Until now, a day out on the lake with your family was—despite the idyllic setting—pretty much guaranteed to be noisy. Boats big enough to carry four or more people in comfort, along with food, drink and assorted gear, are powered by loud, gas-fed, exhaust-producing motors.
But wait—now there’s another option. In March 2019, after extensive design research and sea trials, Mark and Jennifer Fry of Templar Marine Group in Kelowna, B.C., brought their electric boats to the market. The design meets their own needs and wishes as well as those of the people they polled, and it’s adaptable to many uses beyond recreation.
The Frys wanted a boat that’s roomy, stable, comfortable, usable year-round, versatile, and—perhaps most important of all—silent and environmentally benign. Their prototype, the Cruiser, meets those criteria. It’s also ridiculously inexpensive to run.
The Cruiser is equipped with central heating and acrylic windows that can provide full enclosure, making it a four-season boat. Plenty of USB ports, a swim platform (that doubles as a loading deck) and swim ladder keep young passengers happy and busy. A forward cabin has six-foot headroom, a small bed and a bathroom.
“We can build them quickly and economically right here in Kelowna,” said Mark, “and we don’t have to keep changing the hull—we just customize the finishing for different purposes.”
Interest from everywhere
Including the Cruiser, the Frys have five electric boat designs, all with a standard 26-foot hull and a 9-foot, 6-inch beam that gives it a smooth, stable ride. The Water Taxi is a stripped-down, utilitarian version of the Cruiser. The Sedan is a fully enclosed craft with comfortable sleeping quarters for two and a kitchen area with a gas stove. The light-cargo model is designed to transport lightweight goods, and the medical transport model will be used to transport patients from remote areas to medical centres.
A Templar Cruiser takes a quiet ride on Okanagan Lake. — Photo courtesy Templar Marine Group
“We have an order pending in early May for 10 Cruisers,” said Mark, “and an order pending for four water taxis in Victoria. We’re talking to bird sanctuaries in India—the feature they love the most is that the boats are pretty much silent, so they don’t scare off the wildlife.
“We’re talking to a company in Zambia about transporting water filters up to remote villages, and there’s a Canadian in Zambia who wants a medical transport version. They can use solar power to charge the batteries, and there are no running costs, no noise, no fuel, no exhaust.”
What’s the attraction?
“Once your investment is made,” said Fry, “there are essentially no costs. The price of a fully loaded boat, with $6,000 worth of walnut finishes, is $165,000—but you get your money back very quickly because you’re not spending $200 to $300 per day putting petrol in it and servicing it. It costs 10 to 15 cents an hour to recharge the boat batteries. You’re buying a year-round boat, and for our private customers, they’re buying a lifestyle.
The Templar Cruiser was invited to be a headliner at the Cottage Life Show in Edmonton in late April 2019. — Photo courtesy Templar Marine Group
“This is the way the planet needs to be going. I’m all for having competition in this marketplace—the more the better. There are about 100 companies around the world building electric boats, but most of those boats are from nine to 15 feet in length and are ultra, ultra slow. And they don’t have the creature comforts that ours has.
“On Christmas Day my wife and I put our Christmas hats on and took the Cruiser out on the lake. We turned on the heater and the music—we were the only ones out on the lake. We were looking at these million-dollar homes and the people in them were looking back at us—all of their boats were winterized and put away. It was lovely and quiet and just pretty special.”