A few years ago Mark Fry and his wife wanted an electric boat that met all of their specifications, so they asked a company if it would build them one.
The company said no, so Fry and his better half decided to make their own.
Naturally, Fry now has his own Kelowna-based electric boat company called Templar Marine, which earlier this week revealed its first creation: a 26-footer called Cruiser C26 that is similar to the one he and his wife tried to have built a few years ago.
“We wanted a boat where we could go out and entertain friends in and have champagne and cocktails and caviar and be fully enclosed during the winter with a central heating unit,” he said. “During the summer all the windows will roll up and fold up, and you’ve got a swimming platform off the back for kids and grandkids. It has a full-size bathroom up front with six-foot headroom.
“We wanted something that Baby Boomers would be very comfortable on. We wanted a year-round boat. We wanted no costs in terms of running or maintenance. The only winterizing, actually, to be done is to put a bit of antifreeze into the fresh water tank for the toilet and the sink, and that’s it. We’re the only boat out on Okanagan Lake on December 25th with an electric motor, fully enclosed and fully centrally heated.”
Fry said the Cruiser C26, whose speed tops out at about 17 km/h, will retail in the $140,000 to $150,000 range, but what he is most proud of is the fact the boats will be locally made.
“The emphasis we really wanted to put on this was that it’s made in Canada, made in British Columbia and made right here in Kelowna,” he said.
Fry said the Cruiser C26 costs between 10 and 15 cents an hour to recharge and that the charge will last an entire day. It also has a forward cabin where kids, for example, could have a quick nap after a swim.
The technology comes from an Austrian company called Torpedo, which deals in propulsion systems for electric boats, but everything else happens in Kelowna. Gilbert Marine Design does the architectural work, and Vector Powerboats assembles the vessels.
Fry, 59, has been in the boat business for more than 40 years. He spent 20 years at sea as a professional master and runs another company called International Yacht Training, a marine training company that has 300 schools in 58 countries. He and his wife spent six years in the Virgin Islands and another 11 in Florida before moving to Kelowna 10 years ago.
Templar has created prototypes for four other craft prototypes that are all based on one basic hull: water taxi, sedan, ambulatory and light cargo vessel. The need for electric boats is exploding around the world, and Templar is in talks with organizations in several countries. In Austria you’re not allowed to have powerboats on lakes and rivers, and in Zambia electric vessels are needed to take doctors to small villages on rivers.
“We’ve got 57 orders pending, and we’ve only just launched the first prototype,” Fry said.
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