I struggle to descend the stairs leading to the sandy beach at Half Moon Bay, California, awkwardly hefting the 60-pound solar-powered boat SeaCharger atop my shoulder. Amid the numerous “what-the-heck-is-that?!” stares of the beachgoers, I perform some last-minute checks of the boat’s propeller and rudder and then wade out into the knee-high surf and push SeaCharger as hard as I can towards the oncoming waves.
Moving at walking speed, the boat makes it through the first several waves without being flipped. Relieved, I make my way back up onto the beach, then turn around and watch my two-and-a-half-year project slowly plodding westward, gradually disappearing in the whitecaps.
An older man approaches me and tells me that he’s sorry that I lost control of my boat and that he’s sure it’ll wash up on the beach somewhere.