Beau­ti­ful elec­tric yachts and boats

These yachts are beau­ti­ful, silent and en­vi­ron­ment-friendly. Dare we say, the fu­ture of yacht­ing is here?

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Most peo­ple think that elec­tric boats are the prod­uct of the present. Af­ter all, with the ris­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal con­scious­ness as well as ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy, it would be per­fectly log­i­cal to as­sume that elec­tric propul­sion en­gines are a new thing.

But they’re not. In fact, Elec­tric Launch Co, now called Elco Mo­tor Yachts, built sev­eral 36 foot­ers for the 1893 World’s Columbian Ex­po­si­tion in Chicago. Fast­for­ward to the present day and we now see elec­tric mo­tor tech­nol­ogy slowly gain­ing head­way into boat­ing. But why has it taken so long for the tech­nol­ogy to ad­vance?

Naysay­ers are quick to ac­knowl­edge that while the tech­nol­ogy is there, it is just not as ef­fi­cient as diesel fuel at the mo­ment. Mod­ern elec­tric bat­ter­ies cur­rently are no match for diesel fuel, they say, which de­liv­ers about six times more en­ergy. Bat­ter­ies also need to be recharged, which may be hard to do if the yacht is in a re­mote lo­ca­tion where there are no charg­ing fa­cil­i­ties or ser­vice cen­tres should there be a break­down. An­other cru­cial rea­son is that our own per­sonal gad­gets – mo­bile phones, lap­tops, tablets – and other ap­pli­ances that are nec­es­sary for a com­fort­able trip such as air­con­di­tion­ing, re­frig­er­a­tors, heaters and stoves all com­pete for the elec­tri­cal con­sump­tion on­board. And of course, salt

wa­ter is in­her­ently hos­tile to ma­chine parts and can cor­rode sen­si­tive elec­tronic power con­trol mod­ules.

These and many oth­ers are rea­sons ma­rine craft tech­nol­ogy is maybe lag­ging be­hind in de­vel­op­ing elec­tric yachts.

How­ever, this does not mean that the tech­nol­ogy is not im­prov­ing tremen­dously. In fact, Volvo Penta is putting its money on elec­tric propul­sion by an­nounc­ing that it will pro­vide elec­tri­fied power so­lu­tions for both land and sea by 2021. Hot on the heels of this an­nounce­ment was the un­veil­ing of the com­pany’s hy­brid-pow­ered In­board Per­for­mance Sys­tem (IPS) con­cept, which al­lows boats to op­er­ate in the low-and-zero emis­sion zones that seem to be the wave of the fu­ture. The hy­brid sys­tem also al­lows for lower noise, vi­bra­tions and run­ning costs for boats. The hy­brid IPS will be avail­able to com­mer­cial cus­tomers in 2021 and to the leisure boat sec­tor soon af­ter.

While that is a de­vel­op­ment for the fu­ture, to­day, we present three elec­tric yachts that are ex­cit­ing the imag­i­na­tions of sailors ev­ery­where.

A Stealth Cat

The Silent 79 is a wa­ter­craft of the fu­ture, run­ning on so­lar power and elec­tric mo­tors fu­eled by lithium bat­ter­ies. The 79-foot lux­ury cata­ma­ran can the­o­ret­i­cally cruise non­stop around the world, us­ing en­gines that are near silent, has no heat buildup or fumes. On­board, the cat gets its en­ergy from 56 so­lar pan­els po­si­tioned across the top deck. This baby doesn’t stint on lux­ury ei­ther. There’s lots of in­te­rior space with five cab­ins for 10 guests. The mas­ter suite, in­cludes a bath­room, walk-in of­fice and stor­age space. Other ac­cou­ter­ments in­clude wood join­ery across the en­tire yacht, giv­ing it a very luxe feel as well as a a huge saloon with a lounge and din­ing area. It also has a whirlpool and the op­tion to sup­port the propul­sion sys­tem with a SkySails kite, which uses wind en­ergy in ad­di­tion to so­lar power. Top speed for this yacht is 12 to 20 knots. The first Silent 79s are al­ready in pro­duc­tion and will be in the wa­ter by early 2020.

Silent Moves

For those who can’t wait for 2020, there is the Silent 55, which made its de­but at the 2018 Cannes Yacht­ing Fes­ti­val in Septem­ber 2018. The Silent 55 is the first and only ocean­go­ing so­lar-elec­tric pro­duc­tion cata­ma­ran in the world. The yacht uses silent elec­tric propul­sion for un­lim­ited range with no noise or fumes and min­i­mal vi­bra­tion, she is self-suf­fi­cient and vir­tu­ally main­te­nance-free. This cat comes in three ver­sions: An E-Power ver­sion two 135kwh mo­torrs and can reach up to 14 knots; a Cruiser ver­sion, with a pair of 30kwh mo­tors or a Hy­brid Power which has both diesel and elec­tric mo­tors. For those who love the idea of sails, there is the Sailor ver­sion, which is rigged with a mast and sails to pro­vide ad­di­tional propul­sion. There are five dif­fer­ent lay­outs for the in­te­ri­ors, rang­ing from three to six state­rooms and three or four heads. The mas­ter state­room is the cen­ter­piece of the lay­outs while on­board er­gonomics have been given pri­or­ity, with com­fort­able liv­ing spa­ces, even dur­ing ex­tended cruis­ing.

Quiet Cruiser

This craft is the very epit­ome of el­e­gance on wa­ter. Dubbed the “Tesla of the Seas”, the Q30, the first elec­tric day cruiser, is equipped with an Ocean­volt AXC20 elec­tric mo­tor with a 20kw con­tin­u­ous power out­put. This means that this craft can cruise at nine knots with a max speed of 15 knots. The Fin­nish-built cruiser, from Q-Yachts is el­e­gant with the first de­liv­er­ies show­ing an all-white hulk, white fur­ni­ture, a retro-look­ing plumb bow and an open stern. This cruiser has a sim­ple lay­out with a wooden steer­ing wheel, sin­gle throt­tle and an iPad to con­trol on­board func­tions. While touted as a day cruiser, there is a cabin that could pos­si­bly turn the boat to a weekender.

The Silent 55 is the first elec­tric-pow­ered ocean­go­ing cruiser in the world

Among the first cus­tomers for the Q30 are a Fin­nish rap­per and a pro­fes­sional poker player

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