The year was 1978. My parents had just relocated us—my brother, 7, and me, 4—to Bainbridge Island, Washington, from Eugene, Oregon. They were both from the island originally, but we kids were born three hours from any self-respecting body of water. Prior to moving, the only water known to us was in the bathtub where plastic boats could reach supersonic speeds one minute only to succumb to a giant rubber squid the next.
Perhaps buoyed by our new surroundings, perhaps inspired by our new island neighbors, we hoodwinked our parents into buying us our first boat. We will retroactively refer to her as SS Minnow, for her stay on earth was about as short-lived.
Minnow was an inflatable canoe with the exact LOA of our bathtub. Once inflated, she was buoyant enough despite a noticeable sag amidships, but confined to the tub, she lacked a certain spirit of adventure. Where she excelled was displacing water from tub to floor.
Now might be a good time to mention that our parents subscribed to the 1970s “hear no evil, see no evil” school of parenting. As we would find out on Minnow’s maiden voyage, even that philosophy had limits.
One day after a strong rain, my friend Matthew came over to play. Even at five years old, he was the sort to stretch the boundaries of parental regulations, and I was happy to oblige. After telling him about Minnow’s first sea trials, he suggested that we find a deep mud puddle, and see if that would satisfy. It wasn’t deep or satisfying.
A plan hatched to carry the canoe down to Eagle Harbor to launch her next to the ferry landing. Being quite young, we never considered the flaws in the plan. For one, it was low tide, and the barnacles would have torn Minnow to ribbons before she ever had a chance. Luckily for everyone, it never came to that. Halfway down the hill, one of my parents foiled the mission, and turned us back home.
Nearly 40 years later, that same Matthew, who has never lost his passion for messing about in boats, will be a Trawler Fest presenter with one of his business partners. Their company, Revision Marine (www.revisionmarine.com), is proof that the marine industry needs forward-thinkers who are keen on seeking renewable energy applications, even if consumers will need to radically reassess conventional wisdom to get there. The company name stands for “Renewable Energy Vision for Mariners” and true to the motto, the owners are building and installing lithium ferrous phosphate battery banks to replace traditional lead-acid batteries, and in some instances, enough house battery and electric propulsion to obviate the need for a generator entirely.
On a sea trial in Port Townsend, Washington, Matthew showed off his 68-foot sailboat that he has equipped with allelectric sail drive propulsion, loads of reliable house battery storage, and although he has a generator installed, he runs it as infrequently as possible. Slicing through the water at seven knots along the waterfront, the sound of the motor is barely a whir—a mere 54 decibels at the helm, and just 63 in the saloon, standing directly above the motor. Matt said he can cruise six knots on batteries alone for three hours at a time before needing to kick on the generator. “If we do exhaust the battery at anchor due to cloud cover and thus a lack of solar energy,” he explains, “the generator will restore 10 days of house power in as little as an hour.”
Not exactly an inflatable canoe, but the spirit for discovery hasn’t changed.
With a full complement of Revision Marine house batteries, this Diesel Duck will attend TrawlerFest in Bremerton, WA, May 18-20.