Voyage Charters, a very highly rated British Virgin Islands charter company (5 rating on TripAdvisor with 157 reviews) now has an electric option for sailors, the first of its kind in the BVI.
Their Voyage 480 catamaran sailboat has 2 15kW (20hp) electric motors by Oceanvolt, solar panels and a Valence 35kWh lithium battery pack. The motors also act as generators to charge the battery when under sail, with a diesel generator for standby backup.
The Oceanvolt system can generate about 1 kW at 7-8 knots sailing speed and 3 kW at 11-12 knots. The system was the winner of the ‘machinery, propulsion, mechanical and electrical systems and fittings’ category at METSTRADE 2017. Techies can view the video below for more info.
Islands were devastated by Maria in 2017
The addition of the electric boat to the Voyage fleet is due at least in part to the efforts of the company and the local industry to rebound from the devastating impact of two Category 5 hurricanes (one of them Maria) that hit the islands within two weeks of each other in 2017.
Peter Jones of Voyage told Cruising World “We believe that these electric boats will play a significant role in rebuilding the charter fleets and indeed the tourism industry in the British Virgin Islands, as more and more residents and visitors consider the environmental implications of everything they do and rely on.”
The appeal of electric propulsion instead of diesel on sailboats seems pretty obvious. In and around the shallow waters and reefs when the sails wouldn’t be used, the passengers can enjoy the sea air and natural soundscape without the constant rumbling of an internal combustion engine and the invasive diesel fumes.
Another attraction of the Oceanvolt electric system is its Remote Service Interface that enables the boat to be connected to a Wi-Fi network and allows the Voyage HQ staff, as well as Oceanvolt technicians, to remotely monitor the boat’s operation and diagnose or troubleshoot system issues on the boat.
While this is the first electric charter boat in the BVI, it seems likely it won’t be the last. Voyage Yachts, Voyage Charters’ sister company, is already working on a larger Voyage 575 boat.
For more details about chartering the boat, visit Voyage’s website. While there is a small training session for those who want to manage their own bareboat charter, sailors with the standard resume are qualified to take the electric cat out on charter.