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Sustainable Energy Systems Presents

100 % Solar Marine Propulsion
Solar Sal Diagram
About The Tour Boat
Under Construction! 
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Oct. 2017

Sustainable Energy Systems, Inc., Gerr Marine, and Riverport Wooden Boat School at Hudson River Maritime Museum Present the Design and initiation of construction of:

Solar Sal 44

A Zero-Fuel, One-Hundred-Percent Solar-Electric Passenger Tour Boat
The First of its Kind!

LOA:                      44 ft. – 11 in.  (13.7 m)               Draft Max:                 1 ft. – 11 in.    (0.6 m)
DWL:                      42 ft. – 0 in.    (12.8 m)               Beam Overall:          10 ft. – 10 in.  (3.3 m)
Disp:                      13,500 lb.       (6198 kg)              Fuel Needed:            Zero
Power:                   10 kW Torqeedo Outboard      Batteries:                  (32) 8D
Solar Panels :        (16) SunPower E-Series             Bridge Clearance     11 ft. – 11 in.  (3.6 m)
Since the first powerboat, all vessels have needed fuel . . . until now! David Borton conceived of a practical 100% solar-powered boat—a boat that carries no fuel and doesn’t even plug in to shore power. The Solar Sal 44 is the result. A commercial passenger vessel, she is the first of her kind.

The Concept

Borton has tested and proven his concept on two full-size 100% solar electric vessels which he built and tested: The 25 foot Sol and the 40-foot (12 m) Solar Sal. Both boats are powered solely by their solar panels (with no shore-power charger), and both can run all day and well into the night, at 5 or 6 knots. The entire concept is U.S. patent pending (PCT/US201/59967) by David Borton.

In mid 2016, Borton retained Gerr Marine to design the Solar Sal 44 based on his concept. The initial Solar Sal 44 design is for an inspected passenger vessel, under U.S. Coast Guard regulations. This new longer boat maximizes the potential of Borton’s concept, with the large battery capacity and optimization of the solar-panel configuration. In addition, a live-aboard cabin-cruiser version of the Solar Sal 44—the Solar Sal Cruiser—will follow shortly. This will be the first cruising powerboat ever that won’t require any fuel.    


A Zero-Fuel, Ultra-Green Boat

The Solar Sal 44 not only uses no fuel, but she is designed to have the lowest carbon footprint possible—to be as green as possible. Of course, using no fuel at all is already super green and super low carbon, but the hull is also built of wood—of wood-epoxy/strip-plank sheathed with glass. (Wood-epoxy/strip-plank construction sheathed in glass has maintenance and longevity characteristics equal to that of conventional fiberglass.) This means that 95 percent of the hull structure is from the renewable and low-carbon material wood. Other boatbuilding materials—fiberglass, aluminum, steel and even ferrocement—have much, much higher carbon footprints.

Traditional Styling to Fit Local History

While the Solar Sal 44 incorporates the latest in twenty-first century technology, her styling is that of a late nineteenth-century launch. At that time internal combustion engines were heavy and low powered and their hulls had to be very efficient. The home waters of the Solar Sal 44 are around Albany, New York where she will cruise the Hudson River and the Mohawk, Champlain and Erie Canal system. Launches of this type were often found in these waters. The name “Sal” in Solar Sal 44, refers back to the old Erie-Canal Song, written by Thomas S. Allen in 1905.

Fabrication at the Riverport Wooden Boat School of the Hudson River Maritime Museum

Bids for building Solar Sal 44 were received in late 2016. Happily for the Bortons the winning bid came from Kingston, New York, fairly close to their home in Troy. The Maritime Museum has a wonderful collection of artifacts and history of the Hudson River. The Boat School provides both education and professional wooden boat building and repair and currently holds Clearwater, Onrust, and Woody Guthrie overwinter.

Kingston is one end of the Delaware and Hudson Canal and has been a center of boatbuilding and transportation for centuries. Besides coal and general cargo Kingston produced and shipped cement for construction up and down the east coast.

The Erie Canal, starting at the Hudson’s headwaters of navigation in Troy, connected Buffalo, the Great lakes and the mid-west to a small port on Manhattan turning it into the shipping and financial center of the whole state. By uniting the mid-west to the east coast the Erie Canal united the United States. The story of the canal systems in New York, powered by mules and horses, is best learned traveling along the canals in solar powered boats.


The Solar Sal 44 is the first zero-fuel commercial powerboat. Not only does she use no fuel but she employs low-carbon, green construction. She provides her passengers a clean, quiet, super-efficient way to enjoy the water.