De Rothschild named his boat , the legendary balsa raft that Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl sailed from Peru to Polynesia in 1947.(Two of Heyerdahl's grandchildren may join de Rothschild during the sail.) There's been a small mountain of media coverage since de Rothschild announced the project, in early 2007, and pretty much every story starts out by noting that he is rich and bearded.But he's charismatic and articulate, which is why the Sundance Channel tapped him to host an environmental show called , he has no illusions of playing captain; he says his role will be storyteller.
They created an assembly line that bonds sr PET sheets around cores of PET foam with a machine that makes snowboards and ended up building the entire boat with it.
The result is that the because it's not quite as stiff as fiberglass, so it could bend out of shape in heavy seas.
Between them sat de Rothschild's dogs: Smudge, a Staffordshire bull terrier, and Nesta, a miniature schnauzer. Inside the pier, nine workers were applying electric drills and various clanging tools to two 60-foot-long, white pointy hull frames connected by an arcing deck.
Outside the pier, another de Rothschild pal, Steve Cooper, frontman for the indie band Spirit Animal, was waiting for us in shorts, an adobe-pink cutoff shirt, and a straw hat. Nearby, thousands of clear plastic bottles spilled out of bins. Not only was his boat taking shape, but he'd consumed what he swore was his first-ever coffee at lunch. ") He began our tour by explaining that his North Pole trip had shown him the limitations of an expedition to galvanize change.
He bounced around the work site, greeting his team eagerly before quickly sitting down at a computer to tweet about his caffeine buzz. It had been the first mission of Adventure Ecology, an organization he'd founded on the idea of using far-flung exploration to get younger generations excited about solving environmental problems. "We were talking about inert gases in the atmosphere." For his second journey, he decided to take on a more concrete cause: waste.
He concluded early on that he couldn't build a viable craft with just bottles, but he wanted the to incorporate them in a way that emphasized that "waste is a design flaw," a line credited to Kate Krebs, of the Climate Group.
But, he says, "it's insanely tough you cannot break it," which makes it perfect for whitewater kayaks.
He estimates that within five years, sr PET will supplant rotomolded plastic a weaker hybrid material that can't be recycled as the dominant substance used in many small boats. He envisions sr PET replacing disposable substances in everything from computer casing to skateboards and says the gives him the perfect conversation starter with manufacturers to make this happen.
De Rothschild rang the climate alarm bell himself in 2006, when he attempted a dogsled-supported crossing of the North Pole, from Russia to Canada.
What makes this adventure different is de Rothschild's realization which he slowly came to while trying to build his ridiculous yacht that he would have to do a hell of a lot more than just get people's attention if he really wanted to solve a big problem like plastics in the ocean.
Though a lanky six foot four, de Rothschild looked comfortable folded behind the wheel of his new Toyota Prius.