Marine

Mother and son team to pedal across the Atlantic

Mother and son team to pedal a...
The Atlantic Project mother-and-son team of David du Plessis and Robyn Wolff are aiming to cross the south Atlantic on a pedal-powered boat
The Atlantic Project mother-and-son team of David du Plessis and Robyn Wolff are aiming to cross the south Atlantic on a pedal-powered boat
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David du Plessis' new expedition highlights mass extinction
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David du Plessis' new expedition highlights mass extinction
The Atlantic Project mother-and-son team of David du Plessis and Robyn Wolff are aiming to cross the south Atlantic on a pedal-powered boat
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The Atlantic Project mother-and-son team of David du Plessis and Robyn Wolff are aiming to cross the south Atlantic on a pedal-powered boat
David du Plessis approached American naval architect Dudley Vix to design a customized boat, which was built over a period of two years by his uncle Tertius du Plessis, an experienced yacht builder in Knysna (SA)
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David du Plessis approached American naval architect Dudley Vix to design a customized boat, which was built over a period of two years by his uncle Tertius du Plessis, an experienced yacht builder in Knysna (SA)
Visitors check out David du Plessis' boat at the Cape Town International Boat Show
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Visitors check out David du Plessis' boat at the Cape Town International Boat Show
Christened Vakita after an endangered porpoise in the Gulf of Mexico, the boat was built to endure the adverse oceanic conditions and self-right itself in the event of a capsize
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Christened Vakita after an endangered porpoise in the Gulf of Mexico, the boat was built to endure the adverse oceanic conditions and self-right itself in the event of a capsize
David du Plessis and his mother will also be making the trek without any support craft providing backup
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David du Plessis and his mother will also be making the trek without any support craft providing backup
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With the goal of drawing attention to the mass extinction of species caused by human activity, a mother-and-son team from South Africa is aiming to cross the south Atlantic on a customized boat powered solely with a pedal system. Experienced adventurer Davey du Plessis (27), a raw vegan environmentalist, author and speaker, will lead the 6,450-km (4,008-mi) crossing that is expected to launch in late November, weather permitting. His mother, Robyn Wolff (50), who is also vegan, will be on the boat pedaling with him.

Called the Atlantic Project, the unsupported crossing is estimated to last between 90 and 150 days. Du Plessis explains in his blog that he chose the pedal boat after looking into how ocean crossing rowboats worked. He concluded it would not be the best way to venture into the rough waters of the Atlantic.

"Not only did a pedal boat seem as having the most efficient propulsion system, it also allowed me to have a cockpit within the boat and cover from the elements, meaning that I wasn't exposed to the unforgiving ocean conditions," he says.

He approached American naval architect Dudley Vix to design a customized boat, which was built over a period of two years by his uncle Tertius du Plessis, an experienced yacht builder in Knysna (SA). Christened Vakita after an endangered porpoise in the Gulf of Mexico, it was built to endure the adverse oceanic conditions and self-right itself in the event of a capsize.

In his ongoing effort to maintain environmental credibility, du Plessis did painstaking research to find sustainable materials for the boat's construction. The best he could come up, which in his view is still not ideal, was a Forest Stewardship Council certified marine plywood that came from France. With the wood in hand, he found a plant-based epoxy from USA by manufacturers EcoPoxy.

Christened Vakita after an endangered porpoise in the Gulf of Mexico, the boat was built to endure the adverse oceanic conditions and self-right itself in the event of a capsize
Christened Vakita after an endangered porpoise in the Gulf of Mexico, the boat was built to endure the adverse oceanic conditions and self-right itself in the event of a capsize

The crossing will be the first human-powered one to depart from South African shores and the third pedal boat to ever attempt an ocean crossing (we have previously written about an attempt to go from Canada to Hawaii). Departing from Cape Town headed for Rio de Janeiro in the coming weeks, it will be the first time a team of two has crossed the South Atlantic east to west under human power from continent to continent non-stop.

Du Plessis adds that he is funding the expedition with his own money to avoid the trappings of corporate sponsoring and greenwashing. He and his mother will also be making the trek without any support craft providing backup.

Mass Extinction

On his project page, du Plessis says that, by 2050, between 30 and 50 percent of all species will face extinction as they are currently disappearing at 100 to 1,000 times the normal background rate.

"We are living in a time where we are seeing the extinction of species so great that it rivals the extinction of the dinosaurs," he tells Gizmag. "But unlike the dinosaurs being wiped out by a meteor, humans have now taken the reins and are driving extinction through our industrial development, agriculture, over-population, consumption, hunting and destruction of natural ecosystems. It's a sobering reality of human neglect, exploitation and destruction of the natural world."

The Atlantic Project will be his third expedition, having previously cycled across Africa in 2011 and navigated the Amazon River in 2012, when he was attacked and shot in the jungle. He tells the story in his book Choosing To Live.

Source: Davey du Plessis via Inhabitat

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14 comments
mhpr262
Raw vegan? What will he be eating in the middle of the Atlantic ocean? Algae?
Keith Reeder
Is the fact that these two are vegan relevant IN ANY WAY to the story?
Milton
@ Keith I imagine it is relevant because it shows they practice what they preach. If I remember correctly the UN report claims raising livestock produces an alarming amount of CO2e. It's been claimed that eating meat (especially BEEF) is more detrimental to the environment than driving around an ICE vehicle. (here's the link: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsID=20772#.VlNWsHarSUk )
Keith Reeder
I'll give them 100 miles before it all craps out and a huge, expensive, natural resource-burning rescue mission has to be launched to rescue these self-indulgent poseurs.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
This boat would be really great for bayou or small lake! I have noticed that I "cruise" at 150 watts on an upright, 100 watts on a recumbant and 40 watts on a rower. Many vegans have had to quit due to clinical malnutrition.
furnortner
I appreciate their conviction, but with over population and no global conversation on over-breeding, the planet is doomed. Our time as a species is ending.
Derek Howe
Milton - Cows are delicious, I don't care if they crap nuclear waste, I'm still going to eat them.
Milton
Way to be a team-player Derek. ;-)
mobile1
Am I the only one that finds this creeeepy?
Robert Walther
If they use the right current, pedaling won't be necessary. To paraphrase Steven Wright, Anywhere is rowing distance, if you have the time.