Monday, February 9, 2009
I May Be Going to Miami This Weekend...
... for the boat show.
One of my favorite builders, Island Pilot, is finally showing off their green cruiser - the DSe Hybrid 39. This charming little lady is powered by a combination of diesel-electric and solar power, and can cruise at 5+ knots on the solar array alone.
I've been watching the evolution of this boat for the last two years, eagerly awaiting the time when Island Pilot would have an example to exhibit. At last the prototype is making the rounds and getting some good press while doing it.
As most of you will know by now, I'm a powerboater, or "stinkpot driver" as the sailboat skippers would say. I'm far from averse to wind power, but as a liveaboard, anything smaller than a Perini Navi seems just too cramped: with power one can get around all the space needed for the rigging and the space lost to the hydrodynamics of sailpower (it's been said that in terms of habitability, for a sailboat to match a powerboat's living quarters one adds ten feet at the waterline). On the other hand, I'm fairly sensitive to the fuel consumption such boats exhibit (typical cruising fuel economy runs to 2 gallons per nautical mile - my late lamented baby got about quadruple that but still a day's cruising on San Francisco Bay meant about $100 at the fuel dock). Even the most efficient cruisers on the market these days fall into the 3-4 nmpg range at cruising speeds, and drop below 1 nmpg at top speed. The DSe, in contrast, burns ZERO fuel until you pass about 7 knots, and from there to the 7 knot top speed the consumption is a comparatively stingy 5 nmpg (or about 7 mpg on land). For a 12-meter yacht this is phenomenal. Plus, with the catamaran architecture, the interior is surprisingly spacious: two staterooms and a salon worthy of boats half again her length. I'm a bit disappointed by the top speed (preliminary specifications hinted at speeds above 15 knots), but that's a small price to pay for green cruising.
The DSe has been featured in PassageMaker, Motor Boating (which awarded the DSe "Best of the Year" for 2008) and Power & Motoryacht, three very big names in the yachting and liveaboard worlds.
If the current version is not precisely to your tastes, Island Pilot was working on a smaller (35' I believe) and larger (65') versions, though information on those models is no longer posted on their Website.
I'm hardly about to run out and reserve one of these beasties just now (asking price is about $600,000), but it's definitely on the wish list. In the meantime, with the Miami show only a week or so away, I might just be taking the trek down and showing Mustang Bobby how I'd LIKE to live.