FLIBS 2019: The Silent Treatment

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Silent Yachts says it is “gaining traction” in a powerboat category where it is the only player. The Mallorca-based builder of purely electric power catamarans introduced a new 60-foot model in July, and has sold five 80-foot trideck yachts in the last two years.

The company held a press event on a 55-footer at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, displaying the arrays of solar panels on most exterior surfaces, and discussing its low carbon footprint and silent operation.

The electric engines, from a Canadian company called TM4, are rated at 250 kW peak and 150 kW continuous power. There are three battery banks, each rated at 400 volts, made up of modules that weigh 44 pounds each.

The basic propulsion system comprises the engines, thrust bearings and inboard shafts. The boats reach speeds of around 17 knots.

“It would take less than three seconds to go from full throttle to full reverse,” said Jean-Marc Zanni, Sempra Italia LLC, who designed the propulsion system. “But everyone would be on the floor if you did that.”

Jim Malachowski, a former Formula One racecar driver, recently purchased an 80-foot Silent model. He liked the idea of the catamaran being fully “adaptable,” with a 25-year lifespan on the solar panels, and being able to replace batteries as new technologies emerge. When doing his due diligence on the 80-footer, Malachowski wanted to make sure the batteries could be upgraded so he could own it for many years.

“Why would you ever own a gasoline car when you’ve experienced a Tesla?” Malachowski said. “This is the same experience on a boat, and it’s the only full-sustainable solar technology on the boating market.”

Ed Sacks, the U.S. distributor for Silent Yachts, said the electric catamarans carry are similar in price to diesel power cats. He said manufacturing capacity could be an issue as demand for the boats increases. The company is building the 60-foot model in Thailand and the 80-footer in Italy. “Both models are built to an owner’s spec,” Sacks said. He expects many owners to use them for charter.

Charles Deyo, owner of the 55-footer that served as the boat for the press event, plans to keep his boat near his home in Key West, Fla.

Deyo said the low operating costs and low carbon footprint attracted him to the brand. “I’ve owned a bunch of smaller jetboats,” he said. “But this is like an opposite experience. It’s so quiet, almost like being on a sailboat when you’re under way.”

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