Entertainment

Kohala Blue, a boat tour operator in Kawaihae on the Big Island of Hawaii, has introduced what it calls the first renewable electric catamaran charter in Hawaii. The Dolce Vita is powered by an electric propulsion system that is charged by solar panels, wind turbines, and propeller regeneration.

Kohala Blue’s solar and wind-powered electric catamaran

When Kohala Blue’s 34-foot Gemini sailing charter broke down last year with a damaged diesel engine, the company was caught in a tight spot with few options.

Rather than trying to replace the parts, which would have been really costly, Kohala Blue’s owner, Shaun Barnes, made the decision to go electric.

Kohala Blue issued a news release last week, stating, “The company recently upgraded its 34-foot Gemini sailing catamaran with two electric propulsion motors, powered with sun and wind, that run silently and peacefully while underway.” The press release added:

What this means for passengers is a sailing experience like no other in the islands: no engine noise, vibration, air or water pollution and no fumes associated with gas or diesel power. Guests are confident their choice to snorkel, sail and observe marine life from the spacious decks of the Dolce Vita is the best for the marine environment.

The company says the conversion has completely transformed the experience for guests, creating a nearly silent, peaceful ride while minimizing the impact on marine animals.

In particular, electric propulsion has much less impact on whales than loud gas engines because they rely on ultrasonic hearing to navigate and find food.

The 34-foot Gemini 105MC sailing catamaran is Hawaii’s first renewable electric charter, according to Kohala Blue. Solar panels fitted on the dodger combined with wind turbines and propeller regeneration allow for a completely renewable energy-powered eco-friendly experience.

Barnes says she has noticed clear benefits from the electric conversion, telling West Hawaii Today:

The best part of it is the peace and quiet. When we’re moving, people can’t even tell whether we’re under motor or under sail. We have a hydrophone — an underwater microphone — and you can hear other boats coming from very far away.

She added that although the electric sailboat has roughly 19.8 hp, less than the 27 hp with the diesel engine, the electric engine’s instant torque offsets the speed reduction with a max speed under motor of about 6.5 knots.

Kohala Blue offers private charters for up to six guests with morning, afternoon, and sunset sails. You can book tours on the company’s website.

Electrek’s Take

Kohala Blue is paving the way for an eco-friendly sailing experience with its new solar- and wind-powered electric-powered catamaran.

Nobody wants to travel on the water with a loud diesel engine blocking out all the sounds and smells of nature and, more importantly, destroying the environment and its inhabitants.

The company may need to start another business in converting sailboats to solar, wind, and electric power because these could revolutionize the charter industry while saving the oceans and the creatures living in them.

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