A vessel seemingly straight out of a vintage James Bond movie slipped into Miami Saturday morning.
The craft, a strange mash-up of gleaming glass arrowhead, sleek flying saucer and knife-nosed catamaran, was not designed by an evil madman plotting world domination. It's the brainchild of Raphael Domjan, a Swiss engineer and self-described "eco-adventurer" with a not-all-that crazy scheme to circle the world using only sunshine for fuel.
"We want to show what we can do with solar power," said Domjan during a satellite phone interview last week as the world's largest solar-powered boat cruised north of Haiti bound for a four-day stop at Miami Beach Marina, one of only two planned in the United States. "We have the technology to change the world, not tomorrow, but today."
The 102-foot-long Turanor PlanetSolar — which its team of Swiss-German builders says translates into "power of the sun" in the Elvish language JRR Tolkien invented for Lord of the Rings — is far from the first boat to run on the sun.
Back in 2007, the 46-foot Sun21 catamaran arrived in Miami from southern Spain to complete the first Atlantic crossing by a solar boat. Dozens of domestic builders now offer small craft capable of plying lakes or Biscayne Bay. But the Turanor is the biggest, most advanced and easily most eye-catching design yet. It's also built with the ambitious goal of circumnavigating the globe without burning a thimble of gasoline.
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