Scout sets distance record, copes with Atlantic storm

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Scout, the little solar-powered boat designed and built in Tiverton to cross the Atlantic to Spain, began a third attempt just before midnight tonight,  Friday, Aug. 23, at Sakonnet Point.

The boat started well (see tracking website), quickly passing distances reached on its first two tries and soon eclipsing the 60-plus mile record for such attempts set by an Irish team. By midday Tuesday, the boat had travelled about 157 miles (118 miles from Rhode Island) and was located about 50 miles southeast of Nantucket. Scout did seem to be meandering on a heading east and north of its rendezvous with the next satellite waypoint.

Team member Dylan Rodriguez said the boat has been slowed by bad weather conditions and limited sunlight. In addition, the boat's satellite guidance system may also be focused on a waypoint further along on its route to Spain.

"As we are sure you have noticed, Scout has been having a tough day turning on and off," the team wrote yesterday on its Facebook page. "This is a result of the current storm conditions she is experiencing. There is not enough sunlight penetrating the cloud cover to power her fully. No worries though, she is prepared to handle such situations and will continue on once conditions clear."

The first try earlier this summer from Fogland in Tiverton was done in by clouds and fogs that left the boat adrift too close to land.

The next try, from Sakonnet Point, started well but fizzled southeast of Noman's Land and Martha's Vineyard when the boat began to meander due to mechanical and programming problems.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.