For some of us, myself included, the annual process of winterizing your boat isn’t just costly; it’s depressing. It can be hard to get through the winter without spending any time on the water! What’s worse are those unseasonably warm winter days, when it almost hits 60 degrees, there’s no wind, and the sun is shining. There have been many days like this when I’ve wished I could pull the cover off my boat and throw it in the water for a few hours. But to then have to go back to my mechanic to have him winterize the engine again, just for a few hours on the water? That’s always been the limiting factor that keeps me off of the water.
One of the major benefits of switching to an electric outboard is the reduced cost of maintenance. Say goodbye to oil changes, fuel filters, and winterization. When you’ve finished using your electric boat for the year, all you have to do is charge the battery. Like the 12-volt lead acid batteries used to start an internal combustion engine, it’s best to prevent lithium batteries from completely discharging and sitting at a low state of charge for a long period of time. Pure Watercraft recently updated their user manual to recommend that users of their electric outboard keep their batteries between 80% and 100% charge over the winter, and to check them every two months. Given that lithium batteries discharge at a much slower rate than lead acid batteries, we expect that we’ll have to charge the battery of our electric outboard once or twice throughout the winter.
When we had one of those beautiful winter days a few weeks ago- 58 degrees, sunny, and no wind- my cousin Hansen and I decided to throw our Boston Whaler with Pure Watercraft's electric outboard engine in the water and go for a ride! We pulled her out of the garage and drove over to the boat ramp. We started the trip with our battery at about 95% charge and drove over to my family’s house to show the electric outboard to my Dad. Like everyone I’ve taken out on an electric boat, he couldn’t believe how quiet the engine was. After yelling over internal combustion engines my whole life, it is truly refreshing to be up on the plane, speaking to the person next to me without raising my voice!
After the spin with my Dad, Hansen and I took off towards Moriches Inlet with 91% charge. We puttered out of our shallow cove and then hit the throttle. Hansen was impressed by the acceleration of the electric outboard; if you’ve ever driven a Tesla, you know the feeling. You just move the throttle and go; unlike an internal combustion engine, there’s no delay for combustion with an electric outboard engine. When it comes to electric boats, acceleration is virtually instantaneous.
Over by the inlet, we slowed down when we saw something pop up in the water in front of us- a seal! Seals are known to hang out on the sandbars near Moriches Inlet during the winter. We didn’t see any on the sandbars, but we did see a head pop up a few times. One thing about electric outboard engines that I'm still getting used to is their total silence in neutral! After 29 years of listening to internal combustion outboards idle in neutral, I often think that I have turn off my electric outboard when I put it into neutral. Not a bad thing to have to get used to!
We continued to putter toward the inlet, hit the throttle for a quick spin, and then puttered back past where we had seen the seals. Once we were clear of them, we got back up on the plane, headed back to the cove, and pulled the boat out of the water. We finished our trip with 29% charge. After a quick rinse of the boat and the engine, we put our electric boat back into the garage, charged up our battery, and called it a day! As more of us start to use electric boats, I think that we'll see more boaters taking advantage of warm winter days like these.