“She’s in the water now,” Peter Saladino, chief marketing officer for high-end boat builder Hinckley, told Observer. “The all-electric 28 ft Dasher is ready to go, and, in the next few weeks, she will be in Newport, Annapolis and Chicago.” Having just launched their new dream-boat, the makers at Hinckley are clearly excited to see what seafarers think, so they’re touring her around some of the most popular ports.
The obvious, and often-made comparison for this fully-electric yacht is to its automobile counterpart, Tesla. Like that car, it’s not the first electric-powered model of its kind, but it’s certainly the most sleek. And recharging Dasher might even be easier than juicing up your Tesla. Every marina has 50amp service. No special fittings are required, and you can recharge anywhere in about four hours.
So why would one of America’s most revered boat builder’s, a Maine-based company that launched its first boat in 1928, go all-electric? The Hinckley company could have continued to do what it does so well, create iconic sail boats, like the Bermuda 40 and the line of “picnic” powerboats boats that are the envy of anyone who loves classic yacht design. However, Hinckley, now owned by a private equity group, has evolved into a global boat brand. While still true to its Maine roots, Hinckley has the desire, deep pockets and vision to change their industry.
According to Saladino, that vision “brought together the best naval architects, engineers and sailors and asked: How do we create something really innovative to encourage even more people to be on the water?” The answer was to build the Dasher, a boat that would be so quiet one might think they were sailing. “She was designed from the keel up. Everything about her is unique to the project.”
Going beyond looks, The Hinckley Dasher has a very light-weight carbon/epoxy composite hull, twin 80hp electric motors, lithium ion batteries, and dual 50 amp charging docks. To save even more weight, all the “wood” trim is a composite. The open floor plan lends itself to a fluid social experience between captain and guests.
There are zero emissions of greenhouse-causing exhaust and Dasher owners are not going to be smelling diesel fumes.
If you have ever been on a powerboat and found yourself screaming at your fellow-passengers or experiencing temporary hearing loss…an electric boat is for you. “It is virtually soundless. All you hear is the water flowing by and the wind,” according to Saladino. “Early reports from trial runs indicate no one can believe they are aboard a powerboat. It is more like sailing.”
Like all new transportation, computers and graphic displays rule. The Dasher has advanced readouts that not only do the navigation but constantly update the range and time you can be on the water with the available battery charge. This feature will take the “range anxiety” out of the experience.
The Dasher should travel 40 miles at a cruising speed of 10mph, and 25 miles at faster cruising speed of 25mph. Of course, factors like winds, tides, wave heights and number of passengers will determine the actual ranges.
For many people, this will be too limiting. For example, if you live in Connecticut, you can’t visit your friends in Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. Also, forget an all-day fishing trip.
Clearly she is not designed to go coastal cruising or on long voyages. She is more for short hops to a nearby town or afternoon visits to a beach. That’s why Hinckley is continuing to build their full-line of gas and diesel-powered vessels.
While the technology for electric boats is not new, (Nikola Tesla designed a concept boat in 1898), and many other builders have offerings, Hinckley’s Dasher is about how a classic Maine boat builder can make it seem like this is something we’ve never seen before. By utilizing all the best technology available while creating a hull design from scratch, Hinckley has created a brand extension that pushes the envelope, one that is quiet, efficient and promises a totally different on-the-water experience than your neighbor’s powerboat.
The spirit of innovative boatbuilding remains alive in New England, and you can be sure Hinckley will not let this fact remain as quiet as the Dasher’s motors.