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The Harbor Report: Riding the sun with Riding Currents

May 02, 2013|By Len Bose

This last week, I was able to catch up with Billy Dutton of Riding Currents, a group dedicated to promoting renewable energy, raising awareness about plastics in the ocean and recognizing the advancement of renewable energy and its application to watercraft.

To achieve this goal, Billy and Mark Ward founded the group Riding Currents, then selected the Duffy 22 electric boat as their vessel. SunPower provided the power with solar panels and Trojan batteries (T-145s) were used to store that energy. The three companies worked together to properly install their equipment for maximum efficiency.

To gain the attention of the public, Billy and Mark thought it would be fun to take a type of surfing safari from Santa Barbara to Ensenada, Mexico in their custom Duffy 22, only using the power generated by the solar panels. During their 300-mile trip down the California coast, the crew would take water samples, collect floating plastics and look for some tasty waves to surf.

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Last October, when the team started its journey, fall was in the air and sea conditions in the Channel Islands were at small craft warnings. During Billy and Mark's run from Santa Barbara to Ventura, the wind and waves were behind them; it was reported that while entering Ventura Harbor, the Duffy 22, with its small sail area of enclosure windows, propelled down a wave at 14 knots of boat speed. Can you imagine the look on Billy and Mark's faces as they dropped into that wave? You have to give it to Duffy boats for building a solid boat and steering system to meet these sea conditions. The Riding Currents team completed its cruise in two weeks' time and achieved its goals, arriving in Ensenada safely.

With summer quickly approaching, the Riding Currents team took advantage of our harbor's busy April boating schedule and decided to take the boat around Catalina — this time nonstop, again promoting renewable energy and its application to watercraft.

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