he wind was blowing a steady 10–15 knots out of the east-northeast as we left the protection of Key Largo, with gusts above
20 knots raising a short, stiff chop on the waters of Card Sound
in the Florida Keys. In the seat next to me, Reuben Trane, CEO
of Island Pilot, builder of the new DSe Hybrid 12m power
catamaran on which we were heading out, turned a hockey-puck-sized disk on the Tecnautic fly-by-wire steering system and
set a course to quarter the washboard-ridged waters ahead.
Trane grinned as I held up the sound meter and told him our
conversation was louder than the electrical engines driving the
boat ahead at 4. 5 knots. He had plenty to smile about.
At this speed and with the current battery capacity, we could
cruise for two-plus hours on the batteries alone. With bright
sunshine pouring down on the solar arrays arranged atop the
express bridge hard top and the deckhouse, we would have had
the potential to cruise indefinitely as the batteries recharged, a
real possibility on some good weather days. But today, with a
high, thin layer of cirrostratus clouds stretching from horizon to
horizon as we put the DSe 12m through her paces, the potential
for completely recharging the twin 10kW-hour, 48VDC battery
banks via the solar panels was diminished.
Story By John Wooldridge
Photography By Jim Raycroft
Island Pilot’s New DSe Hybrid 12m
Makes Coastal Cruising Greener