Saturday, 15 July 2017 13:36

'Pirates of the Sun' Make the Ultimate Impact on Oswego NY

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The "RA" 100 % Solar Powered Boat The "RA" 100 % Solar Powered Boat Mary C. Woods photos


Words could never be truer for three men currently docked in Oswego, NY, just outside of Lock 8. (Skipper) Jim Greer, (Techie) Ray Szlasa of the 100% solar powered boat “RA” (named for the Egyptian Sun God) and Eric Barnhart traveling with the RA on this leg of the journey in his own boat, “Robin's Nest”; they are on an adventure of a lifetime.


Starting from Germantown, Tennesee, the boys are traveling the Great Loop. The Great Loop is a system of waterways that encompasses the eastern portion of the United States and part of Canada. It is made up of both natural and man-made waterways, including the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Rideau Canal, and the Mississippi and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The entire loop is approximately 6,000 miles long. This trip will take about 12 months to complete.

Skipper JimThe “RA” is a 48’ trimaran custom built by Skipper Jim, able to move lightly across the water’s surface with minimum disturbance. It sleeps six, totally self contained, though to a minimum. With its no frills decor it compares to camping trip when we were young but on the water. With 20 solar panels, 48 volt batteries and Torqeedo Electric Motors, we are able to complete our travel days without the use of fossil fuels or plugging into marinas electric hook-ups when docked. There is no back up generator or power cords.

Now on the last leg of the trip, they are here in Oswego, educating people about solar power. Their mission is to explore the unique ecology and the living history on the waterway’s banks and meet the colorful characters that populate its towns and boat-ways. These great stories and places will be captured on video and photos to share with all of the supporters, fans and followers of the "RA" Nation and raise funds to continue the trip.


“She's not breathing!” On Friday, July 14th, at 4:45pm a local woman determined to drown herself, entered the Oswego River behind the Best Western hotel, unnoticed, leaving behind her cell phone, sandals and car keys sitting neatly on the edge of the cement wall. Szlasa and Barnhart, coming back from paying dock fees to the Broadwell Hospitality Group, noticed the 3 items and grew concerned that the woman was not visible anywhere in the vicinity and headed to their boat to see if she had climbed aboard. Barnhart had just climbed aboard the Robin's Nest when Szlasa called out for help. Szlaso had located the woman in the water, her body lay caught between the boat and the dock wall. They pulled her up and out of the water.

Ray Daughter“She was blue and not breathing” said Szlaso, who immediately started CPR on the lifeless woman. Barnhart immediately started looking for help. “We cleared her lungs of water and started chest compressions but we were unsuccessful at restoring her breathing.” Szlaso said, with a great deal of saddness in his voice. The EMT's and ambulance arrived on the scene about three minutes later and took over CPR from Szlaso and Barnhart. The ambulance left shortly after with the woman on board. Szlaso and Barnhart were visibly shaken and waited while the Oswego City Police assessed the situation and took statements from the two witnesses. As Szlaso finished his statement, a young woman came towards him, wrapping Szlaso into a big hug. With tears streaming from her eyes, she thanked him for trying to save her mother. Szlaso, feeling defeated, returned to his companions and started towards his own boat, the RA. Just as someone in his group said “I wish that had turned out better.” referring to the woman's passing, a policeman approached them and said: “They got a pulse on her.” Everyone broke out in a great big smile.

The RA will be anchored at Lock 8 until Thursday, July 20th. They welcome all visitors.

If you would like to support the RA and the Pirates Of The Sun mission or just to learn more, visit them online at or directly to their GoFundMe page: 

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