Annapolis, Md., likes to promote itself as “America’s Sailing Capital.” But the most interesting boat in town these days is a 10-year-old, 23′ aluminum boat operated by the Annapolis Harbormaster’s office. Poking soundlessly among the yachts, collecting mooring fees, is the newly retrofitted Harbormaster boat — a diesel-electric, solar hybrid from MetalCraft Marine in Kingston, Ontario.
The Harbormaster’s office has been trying to get this patrol boat and the city’s pump-out boat retrofitted for over four years. (The pump-out boat will be ready in January.) The Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Quality Management Association secured $300,000 of the $400,000 price tag from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant. The remaining $100,000 came in the form of a grant from the Canadian government.
The new/old boat is powered by a Steyr hybrid diesel/electric engine. Propulsion is provided by a Hamilton 274 waterjet, rated at 350 hp in the diesel mode. It is really a perfect combination for the Harbormaster, whose theater of operations includes waterways from the mouth of the Severn River, mooring fields in several locations and the temporary slips in the famous Ego Alley in the harbor. Much of the area is within the six-knot speed zone so the electric engine’s 4.5 knots in patrol mode is plenty for daily ops. When it is time get on plane to move around the river, chase down a scofflaw, or, more likely, aid a boater in distress, the diesel offers 30 knots and recharges the batteries. In addition, solar panels on the roof assist the charge. MetalCraft devised a 48-volt high amp hour off-the-shelf battery array that has a lifespan of four-to-six years.
MetalCraft says more hybrid patrol boats are on the drawing board. The application makes good sense in a busy harbor like Annapolis where the Harbormaster says he runs his boat about 1,800 hours annually. Fuel savings and engine wear reduction will help recoup the costs. The city estimates that it will realize a 50 percent savings in fuel costs over the life of the boat.