February 24, 2016

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Electric powered vessels could soon be coming to a harbor near you. More after this –




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The nation’s first seagoing electric powered passenger vessel is set to launch in Juneau.

The E/V Tongass Rain is a 50 foot, 47 passenger catamaran designed for eco-tours. It’s p

E/V Tongass Rain, Juneau First all-electric powered passenger vessel in US

E/V Tongass Rain, Juneau
First all-electric powered passenger vessel in US

rimary fuel will be rain — delivered to the boat via Juneau’s hydroelectric power grid and stored  in lithium batteries.


The battery technology is amazing that the lithium batteries are less than half the weight of a traditional lead acid battery and provide three times the power and charge three times as fast.


Bob Varness is president and manager of Tongass Rain Electric Cruise, or TREC.


The hull has been certified by the USCG for 150 nautical miles for safe harbor in six and half foot seas at 12 knots. So the structure has been signed off on and they are reviewing the propulsion system right now. 


Once that system gets the green light, the technology could be adapted to fishing vessels.

Andy they only have one moving part, so you don’t have exhaust systems to deal with, turbo chargers or cooling systems,  don’t have injection pumps, you have one moving part and every 50,000 hours they recommend pulling the motor out put  new bearings on either end and seals and they send you the same one back.

Varness  – who also is an independent Torqeedo electric marine motor dealer – has a small troller that runs up to 130 miles on a single charge and  recharges  for $1.25. Besides trollers,   electric power would be good for salmon drift and gillnetters, crabbers and jig gear.


If you know where you’re going almost every day and it’s pretty much a routine deal, and if it’s not high speed, this technology is something that people really need to look at. All the products are off the shelf and available for purchase today.


Some alternative powers are being used on a small scale, but not in commercial fishing. It’s so new, Varness says no one is even sure how to do all-electric conversions.  He says for the fishing industry,  it will take time to build a sense of trust.

I call it a soft hand off. What we need to do is build a vessel and learn from it and challenge it and fine tune it until it’s right. And then do mass production or conversions of that type of systems. 


Tomorrow we’ll feature the builder’s views on electric boats.


Find links to the Tongass Rain at our website – www.alaskafishradio.com

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, an Alaska company  proudly supporting Alaska’s coastal communities and the Alaskans who depend on fishing for their livelihoods and culture.  www.oceanbeauty.com    In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.