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Builders plan hybrid trawler in Maine

Two Mainers are planning to build hybrid-powered diesel-electric lobster boats for those who want an energy-efficient, Down East-style pleasure craft.

There is no throaty diesel rumble, petroleum smell or smoke when Eugene Story starts the engine on the 23-foot lobster boat docked at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard. Instead, air bubbles in the water from the propeller were the only indication that the vessel was getting under way.

The boat, named Electra, is a prototype for what its developers hope will be a quieter, cleaner and more energy-efficient vessel that could be built at the shipyard.

By next month, the boat will be outfitted with a small diesel generator, turning Electra into a diesel-electric hybrid that will be set for sea trials and potential customers, Story told the Portland Press Herald.

"We wanted to build a prototype, but not a big, expensive prototype," said Story, a retired naval architect. His partner, Eric Graves, president of the Boothbay shipyard, rebuilt the boat and Story installed an Elco electric motor. It has a diesel equivalent of 20 hp. The total cost of the propulsion system is less than $7,000.

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