Solar-powered boat completes record voyage around the world

It took 584 days and 37,286 miles, but a solar-powered boat entered the record books after completing a voyage around the world.

Ben Schiller writes in co.exist that the biggest obstacle facing the MS Turanor PlanetSolar and its crew was not navigating on a sustainable energy source but rather the centuries-old threat of pirates.

"It was one month with soldiers onboard, and a lot of stress," 39-year-old captain Raphaël Domjan told Schiller. "We were at 5 knots with the solar energy, and we were between Yemen and Somalia. In Yemen, with the soldiers and guns we had, we could have gone to jail. And in Somalia, we could be hostages, and eat rice for one year."

Along with a desire to promote global conservation efforts, Domian says he was inspired to take the unique voyage after reading the works of famed author Jules Verne, who wrote "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."

[View a slideshow of the MS Turanor PlanetSolar]

The ship was at an even greater risk than most vessels passing through the region because it was traveling at 5 knots, rather than the usual 15 to 20 knots. And while the PlanetSolar is 115 feet long and 75 feet wide, it's still a smaller ride than most boats passing through the area.

Domian says they could have made the voyage in shorter time but made several planned stops along the way to promote the solar energy technology being used to power the boat.

"We know that climate change is a challenge for our civilization, but there are also opportunities, and we have to be optimistic," he said.

And along with promoting environmental awareness, Domian says there was another added benefit of traveling without a gas-powered motor: No noise.

"It's very nice because you have no noise and no vibration. To see the wildlife and the dolphins, it's much better than on a normal motor boat," he said.

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