There still be drama on the high seas

An extraordinary effort to circumnavigate the globe by boat in record time has run into tragedy. The crew of Earthrace, a Kiwi group of seamen, engineers, and supporters, set out in early March from Barbados in a their futuristic craft, the Turbo. The boat runs entirely on biodiesel, contains almost no metal in its hull, ...

602937_070330_turboboat_05.jpg
602937_070330_turboboat_05.jpg

An extraordinary effort to circumnavigate the globe by boat in record time has run into tragedy. The crew of Earthrace, a Kiwi group of seamen, engineers, and supporters, set out in early March from Barbados in a their futuristic craft, the Turbo. The boat runs entirely on biodiesel, contains almost no metal in its hull, and is designed to slice through, rather than ride over, giant ocean waves. Nine days into the voyage, the Turbo accidentally sliced through an unlit fishing boat off the coast of Guatemala. Captain Pete Bethune's relates the scene in his "Captain's Blog":

Suddenly we are all awoken by a deafening series of crashes.  I know instantly we’ve collided with something, and run out to see what’s happened.  Anthony is already in the cockpit area.  What lies behind is like a scene from a horror movie.  We’ve driven right over the top of a 26ft fibreglass fishing skiff, and its tattered remains lie scattered around us.  We can hear moans and yelling in the water. 

Despite the crew's best efforts, one fisherman lost his life. After more than a week of detention by the Guatemalan Navy, acquittal of any wrongdoing by the local courts, and an emotional meeting and coming-to-terms with the survivors and the family of the deceased, the crew is back on the open sea.

An extraordinary effort to circumnavigate the globe by boat in record time has run into tragedy. The crew of Earthrace, a Kiwi group of seamen, engineers, and supporters, set out in early March from Barbados in a their futuristic craft, the Turbo. The boat runs entirely on biodiesel, contains almost no metal in its hull, and is designed to slice through, rather than ride over, giant ocean waves. Nine days into the voyage, the Turbo accidentally sliced through an unlit fishing boat off the coast of Guatemala. Captain Pete Bethune’s relates the scene in his “Captain’s Blog”:

Suddenly we are all awoken by a deafening series of crashes.  I know instantly we’ve collided with something, and run out to see what’s happened.  Anthony is already in the cockpit area.  What lies behind is like a scene from a horror movie.  We’ve driven right over the top of a 26ft fibreglass fishing skiff, and its tattered remains lie scattered around us.  We can hear moans and yelling in the water. 


Despite the crew’s best efforts, one fisherman lost his life. After more than a week of detention by the Guatemalan Navy, acquittal of any wrongdoing by the local courts, and an emotional meeting and coming-to-terms with the survivors and the family of the deceased, the crew is back on the open sea.


Tragedy aside, the voyage so far has been a modern account of derring-do afloat, a modern-day version of a good sailor’s yarn. Captain Bethune and the ground crew each keep fascinating blogs detailing their struggles with technology, nature, and various national bureaucracies in pursuit of the record. GPS technology even makes it possible to track the boat’s progression in real time. Earthrace is 3500 nautical miles behind the record-setting, 75-day pace now, but still looks likely to complete the voyage and demonstrate the potential for more powerful, efficient, and environmentally friendly technologies. They definitely bear watching over the next two months.

(Hat tips: Popular Science Blog)

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