We were introduced to Monte Gisborne's Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company in Ontario Canada, via a helpful comment Monte offered on the first Solar Cat post on TreeHugger, published nearly a year ago. Since then, the Swiss-made Solar Cat successfully crossed the Atlantic, reaching New York City; and, Monte's family has made plans to tour New York State's Erie and Oswego Canals this August of 2007, on a solar assisted boat journey from Oswego to Albany New York. "Stops are planned along the way, to greet and meet people who are interested in zero-emission boating. A press conference is being planned in Waterford New York, the end terminus of the trip, as well as visits to the numerous planned events, attractions and fairs along the world-famous recreational waterway. "To my family, the NYS Canal System was a "no-brainer" choice for our first international solar cruise" Gisborne explained "its state of development as a recreational asset is immense. People need to experience this boating adventure playground for themselves". A schedule of stops will be published on the internet and made available upon request. It will be the first time that anyone has traveled an American canal-way using solar electric energy as the primary fuel source. The Loon is the world's first commercially-available solar-powered recreational vessel."
The Loon is a solar-assisted boat, meaning that it can take advantage of shore electrical power to help keep the batteries topped up. En route, the Gisbornes would do exactly as gas boats do and plug into a power outlet readily supplied by the marinas and lock stations they dock at overnight. Each day starts with a fully-charged pack of batteries and ends with about half of a charge still left.
Monte adds:- "At no time do we feel uncomfortable that we would get stuck without a charge; that notion simply goes away with experience". All on-board devices such as a fridge, kettle and microwave also got their energy from the same batteries... "The sustainable future of the world's canal systems depend on a new boating regime and electric boating offers just that. We need sensible options if we want to leave something for future generations to enjoy and I believe that water, fun, safety and electricity do mix!"
See also, this early TreeHugger coverage of the pre-commercial Loon.
Via:: Monte Grisbane, press release. Image credits:: Tamarack Lake Boat Company; Boating Today TV; and New York State, USA.