So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain, American Author
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Solar Boat "RA" challenges the GREAT LOOP as it leaves boating history in its wake
THE SOLAR BOAT CHRONICLES JOURNEY
Skipper Jim Greer and his crew will travel over 6,000 miles in a solar-powered boat around America’s Great Loop waterway in search of the intriguing, the beautiful, and the bizarre. They’ll explore the unique ecology and the living history on the waterway’s banks and meet the colorful characters that populate its towns and boat-ways. They’ll be making their way in a custom-made, solar-powered eco-green boat—The Ra—attempting to see if it is truly possible to make such a monumental journey entirely under solar power. The water route, winding its way through the eastern United States, will be captured in beautiful HD video, giving the audience a view of the river it could never see from a car or the shore.
The Ra is a custom-built 48’ trimaran able to move lightly across the water’s surface. Itl sleeps six, and its solar panels and batteries are sufficient for a half-day cruise before recharging. The Ra, if it is successful, will be the first solar-powered boat to traverse The Great Loop. The cost to take this 6,000-mile trip in fuel alone would ordinarily be over $10,000 in a power boat. But by using the power of the sun, the Ra is expected to have no fuel costs for its journey!
Rail-mounted cameras, and even one mounted in a mini-helicopter, will capture life as it occurs both on the river and on the boat. The crew’s interaction with each other and with the people on the river will be captured continuously. From this vast amount of footage, the crew will edit together the scenes most likely to be of interest to viewers. Each show will encompass around 10 days of shooting, capturing:
close-up looks at the birds and animals that make the rivers their home
rare views of cities and major historical sites from the river
often spectacular natural scenery
engaging, site-specific historical accounts provided by guest historians
the often amusing interactions between the crew and the people on the river
Skipper Jim Greer
Our fearless captain
Jim began his boating life at the age of 14 when—inspired by Tom Saywer’s adventures—he built a wooden boat and drifted down the Arkansas River from his Wichita, Kansas home to the lower reaches of Arkansas. He was ultimately apprehended by a Arkansas sheriff who deemed him a runaway and returned him home.
As an adult, he went on to pilot boats in Africa and Southeast Asia before going on to spend eight years designing and building specialty boats for the oil industry.
On occasion, he would also take jobs filming oil company facilities in various countries. It was during one of these jobs that he discovered his love of filming animals, which often clustered in the jungles surrounding the oil facilities. This inspired him to also begin a career as a wildlife film maker.
However, all the while he longed to return to boating, and when the idea hit him to take a solar boat around the Great Loop, he knew this had to be his next boating adventure.
Propulsion is provided by two 48-volt Torqeedo electric outboard motors, which are linked in tandem. The energy for the motors is captured by 14 large solar panels that are 450 watts each, linked in pairs. The solar panels send the sun’s energy to a large battery bank, which supplies the motors.
Greer said the engines give up to eight hours use when the sun is shining. The batteries provide about three and a half hours use on a full charge, he said.
Twenty miles per day is about all they shoot for.
“When things are going well, and we’re traveling with the current, we can do about 7 or 8 miles per hour,” Greer said. “But on a cloudy day, we can still power along, at a much slower speed, more like 2 1/2 miles per hour.”