Barry Hobbis

Victoria Harbour Ferry expands electric fleet

Sitting on board his newest electric passenger boat named Rose, Barry Hobbis is all smiles as he lifts up a portion of the floor.

Sitting on board his newest electric passenger boat named Rose, Barry Hobbis is all smiles as he lifts up a portion of the floor.

“That’s it. That’s the 16 batteries hooked up,” says Hobbis, before moving to the front of the 10-passenger vessel to reveal the 3.5 horsepower electric engine.

“It’s about the same size as a big shop vac. It’s not all that complicated.”

Last Friday was a day Hobbis had anxiously been waiting for. After launching his first electric passenger vessel, Tina, last year, Victoria Harbour Ferry has now added two more silent, zero-emission vessels to its fleet that cruise the bustling Gorge Waterway on a daily basis.

Needing more boats to keep up with demand, Hobbis, the company’s vice-president of operations, decided to switch to electric to help keep the Gorge Waterway clean. As a child, Hobbis took swimming lessons in the Gorge, but eventually the water became too dirty. Now he’s thrilled to see the water’s being reclaimed and swimmers have returned. The electric boats, he said, offer a new way of experiencing the Gorge.

“We have the ability to stop and let people look over the side. There’s eel grass, there’s life down there, there’s crabs. The work of the Gorge Preservation Society is visible now from a boat,” said Hobbis.

“You really don’t appreciate it until you get out on one and all of a sudden you realize there’s no noise. I can hear the water lapping up against the boat, I can hear the geese, I can hear a seal splash. It’s an amazing vessel.”

“The boats were manufactured in California, with Victoria Harbour Ferry installing the sophisticated computer operating system themselves. Plugs on the company’s dock were changed to 30-amps to charge the boats overnight.

Travelling at a speed of five nautical miles per hour, the boats can operate up to 160 kilometres on a single charge — enough to complete five Gorge tours a day and still have 50 per cent of the battery left over.

But it wasn’t always that easy. During the first year of operating Tina, the captains had problems adjusting to the new steering and the boats ran out of power on three to four trips up the Gorge. Before Hobbis bought two more electric boats, he needed to feel confident nobody would be left stranded.

“It took us a while to figure it out. That was my biggest fear — can we make this work?” said Hobbis, who was blown away the first time he took Tina out for a cruise.

“It was like the first time you go sailing and the sails come out. There’s no noise and it’s just a thrill.”

Victoria Harbour Ferry has been zipping people around the city’s Inner Harbour and neighbouring waterways for more than 25 years. Eventually, Hobbis would like to see the entire fleet of 18 vessels, which run on diesel, converted to electric — something he believes the entire marine industry will do as the technology improves.

 

 

Just Posted

Massive plaza, residential and retail project coming to Esquimalt

The Esquimalt Town Centre set to sell its first units in October

Four charges approved in Saanich hit and run that left woman in coma

‘This was a significant crash that caused serious injuries,’ say police

VicPD called to Beacon Hill Park after body found

Suspicious circumstances not ruled out in apparent sudden death

Second bat found at Greater Victoria elementary school tests positive for rabies

Island Health confirms second rabies case, this time in Saanich

VIDEO: B.C.’s famous cat Grandpa Mason has died

The story of the feral cat that started fostering kittens touched people around the world

Trudeau seeks meeting with Singh to apologize for blackface, brownface photos

‘I will be apologizing to him personally as a racialized Canadian,’ Trudeau said Friday

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

Charges stayed against Alberta RCMP officer in alleged off-duty Whistler assault

Const. Vernon Hagen instead completed an alternative measures program

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

B.C. man guilty of first-degree murder in Yukon killing

Edward James Penner, 22, was given the mandatory life sentence for the 2017 slaying of 25-year-old Adam Cormack

Woman stabbed at least five times in Nelson during random attack

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

Most Read