cost-effectively. The net benefit simply isn’t worth the risk and
It’s challenging enough for boat owners to get conventional
propulsion and electrical systems installed, serviced and repaired
without increasing their complexity by an order of magnitude.
My fear is boat owners will be left holding the proverbial bag, and
it will be an expensive one.
Instead, we are asked to believe that these incredibly
complex, computer-controlled charging systems, which are
intertwined with the most sacred and vital system aboard your
boat, propulsion, are worth having for the sake of more onboard
energy, quiet running at low speed, and no smoke. I’m doubtful.
Electronically controlled diesels, which are extremely efficient
and reliable, are pretty quiet when properly insulated and virtually
smoke-free. High-output, reliable and proven charging systems
exist, and these can already power air-conditioning systems
overnight on battery power, and when that’s not enough power,
we have compact, efficient, reliable, relatively inexpensive (when
compared to hybrid systems) generators that can fill the gap,
most of which have large dealer networks and a ready supply of
parts, while veritably sipping fuel.
I’m hard pressed to see how or why an industry that already
struggles with support of technically complex, as well as some
not so complex systems, should add to the technical and
financial burden of boat owners with hybrid on board energy
production and storage. —Steve D’Antonio
HavE a LI T TLE FaI TH, CaLdEr rEsponds
I suspect that there is little disagreement between steve and
myself on the technology or the issues associated with it. In
particular, we both see the need for hybrid systems to be cost-effective and reliable, and for the marine industry to be able to
develop the ability to support and service these systems. our
differences are largely related to these aspects.
Electrical systems problems are the number one problem
on boats that have anything more than a rudimentary electrical
system. Ever since electricity has been put on boats, the boating
industry has struggled to keep these systems running in a
troublefree manner and has significantly failed to do so. steve
looks at this record and kind of throws his hands up in horror at
the thought of the additional complexity of hybrid systems and
their associated management issues.
I look at the way modern technology has taken our cars, for
example, which used to require major attention and maintenance
at regular intervals but now can pretty much be guaranteed
to run at least 100,000 miles before any significant attention
is required. This has been done with an enormous escalation
of complexity, but with this complexity hidden from the user
and working reliably in the background. I believe over time,
Maybe this is because I wear rose-colored glasses! We shall
have to wait and see! —Nigel Calder
and d’an TonIo GETs THE Las T Word
although I respect his position and expertise, nigel is correct;
we do take a substantially different approach.
nigel may be an eternal technical optimist because he
operates in a rarified world of manufacturer’s facilities, labs and
his own test vessel. I, on the other hand, work from the trenches;
I guide boat owners and buyers (and builders) on a daily basis,
on many occasions I serve as their confidant and sea counselor,
listening to and assisting them in resolving their vessel’s woes,
and as a result I take a more pragmatic view.
The automobile analogy is one I hear often and it’s a stretch
at best, by the time Toyota made the 10,000th prius, they pretty
much had it perfected. The marine industry is fortunate to be
able to make five boats that are exactly the same, much less
hundreds or thousands.
Complex systems can be done right and they are done right by
a handful of boatbuilders and equipment manufacturers. In virtually
every case those ‘done right’ systems are the result of exhaustive
engineering, thorough real-world testing and exemplary support from
those manufacturers, today, tomorrow and five or ten years from now.
Will hybrid propulsion and power generation system
manufacturers be around to service, repair and provide parts for
these systems today and five or ten years from now? some early
adopters have already discovered the answer to this question, and
so have I, having supervised the removal of one of these hybrid
system aboard a 70-foot motor yacht because it was dreadfully
unreliable and ridiculously complicated.
sTEvE d’an TonIo vErsus nIGEL CaLdEr
April 2014 passagemaker.com 63
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Email your opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.