The SolarSkiff comes in single, double and four-person versions, with prices starting from $3,500. YBW talks exclusively to its creator, American entrepreneur Mark Isaacs.
A solar-electric motorised boat that made its debut this year at the Miami International Boat Show is a vessel created for the people, according to its inventor.
The SolarSkiff, a prototype “cartoppable” boat that retails from $3,500, is the brainchild of Mark Isaacs, an American entrepreneur from Bay St Louis, Mississippi,
As the photos in this article show, the boat itself is surprisingly small, and unbelievably, Isaacs says he has carried it on the roof rack of his Toyota Prius hybrid sedan without a problem.
The craft’s lightweight construction has everything to do with its portability, according to Isaacs: “It’s basically one big hunk of styrofoam that’s covered with a fibreglass reinforced mesh and coated in acryllic.”
The small motor and deckchair need to be removed for transport, but when disassembled, the eight-foot by four-foot boat weighs just 65 pounds.
The boat’s Torqueedo 1003 outboard trolling motor is powered by a solar-electric rechargeable clip-on lithium ion battery and has a top speed of five miles per hour.
“It’s very proven technology,” Isaacs said of the motor. “It provides the equivalent thrust to a three or four horsepower, gas powered engine.”
“At a one or two mph trolling speed, you stand a chance of going 10 or 20 miles, but I think it’s the ideal boat for a three-to-six-mile round trip.”
“But I’m not inventing anything in terms of the motor,” Isaacs explains. “What I’ve done is invent a craft that is crafted to its capabilities.”
Isaacs’s basic mission is to make boating more affordable, although he didn’t intend to start with a solar-powered skiff.
“The real problem that I was out to solve and haven’t yet … is how to make a sailboat that would be a really great entry level sailboat that would sell for $3,000 or less.”
Isaacs said he hasn’t given up on answering that question, but, in the meantime, has begun developing electric boats that can be charged using solar energy. To date, he’s developed one- two-and four-person prototype hulls with thicknesses ranging between eight and 14 inches.
“I recognised that the market for motorboats is much bigger than that for sailboats,” Isaacs explained.
There are a number of niches in that market the inventor hopes to exploit, saying he can see the SolarSkiff becoming popular with boaters on inland waterways or even seaside on a sun-soaked beach.
“This could be for the kayaker who doesn’t want to paddle and wants bigger range,” he said, “or in Caribbean resorts as a little beach rental. I think it’ll be popular in that setting, too.”
As for what the designer has decided to focus on next, he says he’s determined to get back to his original project of building an affordable sailing boat.
“How do we develop sailboats that, instead of becoming a dying sport, open up sailing up to more people?” he wonders.
Although he has completed the prototypes for the one-person and two-person versions of the SolarSkiff, Mark Isaacs hasn’t seen much interest for the four-person model. So he has decided to set that project aside in favour of developing a prototype hull that, with some ingenious adaptations, could become a lightweight sailboat.
“I’ve got an eight-inch hull that’d have foldout-able bowsprits and aft-sprits that I’m working on now.”
Isaacs said that design, too, would be small enough to fit on top of a car.
The SolarSkiff is available to buy from http://solarboattours.com/. See more photos below.