When you figure that it costs the U.S. Navy about a billion dollars to launch a Ticonderoga Class cruiser, Rob Livingston and crew at Naked Winery South Dakota have devised a cool way to pare the defense budget.
How? Build a “bottleship.”Which is what they’re doing, out at the Hill City, S.D., tasting room. They’re asking people who buy Outdoor Wino to return the plastic bottles (and re-usable caps). They figure they’ll need about 2,760 bottles (230 cases) to … well, to float their boat.
Rob, who still works construction but followed his wife Kim into the business of getting Naked about a year ago, doesn’t take himself too seriously.
“I’m the idiot that thought it up,” he says. “I saw these water bottles all taped together and some Chinese people on them, with oars, rowing, and I thought, ‘What a great idea. We should make the Outdoor Wino boat, launch it this fall, have a Play Naked event, a BBQ, some music.”
Look for it, shortly after Labor Day, just outside Hill City at Sheridan Lake. Rob figures his “bottleship” will float six intrepid sailors. He’s contemplating throwing down a challenge to other businesses in the area, to gather their own bottles and build their own floaters. Maybe schedule a race. Or a “bottle royal,” with super soaker smackdown.
“And whoever brings us the most bottles back gets prizes for first, second and third,” he says.
Jeff Alley, an Outdoor Wino fan who lives in Colorado, holds the lead so far. He sent Livingston four cases of empties.
“It depends on how many we get back, and how big we build it,” Livingston says. “It might be the Outdoor Wino RAFT.”
He says he has sketched out a design that will let them build it in sections. He figures they’ll have enough bottles by mid-July to build the first section.
“If we only get 50 cases back, we can build it in increments and keep adding onto it year after year,” he says.
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The one question that lingers here is: When they launch this crush cruiser, will they hit it over the bow with a glass bottle or champagne — or a plastic bottle of Wanderlust White?
Glass may not be such a good idea. It could sink the danged dingy. Imagine how bottle collectors would feel about that?