As Nat and I have been making our way along the edge of the Florida Panhandle on the Boudreaux, a parallel journey is happening not far away aboard an extraordinary solar-powered vessel called the Dragonfly. Bill Carlsen, an environmental education professor on sabbatical from Penn State University, and his wife Cynthia Berger, a public radio reporter and news director for WPSU-FM, are doing the Great Loop in as grand living experiment in sustainable waterborne travel.
Starting in Lake Eerie, they’ve made their way through the Great Lakes, down the Illinois River/Mississippi/Tenn-Tom waterway to the Gulf, have rounded Big Bend and the Florida Peninsula, and are now on Florida’s east coast, where the rest of the Atlantic seaboard awaits them. And, they’ve covered this distance in a beautifully appointed boat designed for the Eerie Canal (it’s 40-feet long and a narrow 10-feet wide) that Bill has equipped with an array of solar panels and an electric motor to complement the diesel engine. Traveling at three miles an hour (the electric motor will go faster, but doing so drains the batteries too quickly), the trip will take them a year to complete.
Nat discovered their Slowboat blog before we started our trip, and we’ve been in email communication with Bill and Cynthia ever since. Check out their blog for yourself at: http://www.slowboatcruise.com
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