Backed by the UNEP Clean Seas initiative, the Flipflopi set sail on the first overseas expedition in January, travelling 500kms from Lamu to Zanzibar to raise awareness about marine plastic.
Departing from Lamu on the Kenyan coast on 24th January 2019, the FlipFlopi will sail south along the coasts of Kenya stopping in Watamu, Kilifi, Mombasa and Diani, before crossing into northern Tanzania with planned stops on Pemba Island, and onwards into Stone Town, Zanzibar. The voyage will take between 12 and 14 days.
First stop Watamu, and “Team Bushbells” were out in force to be part of the beach clean up and see the dhow last Saturday, 26th January. This is just the mini-dhow - a sort of trial run - and if the expedition works, the life sized dhow will sail from Lamu all the way to Cape Town. Ben Morison, founder of The Flipi Flopi Expedition, has a wonderful vision of it eventually sailing up the Thames and underneath Tower Bridge. What a powerful message that would send to the world!
The whole dhow is made entirely from plastic, except the mast which is wood. Several attempts and trials took place, before the right components of plastic mix were found and this was then melted into moulds to form the actual bow and keel and body of the boat. The outside of the boat is a colourful mosaic of ‘plastic patches’ and looks like a multi-coloured coating. When you see it, it just makes you smile, and it’s this colourful outer layer (made entirely of washed up flip flops found in beach clean ups!) that gives this dhow it’s huge appeal to all generations. And then you learn about the message behind it all.
Our children from Bluebells School were asked specifically to attend this morning, by Watamu Marine Assocation, as they had ‘won’ “the Best School Team” for their efforts in the Beach Clean up last year. Together with other school teams, they enjoyed a morning of creating some sand art (their choice was a star fish) - made entirely of bottle tops washed up on the beach. And again, they were awarded another cup by WMA, who organised this brilliant event.