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March April 2019 Marina World

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ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCTS & INITIATIVES electric boat technology becomes more viable, areas like Lake Tahoe could become combustion engine free zones. This could force marina operators in these areas to upgrade their facilities much quicker than other marinas. The upside is we could see new combustion free marinas allowed in areas where they hadn’t been allowed previously due to concerns about the environment and drinking water quality. 4. Electric boats could lead to greater harmony in the marina. The divide between sailors and power boaters has a lot to do with the sounds and smells associated with power boating. Electric power boats promise to drastically reduce the smell and sounds associated with combustion engines. Another classic marina conflict is liveaboards vs. sports fishermen. People who are into sports fishing fire up their engines before dawn to get out there at first light waking up liveaboards sleeping nearby. Electric boats will allow sport fishers to silently slip out of the marina in the morning without waking anyone up. 5. Electric boats could make boating more popular leading to an industry renaissance. Sailing is a great activity but a lot of people find the skill and complexity of the activity very intimidating. Few adults are willing to go through the process of learning how and when to raise a sail. You pretty well have to learn as a kid, take an intensive course or go through the process of crewing a Wednesday night race boat until you get the basics down. Power boats have a much lower barrier to entry but they’re loud, often smelly and have operating costs (fuel and maintenance) that sound ridiculous to people not already in love with the activity. Electric boats promise to meet both styles of boating in the middle. They’re quiet, environmentally friendly and provide a lot of the benefits of sailing. Charging batteries on an electric boat is a small fraction of current fuel costs and maintenance costs are significantly reduced, essentially eliminating most variable costs associated with power boating. Electric boats could be one of the catalysts recreational boating needs to revive its popularity and move us into the next stage of the industry’s evolution. The history of electric boats can be traced back over 100 years with its heyday being in the late 1800s. The current benchmark for batteries is lithium-ion which powers most electric cars, laptops and the current generation of electrical boats. As with electric land vehicles like cars and motorcycles, range is the biggest issue holding back the mass adoption of electric boats. We can expect to see new battery systems like lithium-air soon as billions of dollars are currently being spent on battery R&D. These new technologies will drastically increase the range of electric boats, potentially far beyond your average gas or diesel set-up. As mentioned above, we don’t really know when all of this will happen on a large scale. We could see a big push in environmental regulations which hyper-charges the adoption of electric boats, or we could slowly adopt the technology over the next few decades with marinas changing slowly to meet the demand. Whatever the pace of adoption, it’s coming, and could have a huge impact on recreational boating as a whole and on service providers like marinas. Iaian Archibald is the co-founder and CEO of marina and waterfront management software company Swell Advantage. He has a research-based MBA where he focused on e-commerce marketplaces and has been studying how technology enables social change for most of his life. E: iaian@swelladvantage.com www.marinaworld.com - March/April 2019 31

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