The more things change, the more they stay the same. The ELCO company introduced its first electric boat motors at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. And now we’ve seen the re-introduction of ELCO electric motors on a Hunter 27 at the 2010 Annapolis boat show. In the intervening 117 years considerable changes in electric motor and battery technology have radically transformed the efficiency and capabilities of these systems.
The 10hp electric motor on the new Hunter operates at 72 volts DC. Power comes from six 210Ah AGM batteries wired in series. A fully charged battery pack will power the boat in calm water at 6 knots (which is nearly the boat’s hull speed) for a little over three hours, giving a range of around 20 miles. At slower speeds, the powering time and range are extended. The motor is controlled via a simple shift-throttle lever at the helm. A spring-loaded “boost” button delivers full power in emergency situations for as long as the button is held in.
This is a true electric boat. There is no generator on board, so if the batteries are discharged, the boat is solely dependent on its sails for propulsion. Though the range under power is limited, we think it adequate for most weekend sailors. When motoring the boat is virtually silent. There is absolutely no engine maintenance, and shorepower can in fact recharge the batteries more efficiently than a fossil-fueled engine. A pair of solar panels and a wind generator keep the batteries topped off when shore power is unavailable. If its power source is “green,” this boat has no carbon footprint. Congratulations to Hunter for having the courage to take the plunge into purely electric propulsion. For more information, visit huntermarine.com
LOA: 27ft 4in
LWL: 27ft 0in
Beam: 9ft 11in
Draft: 5ft 0in (std) 3ft 6in (shoal)
Displacement: 7,656lb (shoal)
Sail Area: 386 sq ft