Sail maker Ed Botterill asked me in an email if I had seen or heard about solar panels integrated into sailcloth material. My answer was no, but, when I look at the 540 square feet of sail that BIANKA uses it is an intriguing idea. Though I expect there will have to be many boats like BIANKA powered by electric propulsion on the waters before that type of solar technology becomes available Though I have to admit sometimes when I'm sitting in the cockpit nursing a cold beer I think about how things would work with a deck full of solar panels instead of sails. A new sail would cost over $5,000 and that could buy a lot of solar panels too. Well, a fellow named Carter down in Florida has actually done it and is currently underway doing sea trials with his boat.
He took an old run down sailboat with rotten wood masts:
and converted it into a solar powered trawler with 5 kilowatts of movable solar panels on deck:
Carter and his wife are on board under going sea trails with the boat along Florida's Gulf coast in preparations for an eventual trip doing The Great Circle Route.
So if you see this unique electric boat in your travels tell them Capt. Mike says hi!