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Sun-powered boat to attempt ocean crossing

SEPT. 20 — A Swiss group is planning to become the first to travel across the Atlantic in a boat powered exclusively by solar power.

The group, called Transatlantic21, says it will kick off its 7,000-mile journey in December from Seville, Spain, according to information on the project’s Web site . The boat they designed, named SUN21, is a 46-foot catamaran powered by two electric motors charged by photovoltaic cells.

The cells, which convert light into electricity, will be placed atop a canopy constructed over the deck, according to information on the Web site. The cells produce electricity from daylight, even during cloudy days. Half of the energy produced will be stored in batteries, making it possible for the boat to move at night as well. SUN21 is expected to cruise between 5 and 6 knots.

The Transatlantic21 crew plans to make a stop in Gibraltar and travel southwest to the Canary Islands, according to the Web site. From there SUN21 will stop in the Cape VerdeIslands and push west across the Atlantic, stopping in St. Martin in January 2007. The group will then put in at the Bahamas, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., before wrapping up the expedition in New York City in May 2007. At each stop the group will promote the use of solar power in the boating and shipping industries.

— Jason Fell