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Solar-assisted yacht makes Phuket debut

The future of luxury yachting is also on the cutting-edge of solar technology.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 1 February 2015, 10:00AM

Heliotrope 65, a high-end 65-foot catamaran, runs on two engines. But when yacht loungers want to catch a beautiful sunset, see the coast or simply swim in temperate waters, conventional luxury yachts use loud generators that take away the experience of serenity at sea.
Not Heliotrope 65.

Once anchored, this yacht is powered completely on solar energy – everything from the dishwasher, washing machines, to all the lights and more. The solar panels take up 34 square metres on the fly-bridge (roof) and produce 7 Kilowatts an hour. The boat can even run all the electricity the entire night and still have at least 70 per cent power left (assuming power was at 100 per cent).

According to Caroline Lieb, the Oversea Sales and Marketing specialist of Pattaya-based Bakri Cono Shipyard, where the yacht was made, Heliotrope 65 is world’s first solar-assisted luxury yacht.

The Phuket News got a chance to tour the yacht, which glimmers against the waters off Phuket thanks to its gold colour which, yes, has actual bits of real gold powder integrated into it. The boat is currently being showcased at marinas and events around Southeast Asia by the shipyard.
The story goes that the German owner of the boat, who wished to remain anonymous, wanted to have a yacht that was not just unique on the inside but would run on solar energy when docked. She took her idea to shipyards around Europe and the United States, according to Lieb, and was repeatedly rejected. Eventually the owner teamed-up with Bakri Cono and Heliotrope 65 is the result.

“If you make the first one, its not going to be easy. You have to develop. You have to think. You have to work harder,” Lieb said.

Ixina Thailand

It took three years for Heliotrope 65 to go from concept to completion, Lieb explained, and included assistance from some of the top experts in the field of solar technology, including NASA astronaut Michael Lopez Alegria.

In addition, Bakri Cono was assisted by Raphal Domjan, the Swiss founder of Planet Solar who went on the first world tour with a solar-powered boat from September 2010 to May 2012.
The yacht drew a lot of interest during the recent Phuket International Boat Show (PIMEX) earlier in January. It’s worth-noting that the entire boat – from the eight different wood finishings to the four cabins and everything in-between – was developed entirely in Thailand.

“Seeing that everybody was very impressed, that [Heliotrope 65] was done in Thailand and that [Thais] could produce something like this, we wanted to go out and present this to people,” Lieb added.

In addition, Bakri Cono Shipyard is planning to develop a luxury yacht that is fully solar-powered, including the engines.

“That’s far down the line,” she said.

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