Another Record Making First?

A new Swiss catamaran is undergoing final preparations before beginning a record-making project to cross the Atlantic as the first fully solar-powered vessel to make the voyage. The catamaran (pictured left)is called a ‘Sun21’. It is about 14m LOA and 6.5m wide. The boat is equipped with solar modules, batteries and motors which manufacturers hope will allow a constant speed of 5-6kts during the passage from Seville, Spain, to New York.

Organizers had intended the boat to leave the southern Spanish port two weeks ago, but skipper Martin Vosseler told press that poor conditions meant it would remain berthed at the local yacht club pending an improvement in the weather.

Solar boats are vessels with electric engines that are powered by photovoltaic cells. Manufacturers hope to make solar boats more accessible in the future, and that environmentally friendly solar energy could be used to power a large proportion of the increasing number of ocean-going commercial vessels and leisure boats.

Type: Aquabus C60
Passengers: 8 bunks, room for several dozen passengers for short visits
Length: 14 meters
Width: 6.6 meters
Draught: maximum 1 meter with full load
Weight: ca 12 tons
Drive: 2 electric motors, 8 kW each
Batteries: 520 Ah/C5, 48 V DC lead accumulators in each hull
Photovoltaic: 2 x 5 kW solar modules, ca 65 m2
Speed: maximum 7 knots/ long-range speed ca 5 knots