In the middle of May 2008, Kenichi Horie, an adventurer known for such feats as paddling a pedal powered boat 4,660 miles from Hawaii to Okinawa in 1993, will be sailing a wave powered boat from Honolulu’s Hawaii Yacht Club to the Kii Channel in Japan. The boat, a 3-ton catamaran named the Suntory Mermaid II, works by virtue of the fins located at the front of the boat. These fins “generate thrust force by moving up and down like the tails of dolphins and whales and absorbing the energy of the waves.”
The system can propel the boat no matter which direction the waves come from. Because the wave propulsion system absorbs the energy from the waves, a passenger on the boat will experience a smooth ride. With a top speed of about 5 knots, the journey is expected to take about 2 to 3 months.
If all goes as planned, he’ll set the first Guinness world record for the longest distance traveled by a wave-powered boat and, along the way, show off the greenest nautical propulsion system since the sail.
A simple spring system enables twin fins beneath
the bow of the Suntory to move up and down
with the incoming waves and pull the boat forward.
How to Ride Waves Across the Pacific
Electricity A set of eight solar panels produces 560 watts to run the navigation lights, ham radio, satellite phone and PC.
Propulsion Dual fins set in a side-by-side configuration beneath the bow convert wave energy into a dolphin-like kick that can propel the three-ton boat at five knots.
Stability The fins absorb energy from the rocking of the boat to help make the propulsion more efficient.
Hull The outer hull, only three millimeters thick, is made of a durable recycled-aluminum alloy.
Outboard Motor Reserved for extreme emergencies.
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