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Photos: Solar boat trek--Switzerland to New York

It's going to take several months, but these sailors are ready to cross the Atlantic in a solar-powered boat.
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1 of 7 Andy Smith/ZDNet

Sun21

A project called Transatlantic21 is almost ready to attempt the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean--from Europe to the United States--in a boat driven by solar power.

Sun21 is a 14-foot catamaran that was built to show the potential of solar energy for water navigation. The 7,000-mile journey from Basel, Switzerland, to New York is expected to finish in the spring of 2007.

Solar power isn't the only alternative energy source getting a trial run on the high seas. The Earthrace Project is planning to enter a round-the-world competition next year with a powerboat that runs on biodiesel--fuel made from plants and animal fats.

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slow boat

The boat will travel at a constant speed of 5 to 6 knots (6.2 mph to 7.4 mph), 24 hours a day. It travels about the same speed as a sailing yacht, backers say.

Given the deliberate pace, no plans are being made for another trip of any length. Backers of the boat are planning to sell it after completing the journey.

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solar panels

A roof over the deck of Sun21 contains photovoltaic modules that will collect the energy from sunlight and charge the batteries to keep the boat runnng 24 hours a day.

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deck

Sun21 is about 14 meters long and 6.5 meters wide. It will sleep up to 6 people for its journey across the Atlantic but has room for larger groups for visits or short trips. The kitchen is in one hull and toilet is in the other.

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the journey

The journey begins with a promotional tour from Basel to Rotterdam along the Rhine River. The boat will then be shipped to Spain where it will being its ocean voyage.

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sketch

A sketch of the Sun21.

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searching for water

How do you get from Switzerland to New York by boat? Sometimes, you have to navigate roads instead of the seas.

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