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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Plastiki Prepares to Set Sail from Pier 31

Posted By on Wed, Mar 4, 2009 at 8:54 AM

Click the image for a full Plastiki slideshow. - PETER JAMISON
  • Peter Jamison
  • Click the image for a full Plastiki slideshow.

Alright, fine, we admit it -- we here at SF Weekly were prepared to be less-than-impressed with a media circus hosted at Pier 31 yesterday to celebrate the upcoming launch of the Plastiki, a 60-foot catamaran built from recycled plastic.

Piloted by David de Rothschild, an heir to one of Europe's great fortunes whose publicists call him an "Adventurer and Environmental Storyteller," the vessel is supposed to sail 10,000 nautical miles -- from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia -- when it debarks in late April or early May.

As we noted in a previous post, the whole arrangement struck us as a bit too close to the plot of a Wes Anderson movie. And sure enough, dark-haired foreign beauties straight out of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou were in abundance yesterday at the edge of Pier 31, where construction work on the Plastiki is at full throttle. "I feel like we've already set sail," an ebullient de Rothschild said. "I feel like we're at sea right now."

Asked about the danger of piloting a ship made from plastic bottles across the ocean, de Rothschild offered an enigmatic answer. "I think the worst thing that could happen is that you'd be stuck at sea for two weeks. A shark could eat your leg. You'd get really, really burned. It would drag on forever, and you'd be in and out of consciousness. You could get run over by a tanker."

At his side, his publicist, Lani Kopstein, laughed nervously. "The only thing to fear is fear itself," she said.

"I think at the end of the day there's a risk to everything you do in life," de Rothschild said.

Fair enough. Anyway, we came away ready to admit that the Plastiki expedition is actually sort of cool. De Rothschild says his goal is to showcase and encourage innovative ways of using what we normally think of as garbage. By any measure, this boat qualifies, as you can see for yourself in this slideshow.

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