Live-ish From The 2013 Toronto International Boat Show – Gentleman, Flick Your Switches!

Fellow Woody Boater Sean Conroy sent us this live-ish report from the 2013 Toronto International Boat Show tonight… And he came across something rather interesting. As a life long motorsports enthusiast, I have always wondered what the representative from the Hulman / George family would say, when giving the command before the start of the Indianapolis 500, if all the cars are some day powered by electricity…

Rather than the traditional “GENTLEMEN – START YOUR ENGINES!” which has been used since the early 1950’s, will the announcer say “GENTLEMEN – FLICK YOUR SWITCHES!”… and then the cars silently whirr off down the race track. Technology marches on I suppose. Here’s Sean’s report.

2013 Toronto International Boat Show
by Sean Conroy

After spending almost six hours methodically traversing every aisle at the Toronto International Boat Show I was beginning to get a little bored. Other than the Toronto Chapter ACBS excellent hydroplane and sea-flea exhibit in the entrance hallway, many of the boats start to look the same.

Don’t get me wrong , they all look nice and new but one marque is almost indistinguishable from the next. In the merchandisers area chart plotters are so abundant you would think they dispense coffee (they don’t). And as it always is, every marina with an empty slip for rent is trying to sell a condo to go with it. I won’t even discuss the $6 fries and $10 sausage at the food vendors.

To be totally truthful, I lied a little bit about the boats all being the same as the Cobalt boats stand out based on top of the class quality and the Chris-Craft boats (like the Lancer 20) certainly are the pinnacle of modern runabouts with their unique styling, luxurious feel and attention to detail. Since the Lancer 20 is on my top 10 list IF I ever win the lottery, I made sure it would be near the end of our tour through the show.

However, not too far from the Chris’ exhibit, I spied something completely different. At first glance this boat with “Bruce” on the hull looked like a cleanly designed woody that may have had an update or two. So I thought to myself “What’s old is new again” but, you have to look close to tell…and in this case there’s a twist.

This “woody-wannabe” sure looks the part but, is really a nicely made “Tupperware” recreation. It uses all the modern methods of construction to portray a rather sleek looking runabout of yesteryear. Pleasant lines, nice finish, comfy interior… So what’s new about that?

Well boys and girls I’m glad you asked. Turns out, this boat is electric powered. Not only is the construction modern the power curve is too. It can pull a water skier for an hour on a single charge and still have 20% battery reserve when you’re back at the dock. Or, you can cruise almost all day if you are easy on electron flow.

(These interesting boats, both the naturally aspirated version and the new electric version, are being produced by Montreal Classic Boatworks – for more information on these boats you can Click Here to go directly to their website. – Texx)

A complete recharge takes only about 3 hours. In all other respects it acts just like it’s gasoline sister boat (also at the show, the utility version above) except it is about 200 pounds lighter. The handling is also more consistent as there is no constantly changing weight of fuel to deal with.

I wasn’t wild about the gauge package on the dash of the E-boat as it was the only thing that gave this cutting edge boat away on her classic camouflage. But, if gas prices continue to rise this boat might just become popular with a few more people….(although I’d miss the smell of varnish). I wonder if they can have Chris-Craft put one of these electric systems in a Lancer 20…..

Sean Conroy

Thanks for your report Sean. For more information on the 55th Annual 2013 Toronto International Boat Show you can Click Here to go directly to their huge website. The Toronto boat show runs until January 20th if you are in the area and as Sean mentioned, our friends from the Toronto Chapter ACBS are on hand representing the Antique & Classic Boating hobby.

I wonder if the electric powered boats have a place to plug in your iPad or laptop? and one day will we ever see a Hybrid version of the classic boat? Honestly, it’s cool technology and great to see a company applying this level of technology to modern versions of classic boats.

Heck – I just got over the fact that we now have automatic transmssions in cars instead of stick shifts… I suppose some people are slower than others to accept innovation and advancements in technology.


14 replies
  1. Texx
    Texx says:

    I would be very interested to know if anyone has ever done any market research on the feasibility / popularity of electric powered classic boats.

    And what the average cost is for these boats.

    We are also working on a story about a company in Florida that recently re-powered a 1912 Consolidated Launch to use an electric motor, replacing the original 1,800 pound gasoline engine.

    But I don’t think you can water ski behind this one…

  2. Mark
    Mark says:

    I wonder how they are addressing the whole electricity and water don’t mix issue. One six or twelve volt starter battery versus a whole power plant is a huge difference.

  3. Sean
    Sean says:

    The majority of the “nasty” electrical bits are housed in two waterproof cases that run the length of the engine bay. There are some high voltage cables that run from these to the motor (a realy big sucker).
    But that’s about it. I doubt Transport Canada would let it go if it wasn’t safe.

    On the E-racers… Formula 1 company McLaren is working with the FIA to build a Formula E car so, hold on Texx the 500 can’t be far away.

  4. Alex
    Alex says:

    Power boats are so much about their magical sound. Getting in one and having it silently slip, then whir away from the dock leaves me so cold. The only exception might be a canopy launch (ie Elco), where total serenity is its purpose. When gas hits $20 a gallon, or more, I’ll be clinging to my Scripps, 327 QA, and 427 Ford much more than guns and religion. Will be using them less, of course, but hey, the finer things in life are usually costly, rare, in short supply, elusive, etc.

  5. Alex
    Alex says:

    There is a middle ground though. Has anybody converted their classic boats to run on LNG?

    Years back, taxis used to run on the stuff in my college town (London, Ont.) and the drivers loved it.

    It’s dirt cheap, easy to add to existing filling station infrastructure, in plentiful supply, and a domestic fuel. And the conversion is relatively simple.

    Best part is, the original internal combustion motors remain in place!

  6. Mark
    Mark says:

    I agree about the sound. They are talking about adding sound to electric cars so you can hear them coming. Artificial sound in a boat? Conceivable but not desirable.

    • floyd r turbo
      floyd r turbo says:

      Leave it to the Germans, that sounds great, a lot better than a Prius in many ways. Sound is important and I’ve got the scars to prove it from a Christmas day run couple of years ago taking my Jack Russell with me on a leash when I encountered a Prius at an intersection in subdivision I was running. I pulled in the leash and waved him on several times and he would not proceed. I shook my head and ran on down the road, when he approached from the rear in electric mode, spooked my dog who ran between my legs, tripped me head over heels, skidding into curb, knees and palms bleeding, torn shirt at shoulder blade, dog now loose and me cussing (while listening to ipod). The Prius driver stops, rolls window down, probably asks if I’m okay, but I’m not hearing, doesn’t even get out of car, or offer a ride home, or to help corral dog. Then drives away, parks car in garage. Merry Christmas to you too, @$$.

      • Texx
        Texx says:

        That’s a good (but unfortunate) story Floyd. I have never given much thought to the quiet nature of the electric car and the subsequent problems like this.

        We should do a story one day about “The Life and Times of Mr. Turbo”…

  7. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    A transom without an exhaust pipe is like a women without a, ah, you know, an orifice of some type.

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