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Solar Planet in the Marquesas - the longest solar sea voyage

by Raphaël Domjan & Patrick Marchesseau on 25 Mar 2011
Planet Solar - now in the Marquesas .. .

Raphaël Domjan & Patrick Marchesseau on their amazing Solar Planet, the sea craft completely powered by solar panels, have arrived in the Marquesas in French Polynesia, a distance of around 3000 nautical miles, after completing the leg from Galapagos in 25 days, 6 hours and 39 minutes.

As they continue their way south through French Polynesia, here is their report of the crossing:


After we left the Galápagos on Monday morning, 7 February 2011, we had the chance to sail along the coast of Isabela Island before crossing Isla Tortuga, a partly submerged crater. It was just magnificent. During the first days of our journey we had excellent sailing conditions with a sea like a mirror ; during the first two days we encountered some fishermen lost in the infinite blue of the Pacific Ocean. The end of the first week was more difficult with less favourable conditions. But from the second week on, the Pacific embraced us and carried us westwards towards Polynesia.

First of all there was the Humboldt current, and then the trade winds blowing from east to west and transporting us as far as the Marquesas. We achieved an average speed of over five knots during the voyage, which is really incredible. Now we are the solar-powered electric vehicle which has travelled the greatest distance.

The previous record was held by midnightsun team in 2004 with a distance of 15,070 km which they travelled between the United States and Canada. But today we have already travelled over 20,000 km since we left Monaco. On 3 March 2011, just before sunset, we finally spotted land on the horizon. The next morning, after sailing for 25 days across the Pacific, we arrived in French Polynesia.

Following our meetings with the Ecuadorian authorities on the Galápagos, a visit by the Minister of Science and Education, Manuel Baldeón, was arranged in collaboration with our partners, the region of Northern Vaud, the canton of Vaud, and the HEIG-VD engineering college. This little South American country has plenty of ideas and great ambitions to use renewable energy and to develop technology which is more friendly to the environment. Let us hope that this meeting will result in some concrete projects in the near future.

The past few days of sailing and meeting people here on the Marquesas have completely won us over. These islands are a corner of paradise saved from the folly of Man. We should follow the example of this Polynesian people who are full of wisdom and who use their natural resources in a sustainable manner. Each of the islands is different and has its own merits. The transport possibilities are limited and will thus prevent mass tourism taking over here.

We are heading westwards to continue our voyage across Polynesia, heading for Tonga and then for New Caledonia at the end of April . And then it will be Australia, where we shall be at the gateway to the Indian Ocean.

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