Mallorca by Land, Air and Sea

PlanetSolar at World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi

Tuesday, 07 February 2012

After stopping for a few days in Doha, Qatar, for Christmas, we have crossed the Persian Gulf and sailed towards Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. For this navigation, our expedition doctor Patrick and our security officer Sébastien were on board. We used the occasion during the short navigation to practice wearing breathing apparatus and to test the emergency procedures of PlanetSolar.

We then got to our anchorage in front of the ADNEC, the brand new convention centre of Abu Dhabi, for the WFES, « World Future Energy Summit 2012», where we were guest of honour. Thousands of people come to discover our project and try to steer PlanetSolar on our simulator. Indeed, PlanetSolar had an 80m2 large exhibition stand under the Swiss Pavilion. I meet again with Dr Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar, whom I first met several years ago in Switzerland. I also see Tonga’s energy minister whom we met while stopping over during our crossing of the Pacific. Several chiefs of State come to visit us along with our partners, Sunpower, Présence Suisse, the Canton of Vaud as well as the Nord Vaudois area. What a pleasure meeting them again after those months of sailing around the world. Here, a wind of green optimism is blowing, showing that we have the knowledge and the renewable energies necessary to change and become sustainable… Many thanks to the Swiss embassy and its ambassador for their help and their support during this important stage of our adventure.

While sailing in difficult weather conditions with the team of « C’est pas sorcier », a French TV show, we experienced a severe technical breakdown. This accident could have been fatal. Similarly to our incident in the Pacific, the propeller pitch system got disconnected and we lost our starboard propulsion (right side propeller) as a result. Without propulsion with a wind that was pushing us against the pier of Abu Dhabis’s port less than 500 meters away, we had to act quickly. Conditions were too harsh for the coastguards. There was only one thing left to do: drop the anchor and fix the problem on our own. It is in a raging sea and howling winds that the coastguards evacuated our journalists present on board. We knew that if our mooring rope were to break, we would have to abandon PlanetSolar. It was an unpleasant feeling to prepare for this eventuality in those conditions and in a night storm. Impossible to do anything by night. The next day, we succeeded in makeshift repairing the propeller. Thus, we were able to get out of danger. What a relief to see all of us safe and sound with PlanetSolar.

Christophe Keckeis, our Chief of Security officer, came for several days on board PlanetSolar in order to put in place the security measures necessary to our crossing of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Working with someone as skilled and experienced as Christophe is a real pleasure. With him, we are safe.

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 February 2012 )