Stealth Paddle Mission: The Hunt for the Plastiki

Sydney Ports Security..... shhh, nothing to see here.....

Sydney Ports Security….. shhh, nothing to see here…..

An issue I care strongly about is that of garbage in the oceans, and plastic in particular. You only need to read up on the 5 Gyres to see what I’m talking about – mountains of finely broken down plastic floating in our oceans and making its way into the food chain. So I was excited to hear that the Plastiki, a catamaran made of over 12,500 plastic bottles, had sailed across the Pacific to Sydney to raise awareness of the issue.

Hugging the shoreline on the way in....

Hugging the shoreline on the way in….

Since Plastiki is only in town for a little while, I figured I’d paddle in for a good water-borne view. However, it’s current mooring is not exactly open to fans in boats, so I planned an early morning mission to get in for a decent look before there were too many people around. Hugging the shoreline, I quietly paddled until I was within 50 metres, and then ducked in under the boardwalk so as to not gather any attention. Slowly and quietly I manouvered between the pylons until I was just metres away from my target.

Shhhh........ ooh, there she is!

Shhhh…….. ooh, there she is!

Once there, I slowly eased up to the Plastiki for a close look at this remarkable boat. My first thought was about how small it is – it just doesn’t look like it would handle big ocean storms. But it made the trip acros the Pacific in one  piece, so obviously it is deceptively strong.

Wow.. she's beautiful. The Plastiki up close.

Wow.. she’s beautiful. The Plastiki up close.

Up close you can see how the plastic bottles are woven in with recycled PET plastic. It is an incredible look, this sleek sporty looking catamaran with two decent hulls made up of empty bottles and a cabin that looks like an elongated geodesic dome.

Plastiki from the side - note bottles in the hull and the geodesic cabin

Plastiki from the side – note bottles in the hull and the geodesic cabin

Bottles.... over 12,500 of them!

Bottles…. over 12,500 of them!

As I was studying the boat, my thoughts were interrupted by a very irate security guard who had finally seen me in the water and had unleashed a tirade that whilst hard to hear, contained the phrases “Get out of here ya mongrel…. Federal Area….. go on, keep going….. “. With that clear confirmation that my stay was no longer welcome, I put some heavy strokes into the paddle and zoomed off into the Harbour as the security guard followed down the wharf yelling abuse.

Early morning view of the city as I head off away from the Plastiki's mooring.

Early morning view of the city as I head off away from the Plastiki’s mooring.

In all seriousness though, the issue of marine pollution is a very serious one. The amount of plastic bags and plastic bottles that make their way into our oceans everyday is staggering. It’s no longer possible to consider cleaning the oceans, we all have to pull back on our own levels of consumption of throw-away plastic products. There’s lots of information online on alternatives to our everyday use of these products, I urge you to do your own bit to be a part of the solution. Cheers – FP

The Fat Paddler by Sean Smith