“”The privilege of getting to sail on this solar-powered boat again”

Raphaël Domjan, a Swiss eco-adventurer, has been passionate about adventure and exploration since his childhood. Today, Raphaël is an eco-adventurer and speaker and through his SolarPlanet foundation, he’s committed to the protection of our planet, our biodiversity, our atmosphere and our environment in Switzerland and around the world.

In 2004, Raphaël came up with the idea to complete the first circumnavigation of the globe in a solar-powered boat. In February 2008, the funding for the boat was in place thanks to the support of one man, Immo Stroeher, a solar energy enthusiast. Between September 2010 and May 2012, PlanetSolar, now rechristened Race for Water, and her 5 crew, completed the first circumnavigation of the globe in history using solar energy. He travelled 60,000km across all the oceans, powered solely by the energy from our star, the sun.

Raphaël Domjan, who was aboard Race for Water during the trip from Concepción to Robinson Crusoe Island, shares his thoughts with us:

“Race for Water has been at anchor in the bay of Robinson Crusoe Island in the Juan Fernández archipelago for some 3 days now. Protected by the winds and swell of the South Pacific, which really shook the solar-powered boat about during the passage from Concepción, I have discovered an incredibly inspirational island. In fact, I’d never dared hope that one day I might be lucky enough to make landfall here! As such, reaching this legendary island, secretly lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with the boat, the ex-PlanetSolar, which between 2010 and 2012 enabled me to complete the first round the world using solar energy, is a privilege I still dare not believe! Thank you to Marco Simeoni and the crew of Race for Water for allowing me to experience these unique moments alongside them and be part of their fabulous adventure. Their values and their commitment to the preservation of the oceans are precious and command admiration. Knowing that this boat, which I’m so fond of, is now being used to serve their cause makes me very happy given how much my commitment to the daily promotion of renewable energies is in keeping with their struggle against plastic waste, both of them with a view to preserving our environment.

Aboard the boat, I find the same atmosphere that I experienced during my 2-year circumnavigation of the globe, as well as the fabulous welcome from the people encountered when the boat makes a stopover. With her strange form, this solar-powered boat is reminiscent of a spaceship and never ceases to amaze wherever she drops anchor. And Robinson Crusoe Island is a very beautiful planet on which to make landfall!!

This islet surrounded by cliffs has great appeal to summit lovers like me. Each of these peaks, stretching heavenwards and often concealed in the clouds of the austral winter, are an invitation to climb. Below, part of the island has eroded away due to the goats imported centuries earlier, which have decimated part of the vegetation… But around the bay of San Juan Bautista, the only village on the island, the vegetation is lush. The island’s endemic species appear to come straight from another geological era, from ancestral times… And it wouldn’t really come as a great surprise to see a dinosaur rock up amongst the gigantic leaves of the amazing plants that populate the island!

The island is not very touristy and it is as if it has been spared the march of time. Unfortunately, electricity here is produced exclusively by a generator… In this way, the inhabitants are entirely dependent on fuel for their energy, which has to be imported from the mainland. And yet, the wind and the sun would be free energy, available in abundance, and it would enable them to be self-sufficient in terms of energy. Often, the problem lies in the initial investment required to fund the cost of solar installations, which would be the key to their self-sufficiency and sustainability in terms of energy. I dream that these types of islands become small-scale examples of what we must put into practice on a global scale to achieve a sustainable way of life…

In a few days’ time, I’ll leave Robinson Crusoe Island and Race for Water on a small plane. I’ll leave this boat and her crew to carry on with their mission. However, I’ll always remember the aroma of the salt sea spray of the South Pacific that I tasted aboard this silent boat that brings hope and solutions wherever she sails.”