Downeast Electric

Electric motor saves the day

Electric motors can be found almost anywhere. Their versatility is showcased by the many different varieties and applications abound…such as amidst the island towns of coastal Maine.

Elco motors in place on a yacht.

Elco motors in place on a yacht.

As reported in a delightful story by Liz Graves of the Mount Desert Islander, a certain type of electric motor came in handy for local sailor Steve Keblinsky.

Keblinsky had combined business with pleasure for years in and around Acadia and Southwest Harbor with his company, Downeast Sailing Adventures. He serves as navigator and guide on his charter boat, a sloop named Surprise from 1964. For years Steve had been taking customers on scenic trips out into the Gulf of Maine to enjoy the sea, and the legendary sunsets that ensued on the return trip home; and he did this always using a diesel motor to power the boat. This was the only issue with the beautiful adventures. When enjoying the sunset at sail, peace and quiet could be mixed with friendly conversation. But when it came time to haul everyone back in to dock, the talk would have to cease. The engine was too loud.

The Surprise, one of Downeast Sailing Adventures' sloop boats.

The Surprise, one of Downeast Sailing Adventures’ sloop boats.

So Keblinsky submitted his request for an Elco electric motor when the renowned yacht company held an essay contest. Elco is an Athens, NY-based yacht maker which also produces electric motors for its own boats. They champion the advantages of electrics and hybrid alternatives over diesel power. The yacht makers, originally the Electric Launch Company, have been around since 1893. With the electric motor as the keystone of a wide spectrum, they have powered sloops like Steve Keblinsky’s for small business, yachts for pure pleasure, and even 399 PT boats used during World War II. You can imagine Steve’s confidence when he won the contest and received an Elco motor engineered to be the same size as a standard marine diesel.

Sloops, the most common rig of modern sailboat, carry a mainsail on a boom aft of the mast, with a jib forward of the mast. It was no problem for Elco engineers to tailor their motor to such a boat, and Keblinsky suddenly had quiet approaches coming in to dock.

Additional benefits included no worries about oil pollution into the ocean, a simplified, maintenance-free system, and a quiet generator to power the four 12-volt batteries which ultimately save him (and his business) gallons of fuel each expenses each day.

The best perk, though, has got to be seeing that sunset – and having the option for quiet conversation during the entire adventure – with no interference.



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