Largest Solar Boat samples Gulf Stream

NEW YORK, June 18, 2013 — I got to sail a portion of the Gulf Stream aboard VO70 ‘Maserati’ from Charleston, SC to New York last winter. We took advantage of it’s 5 mile per hour northward flow and mild temperatures. Entering the stream, foulies and boots were quickly exchanged for t-shirts and flip flops.

The Gulf Stream gyres in the North Atlantic, transporting warm nutrient rich water from the tropics along the East Coast of the U.S. towards Europe. Eventually the water cools, becomes denser, sinks and starts flowing south as part of the North Atlantic Deep Water before resurfacing off Florida.

Some speculate that without the warm influence of the Gulf Stream North America and Europe would look more like Alaska – snowy tundras and vast ice fields.

Scientist from the University of Geneva are now taking a closer look at this 60 mile wide current that extends as far as 4000ft deep.

Climatologist Martin Beniston leads the DEEPWATER EXPEDITION joining the crew of the swiss catamaran ‘MS Turanor Planet Solar’ — the largest solar powered ship in the world — on her voyage from Miami to Bergen, Norway with stops in New York, Boston, St-John’s and Reykjavik.

Beniston deems the 82ft long vessel a suitable platform for scientific sampling. No gasoline or diesel are used for propulsion and voyages are made with zero CO2 emission, eliminating potential factors of data pollution. He and his team are studying the chemical and physical composition of water masses and aerosols.

New York Media Boat spoke with Deepwater Expedition team member Dr. Bastiaan Ibelings, a professor in microbial ecology at the University of Geneva who explains the importance of phytoplankton for our oceans and climate.

The 82 foot long ‘MS Turanor PlanetSolar’ is part of a Swiss initiative to demonstrate how innovative technology can harvest renewable energy and allow clean travel. 5,500 square feet of photovoltaic cells supply power for the twin 60kW electric motors moving her averaging 5 knots.

Five World Records have been established by ‘MS Turanro PlanetSolar’ including ‘first earth circumnavigation by solar-powered boat’ and ‘fastest transatlantic crossing completely under solar power’ in 26 days. Note: French sailer Francis Joyon crossed the North Atlantic in just over 5 days powered by wind earlier this week.

Be sure to stop by the boat currently docked at North Cove Marina before she leaves on Thursday for Boston.

UPDATE 6/20/13 — PHOTO GALLERY: ‘MS Turanor PlanetSolar’ departs NY, sailing past Lower Manhattan, The Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge