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Rothschild eventually found a boat designer (Andy Duvell) and builder (Mike Rose) who understood his objectives, but even they debated what’s nautically possible and what’s not. "At first, I was pretty unconvinced on the pomegranate thing," says Rose. "I’ve made nine trans-Pacific crossings, and I’ve never seen any pomegranates under sails."

They also discovered that they could use self-reinforced polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the same material from which plastic water bottles are made, to construct a stiff skeleton and deck. While the deck won’t be strong enough to support a rudder (steering will come from jibs mounted on the pontoons), Rose reckons it’ll be strong enough to survive the trip. And since the boat will be fashioned from PET, it will be easy to recycle. "When David’s done with it, we’ll just run the whole thing through a chipper," he says.

De Rothschild also hopes to make this the most interactive expedition ever, if he can work out a strategy with satellite companies to provide him with broadband access throughout the four-month voyage. "I could ask, ‘OK, kids, where to next, Tuvalu or Vanuatu?’" he says.

The initial plan was to launch the voyage in December, until someone told de Rothschild that, um, December is smack in the middle of the Pacific cyclone season. As for the crew, he’s still mulling it over, but he envisions swapping out people—marine biologists, anthropologists, even celebrities such as Johnny Depp and Jack Johnson—for different legs of the journey. "We have got to attract people’s attention," he says. "Our oceans are out of sight and out of mind, but they’re facing enormous changes because of what we’ve done."

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  • Heyerdahl was sailing with a humble balsa raft with very limited modern tools, Rothschild following …
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