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As gas prices rise, could electric power rise, too?

Last weekend’s Miami boat show presented a myriad of new products to the boating public, sending a clear signal the industry is now bullishly looking forward and investing in potential game-changing innovations.

Among the most fascinating was the unveiling of the Ski Nautique E – an all-electric powered prototype from legendary ski boat maker Correct Craft. It’s the result of a cooperative effort between Correct Craft and LTS Marine Development in Montreal. The latter has been successfully focusing on converting electric car engines to a boating configuration.

According to Greg Meloon, vice president of product development at Correct Craft, dealing with alternative power faces two challenges. “First, the power must make the boat meet our Nautique performance standards, while providing a desirable range of operation and an acceptable time to recharge.”

The drive train consists of a pair of electric motors feeding a specially designed transfer case to drive the prop shaft. An automotive style battery pack provides power for three-four skier sets, says Maloon, and will recharge in 4 ˝ hours. In a video, the boat is seen pulling a skier through a slalom course at 34 mph.

While there’s no timetable for the Nautique E to hit dealers’ showrooms, Correct Craft president Bill Yeargin told a Soundings Trade Only roundtable he’s convinced world demand for oil will push fuel prices uncomfortably higher in the future and that electric power will be a welcomed alternative in some Correct Craft products. He’s not alone.

Electric boats have actually been around for a long time. Names like Duffy Boats and ElectraCraft have been here since the 1970s, while Lear Boats came on scene four years ago. But they can’t pull water skiers at 34 mph! Meanwhile, in some parts of Europe, electric marine power has been in demand for years, too. High fuel prices there are certainly a contributing factor, but it’s really been outcry of environmental critics about the effects of gas and diesel engines that’s moved electric power along. There are many places combustion engines are totally banned so electric power now pushes all sorts of craft from ski boats to twin-screw cruisers.

Undoubtedly the biggest boost has come from rapidly improving battery technology. For example, the newest lithium ion battery technology has emerged the leader in replacing the big heavy wet cells of old. More power, longer operating time, faster recharging, much less weight — add to that computerized motor controllers and electric power applications are breaking out of the traditional 5 mph sunset cruise around the lake or harbor (a wonderful boating experience in its own right) to all sorts of new boating possibilities. We have just begun to witness some interesting changes that may well come into play in the next couple of years.

Comments

5 comments on “As gas prices rise, could electric power rise, too?

  1. Enginecom

    Battery ski boats are one thing. Trying to do this for sailboats is another use. With higher speeds necessary to attract powerboat people means that just batteries are not good enough. That skiboat has a limited range and on a lake in calm water would be OK. I would still want a gas kicker for the event of a dying battery. On cruising boats to maintain reasonable cruising speeds a hybrid setup would be the answer. You can go very far on not much diesel fuel. If more boat builders would offer diesel in under 35′ boats that in itself will cut fuel use in half. At this time electric is still an oddity for a niche market.

  2. John

    Electric drive makes most sense in displacement hulls since they move efficiently through the water. A light weight easy planing hull could also provide reasonable performance and range. Many boats also have usable surface area for solar panels to extend range. For any real distance at speed you’re stuck with a hybrid setup for now but anyone with limited range and speed requirements can successfully use electric boats right now.

  3. Garth Hichens

    The time for Electric boats might well be near, but as seen in the automotive world Hybrid is the way to go, we presented at the Annapolis and Miami shows the worlds first true production hybrid, the Greenline 33 built by Seaway Yachts in Slovenia.
    This boat is a true parralel hybrid and can motor around at 6mph under electric power but motor at speeds up to 16mph with the diesel engine. The entire cabin top is covered with a 1.3 kw Solar cell which will fully recharge the batteries in just over a day, or the batteries can be charged from the diesel power or shore power.
    For trips up to 20 miles under electric power you can get a free ride because the sun will recharge the batteries.
    For more deatails go to Greenline 33 hybrid.com or contact Annapolisyachtsales.com

  4. Andreas Kokkonis

    Its just amazing guys…..Do more so we can all order this type of boats for watersports….When you thing you will be ready for a ”battery” yhat will last for like 9 ours or more??? We gonna love it here in Greece and everybody will start order cause we have big gas price problems…Just looking forward. Save planet. Andreas Kokkonis.

  5. Andreas Kokkonis

    I just want to ask…What is gonna be the price of that boat?? The battery will be easy to replace it with another one exacly the same so i can keep run the boat for the rest hours of the day??? What’s the price of this battery?? Thanks allot!! Keep rocking…… Andreas Kokkonis.

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