Plastiqu’Adour, an eco-responsible adventure aboard a canoe made of plastic bottles

Joffrey and Loïc had a crazy idea: to build a canoe made of plastic bottles to descend the Adour, from its source in the Pyrenees to the Atlantic Ocean. An eco-responsible adventure to trace the cycle of plastic waste from the earth to our oceans.

Passionate about human and environmental adventure, Joffrey Maluski and Loic Forques challenged themselves to descend the Adour, from its source at the Pic du Midi de Bigorre to its mouth in Bayonne, with a boat made from soda bottles. with their project Plastic’Adourthey want to raise awareness about the plastic pollution in the watercourse by tracing the cycle of this waste from land to ocean.

The idea was really to try to raise awareness of plastic waste and show that we can have a “phew” adventure near our home and with few means – Joffrey

At the end of August 2021, the two friends contact each other to try to go on an adventure together. Joffrey wishes an expedition in “bikeraft” mode which consists of a journey that combines the bike and a boat. Loic, meanwhile, has just returned from an engaged expedition in Africa on plastic pollution. Party with the association The flipflopi projecthe sailed on Lake Victoria with a boat built from plastic waste.

They want this adventure to be close to home and carried out quickly. Loic lives in Biarritz and Joffrey, originally from the Var, knows the Pyrenees well. Their choice naturally fell on the Adour which “is one of the most famous rivers in the South-West”.

The project Plastic’Adour has just emerged.

“We had to organize very quickly”

The decision to do the adventure was taken at the end of August for a departure scheduled for October 26: “The idea for the project came quite late, I believe a month before we left, roughly.”

Joffrey and Loic Don’t let the urgency of the schedule get you down. At first glance, the preparation seems a bit improvised.

We really started from a few [dessins griffonnés] on a paper. It was really at the time that we found solutions – Loïc

The plan of the canoe
The plan of the canoe
Umber Studio – Joffrey Maluski – Loïc Forques

It is now necessary to look for the raw material to make the canoe. Direction Bayonne and its ham festival to collect plastic bottles : “We searched all the garbage cans a bit and we recovered the plastic bottles that interested us.” With a preference for soda bottles, because they are more resistant to pressure. In total, nearly 600 bottles were needed to float the canoe.

The installation of plastic shops on the canoe
The installation of plastic shops on the canoe
Umber Studio – Joffrey Maluski – Loïc Forques

Always with a concern foreco-responsible adventurethe choice of the structure of the boat rested on the bamboo which is a renewable natural material that preserves the environment: “We made the whole structure of bamboo with a gentleman who works bamboo near Castres.”

And then we spent a week building the boat – Joffrey

Before the big start, the canoe passed conclusive tests on a lake near Biarritz.

Joffrey (left) and Loïc (right) during the test on the lake of their boat
Joffrey (left) and Loïc (right) during the test on the lake of their boat
Umber Studio – Joffrey Maluski – Loïc Forques

Pulling the canoe with the strength of the calves

October 26, Joffrey and Loic leave from Biarritz by bike and head for the Col du Tourmalet and its source of the Adour. With its 90 kg, the canoe is difficult to tow uphill and downhill: “Going up was very hard, you couldn’t stay on the bike. On the way down, the boat was so heavy that in the end, it carried us away.”

The day of the big departure has arrived for Joffrey and Loïc
The day of the big departure has arrived for Joffrey and Loïc
Umber Studio – Joffrey Maluski – Loïc Forques

The initial idea is abandoned and they leave the canoe in Tarbes. Joffrey and Loic decide despite everything to climb the Col du Tourmalet by bike.

Joffrey and Loïc in front of the Col du Tourmalet sign
Joffrey and Loïc in front of the Col du Tourmalet sign
Umber Studio – Joffrey Maluski – Loïc Forques

They go down again, pick up the canoe in Tarbes and head for Aire-sur-l’Adour to launch it.

The adventure along the water

The first days, Joffrey and Loic are faced with boat stability problems. The solution: remove bottles below to add them to the floats: “From that moment on, it was super stable. And otherwise, the big drawbacks were more maneuverability and weight.”

Another difficulty on their way, the passage of many dams : “You had to get the boat out of the water from time to time and carry it.” To the 90 kg of the canoe, it is necessary to add the bicycles as well as all the equipment. To this is added the shallow depth of certain passages which makes any navigation impossible.

We were often out of the boat with water up to our navel, approximately. So we were quite cold, we were soaked – Joffrey

The descent of the canoe at the level of a dam on the Adour
The descent of the canoe at the level of a dam on the Adour
Umber Studio – Joffrey Maluski – Loïc Forques

On the third day, a choice had to be made on which branch to take. To the right or to the left ? The decision is made, it will be on the left! A few meters further, rapids and a 90 degree turn. The boat drifts towards the shore and its brambles. The canoe capsizes.

After this shipwreck, we were completely soaked. […] We had a few questions about the rest of the adventure – Loïc

Joffrey and Loïc come to their senses. Nothing is missing except a paddle and a water bottle that they will find a few meters further on. They resume their journey, refrigerated. “We’ve done another six or seven kilometres.” Direction their next step, Granada-sur-l’Adour (country).

Soaked and tired, they arrive near the landing stage of the kayak club in the small Landes town. They dismount. After a few minutes, members of the club come to see what is happening. Very quickly, they offer them to warm up, to eat and especially to dry their clothes. Joffrey and Loic will stay there for three days to participate in some activities with them.

It was a blessing in disguise because we really spent three exceptional days – Loïc

The Grenade-sur-l'Adour kayak club (Landes)
The Grenade-sur-l’Adour kayak club (Landes)
Umber Studio – Joffrey Maluski – Loïc Forques

The rest of their journey will be much calmer. Joffrey and Loic go along the Adour meeting children in leisure centers to talk to them about the purpose of their expedition: raise awareness of plastic pollution in waterways.

November 13 and 128 kilometers later, they arrive at their destination at the Société Nautique de Bayonne. Friends and curious people are there to welcome them, as well as one of the families they had met in Grenade-sur-l’Adour.

When we ask Joffrey and Loic if they have decided to go on an adventure together, their answer is unequivocal:

All it takes is a phone call… – Loïc

Photographers and videographers, the two friends decided to make a documentary on their adventure to once again make as many people as possible aware of this pollution which disfigures our waterways and nature.

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And after ?

each on their own, Joffrey and Loic are going to go on an adventure.

Joffrey will set off, at the beginning of February, on the roads of Europe and Scandinavia to rally the Var to the North Cape in order to promote and raise funds for theALion Fellowship which helps families and funds research on childhood cancers.

Loicmeanwhile, will return to Africa for an expedition off the coast of Kenya with once again a boat built with plastic waste in an attempt to find solutions to process waste from island to island.

You can follow their adventures on Instagram accounts: Joffrey Maluski and Loic Forques.

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