World’s first e-tender for the Great Barrier Reef

World’s first e-tender for the Great Barrier Reef

The clean, green approach to eco-tourism of the Sailaway Port Douglas operation is about to get even cleaner and greener with their new “eTender” EV Discovery. This Torqeedo electric outboard-powered vessel is not just ensuring the green zone waters around the Low Isles off Port Douglas stay pristine, it is also charging its electric power needs from fully sustainable sources!

Leading the charge in Eco-Tourism for Australlia

In world first, Torqeedo 12.0R fully electric outboards are set to run a completely off-grid “eTender” vessel near Great Barrier Reef islands of Far North Queensland.

A concept being made real by Sailaway Port Douglas, EV Discovery will be fully charged by solar and wind generators attached to the vessel and operated as both a transfer tender and glass-bottom tour vessel.

Designed by Sailaway’s Steve Edmondson and built by Ocean Blue Boats in Cairns, EV Discovery has been purpose built to be an “off-grid, on reef” vessel that is left at anchor near the Low Isles off Port Douglas. The vessel is autonomously recharging its lithium battery banks via solar and vertical wind axis wind turbines. The wind turbines are designed to assist with charging when the sun isn’t shining in this tropical paradise.

“Sailaway is an environmental leader known for setting high standards in the ‘tread lightly’ approach to eco-tourism,” says Steve Edmondson.

“The philosophy of Sailaway – ‘It’s all about the environment’ – has allowed us to show discerning guests from Australia and around the world some of the Great Barrier Reef’s premium sites in a relaxing and sustainable way.” 

Sailaway Port Douglas offering eco-friendly experiences on The Great Barrier Reef

Sailaway is a day charter operation operating four luxury sailing catamarans. Guests are treated to a fully interactive sailing and snorkelling experience and access to the green zone protected Low Isles a short distance from Port Douglas.

Set to enhance this experience even further is the Torqeedo-powered EV Discovery, a 22-passenger capable transfer vessel/tender which Steve believes “delivers reef and environmental interpretation with the most clean, green and quiet energy possible.

He’s not wrong. The Torqeedo electric outboard revolution that has taken the tender world to new, clean and quieter heights in Australia is now finding its way into higher horsepower applications like the Sailaway “eTender” vessel.

Torqeedo, the perfect eco-tourism solution for the EV Discovery

The 12.0R outboards fitted to EV Discovery are the flagship of the Torqeedo Cruise range.  This is the first commercial application of these 18.6kW, (25hp equivalent), fully electric outboards in Australia.

They are high-tech from the shaft head to the fin – and emission-free. Easily mounted on most boats with just a couple of tools, the Torqeedo 12.0R has electric tilt, is corrosion protected, fully IP67 waterproof and weighs in at just 59.8kg. It has a full 12kW continuous power rating, (the equivalent of a 25hp petrol engine), and is available in a range of shaft lengths.

“One of the practical needs of the outboards was to have enough grunt to get off the beach on passenger transfers to the island,” explained Steve.

“The Torqeedos have enough power for sure and provide a much better experience all round for our guests,” he said.

Servicing at least two tour boats twice a day, year-round, the EV Discovery doesn’t get too much idle time at its mooring. Whilst fully AMSA certified, ensuring a sea-worthy vessel that was fit for purpose and safe operation was only half the challenge of this ground-breaking project. The tender is required to remain at anchor and charging its battery banks whilst not in use.

In terms of power generation, the roof of the vessel includes 6 Sunpower Maxion Solar panels and robust vertical axis wind turbines,” Steve said.

“Additional challenges to the design brief were that the vessel had to survive the harsh conditions of living offshore harnessing all available renewable energy available 24/7 and protection from birds and strong weather, including self-draining and stability requirements.”


A fully carbon-neutral tour operator in Australia

Sailaway’s fully carbon neutral operation is perhaps perfectly suited to its daily destination.

“The Low Isles were the first place for coral research in 1928,” Steve explained, “so the fact that we are operating the world’s first “eTender” there is a nice addition to that record.”

“I like to think Sailaway is an inspiration for increasing awareness and appreciation of our fragile, naturally beautiful environment,” Steve added, “especially with the innovation of using the latest electric marine propulsion technology in an exceptional location by those who genuinely care about people and the environment.”

With another 30-seat AMSA NSCV vessel under construction, Steve is confident that Sailaway Port Douglas is showing the way to the future of fully “off-grid” power boating.

“The design and electrical configuration is copyright protected and new build enquiries are welcome for those looking for more sustainable commercial boating,” Steve added. “Possible applications in beautiful environments may suit remote off grid locations, environment sensitive sites, small passenger transfers, dive and snorkel tender, education and eco-tourism resorts.”

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Sailaway Port Douglas Great Barrier Reef Eco tours