Loon up the Rideau



Rideau Canal Solar Cruise Proves Viability

Sun-Powered Boat Travels Between Kingston and Ottawa With Ease

It was a sign of the times and it read clearly: $1.55 per liter. But rather than wince and reach for his wallet, Monte Gisborne actually cracked a smile as he waved to the gas attendant expecting him to make the customary fill-up. “No thanks” he said “Today I’m filling up with a blend of sunshine and relaxation!”

The Loon, Mr. Gisborne’s solar-powered boating creation, headed out from Kingston on August 12th and buzzed quietly into downtown Ottawa 6 days later, without a roar or a ripple to be seen or heard. Not a drop of oil was burned in the process and the Gisborne family, including wife Denise and daughter, Deanna, nine, seemed rested and comfortable as they greeted media and government at Dow’s Lake Marina near Hartwell’s Lock. The family stayed aboard the boat during the entire trip, cooking meals and sleeping under the large overhead solar array. “I think that the main difference between our Rideau cruise and those made by others is public perception” stated Gisborne. “People expect to give up so much by ridding themselves of oil, but that really wasn’t the case here at all. We enjoyed ourselves equally or perhaps more than those who miss so much over the roar of a motor or barely see anything due to the blur of the landscape and wildlife going by. Most creatures are skittish and tend to scatter when a faster and louder boat goes by.”

The Loon is a solar-assisted boat, meaning that it can take advantage of shore electrical power to help keep the batteries topped up. The Gisbornes would do exactly as gas boats do and plug into a power outlet readily supplied by the marinas and lock stations they docked at overnight. Each day would start with a fully-charged pack of batteries and end with about half of a charge still left. “At no time ever did we feel uncomfortable that we would get stuck without a charge” Gisborne stated “ that notion simply goes away with experience”. All onboard devices such as a fridge, kettle and microwave also got their energy from the same batteries.

This was the first time that a solar-powered boat has traveled the Rideau in its 174-year history. It was opened in 1832 to transport British troops from Montreal to Lake Ontario to protect its subjects from foreign invasion (which didn’t materialize) and didn’t evolve into a tourist attraction until the end of that century. Plans are presently underway to classify it as a World Heritage Site in 2007 by UNESCO.

Gisborne comments: “The sustainable future of the Rideau and other waterways depends on a new boating regime and electric boating offers just that. We need sensible options if we want to leave something for future generations to enjoy… and I believe that water, fun, safety and electricity do mix!”

For more information, please contact:

Monte Gisborne, B.Tech
The Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company
(416) 432-7067 (cell phone)

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