Newport Harbor Yacht Club Shore Boat Goes Electric

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Several weeks ago we had dinner at my sister Diane’s home to visit with our unofficial brother, Gus, who lived here for a few years but is a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and rancher of the Pampas. He came over from a Miami vacation to check on our Mom, Martha. While visiting, brother-in-law Ken Knight shared the uniqueness of changing the Newport Harbor Yacht Club shore boat from diesel to electric.

Second generation member “Duffy” Duffield completely restored the yacht and installed a 90 horsepower electric motor to the vessel. He was kind enough to explain the restoration to me at the club last week. Commodore Gary Hill, Commodore Pat Werner and Dock Master Anthony Palacios were also in attendance.

As we took a short cruise, Duffy noted he increased the rudder size to facilitate better handling at slower speeds. The torque has also increased with the engine change and should be able to allow towing a 60-foot yacht in Santa Ana wind conditions, which has been necessary in the past.

The enthusiasm shown by Gary and Pat was contagious. Gary mentioned the Club would save the expense of more than 1,000 gallons of fuel each year besides the ecological cleanliness of electric engines.

This boat is a real work horse for not only towing boats but is used to ferry boat owners and guests to the numerous offshore moorings adjacent to the Club.

Years ago, Duffy received a federal grant to obtain a fuel cell motor and install it in one of his hulls and study the benefits. Some of you may also remember the 40-foot (or so) green trimarran with a spaceship-style design resting atop his Mariners Mile office. This was built to take on all comers to race to Catalina Island by electric power. He won!

Electric and electric-hybrid are moving from experimental to state-of-the-art for yachts. Diesel-electric is becoming common for propulsion of mega-yachts all over the world. Mega-yacht builders and owners are very enthusiastic to see how small an environmental footprint a new yacht can achieve.

For the last six months (or so) Duffy has been promoting in national and international magazines a 58-foot trawler which they say is state-of-the-art and more user friendly than the norm. No, it’s not electric powered, but is very economical.

This single diesel engine vessel will achieve fast planning speeds but is very green economically at slower cruising speeds. This yacht may very well attain trendsetter status. They are in the process of building the plugs for the molds.

Duffy said that he is delighted that the first one is already sold. An earlier conversation I had with a staff member said the first one could be launched in 18 to 24 months.

Once again a Newport Harbor local could produce world-wide yacht ramifications!

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve


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