Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mission Control - Plastiki

July blue skies dominated the sky as the fog bank emerged, hugging the coastline before showing the silhouette of skyscrapers that make up my very favorite city, San Francisco. My husband at the wheel, we made our way over the Bay Bridge, escaping the intense Central Valley heat. Our destination; Pier 45, Mission Control – Plastiki!

The story of the Plastiki and the mission of it’s voyage scheduled for 2009, was a story I had been following since early March. The idea of a vessel built out of recycled plastic, that would sail through the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” to bring awareness to our planet’s plastic waste problems got my attention.

The large warehouse type window adjacent to the small front door entrance was fully covered from the inside with 2-liter plastic bottles. The bottle “curtain” did an interesting job of diffusing the July midday sunlight. Kevin Williams and Martin (Marty) Metz were sitting behind the desk when we arrived. As I looked around the room that appeared strangely spacious and somewhat empty, I noticed that the many HP flat screens stationed around the room contrasted with the rugged displays on old wooden tables. Posters mounted about the room declared the inspiration for this mission of the Plastiki, a voyage on a vessel made from plastic 2-liter bottles.

Kevin answered some of my questions about the voyage tentatively planned for October. He explained that the “sea trials” are currently targeted for September and a lot depends on how the Plasitiki performs during those exercises. He showed me on one of the several flat-screens mounted throughout the room how the new 3-D website was partially functional and they are hoping to have full capacity on that website by July 15.

I had read that the 6 member crew intends to grow some of their food during the 4 month voyage so I asked about what types would be grown and Kevin replied “kale and possibly other types of vegetables”.

He explained that fruit would be restocked during the island stops that are scheduled before voyaging through the “Great Pacific Gyre”, also known as “Garbage Patch.” The final destination will be Sydney, Australia.

I wondered about the time of the actual voyage and how long it will take the six-member crew to sail through the “plastic soup” areas… Kevin answered that a few days estimation for the actual sampling of the waters in the region. Reports declare that this “Pacific Garbage Patch” is twice the state of Texas and full documentation will be a concentrated effort during this leg of the journey.

Land control in San Francisco will consist of probably about 3 people, Kevin being one of them. A possible second land control in Sydney, Australia (Plastiki’s final destination) is still to be organized. He explained that the site where the actual construction on the Plastiki takes place is not open for tours. I walked around the room taking in the displays. Mission Control is in the process of opening their doors to school field trips. “David de Rothschild is very much about education,” stated Kevin as he explained that school districts have been contacted by

Intrigued by the bulletin board and table with crayons and construction paper, it was interesting to read sentiments of past visitors. Mission Control opened its doors only one week ago so there are sure to be more “messages” to our Earth posted for viewing in the days to come.

Some call it a “message in a bottle.”

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