Gary Minnick: 'It Is A Dream Come True For Me...Like A Swan Song'

BELLPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — How do you make a sail boat sail without sails?

One Long Island man has solved that riddle, using the sun to power his boat.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday, Gary Minnick’s 29-foot hand-crafted hybrid started out as a sail boat.

After 500 hours of work to modify the “Novella,” the whisper-quiet vessel emerged as the first solar-powered boat expected to circumvent Long Island. Minnick said it cost him $15,000 to build the boat.

“No gasoline, no fuel of any kind. The solar is actually driving the whole boat,” Minnick told McLogan.

The Flanders man has a week’s worth of food and his cat on board the boat for his ambitious research trip.

The flat canopy of solar panels generate 28,000 watts of electricity to quietly power an electric outboard motor, equivalent to a nine horsepower gasoline engine.

“Six and half knots the boat goes, which is roughly 7.3 mph,” Minnick told McLogan.

The boat moves with a whirring sound like a blender.

Minnick’s trip to promote solar power will take him west from the Shinnecock Inlet through the Rockways and into the Atlantic Ocean. Then he’ll reach New York Harbor, the East River into Hell Gate and back to the North Fork.

Throughout the journey, Minnick must constantly consider the amount of sunlight hitting the solar cells, with the goal of keeping the batteries as charged as possible in case of a long stretch of cloudy weather.

He said the solar-powered boat produces no emissions of carbon dioxide or other gases that could contaminate the environment.

“It is a dream come true for me because I’m 66 now, so this is kind of like a swan song,” Minnick told McLogan.

The solar energy advocate called the trip around Long Island the ultimate fantasy.

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