This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

March 21, 2007

Tragedy Mars Circumnavigation Attempt by Biodiesel-Fueled Boat

An attempt to circle the world in record time using only biodiesel fuel met with tragedy on March 18th, as the Earthrace trimaran collided with a fishing boat off the coast of Guatemala. According to a press release on Discovery Communications' Turbo Web site, the collision left one fisherman apparently drowned, while another fisherman was injured. According to a blog from the ground crew, the ship's crew is being held at a naval base near San Jose, Guatemala, about 50 miles west of the border with El Salvador, while the incident is investigated. As of March 20th, the Earthrace Web site did not yet say if the crew intends to cancel the race attempt. See the Turbo Web site press release, the blog from Ground Crew Engineer Scott Fratcher, and the current location of the boat, provided by Daestra New Zealand Ltd.

The attempt to break the record faced challenges from the start, when bad props slowed the boat on its approach to Panama. By late in the day on March 8th, the Earthrace crew had managed to order new propellers, get them delivered to Panama, and install them quickly enough to resume the record attempt. The crew was lucky in that the new props matched the shaft speed almost perfectly, giving the boat the ability to resume its trip at full speed. After passing through the Panama Canal, however, one of the ship's engines started to leak oil, causing the crew to reduce speed by half. See the Earthrace press releases and the blogs from Fratcher and Captain Pete Bethune.