Ron and Betsy Virgillito might not be aware of their influence, but they are setting an example to their friends in the community. The Florida couple are schoolteachers by profession, but their positive example doesn't end in the classroom. Last November the Virgillitos purchased an environmentally-friendly Sunray electric boat and have been enjoying life ever since. The backyard of the couple's waterfront home is Keystone Lake, a manmade body of water that reaches approximately 55 feet in depth in most spots. Because the 25-year-old lake is connected to a natural spring, the fishing is said to be great.
"I think the fishing is better when you don't have gas engines on the lake," says Ron, who is in his 25th year of teaching. "I don't want to pollute the lake, it's my backyard. Besides it really upsets me even when people throw junk into it."
The Virgillitos and Ray Electric aren't the only people that have caught on; other manufacturers in the electric boat industry are enjoying the benefits too.
According to Cheryl Toller, vice president of ElectraCraft, the majority of consumers look to electric powered boats for environmental reasons. "Many people are concerned with the amount of pollution that goes into the water and air," says the co-owner of the California-based Company. "Electric is quiet so it doesn't disturb the neighbors or the environment."
Other than being good for Mother Nature, Ron enjoys the Ray Electric pontoon for another reason, "It's easy. A boat should be fun and not a lot of work. For this reason we chose not to have carpet."
Adds Betsy, "A boat is supposed to be for recreation and gas engines can be a lot of work. If your time is limited we think electric is the way to go."
From a money standpoint, electric powered boats might be good for another reason. According to Gary Crane, vice president of Duffy Electric Boats, it costs about 50 cents to recharge a boat for eight hours of cruising. "We did a test in southern California and even if we're off by double, a dollar is quite reasonable," says Crane. "They serve their purpose that's for sure."
Ron had seen a lot of electric boats on his lake, so he began researching the market. The second-generation schoolteacher discovered there are more than just a few good reasons to look into an electric boat.
Ron also took into factor his neighbors and friends. "My boat is nice and quiet and it helps get to the fish." Says Ron. The sound factor can be important and Crane agrees. "There are several good reasons, but noise is a big one, explains Crane. "Electric boats are perfect for communities or waterfront property owners. They're quiet; it's just like driving a golf cart. You can have hundreds of electric boats on the lake and none will be making noise." Adds Toller, "For a lot of residents lakefront property means the lake is an extension of their homes. Electric boats enhance their living style."
Electric boats can be a great option for many consumers, but most manufacturers worry about the level of knowledge on the subject. "The general public doesn't understand electric power very well," says Phil Globig, vice president of sales and marketing for Leisure Life Limited, a popular electric boat manufacturer. "It's up to the retailer at the point of sale to educate the consumer until they become comfortable."
A question that comes up often when researching the electric boat market is how far can you go in an electric boat? According to the Ray Electric Web site, an extended cruising range of over 70 miles on a single charge is possible. The site also states that most boaters (gas or electric powered) actually only cruise on the average, less than 25 miles a day.
Ron hasn't had any problems with his 16-foot Sunray pontoon, especially when it comes to keeping it charged. "I go out for four or five hours at a time and I only recharge it after every other trip," says the production technology teacher. "A lot of people ask us about it. We definitely recommend electric boats to our friends."
Electric motors are becoming more popular as the education of them increases. "The market is expanding for electric boats," says Globig. "Consumers that are need-driven and live on lakes that are too small for a full size boat, are looking our way."
- Article from Pontoon and Deck Boat Magazine