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Position of the boat

Date :
01.08.2014 00:32 GMT +2:00
Position :
38° 23' 2" N 23° 47' 31" E
Speed :
0 knot

PlanetSolar across the Korinthos Canal, heading for science!

29.07.2014

The Corinth Canal may be less well-known than its big brothers, Suez and Panama, and shorter too (it is only 6 km long), but passing through it on PlanetSolar will always be an intense memory. Despite knowing what was in store, I can assure you that the four or five metres that separated us from the cliff seemed very small indeed from the solar bridge! Although it was an imposing sight for the crew, the 70 or so minutes it took us to pass through the canal weren’t the most relaxing of our voyage!

And tonight, when we saw some of the photos that have already been posted on the internet, we were full of envy for the spectators who watched us pass along the bottom of this breathtakingly steep cutting from the top of a bridge.

We are now on our way to Eretria, which will be our first official stop on the TerraSubmersa scientific expedition led by the University of Geneva. Here we will celebrate the fifty archaeological excavations being carried out in Eretria by the Swiss School of Archaeology. Afterwards we will sail to Athens and Nafplio and then on to Kilhada, where the boat will be converted into a scientific platform as it begins to study the submerged prehistoric landscapes from 11 August onwards.

GdA

From Ajaccio to Korinthos

24.07.2014

Crossing the Mediterranean during the summer, from Corsica to Greece, while hoping the sea doesn’t pitch one of its famous fits, is an experience that cannot be missed. It is best aboard a motorboat rather than a sailboat, and TPS is the perfect ship: no noise, no vibrations...

Bonifacio

A slow passage in front of these mythical white cliffs, and thanks to the dinghy, we entered the the cave of Sdragonato; I did not dare try to fit TPS into it!

As for the town that sits on the cliff, no matter how many times you see it, it always looks just as improbable and splendid.

Sardinia

Instead of navigating through the main channel of the Strait of Bonifacio, we pass through the channels north of Sardinia, the steepness of which allows us to navigate right up close to the impressive cliffs.

On the Porto Cervo side, we see a parade of the most luxurious yachts in the world...

Lipari

We arrive at Lipari, the main town on the island and on the eponymous archipelago. As we prepare to drop anchor in the little space available (the depth is breathtakingly steep), we see numerous, overburdened vessels detach from the coast and come towards us. I can’t help but be reminded of the Indian canoes coming to meet Captain Cook’s Resolution in a Polynesian bay. Disembarking, cannon fire, firecrackers and fireworks. What a welcome, far beyond our expectations! But no, we are surrounded, and then passed by; it turns out to be a religious celebration. The person we ask about this does not seem to remember what exactly the occasion is, since there are so many…

Stromboli

Under the volcano, at dawn. The valve opens regularly to release pressure but the monster is calm, and at its feet, the little town of Stromboli which mainly lives from a “VIP tourism”, seems prosperous. Still, the cracks on the walls of the church show that this area can be a bit precarious...

Messina

We encounter strange boats in the strait of Messina. Take a hull that is a dozen metres long, place the mast in the centre, a pylon that is 25 metres high, with a basket on top. Stick a walkway of about thirty metres long in front, and secure it all with a spiderweb of shrouds and stays, and now you are ready to fish swordfish. The pilot and two lookouts sit in the basket, from which commands come down to the harpooner who sits far ahead, at the end of the walkway.

Traditionally, these were rowboats. Even if powerful motors have replaced the rowing crew, it is still a very selective kind of fishing, and the harpooner chooses only good adult catches. How long will this form of fishing resist competition from fishing boats with nets, which is both intense and often illegal?

White calm

On my bunk, in the darkness of my windowless cabin.

I woke up, feeling something abnormal. For the first time since I am on board, I no longer feel any small movement, or any noise apart from the fan: no squeaking, which is an odd feeling aboard a boat, especially a carbon boat like this one, where the slightest wave that touches the central nacelle can be heard all throughout the ship. But I know that TPS is advancing, probably rather quickly...

I feel like I am on a spaceship, hurtling through space…

It is too unreal, I go outside. Outside there is only white calm, I search the horizon, a hot, downy mist blocks it out, and only the wrinkles in the water around the floats suggest that we are on a disk, and not inside a sphere.

GdA

On her way to Greece, PlanetSolar stops in Ajaccio

17.07.2014

For three days, from July 10th to 12th inclusive, Monaco has been devoted to the solar boat races organised by Solar1, during which TPS served as the press and VIP boat. The sight of these firefly-like vessels gliding along without sound or turbulence was truly spectacular. TPS looked like a mother hen surrounded by her chicks. In the evening, TPS carefully backed up and docked at the magnificent, newly inaugurated Monaco Yacht Club, a building shaped like a giant motor yacht. On Sunday, July 13th all the grand yachts present sounded their sirens to send us off, making our departure quite emotional. Upon entering the basin, we made a 360 degree turn for our own farewell salute.

On July 15th, at 9 AM, TPS crossed through the stunning Passe des Sanguinaires, which marks the Northern entrance to the Bay of Ajaccio. The sun was still low in the horizon, which resulted in a perfect, magical light. We had left our mooring at the Bay of Menton just 21 hours earlier, enjoying a quick and comfortable crossing with sunny, calm seas. The Mediterranean at its best.

A few moments later, we passed in front of Myrte, an experimental installation with its field of solar panels. Here, the question of storing electricity is cleverly resolved thanks to the production of hydrogen, which may be a future solution for using this free, abundant, but unfortunately intermittent source of energy.

Our next stop is Corinth, in Greece, but since we have plenty of time to reach it, we decided to make a stop in the bay of Ajaccio. Our plans to moor discreetly, however, had not taken into account Corsican hospitality, and in fact the mayor’s office made amazing arrangements for this totally spontaneous stop, with an invitation to moor at the main wharf and to partake in the fantastic buffet they had set up there.

A sailor’s life sure is hard, isn’t it?

GdA

PlanetSolar returns to Monaco as Guest of Honour at the Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup!

07.07.2014

After a sunny, nearly 20-day stay in the Marchica lagoon (Morocco), the ship enjoyed a wonderful journey towards Monaco, where it dropped anchor at Port Hercules in the afternoon on July 6th. Upon returning to the very place that witnessed the first solar-powered journey around the world, the catamaran will be present as the guest of honour at the “Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup 2014”, the first solar boat race organised within the Principality of Monaco. From July 6th to July 12th the boat will host events, and will become the official vessel of the members of the jury during the race, which will take place from July 10th to 12th. The ship will set sail on July 13th to continue its Mediterranean journey towards Greece, where it will embark upon the University of Geneva’s TerraSubmersa scientific expedition.

After 12 days at sea, the solar-powered boat reached its destination. Strong winds forced the captain to take shelter in the Balearic Islands, which gave the catamaran the chance to enjoy some of the archipelago’s most beautiful scenery.

The MS Tûranor PlanetSolar dropped anchor at the Hirondelle dock of Port Hercules (Monaco) yesterday, on the occasion of the Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup 2014, the first solar boat race organised by the Principality, which will take place from July 10th to 12th. A strong symbol of the efficiency of photovoltaic energy, the largest solar-powered ship in the world will offer its unique characteristics to the competition’s organisers, serving both as an event platform, as well as to welcome the race’s jury panel.

The catamaran will then continue upon its Mediterranean journey towards Greece. Once in the Hellenic Republic’s waters, the ship will once again become a scientific platform for the University of Geneva, enabling the study of submerged prehistoric landscapes as part of the “TerraSubmersa” expedition.

Mnemiopsis and water slides

02.07.2014

When a ship crosses the sea with an empty hold, some of its compartments often have to be filled with seawater to ensure that the vessel remains stable. The ballast water is then dumped on arrival, with the result that certain animal species may be transported far from their place of origin. This type of globalisation may have unforeseen consequences: mnemiopsis, for example, have appeared and proliferated in some European waters. Also known as the sea walnut, mnemiopsis look like small, bell-shaped jellyfish and are about 5 cm tall; the problem is that they thrive on fish larvae and have no predators.

The Nausicaa Centre National de la Mer in Boulogne (France) has fitted us out with a very fine mesh net that can catch mnemiopsis. Sea conditions permitting, we tow the net at low speed for 20 minutes every day. Shaped like a funnel, the net collects creatures in a small container that we then empty into a highly transparent aquarium so that we can take photos, which we then send to the laboratory. The extensive basin at the stern makes the entire manoeuvre very easy, with TPS once more demonstrating her capacity to adapt to the most diverse missions. Until now (since, that is, we left Marchica) our catch has always been rich in larvae and strange little animals – and, unfortunately, fragments of plastic; but we have not found any traces of the unwanted mnemiopsis.

Talking of fishing, but the more traditional type that our crew has been eagerly anticipating, a superb tuna had the good sense to nibble on our hook and will keep us fed for three days.

On the evening of June 27, after three days of swift passage, we dropped anchor in a small bay on the island of Formentera before reaching Ibiza on the following day.

The Balearics are a mixture of good and bad.

The good consists of the sublime landscape and steep and rugged coastline with ochre rocks that gleam at sunset, a clear sea, ideal temperatures, and tiny creeks where it is fun to moor (often just with a small, understated, friendly beach hut). The worst part is the sometimes ill-conceived town planning with rows of low-rise hotels, torrents of loud music, jet skis buzzing about and inflatable banana boats straddled by strings of tourists screeching in paroxysms of excitement.

A large catamaran passes by: it must have seen better days and has now been converted into a floating platform piled high with a hundred or so screaming voices jiggling to the strains of disco music.

In the bay of Savina, which we crossed to go to Ibiza, 100-metre long super yachts are almost a common sight, outdoing one another with their embellishments that sometimes border on the ridiculous. A monstrosity of a water slide was set up on the side of one of these vessels: I imagine that there is a lift inside that effortlessly raises the bathers to the launching point. Antoine was photographing it and dreaming of a billionaire’s slide when a craft more suited to our means paid us a visit: a pedal boat with a slide!

But, although TPS is not the largest or most luxurious of vessels, it is still our TPS with its spacecraft appearance and its “wings” that we have kept deployed with the greatest success. And everybody wants his or her photo taken with the big solar boat in the background.

GdA, 30/6/14

The captain speaks about Marchica!

25.06.2014

After our rapid crossing and the passage through the Strait of Gibraltar, on June 6 we reached our destination or, more accurately, we ended up a few nautical miles away opposite the port of Nador, where we anchored in the bay. It was out of the question to arrive in the Marchica lagoon too early as there was an official welcome waiting for us there exactly a day later at noon.

After eleven days at sea it was a little frustrating having to be satisfied with looking at the towns of Nador and Melilla from afar. As the conversation turned to all the restaurants we were missing out on, a Zodiac from the Moroccan Royal Navy, headed by a dynamic crew, came to deliver a gargantuan couscous (the traditional Friday dish) by way of welcome.

So it was at the scheduled time on June 7 that we entered the artificial channel that gives access to the huge stretch of water that is Marchica. It is a sort of inland sea that stretches over more than twenty kilometres and which, before the war when Morocco was still Spanish, served as a base for seaplanes. In fact, you can still see the control tower there undergoing restoration.

The lagoon, which had become a kind of unauthorised rubbish tip, has formed part of a gigantic clean-up plan since 2010 that involves the local population. Today, more than 19,000 hectares of the inland sea have been dedicated to an ambitious but environmentally-friendly project for developing tourism. The scheme includes protected wildlife areas where sustainable energy – and solar power in particular – are due to play a central role.

TPS docked majestically at the pontoons of the Atalayoun marina to the applause of the crowd, music and our first steps on dry land. And, of course, there was the traditional glass of milk and dates. A 100-metre long carpet led us to a large tent specially erected for the occasion, where nearly 300 people were waiting for us.

However, before lunch (which promised to more than match our expectations), it was time for the speeches, which were delivered in something of a formal atmosphere. One official after another took to the platform, before I had the pleasure to draw the proceedings to a close. Just as I started to speak, I saw a few members of the TPS crew sniggering as they sat at a nearby table. Soon, the guests only had eyes for my feet: I had left the boat pretty quickly and still had my slippers on!

On June 13 Brieuc, our ship’s mate, received a visit from the admiral in command of the Moroccan Royal Navy together with senior members of his staff. This included the national anthem, a tour of TPS and lunch served on board by an expert team. It was also an opportunity to compare the PlanetSolar caps that we give our guests with the navy’s. And it’s a comparison that does not work in our favour.

The sun shines for more than 3,000 hours a year here, a real treat for TPS which gorged herself, and there is no shortage of solar projects. We toured the magnificent building for the future Two-Seas Harbour Master’s Office that will command the entrance to the lagoon. PlanetSolar SA is responsible for undertaking the study for the energy requirements and supplying the entire building with solar energy, with a field of panels positioned nearby. And Augustin then set out to “solarise” a buggy from the nearby golf academy as a way of keeping themselves busy during the lengthy stopover. It was a fine little contraption that we gave our hosts as thanks for their warm welcome

It is with sadness that we leave Morocco today and head out to sea again. By the time you read this blog, we will be on our way to Monaco for new adventures in an entirely different atmosphere.

GdA

PlanetSolar makes a stop in Atalayoun (Morocco) to celebrate the completion of the Marchica lagoon’s decontamination!

07.06.2014

Having departed from Boulogne-sur-Mer (France) on May 25, the solar vessel arrived yesterday afternoon in Atalayoun, in the Marchica lagoon (Morocco). The ship’s arrival to this location shows the Moroccan authorities’ desire to promote the use of renewable energies within the framework of a comprehensive development plan for the Marchica lagoon. Over the course of a week, the catamaran will serve as the central hub for events meant to showcase the progress of this large project. The stopover will also be an opportunity for PlanetSolar to announce her partnership with the agency in charge of the site’s development - MarchicaMed. In fact, PlanetSolar will manage a pilot project that aims to power the Marchica harbor master’s office completely autonomously and without CO2 emissions. Moreover, MarchicaMed is interested in PlanetSolar’s experience and expertise, as they would like to use a fleet of electro-solar boats for lagoon transportation.

After 13 days of sailing, the world’s largest solar boat dropped anchor on June 6 in Atalayoun, at the heart of the Marchica lagoon. “The first days at sea were rather difficult, with headwinds in high maritime traffic areas such as the English Channel. Fortunately, the weather conditions gradually improved, enabling us to reach speeds of up to 10 knots. We are honored by this invitation and are delighted to participate in the celebration of this beautiful lagoon,” says Gérard d’Aboville, captain of the ship.

The catamaran’s stopover in this area is part of an ambitious development plan of the Marchica lagoon site, started in 2008. The project aims to galvanize the region while protecting and highlighting the lagoon’s natural resources and promoting renewable energies. The ship is therefore coming to pass along her positive message about the efficiency of photovoltaic energy and its many applications.

The catamaran will stop in the Kingdom of Morocco for about two weeks. Then she will sail towards Monaco to participate in the “Solar1 Monte Carlo Cup” solar boat race, as jury host. The ship will then dash off to Greek waters, and again become a scientific platform for the University of Geneva, this time to study submerged prehistoric landscapes during the “TerraSubmersa” expedition.

A week of celebrations for the MS Tûranor PlanetSolar

While docked at the Atalayoun North Marina, activities will be organized on and around the ship from June 7-14. Stands will present the Marchica lagoon development plan in detail as well as the work carried out to complete the decontamination. For the younger ones, a workshop for building a model of a small solar boat will be offered. In parallel, the boat will be open to the public, raising awareness about issues regarding the use of renewable energies.

First 2014 captain words!

30.05.2014

- Hello, Vincent?

- Is that you, Gérard? So, any news?

- Yes, we’ll be setting out again in April for four or five months. Are you in?

- Why not... Is Brieuc still the first mate?

- Absolutely, I just spoke to him.

- And who else?

- Antoine is the electrical engineer, and that’s it for now.

- Well, you can count on me.

- Aren’t you going to ask me the schedule?

- Fire away...

- I can’t give you the details yet, but we will start out with a trip to Boulogne sur Mer, then we will pass through Morocco—the northern part of the country this time, then a few days in Monaco for press and to be on the judging panel during the solar boat races, and most likely a mission for the University of Geneva in Greece, with the department of ancient sciences  this time. Take a look at the PlanetSolar blog for more.

- Not bad, I was right to accept!

That was in January, and PlanetSolar was in dry dock in Concarneau for winter maintenance work—strengthening bows, inspecting valves and thru-hull fittings, repainting underwater portions of the boat—before heading back to the Cité de la Voile -Éric Tabarly in Lorient, where the catamaran spent the winter next to Tara, and old acquaintance. Not easy when depressions were rolling in on end, one after another. So many that Brittany was victim to storms and floods, to imagine a cruise in the sun... And then eventually, the days slowly started to get longer, and the sun made some timid appearances.  PlanetSolar came back to life, her panels increasingly charged from day to day. The list of winter maintenance work got smaller, and summer plans started taking shape...

Having left Lorient on April 10, PlanetSolar made her entrance in Boulogne-sur-Mer on April 13, not without bringing a few VIPS aboard in the harbor, including Frédéric Cuvillier, City Mayor and Minister of the Sea. We stayed here for over a month, and this first stopover of the 2014 season was a highlight— PlanetSolar being the guest star of the Festival of Sea Images organized by the National Sea Center Nausicaa.

As usual, the stopover has been an opportunity to receive hundreds of visitors onboard, notably schoolchildren and high school students, allowing PlanetSolar to play her role as ambassador of solar energy once again.

Brieuc, a thrill enthusiast, dove with the Nausicaa sharks. Antoine, who accompanied him and took pictures in anticipation of an exclusive scoop, was disappointed; the sharks placidly welcomed the intruder, as they already had their breakfast.

Bernard Abeille, who makes whales sing using the sound of his double bass, unless it is the whales that make his double bass sing, came to serenade us onboard. He was accompanied by Claire Flipo, who plays the didgerido. The instruments were placed on the carbon floor, and the hull created a soundbox. It was a great time!

Augustin came to give the crew a hand. A young and energetic student, he is relying on Antoine to teach him the intricacies of PlanetSolar. He is also learning to be a seaman, but as an intern, a perfect mastery of the coffee machine is one of his first missions.

And then on May 25 at 9:30, we cast off and PlanetSolar headed toward Atalayoun, near Nador, on the northern coast of Morocco. Are you wondering what we will do there? Don’t expect me to tell you today, avid readers. I must keep something for my next posts!

GdA

miniJOULE partners PlanetSolar in 2014!

20.05.2014

For her 2014 campaign, the world largest solar boat welcome on board the systems miniJOULE and miniJOULE Island!

What are these systems? miniJOULE Island is an off-grid system that generates solar energy and MiniJOULE an innovative plug-and-play solar-energy system. The technology that miniJOULE uses enables everyone to not only generate their own solar energy but to also store it for later consumption and thus make their very own contribution. miniJOULE realises the vision set out by Jeremy Rifkin in "The Third Industrial Revolution": "In the 21st century millions of people will produce their own green energy – in their homes, in offices, in factories – and share it with other intelligent distributed power networks, the Intergrids."

PlanetSolar supports this very innovative project and will present the systems at every 2014 stopovers, as a powerful symbol of the democratisation of the generation of power from renewable sources.

miniJOULE Switzerland / International has joined forces with PlanetSolar to develop a special offer to accompany the PlanetSolar's campaign in 2014. Customers in Switzerland, Europe and northern Africa may order the miniJOULE / PlanetSolar off-grid or on-grid systems on-line at attractive prices and thus make their own personal contribution to a sustainable world.

For more info regarding this offer and for getting your coupon-code, please visit: http://www.planetsolar.org/energy/sections/minijoule

For more info regarding miniJOULE: https://www.minijoule.com/

BioApply partners PlanetSolar in 2014

15.05.2014

BioApply, a Vaud based company is engaged in fighting plastic bags and packaging.
Bioapply develops and distributes biobased, biodegradable and compostable alternatives.
This engagement has contributed in the upcoming ban of single use plastic bags and oxo degradable bags in Switzerland.
The use of compostable bags in retail allows up to 95% reduction of bags by large distributors and strongly boosts collection of organic waste for composting.
In Switzerland, contamination by plastics of mountain lakes is a fact.  On a global scale, the vast quantities of plastic ending up in the ocean has caused the 7th (plastic continent) in the Pacific, as well as numerous deaths throughout the food chain.

"Planet Solar’s engagement for clean and renewable energy for mobility and on the ocean is in line with BioApply’s vision: Promotion of renewable materials to avoid use and contamination by fossil (plastic) products."
Frederic Mauch, BioApply founder

Planet Solar’s vision is carried around the globe on the oceans. It certainly contributes in making people aware of the environmental problems confronting the seas.
Our objective in this partnership is to stress the dangers of plastics on our planet through a positive message and symbol: there are viable alternatives. "

BioApply will contribute reusable biodegradable and compostable bags, certified:

OK Compost (Compostable)
Made in the EU from EU material
None foods and GMO free material
Traceable via the Respect Code (respect-code.org)

The crew will use them for shopping and for events / documentation support.

www.bioapply.com