This looks a bit odd - a big, long wedge of duck-billed carbon with a low-profile roof hiding an unbroken cylinder of accommodation. On the face of it, it seems to be an attempt to crowbar together the esoteric beauty of a gentleman’s launch with the seating capacity of a hotel lobby, the fast-running dynamics of a modern catamaran, and the solar sustainability of an eco-house. It’s a peculiar concoction of ambitions and while the slightly cumbersome, over-stretched aesthetics lend it the unmistakable air of a Hummer Limo minus the manly grill, this eco-friendly ‘limousine tender’ seems to be very much on the cusp of a burgeoning marine design movement.
Despite the SWATH Electra Glide’s perfectly plausible claims to be “the world’s first carbon-neutral, solar hybrid megayacht tender,” it’s just one example of a design concept that seems to be gaining favor in a great many quarters. In fact, in Britain, a couple of extremely well regarded UK builders already offer limousine models. Take a look at Southampton-based Compass Boats, or race boat brand Pascoe International. Both offer boats with lots of luxury seating in a relatively limited waterline length, so it makes great sense that this concept in the world of high-end tenders should have been given the full eco-friendly, carbon-neutral treatment.
Designed by SCOD (Sauter Carbon Offset Design) and built by acclaimed naval yard NEDSHIP, the SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull – see Top 10 Coolest Looking Boats Ever for some more SWATH examples), Electra Glide Limousine Tender is in fact quite a simple idea. The concept is to combine the environmental benefits of solar electric sustainability with the anti-roll comfort of a SWATH vessel. What that basically means is a boat that can propel itself courtesy of the sun’s energy, while providing the efficient, stable running qualities of a lightweight, twin-hulled powerboat.
Propelled by a pair of 300 HP Regen electric outboards for a claimed maximum speed of 45 knots, the SWATH is designed to be extremely efficient (and virtually silent) throughout its entire speed spectrum. At eight knots, the 50kwh Li Po Batteries give the tender a zero carbon range of up to 40 nautical miles – and while that might not sound a lot, in typical ship-to-shore situations, the Solbian solar array will generate all the energy you need. More to the point, in ideal conditions, these solar panels can produce up to 20kw per day, which is enough to travel more than 1,000 carbon neutral nautical miles per year at 16 knots. And if more power is required, there’s a choice of diesel Gensets of up to 85kws, which will radically extend the tender’s range, while helping recharge the batteries in less than an hour.
Inside the Ride
Built by NEDSHIP in carbon epoxy, the 12-passenger Limo Tender comes with a fully featured galley and bar, plus a climate control system (for both cooling and heating). This ought to make extended day trips very comfortable – but while that catamaran design will certainly makes things very stable, those extended forward hull sections look as though they would make it very difficult to beach the boat or pop curious passengers ashore. There is of course a ladder that drops to the water from the stern deck (where there’s plenty of space to stow diving gear and water toys) but the absence of any similar bow provision suggests that this is not a boat for beach-hopping estuary exploration.
Additional creature comforts include a surround-sound entertainment system with two flat-screen TVs, which can also display footage from the exterior security cameras or from the main navigational equipment. It also features electric, side-opening gull-wing windows for a sense of greater openness under shelter. However, arguably the greatest asset of this particular limo is the space. With a massive beam of 11’2” (over a foot and a half more than some comparable craft), plus enormous headroom of 6’6” throughout, the SWATH takes full advantage of its twin-hulled design to offer much more generous internals than any comparable monohull can hope to achieve.
It’s a shame that there’s no decent external lounging space either at the stern or the bow. Neither is there any capacity to remove that panel-lined roof – or to disembark onto a pontoon (or into the water) from the side. These are all features you can find quite readily on other limo tenders, so given the vast inboard space enjoyed by the SWATH, I can’t help thinking it might have done more to match the versatility and open boating freedoms exhibited by some of the competition.
If you bought a megayacht, getting a carbon-neutral tender is like detonating a nuclear bomb and then tidying up the warzone with a dustpan and brush. However, there’s plenty of value in the Limousine approach to tender design – and even more in the Electra Glide method. The twin hulls make tremendous sense in terms of efficiency, stability and inboard space, and the capacity to run at low speeds independent of an external power source is also extremely useful. And while the style of this beamy model was never likely to set the world alight, its capacity to mix low-end sustainability with brief high-end blasts of speed is extremely welcome. Of course, from a practical perspective, the more conventional, versatile and desirable Yanmar-powered Pascoe SL10 still looks like a better boat – particularly as it also comes with the option of hybrid propulsion. But if you’re feeling a touch guilty about the carbon footprint of your 200-footer, a SWATH limos on the aft deck might be just the tonic you need.
For more information, visit Sauter Carbon Offset Design..