The elusive and impractical dream of electric boats

Published: Monday, 25 October 2021

Further to your article regarding electric boats, I thought I’d share a nougat of a conversation I had with the skipper of the electric trip boat Electra recently, writes John Howard.

Electra operates out of Blisworth and promotes the Milton Keynes to Bedford link, which let's face it is never going to happen.

AllElectriBack to diesel after three miles

The conversation naturally turned to Electra’s range and charging points. The skipper explained that this brand new beautiful boat, as a floating advert for green energy and silent running, could only travel from its base in Blisworth to the Wharf Inn at Bugbrooke, a distance of a little over three miles (according to the Nicholson Guide), before having to switch back to its diesel engine to get its passengers back home and plug the boat in for the next day’s trip.

Imagine, if you will, this elusive and impractical dream of all boats on the cut running on electric.

Imagine a little more unlikely, charging points every four miles. These multiple charging points spread across mooring sites (that will need clearing and dredging to enable boats to actually moor).

Hasn't moved far enough

Just think of the huge volume of CaRT Enforcement tickets needing to be processed when every boat on the network gets a regular warning notice because it hasn’t moved far enough to satisfy CaRT’s latest ‘interpretation’ of the Waterways Act.

Imagine, if you will the access required to reach the 2,000 miles of waterway in order to connect to the national grid, along with the road network charging points. There will hardly be a piece of land across the country that won’t need to be dug up.

Imagine resourcing the thousands of diggers required along with the many thousands more of Heavy Goods Vehicles. Oh, and let’s not forget the thousands of digger and lorry drivers that we are already short of for food haulage.

The nightmare of handing to Keir

And finally, imagine the nightmare of the whole contract being handed to CRT’s favourite contractor Keir.

My crystal ball sees hundreds of canal breaches, thousands of power outages, both local and national, bringing the whole country to a standstill.

I don’t think anyone should waste a moments thought to converting a boat to electric. By the time there is anything close to having sufficient infrastructure in place, we’ll all be long dead and buried.

Sleep peacefully in your bunks my friends.