Can a solar-powered boat survive the 3,000-mile journey across the Atlantic and make it to the record books? Solar Voyager was launched from Gloucester, Massachusetts early this month towards Portugal. Instead of a human navigator, a computer controls the solar-powered boat through pre-programmed GPS waypoints. A report is provided online regarding its position including data on its speed, solar power generated, battery level and local temperature.
This is the first attempt to cross the Atlantic with a boat but none so far has been successful because the waves can reach as high as 30 feet during a storm that spells big trouble even for cruise ships. Solar Voyager looks pretty robust at 18 feet long and 2.5 feet across. The prototype is made from aluminum because plastic is too fragile for the rough ocean conditions. The upper part of the vessel is given over to the solar panels of 280 watts. You can find 2.4 kWh batteries that run at night below deck. Pictures and short videos can be taken through a GoPro camera. Whatever has been captured by the camera can only be retrieved by a human. Two propellers provide the maximum speed of less than 5 mph which means that the Solar Voyager will take about 4 months to reach its destination.
Solar Voyager is an undertaking of Isaac Penny and Christopher Sam Soon. The boat was deliberately kept simple to maximize battery storage and to allow extra sensors for overnight sailing. The boat charges as much as it can and tries to sail as far as possible during the night. Hopefully, when the sun comes out, the boat is not too far from its course.
The system has been built with redundancy in mind. The solar panels are split so that if one fails, the other is still available to generate electricity. The Solar Voyager may eventually make history because theoretically speaking; it has the capability to sail forever.
In the Canary Islands, there is ASA Sailing School where you can get your Royal Yacht Association (RYA) course certificate. The RYA certificate means you are fully competent and highly qualified to be a skipper in Europe.