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Safe at Sea: Electric boats may be on the horizon

By PAT SCHMIDT - | Dec 15, 2020

A recent headline by BoatTEST really captured my attention: “The Rise of Electric Boats.” What immediately sprung to mind was the Minn Kota trolling motors we have used over the years of lake fishing up north. However, BoatTEST’s Webcast featured an entirely different boating experience.

The article began by drawing the correlation to today’s vehicle trends. For example, General Motors plans to have 30 new electric vehicles on the market by 2025. In other words, in less than five years GM will have 40 percent of its production dedicated to electric cars. Of course, that will spill over into the boating market.

By comparison, Volvo Penta — diesel engine supplier in the boating industry — has plans for its truck engines to be all-elective within the next decade. BoatTEST framed the question, “Can you imagine when Mercury and Yamaha get involved? (And they will!)

The handwriting is on the wall: Electric boating is in our near future.

Not persuaded? Consider these disadvantages to current boat propulsion:

FUEL-POWERED ENGINES

– High fuel costs

– Mechanical problems

– Noise and fumes

– Vibrations

– Emissions

SAIL BOATING

– Contrary winds

– Too much wind or too little wind

– Rigging dilemmas

– Lots of work

– Still need an engine

Then consider these advantages to electric power/solar power engines:

– Unlimited range

– Maintenance-free engines (often called “machines” as they are used as motors and generators)

– No noise and no fumes (In fact, one electric yacht company is called Silent Yachts.)

– No vibration

– No carbon emissions

– Minimal fuel bills, primarily for the generator(s)

– Lighter weight overall

– Smaller engine rooms

– Reduced fire hazard

I’d encourage you to go to BoatTEST’s Website (“https://boattest.com”>https://boattest.com) and search for the Webcast Episode #32 because “seeing is believing.”

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and its boating education courses, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 612-987-2125.