Sun Sentinel: 48-foot hybrid yacht makes South Florida debut February 12, 2015
By Doreen Hemlock
You might call it the Prius of the seas.
Greenline, a brand of electric-diesel yachts, will debut its largest model yet in South Florida this weekend.
The Greenline 48 — a 48-foot yacht that can recharge its batteries with its own solar energy — will be displayed on the Miami Beach waterfront as part of Miami’s annual boating show weekend, expected to attract some 100,000 people. The one on exhibit sells for roughly $1.1 million, loaded with electronics and delivered to Florida.
Like Toyota’s pioneering auto, the Greenline can operate either on electricity or conventional fuel, and the brand was specifically designed to be a hybrid. It incorporates other eco-friendly and fuel-efficiency features, too, such as light-weight materials.
But hybrid yachts differ from autos. The driver must manually switch between electricity and fuel at sea. And yacht batteries can’t recharge from tires on the road. Instead, Greenline’s batteries store energy made either from solar panels on the yacht or recharge from the diesel engine or a plug-in at a dock.
Earlier this week, Greenline brand manager Mike Kiely of Fort Lauderdale’s Denison Yacht Sales took the 48-footer for a spin and switched over in mere seconds from diesel to electric mode. The motor suddenly turned quiet, making it easier to converse and hear the sounds of the birds.
“This is just like a sailboat, except I sail on the sun, not the wind,” said Kieley, referring to the energy produced from the yacht’s solar power. “And it can go fast, too. It can do 18 knots,” or around 20 mph.
Hybrid technologies are an emerging niche in boating, one for which the National Marine Manufacturers Association does not yet break out statistics, said association spokeswoman Kelly Kaylor.
More boat makers are exploring new propulsion technologies, too, as consumers seek eco-friendly options and the U.S. government tightens emission standards for powerboats.
For example, Intrepid Powerboats of Dania Beach will debut a center console in Miami this weekend that can use either natural gas or a mix of natural gas and conventional fuel to power its outboard motors. The natural-gas system was developed by Blue Gas Marine, based in Apex, NC.
Natural gas burns cleaner than conventional fuels and generally costs 50 percent to 70 percent less. The natural gas for the Intrepid hybrids can be used either in compressed or liquid form.
Florida snowbird Bob Zulkoski recently bought a 40-foot Greenline from Kiely and loves it. He has long enjoyed entertaining friends and family on sailboats on Lake Champlain near his home in Vermont. When he saw the hybrid at a Rhode Island boat show last fall, he pursued it for his Florida residence.
Zulkoski thrills in the design: lots of natural light in the staterooms, an open floor-plan for the kitchen and entertainment area on the main deck and, of course, its energy efficiency, even when motoring on diesel.
And then, there are the batteries. On a recent trip from Fort Lauderdale to Naples, Zulkoski said he anchored the yacht in the Everglades for a couple of nights. His group ran the air conditioning, stereo, refrigerator, DVD player and appliances with no generator needed, “and there was no sound whatsoever. And when I started the boat after two days, I’d drawn down just 30 percent of the charge” because of the sun energy that recharged the batteries by day, he said.
In the Everglades, Zulkoski said the yacht “glided silently” for miles on electric power with no emissions — a feat dear to his heart. He chairs a company that offers electric-vehicle charging stations and takes pride in investing in companies with measurable social and environmental impacts.
“For the same amount of money, I could have bought a larger, lightly used motor-yacht or trawler,” Zulkoski said of his hybrid, which cost more than half a million dollars. Yet the Greenline hybrid “stands for the right direction we should be looking for — holistically.”
Greenline is made by Seaway Group of Slovenia, the country west of Italy on the Adriatic Sea. Seaway helps boatmakers with design and development and list clients such as Beneteau, Prestige, Sea Ray and more. The group also makes its own Seaway Yachts, which include the hybrid line.
Since debuting about three years ago, Greenline has sold roughly 400 hybrids worldwide of varied sizes: 33, 40, 48 and 70 feet. It’s developing an 88-footer too, said Kieley, who has sold four of the yachts.