Barring any glitches, the little solar-powered boat Scout will set off from Tiverton’s Fogland Beach Saturday morning.
Scout’s electric motor will be powered up shortly after 9 a.m. and the unmanned 13-foot carbon fiber boat will putter south past Sakonnet Point, eventually hanging a left into the Atlantic Ocean. If all goes as her builders hope, Scout will follow a programmed course east toward Sanlucar de Barrameda, Spain, the place from which Columbus set forth on one of his voyages of exploration.
The brainchild of Tiverton friends Dylan Rodriguez and Max Kramers, Scout was built in the Rodriguez garage over three summers by a growing group of mostly Tiverton engineering students.
Since no boat has ever accomplished such a feat, it has been a process of overcoming challenges and setbacks, the team said.
The latest of these had nothing to do with carbon fiber or batteries. The group’s Scout website was shut down just as launching day approached.
“First off, the team would like to apologize for the lack of communication over the past few days. The team is working frantically to get the website and blog, which were compromised by some clever hackers, back up and running.” they announced by e-mail over the weekend.
” As far as Scout goes, we have sealed the deck, faired the carbon tapes that join the deck and hull, and are currently working on finishing the paint job. ”
Now for the most exciting phase of the Scout project, they continue — ” building the reinforcement on the hull where we can smash a champagne bottle. We will be streaming the event live for those unable to attend.”
The builders plan to follow along in a sailboat “until our food runs out” and then let Scout loose. Satellite tracking equipment should provide updates on location as well as ocean temperature, salinity and more.
“We suggest following Scout on Facebook and Twitter as we will be posting all updates there until we get our website back up and running.
To subscribe to our Twitter feed (the occasional short update message) on your cellphone, you can send a text message that says “follow scouttransat” to 40404.