altI Have Seen The Future!

Dressed in eyecatching graphics, Mercury's Hybrid Concept Vessel was a Miami International Boat Show highlight last February – but a quiet one. Equipped with both Cummins QSC 550, 550-hp diesel engines and Zeus pod drives plus high-efficiency electric engines, solar panels, full SmartCraft controls including joystick docking, the Mercury's Hybrid Concept Vessel glided out of its slip like it was drifting in the wind, making virtually no sound, no smoke and no smell.

Yet, the driver of the boat simply used the Zeus joystick control to pivot in the channel and head out the harbour gap under electric power, even through stiff winds. The only sound was from the turbulent water at the transom.

As much as I care about the environment, the idea of an electric boat or a hybrid diesel electric boat had never really caught my attention simply because I didn’t see this as being mainstream. Of course, many Canadian Yachting readers would applaud the environmental effort, but I had no expectation that a hybrid yacht would be a realistic alternative to regular power systems.

Then I went out on the Mercury Marine Hybrid Concept Vessel.

Able to run on just electric, just diesel, or a combination of both, the captain can choose the best mode for the conditions. Out on the water, the transition from one mode to another was almost imperceptible except for the sound of the diesel engine (or the lack of it).

Cruising under diesel power, the electric engines can be used to recharge the lithium-ion battery banks that power the boat’s two 100-hp electric engine/generators. You can also plug it into shore power or re-charge with the array of solar panels fitted on the deck and hardtop. The Hybrid Concept Vessel is an amazing showcase of new technology, but the most important fact was that it all worked so well in a conventional 42-foot express coupe yacht.

Probably most important to prospective buyers is the appearance. Well, this is a conventional but handsome express hardtop cruiser – nothing weird or radical. You would never know that it was a hybrid boat from the appearance (or the performance) and the penalties in weight or increased cost are projected to be well within the envelope of what buyers are comfortable with. This boat is more than just a dream boat.

Dan Balogh headed the development team at Mercury and he explained to me that using the lithium ion batteries that have high power density, but much lighter weight than lead acid batteries, there was a mere 2,000 lb. of additional weight on a yacht that was 35,000 lb. to begin with. That’s a small price to pay in weight.

Speaking of the price, the “buzz-kill” question is always, what does this cost compared to a conventional solution? David Foulkes, Mercury’s VP of Product Development and Engineering said he anticipated a 7 to 10% cost premium – that was all.

This is partly because there are offsetting savings. The battery banks are a lot of money but so is a diesel generator. The battery bank in the Mercury Hybrid can power the yacht for 2 to 3 days without recharging, so you can save the generator investment and its significant weight as well. Consider this: peaceful sleep when cruising without noise or vibration from a generator. Run the A/C all night from the 300-volt battery bank. It has 60 kWh storage and the batteries are in a waterproof compartment.

The solar panels on the hardtop are always charging in daylight and they feature integrated bi-facial panels. So, they capture direct sunlight and reflected sunlight from water. Next, a clever four-panel solar array folds out on the forward deck when you are moored. That adds a lot of charging power. In a week of sitting, these can fully recharge the batteries at no cost.

Befitting a concept boat, there were also additional safety features such as a theft deterrence system and on-board monitoring systems using telematics, (similar to automotive systems) so the boat can be “watched” remotely. Another safety addition are the transom lights that communicate to other boaters and swimmers that the boat is “on” and propellers may be spinning – critical information when you remove the sound of the engines by running on electric power. Finally, the solar power is independent of shore power and provides electrical backup to bilge pumps, starting batteries and other critical components. All very handy!

In fact, although the Mercury Marine Hybrid Concept Vessel only reaches 8 to 10 mph running on electric power alone, it means you should never be stranded. Hybrid propulsion combines reliable diesel engines and electrical systems providing built-in backups.

The electric motors both contribute 100 hp and also act as big generators when the CMD QSC 550 Zeus diesels are running. They boost charging capacity in a big way when the yacht is on plane and cruising.

We say it that way because the twin 550-hp diesels are plenty of power once the yacht is up and running but they are sized small for planing off a load. No worries. The electric motors can clutch in to add a big boost in acceleration. With both the QSM 550s and the electric motors engaged, this yacht leaped onto the plane in just 6 seconds!

The Mercury engineers said that the combination of high-torque electric motors with high-output diesel engines gets the boat on plane twice as fast as conventional power. As soon as cruising speed was reached, the motors can begin working as generators to recharge the batteries.

The photos show how the electric motors are easily integrated into the CMD Zeus engine and drive systems and the Hybrid Concept boat had a nice big engine hatch for easy service and also to show off the engineering. You could really live with this rig and you would have an easy time of it because the boat had the Mercury SmartCraft instruments, throttles and Joystick control systems. These are intuitive controls that make the entire boat easier to use.

It has automatic electrical power switching between vessel power and shore power meaning that the system is ready when you are. Just "unplug" from the shore power and go. A helm-mounted large-screen display keeps the driver informed of system status. Fuel levels, the state of the batteries’ charge and far more, is displayed.

Like other regular Zeus pod drive systems, this has all the bells and whistles such as the autopilot and “Skyhook” functions.

Skyhook is a GPS-controlled station-keeping function that uses the pod drives to hold a steady position for docking, fishing and those times like waiting your turn at a bridge or fuel dock. In Skyhook, you can run the CMD diesels but you can also use just electric.

This eliminates fuel waste, exhaust and smoke as you stay stationary.

Electric is also the economical and environmental way to enjoy relaxing rides down intracoastal waterways, rivers and through speed restricted zones.

Considering all the added functionality and the long-term fuel savings that are potentially available, silent nights on the hook plus, the propulsion redundancy for safety, I think many buyers would feel the added weight and 7 to 10% additional cost was money well spent.

I hope more people have a chance to both see and actually drive this boat, then they too will feel they’ve seen the future!

By Andy Adams

Destinations

  • Prev
Long popular with New England and St. John area boaters, Passamaquoddy Bay is too often overlooked ...
After much speculation Prince Harry finally popped the question to American actress and longtime ...
Last January we ran a short piece on the motor boat A Great Story which had been restored by the ...
The Moorings has just announced the launch of its newest Caribbean destination, Antigua. 
Toronto sailor and former RCYC coach/sailing instructor Ryan May is now a US coast guard captain ...
Just before the weekly party at Shirley HeightsSunsail staffer Chris Donahue conducts our chart ...
Chartering in the Caribbean conjures up images of turquoise sea, palm fringed beaches and great ...
Since anyone who opens an independent bookstore is at least as brave as a small boat shop owner, I ...
You’re on your way east to the 1000 Islands or the Trent-Severn. By entering north of Prince ...
I have lived in Ontario my whole life but have only recently had the pleasure of visiting the City ...

The Middens of Galiano Island

By Catherine Dook

We motored our way into Montague Harbour along a twisted channel with our engine muffled by the leaning trees.

“This is peaceful,” I told my husband, John.

“Look,” I pointed to an eagle sitting on the top of a tree overlooking the channel entrance like a sentinel giving permission for us to pass. Dignified, unruffled, his impassioned gaze noted and then dismissed us, as uninteresting and perhaps unworthy. I was tired. We’d pulled up anchor at Portland Island that morning, and the grind of the diesel engine had worn me down.

Read More of the Middens of Galiano Island.....

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Rossiter is a Canadian builder in Markdale, Ontario that builds a nice fleet of rowboats and small ...
Welcome to Photo of the Week 2018. If you are not familiar with this wonderful feature (What???!!!) ...
Living the dream! Longtime CY staffer and now blogger Lynn Lortie with her husband Pat left Midland ...
For our last Photo of the Week in 2017, I have picked some nice shots we received – one from the ...
Your boat is tucked away for the winter, but there may still be a few un-invited guests.
In the world of yachting, it is increasingly becoming the case that Canada is no longer the small ...
Ho-ho-ho. Our Photo of the week comes from Sunday’s Santa Parade. Clowning around was Paul ...
This Photo of the Week sequence from Chris Chahley and Kathy Coyle explains the whole boat thing. ...
The off season is suddenly upon us. Yikes! We need your photos more than ever to keep us thinking ...
One of our most enthusiastic contributors, Rob Dunbar sent us this photo from Halifax.   ...

 

 

Cruisers Yachts Cantius 50

Cruisers Yachts Cantius 50By: John Armstrong and Andy Adams
Photos: Cruisers Yachts Inc.

Almost a decade ago, Cruisers Yachts Inc., launched an entire line of express cruisers called “Cantius” (named after company owner KC Stock’s grandfather) that began with the 48Cantius then came the 54, the 60 and now the Cantius 50. In the fall of 2017, we will be at the debut of the 42 Cantius at the Fort Lauderdale International boat show.

These designs have a strong family resemblance withhandsome and distinctive linesand with a design philosophy that you could say, pioneered the new version of the express cruiser. 

Read more of new Cruisers Yachts Cantius 50.....

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Water has a funny way of making its way into a boat: through through-hulls, stuffing boxes, leaks, ...
 Since the initial article of this column we have identified a wide range of apps and ...
Since the initial article of this series we have looked at the iPad and its use as a marine ...
The moment we all dread. It’s a warm sunny day and you’re out for a cruise. Suddenly ...
For most of us – this is the time to make the most of the boating season – launch and ...
Question: Is it possible to mount, protect and charge your iPad during marine navigation. ...
  Is iNavX the superlative marine navigation app?    
Question: Can I buy generic automotive parts or products for my boat, or should they specify ...
  There is a good deal of hesitancy and lack of understanding as to whether an iPad can ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
Sirius Signal held a product information session for interested parties prior to demonstrating ...
Safety at Sea Courses, in my opinion are a must for all offshore racers. I would also recommend the ...
Just 10 shopping days to Christmas, so what to get for the boater who has everything? How about a ...
I am fortunate to have the ability to work from just about anywhere. A cellular signal and a Wi-Fi ...
Out here on the West Coast with boats in the water year-round, there is one constant activity and ...
As I sit looking out my window at the snow that is slowly piling up it is easy to be downtrodden by ...
In the last edition of this column we took a close look at iRegatta and the advantages it can bring ...
With all the devastation in the eastern Caribbean a natural question to ask is ‘is our boat in that ...
During the heat of summer, many boat owners turn on their air conditioning units. Whether portable ...
A milestone has been reached. The new D13-1000 sees Volvo Penta move into the 1000hp marine leisure ...