While the cost of fuel kept many boats idle last season, the Greenport Electric Launch Company celebrated its 10th anniversary running Glory, an electric-powered vessel operating out of Preston’s Dock in Greenport, N.Y.
The company’s partners David Berson, who holds a 400-ton masters license and is also an Ocean Navigator contributing editor, and Andrew Rowsom, a lifelong sailor and part-owner of the marine supplies store, S.T. Preston and Son, began their electric boat venture more than a decade ago. Their quest to locate an appropriate vessel for harbor tours led them to discover the neglected, 30-ft. boat in an Annapolis, Md., storage shed. Despite its poor condition, the 1990 ELCO-reproduction was a true find. The 14-passenger Glory’s design is based on the ELCO fantail electric launch that was featured at the Chicago Exposition of 1893.
For a good part of their 10th anniversary year, Berson and Rowsom have been collaborating with Riverhead High School science teacher Bob Jester and his students on a project to install solar panels on the roof of Preston’s dockside building. The goal is to produce enough electricity to charge the eight, state-of-the-art, AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries that power Glory’s 4-hp engine. “Our goal is to become truly green and the installation of a solar-powered, battery charging system will achieve that,” Berson said.
In November 2008, Sun Stream USA offered Berson, Rowsom and Jester free installation of a solar-powered battery-charging system. Jim Moore, owner of a local construction company, has offered to complete the purchase of solar panels. Jester’s science students will also contribute funds won in a science competition. The solar panels should be in place by late spring 2009.