Electro Solar Boats in the Algarve

By Julian Putley

A new eco-friendly start-up company in the Algarve is catering to residents, visitors and the tourist market. The focus of Algarve Sun Boat Trips is to provide interesting fun trips with no carbon footprint.

The vessels available at the moment are the SunCat – a 12-metre catamaran, their hallmark vessel, and a seven-metre monohull. Both crafts are powered by solar panels, which transmit the sun’s energy to a bank of batteries providing a capacity of 160 kWh. These in turn power twin propellers (in the catamaran) that not only run the boat but also provide power for onboard services, lights and navigation instruments. The cruising speed is a comfortable seven knots.

The sunshade canopy is completely covered with solar panels. The guest seating area is equipped with comfortable fitted cushions and up to thirty passengers can be accommodated. There are wonderful views of the coast or both banks of the river, depending on which trip you choose. There is outside sunbathing on the sundeck forward and a stop for swimming is always fun. The draft of the vessel is only 1.1 metres allowing the boat to nudge up close to the beach or shore. Alternatively, the onboard anchor and windlass provides for anchoring offshore. 

Tours on the two solar boats depart from the Marina de Portimão. There are three popular options: firstly, to the fascinating caves at Benagil, following the coast east to Carvoeiro, Algar Seco and finally Benagil. The second choice is an inland trip up the Arade river to the historic town of Silves. For those wishing to enjoy a short sunset cruise the Algarve Sun Boat Trips have included this option in their list of itineraries. Thirdly, there are customised trips where clients rent the boat and crew, and then arrange their own itinerary (with the approval of the captain), with drinks and possibly lunch on board. You can bring your own, or the company can arrange a sumptuous buffet if enough notice is given. What a way to celebrate a special occasion!

The boat trips offered by this innovative start-up are unique in that both boats use only eco-friendly electric motors that are clean and quiet, with zero pollution from oily discharges into the water and fumes from the exhausts of fossil fuel motors. This is of primary importance in reaching the target of at least 55% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 set by the European Commission in July 2021. The ultimate goal is to achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050. This fact alone makes these boat trips most attractive to those with an eye on the future and concern for the planet. Even the toilet facility is eco-friendly, with no effluent pumped into the water. 

The CEO of the company Pedro Mestre is keen to point out that his vessels are 99% constructed with Portuguese technology. The SunCat is built in the Algarve by Sun Concept solar boat builders in Quelfes, Olhão. In April 2021, the vessel was awarded the Multihull of the Year award in the multipower category of the Multicoques magazine in France. Quite a feather in the cap for the Portuguese company.   

Imagine cruising along the coast listening only to the seagulls and the lapping of the waves – or perhaps the mellow sounds of a Mozart concerto from the onboard sound system. Then the music ramps up and it’s time to jump in the water for a refreshing dip. If it’s a special day you’re looking for, this option may be for you. 



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