A hybrid approach to trawlers

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It was the yacht’s profile that attracted Jeff Leco to the Greenline 40, not its quiet, clean diesel-electric hybrid propulsion.

Greenline Yachts has sold 300 of its energy-efficient cruisers (the 33 is shown here) and has turned its focus to the United States.

“It has sort of a light, European and slightly modern look to it without being totally austere,” says Leco, 46, of Ellicott City, Md., who uses the Slovenian-built boat on Chesapeake Bay day trips and overnights with his wife and two small children.

Leco is one of seven customers who have bought a Greenline from Annapolis Yacht Sales, says Tim Wilbricht, president of the Annapolis, Md., company, which has sold six 33s in addition to Leco’s 40 (www.annapolis yachtsales.com). The boats, with their high freeboard, large pilothouse windows and overhanging hardtop with arches, certainly spark interest. “People really like the look of the boat, first and foremost. They think it’s really cool,” Leco says.

But the electric power draws buyers too, of course. “We cruise around at 3 or 4 knots, and it’s completely quiet,” he says. “It’s like being in a sailboat without the sails.”

The electric propulsion is so quiet “it’s almost eerie,” says Lee Spence, 70, who owns a Greenline 33. “All you hear is the water against the hull. And the diesel is not that noisy. If you open it up, it will make some noise, but it’s fine.”

Greenline Yachts has sold 300 of its energy-efficient cruisers to owners from 40 countries and has turned its focus to the United States (www.greenline hybrid.com). Greenline introduced a 46-footer at the Dusseldorf Boat Show in Germany in January. It hits the market in Europe in September. The 33 was on display at the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach in February.

“The philosophy is to build a low-drag, energy-saving hull coupled with hybrid [diesel-electric] and solar technology, bringing unique efficiency in the use of natural resources,” Greenline Yachts sales manager Rok Babarovic says. “Under electric power, the 40 has a maximum speed of 6 knots, so you’ll be exiting and entering marinas and going from one bay to another in complete silence, with absolutely no emissions. We do believe this is the future. We are now introducing the third generation of the hybrid system.”

The lithium batteries have a life expectancy of 10 years. The yacht stores electrical energy through solar panels and from the main engine-driven generator.

The 40, which won the Green Award in the 2012 Active Interest Media Marine Group Editor’s Choice Awards, has a range of 500 nautical miles and 20 nautical miles under electric power only. The system runs on one propulsion component at a time, and the controls are used for both electric and diesel modes.

Spence runs the boat in electric mode from his dock to the Magothy River. “The transition [to diesel power] is seamless,” says Spence, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who used to own a Dyer 29. “You’re only floating for a few minutes.”

Spence and his wife, Jane, launched the Greenline in 2010. They’ve enjoyed mostly day trips, although they plan to overnight this season. “We were intrigued by the green factor,” he says. “And we were looking for a new boat and one that was a little more comfortable. The Dyer is a nice boat but fairly spartan.”

Greenline Yachts is part of the Seaway Group and its newly formed Seaway Yachts. The group provides design, engineering and tooling for power- and sailboats. In addition to building Greenlines, it manufactures the Shipman line of carbon-fiber sailboats and Skagen pilothouse motoryachts.

Brothers Japec and Jemej Jakopin, of J&J Design, designed the Greenline hybrid and its propulsion system. J&J has dozens of yacht designs to its credit, including Bavaria, Prestige, Monte Carlo, Salona and Zeelander. Seaway also designed the Sea Ray 370 Venture’s propulsion installation that conceals twin outboards.

Greenline North America has three dealers — Annapolis Yacht Sales, Fort Lauderdale-based Denison Yacht Sales and Bosun’s Yacht Sales & Service in Vancouver, British Columbia, says Constantinos K. Constantinou, general manager of Greenline North America. (Bosun’s recently sold a Greenline 40.) “We have seven dealers, mostly up and down the Eastern Seaboard, we are currently in discussion with,” he says. “Our goal is to have six to eight dealers appointed by the end of 2013. We are looking forward to expanding in North America in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Annapolis Yacht Sales has been a Greenline dealer for 3-1/2 years. “Greenline came out with a technology that has worked very well,” Wilbricht says. “There is always going to be a learning curve and trials and tribulations along the way, but they have produced a significant number of boats and aren’t going away any time soon.”

With a single 150-hp Volkswagen diesel and 7-kW electric motor/generator, the 33 costs about $325,000. The 40, with twin 150-hp Volkswagen diesels and electric motors/generators, is $475,000. “The boats are well built, and the fit and finish is extremely nice,” Wilbricht says. “It’s an economical boat to buy, despite all the technology involved. It’s not like you’re buying a high-tech piece of equipment and paying twice what you normally pay without all that technology. You are paying for a boat with an extremely high level of technology and paying what other people are paying for their gas-guzzling boats.”

Greenline boats can be powered without the electric component, Babarovic says. “Greenline is not all about the electric drive,” he says. “It is a modern, efficient trawler, and this is how the project was pretty much defined or conceptualized — to create a product efficient and affordable.”

Greenline calls its low-drag hull a “super displacement” design, with two small fins appended to the aft section of the hull that provide stability. Spence can attest to that stability. He appreciates the steady ride of his Greenline 33 at cruising speeds. “One of the best things about this boat is the way that it tracks and turns,” he says. “It’s very stable and does not lean or roll a lot.”

See related articles:

- Not your father's trawler

- Trawler Specifications

- The cruising-under-power lifestyle

- Twin alternatives to traditional trawlers

May 2013 issue