A Thomaston boatbuilding company will be taking on one of its most cutting edge projects in the coming year: an all-electric boat that lifts out of the water.
The vessel’s technology and design has been developed by California-based Navier, a marine tech startup. Navier tapped Lyman-Morse — a company that has been building custom boats in Maine for 43 years — to bring the design to life. Company representatives said the vessel will be the first of its kind built in the U.S. and will be able to travel farther than electric boats currently on the market.
“It’s like being on the front edge of technology,” Lyman-Morse President and CEO Drew Lyman said of the project.
The 27-foot-long carbon-fiber powerboat, the Navier 27, is being marketed for recreational use and will be able to carry passengers. The vessel is being made with a hydrofoil design, meaning it will have several wing-like features — called foils — that extend into the water from the hull of the boat. These foils work to lift the vessel above the water’s surface when it reaches certain speeds. This reduces the amount of drag the propulsion system must power through and provides greater efficiency, Navier co-founder Sampriti Bhattacharyya said.
Since the Navier 27 will be entirely electric, the lifting feature will also help extend the distance the vessel can travel before needing to be recharged. Navier estimates that the vessel will have a range of about 75 nautical miles, or about 85 miles.
“We didn’t want to just build an electric boat, but something that was fundamentally different, something that reduces operational costs by 90 percent and that’s what a hydrofoil-electric boat does,” Bhattacharyya said.
While the Navier 27 is being built initially for recreational use, Bhattacharyya said the goal is for the technology and design to be used for purposes like water taxis in the future.
There are European boat building companies utilizing hydrofoil technology for recreational vessels, but Bhattacharyya said she is not aware of any being made in the U.S. The project will be the first hydrofoil boat that Lyman-Morse has built, though the company has previously worked with electric propulsion and other high-tech builds.
“My passion gets spiked a lot when we talk about technology and the future of boatbuilding,” Lyman said. “We’ve typically always been on that cutting edge in some way.”
The goal is to debut the first completed Navier 27 in October 2022 at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Through the partnership, Navier has contracted with Lyman-Morse to build the initial models that will premiere at the boat show, as well as the first round of boats that will be delivered to customers beginning in mid-2023. Lyman said construction of the first boat will begin within the next month or two.
The Navier 27 will retail for about $300,000, according to Bhattacharyya.
Much like people who are drawn to the technology offered in vehicles like Teslas, Lyman said he anticipates the Navier 27 will attract similar interest.
“It’s going to attract the person that likes technology, likes fuel efficiency and the electric motor system,” Lyman said. “It’s going to attract a certain type of boater that wants to be in that next phase, right. It’s almost just like any Tesla owner, those people want to be in that next level and next step for the future.”