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Crick Boat Show 2019: Plugging electric options

PUBLISHED: 15:19 03 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:56 11 July 2019

Plenty of interest as ever in the boats being exhibited (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Plenty of interest as ever in the boats being exhibited (photo: Martin Ludgate)

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"Any new models on offer at this year's show?" we asked at 20th annual Crick Boat Show. And we were surprised by the proliferation of electric options

Any new models on offer at this year's show? we asked a well-known exhibitor of diesel engines at the 20th annual Crick Boat Show. "Well, no, not this time - except this electric outboard…"

We asked another - and got a similar response. And while all of them had the usual range of diesels to suit all budgets and all sizes of boat, at times it seemed like everyone at Crick wanted to talk about things electric - whether it was the latest batteries, the electric boat that had come from the Nene on solar power, or the campaign for more charging points.

A queue to visit Finesse's wide beam winner (photo: Martin Ludgate)A queue to visit Finesse's wide beam winner (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Is it the up-and-coming propulsion system for canals and rivers, and is it starting to make major inroads? Will we be looking back on the old days of diesels in the historic boats display at the 40th Crick Show in 2039? Or is it just a flash (or a spark, perhaps) in the pan? Have a look at our Crick electric stories and see what you think…

Music all weekend in the entertainment marquee (photo: Martin Ludgate)Music all weekend in the entertainment marquee (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Meanwhile, the main attraction for most boaters remained, as ever, the new boats on display.

There was some stiff competition for the Favourite Boat awards. Visitors to the show voted Boating Leisure Services (already three times winners) into first place for the narrowboat award, for their 60ft cruiser-style reverse-layout narrowboat Two Hoots - featured in our Boat Test on page 28. Runners-up were last year's winners Braidbar, with another 60-footer, semi-trad Jolly Good which we reviewed in our June issue, followed by Ortomarine's hybrid powered Watt Knot which we tested back in February. Meanwhile, in the widebeam category the most popular boat was also the biggest - the impressive 70ft by 13ft 3in Finesse Brigantine barge, with Narrowboats Ltd's hipster-styled Hoxton in second place and the New & Used Canterbury in third.

The bar was sponsored by a toilet company... (photo: Martin Ludgate)The bar was sponsored by a toilet company... (photo: Martin Ludgate)

But there's more to Crick Boat Show than the boats and gear.

There were seminars on boat ownership, displays by canal societies, boat handling sessions, craft stalls, entertainments and more - as you can see in our selection of pictures from the country's major inland waterways boat show.

Not just electric: here's a pedal-powered boat (photo: Martin Ludgate)Not just electric: here's a pedal-powered boat (photo: Martin Ludgate)

The historic boats on display were a contrast to the latest new craft being exhibited (photo: Martin Ludgate)The historic boats on display were a contrast to the latest new craft being exhibited (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Live wires...

Taking a shine…

Attracting a lot of attention was Mothership Marine's 57ft electric narrowboat Shine, whose batteries and solar panels had powered it all the way from Oundle on the Nene, a four-day journey when the generator had only been run once, for two hours as a precaution.

Little and large…

Barrus's two electric offerings were from contrasting ends of the spectrum. This Shire 10hp outboard would suit a small cruiser (a 20hp version is also available), while at the opposite extreme was the mighty 315hp John Deere diesel - with added electric drive by Hybrid Marine.

More thrust

Following on from the launch of their 75kgf electric bowthruster last year: brushless, variable speed, and capable of running at full power for 10 minutes continuously, Vetus has extended its range with 110, 130 and 150kgf versions aimed at widebeams.

Anglian goes electric too

Despite their name, ARS Anglian Diesels also featured electric outboards on their display, with these two by Austrian maker Aquamot (the larger one 6hp) featuring 'drive pods' where the motor is in line with the propeller, so no vertical shaft or gearbox are needed and running is very quiet.

Showing the way

Fischer Panda's display included this 'hands-on' demonstration of what electric power feels like to use, enabling visitors to use the hand lever to engage forward or reverse drive and see how much low-speed control it provided.

More charge needed

Despite the increasing use of solar panels, boats in this country are still likely need some other source of power - whether it's a generator or shore power. The Electric Boating Association was at Crick to explain about their campaign to get more charging points on the waterways. At the moment the Thames, the Chesterfield Canal and the Mon & Brec are three places well supplied, but they told Canal Boat they'd like to see more - and some standardisation with car charging systems.

Widebeam pioneer

Thames Solar Electric, sharing a display with their electric system suppliers Lynch Motor Company, built what they believe is the first electric widebeam in 2017, the 65ft by 13ft SunFlower. They're working on a second craft 60ft by 12, and say the solar panels are enough to avoid the need for a generator entirely - using shore power if any more is ever needed.

Battery choice

Battery suppliers DBS Leoch, whose products are installed in nb Shine, were offering a wide choice of options for battery power. Going up the range (in terms of the number of cycles in the batteries' life - and also in price!) these were sealed lead acid batteries (75-200 cycles), advanced gas mat (up to 600), lead carbon (up to 1000), pure lead carbon (up to 4000) and Lithium Ion (up to 5000).

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