The naval architect-designed boat was built out of environmentally friendly materials.

Adventurer and environmentalist Davey du Plessis is aiming to cross the southern Atlantic from South Africa to Rio de Janeiro, on a customised, pedal-powered boat.

The 27-year old and his mother, Robyn Wolff, 50, are set to attempt the more than 4,000-mile crossing in late November, to draw attention to environmental issues.

Dubbed the Atlantic Project, the trip is expected to take between three and five months, at an average speed of 2.5 knots, depending on weather conditions in the Atlantic.

In his blog, du Plessis writes that he chose the pedalo design after looking into designs for rowboats often used in Atlantic and other ocean crossings.

Atlantic Project Vaquita pedal boat

“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,” du Plessis said.

His boat, Vaquita, was designed by American naval architect Dudley Vix and built by du Plessis’ uncle, a boat-builder in South Africa. The boat is named after an endangered porpoise, and designed to withstand the southern Atlantic’s notoriously rough conditions and to self-right if it capsizes.

With the words Extinction Six emblazoned on the boat’s hull, Vaquita and its Atlantic crossing is an attempt by du Plessis to highlight the Holocene extinction, the ongoing mass extinction of species caused mainly by human activity. Du Plessis’ project page cites an estimate that between 30 and 50 percent of all species will face extinction by 2050 given the current estimated extinction rate.

Atlantic Project Vaquita pedal boat

Vaquita was made from Forestry Stewardship Council-certified marine plywood from France joined by EcoPoxy, a plant-based epoxy resin manufactured in the US.

Du Plessis’ and Wolff’s crossing will be the first to depart from South Africa and the first by a team of two attempting to cross the South Atlantic non-stop from east to west under human power.

The Atlantic Project is du Plessis’ third expedition. He has previously cycled across Africa in 2011 and sailed the Amazon River in 2012.

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