$1.7 million tour boat uses sun to power up
Body Glove Cruises will sail the Kanoa II from Kona tomorrow
Body Glove Cruises is taking solar power to the seas.
The Kona-based tour operator will sail the Kanoa II, a luxury catamaran partially powered by two 100-watt solar panels, on its first voyage tomorrow. The 65-foot boat holds 149 passengers, more than doubling the company's sailing capacity from its 51-foot Kanoa I to meet the demands of higher cruise ship traffic.
Body Glove, owned and operated by Kanoa Inc., equipped the $1.7 million boat with solar power to cut down on noise and pollution, company President Maggie Brown said. Kanoa II will operate daily for snorkeling, whale watching and sunset dinner cruises in addition to the Kanoa I, which was purchased in 1980.
"When you do snorkeling, you want it to be as quiet as possible," Brown said. "It's serene without a generator running."
The boat's generator is expected to be used for a maximum of 15 hours annually to augment the solar power, operations manager Stan Lurbiecki said. It arrived in Hawaii on Sept. 15 after an 8,200-mile journey through the Panama Canal to San Diego from Louisiana, where it was manufactured by Island Boats Inc.
The energy -- produced on a 24-volt system, which a battery-powered inverter converts into 110 volts -- powers all electronics, lights and refrigeration on the boat. The engine runs on diesel power.
Body Glove will add more solar capacity to the Kanoa II over the next six months as demand increases, Lurbiecki said. Each boat also has an alternator that charges up the battery bank when the engine is running.
The company, which currently has 28 employees, will add eight workers for the Kanoa II service. Amenities on the Kanoa II include flat-screen televisions, a 20-foot water slide, underwater lighting and a sound system for live entertainment. It is also equipped with radar, GPS, auto pilot and a fish finder.