With gas prices soaring, creativity is flowing at a faster pace. When you combine that ingenuity with constant technological advances, it seems like we can do anything.
The recent 37,000-mile journey completed by the solar-powered Turanor PlanetSolar catamaran marks another one of those achievements.
It's obvious how much thought went into the catamaran, from its design and construction and all the way down to its name. The word Turanor — from JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Ring — translates to “power of the sun”. Built in Germany for about $10 million, the Catamaran sails 25 feet above the ocean with a 50-foot beam. Constructed largely of lightweight carbon fiber and powered by four electric motors that deliver silent, clean power, you’ll never see, hear or smell this 100-foot vessel coming.
On September 27, 2010, Monaco marked the beginning of a journey that would break multiple Guinness World Records. Not only was it the first vessel to circumnavigate the planet exclusively on solar power, it also set marks for fastest crossing of the South China Sea and Atlantic Ocean by solar power.
During its 19-month journey, the ship stopped in 28 countries. Those stops included breaks in Tangier, Miami, Cancun, the Galapagos Islands, Brisbane, Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi. The crew promoted the importance of solar energy in each country. Hopefully, seeing what solar power can do convinced these countries to adopt the energy-saving alternative.
The five-man crew consisted of Raphael Domjan, an ambulance driver and high mountain rescue guide from Switzerland, two French captains — Erwann le Rouzic and Patrick Marchesseau — a German bosun named Jens Langwasser, and Swiss energy management specialist Christian Ochsenbein.
The trip wasn’t all sunny days: after failing to catch fresh tuna, they exhausted their supply of bread, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Despite the hard times — which are common when you are testing such a futuristic idea — they did successfully spread the solar energy word. Now let’s see who was listening.