Swiss Engineer Raphael Domjan had a dream - To prove to the world that fossils fuels or wind power were not the the only solutions to powering sea travel by sailing around the world, in a vessel, that drew its energy solely from the sun.
On Friday, April 27th, 2012 his dream was realized when the MS Turanor Planet Solar, the world's largest solar-powered catamaran docked into Monaco after successfully completing a 37,294-mile journey around the world.
The engineer first came up with the idea in the Spring of 2004. However, it took him four years to find a believer in German entrepreneur, Immo Stroeher, who provided him with the funding to build his dream boat.
While it took New Zealand ship builder Craig Loomis, another two years to build the 131-ft long, 52-ft wide MS Turanor Planet Solar, the end result was an engineering marvel. Made from ultra-light carbon its 1,640 sq.ft of solar panels were designed to capture the sun's energy and transfer it to the four electric motors (two in each hull) that helped propel the catamaran to a maximum speed of 15 knots.
On September 27th, 2010 the MS Turanor Planet Solar and its crew of five, sailed off from Monaco, making their way across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and through the Panama and the Suez Canals. In order to get maximum exposure to the sun, the route, was designed to keep the boat as close to Equator, as possible.
Along the way the magnificent solar catamaran made many pre-scheduled stops at various ports around the world including, Miami, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Shanghai and then finally Monaco, where it had all begun 584 days ago. The best part is that the journey went by very smoothly, with hardly any technical glitches and while the pace wasn't super fast, Rafael had proved his point.
The team is now planning to write a book and release a documentary about their experience - As for the history-making catamaran? They are considering renting it out for scientific or commercial use or maybe even selling it, if they find an interested buyer.