The solar boat Ra


In 2000 Britain’s first passenger-carrying solar boat was launched on the Norfolk Broads.

The 30 foot catamaran Ra, is named after the Egyptian sun god and is powered by three rows of seven solar panels. The Ra was purpose-built in Germany and costs £55,000 and takes up to 12 people including wheelchair users.

A scanned copy of an old newscutting shows networker Jackie Carpenter – then Director of Energy 21 – who piloted the Ra in 2003. She said: “It was wonderful to be enjoying the Broads with no smell, no noise and no pollution.

“Let’s hope we’ll see lots more solar boats in the UK. They are certainly the way of the future.“


Until April 2012 the Ra ran guided trips round Barton, the second largest of the broads, but now she has a new base at Whitlingham Country Park. She was transported to the country park by wagon trailer and lifted off by crane.

Ra will pick up visitors four times a day from the doorstep of the city of Norwich until the end of October, with expert guides offering information about the wildlife.

The Broads Authority’s Visitor Services Supervisor Sam Bates said: “Moving Ra to Whitlingham enables us to reach a much wider audience, specifically people who probably wouldn’t normally think of taking a traditional Broads boat trip.  Hopefully this will inspire their enthusiasm for the area and encourage them to explore the wider Broads network”.


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