.”

Once in Sydney, the Plastiki will be harbored at the Australian National Maritime Museum. It will remain on display for a month as crew members hold special events aimed at raising awareness of plastic waste in the ocean. The general public will also have the opportunity to visit the vessel during an open day.

Made of approximately 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles and engineered using the most sustainable methods possible, the Plastiki is meant to be used as a platform upon which solutions to the myriad of environmental problems can be found.

Particularly, the Plastiki is hoping to raise awareness about single-use consumer products that are filling landfills and the sea.

The Plastiki has faced several challenges since departing from San Francisco in March. Engineering problems unique to a craft made of plastic water bottles forced the catamaran to make unscheduled stops, as has unpredictable weather.

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