Boating NZ



1839 Probably the first electric boat was put together by a German inventor Moritz von Jacobi in St Petersburg in Russia. The 24-foot (7.3 m) boat carried 14 passengers at 3 knots; and was successful­ly shown off on the Nerva River to Emperor Nicholas I of the Romanov dynasty.

1880 A small electric motor, patented by Gustave Trouvé, a French electrical engineer, was adapted to power the first outboard motor with a propeller (image right).

1882 Anthony Reckenzaun, an Austrian engineer in Britain working for the Electrical Power Storage Company, developed the first practical electric boats, including Electricit­y, the first significan­t electric launch driven by storage batteries. The 7m steel boat was used for day-trips on the River Thames. Electricit­y could run for six hours at an average of eight knots.

1886 Gottlieb Daimler first put a petrol engine in a powerboat.

1893 USA company Elco won a contract to supply 55 Electric Launches at the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition (image below right). The rich and famous were impressed: John Jacob Astor owned four, Grand Duke Alexander of Russia and his ill-fated cousin, Czar Nicholas II also owned Elco launches. By coincidenc­e, Daimler had his honeymoon at the Exposition – but he chose to persist with petrol motors. The company is still making electric motors for launches and yachts. The American production boatbuilde­r Hunter offers an Elco electric option for all its yachts.

1903 The first diesel-electric ship, the Russian river tanker Vandal, launched.

1904 The first commercial diesel-powered vessels were built. Petit Pierre – a French canal boat, 125-feet long, had a 25hp engine with a variable pitch propeller for reversing.

1912 The venerable marine diesel company Yanmar is formed in Japan; and developed the first commercial­ly-viable small diesel for boats.

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