Posted by: Doc Bruce | January 5, 2011

Hey Ma! I built a boat out of bottles at Sanibel Sea School.

Well, she wasn’t sleek. And she wasn’t fast. But she was a boat and she floated! Sanibel Sea School students spent the holidays building a boat out of plywood, rope, orange sacks and lots and lots of plastic bottles. The days of stuffing, painting and tying paid off.

Thanks to all who contributed bottles at Bailey’s Grocery Store. You should feel very gratified to know that your water bottles and milk bottles and juice and tea bottles did their duty to float the Calypso, a “boat” built by Sanibel Sea School campers in honor of Jacques Cousteau’s original ocean research vessel.  She looked a little bit like a dock with a sail, but the Calypso floated at least sixteen Sanibel Sea Schoolers on her deck. And indeed she sailed out into San Carlos Bay, an image captured for all posterity by a newspaper photographer and news crews. And so begins Sanibel Sea School’s season of education about plastic in the ocean!

It was a great fortnight at camp. The cold weather gave way to warmth. The kids surfed and combed the beach when they weren’t boat building and the week ended as the Calypso sailed off into the sunset. Such a mammoth project would not have been possible without the vision and help of Ralph Woodring, heavy machinery from Soon Come Contract Hauling, bottle repository resources from Bailey General Store, wood from Shoreline Lumber, and a launching spot thanks to Lee Country Parks and recreation. Extra muscle and traffic management were much appreciated from John Talmage, Michael Horvath, Dan Wexler and the Sanibel Sea School staff.

Remember: try to avoid buying plastic bottles because glass, of course, is made of sand and oh so much better for the ocean. But when you do happen to have a wily plastic bottle out of the store, be sure to recycle it properly.

To see photos of the Calypso and to find out more about Sanibel Sea School, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to a world where all people value, understand and appreciate the ocean, visit

To see the press coverage of our launch, visit and to view some really great photos of the launch, visit


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