Quiet & Easy-To-Use Electric Boats

Filed in Recreation by on June 12, 2014

go float

Photo Courtesy of Go-Float

It’s early morning on the lake and you have a cup of fresh-brewed coffee,  a good book, and not a sound bu the call of the loons. You aren’t just near the lake, you are on the lake gliding around in your silent electric boat. This is how Beth Kaup, Apple Valley, Minn. likes to start the day.


Electric boats are like paddle boats – but you don’t have to do the paddling! The electric motor sits below the water-line, providing a nearly-silent ride. Equipped with a high quality sound system, cooler, perhaps even bimini top these boats are as fun as they are easy to use. Simply plug in the onboard charger overnight and you’re ready to go.


Beth and husband, Jeff Davis, are enjoying their third summer as Go-Float electric boat owners and use it almost every day at their cabin on Sullivan Lake. In fact, this summer they bought a second one. “Several people on our lake have Go-Float boats,” said Kaup. “One day I was tooling around with five friends also in their boats, and Jeff was sitting on the dock, waving – and pouting. He felt left out of the fun, so we decided we’d better have one for each of us.”


go float2

Photo Courtesy of Go-Float

Gadgets and creature comforts make for a pleasant day on the lake. From the basics like cup holders to USB ports and iPod connections, amazing speakers and a sunshade top. It’s easy to get the boat in and out of the water too, said Kaup. “I can pull it up on the shore by myself and plug it in – then it’s ready for my next outing.” When it’s out of the water it can also be tipped on its end where the wheels make for easy transportation on the ground.


Having a big boat can be overwhelming to some people. “we’ve found many people who have fallen out of love with boating and aren’t interested in the hassle,” said Steve Hedrickson, general manager of Go-Float in Hopkins, Minn. “The simplicity and ease-of-use make this perfect for hanging around with friends on the lake, getting to and from a cabin across the lake or finding your perfect fishing spot.” The boats top speeds are only four miles per hour, similar to a canoe or kayak. The size and simplicity of these boats make them a fun and safe option for kids.


“Many Go-Float users don’t ride continously and get up to eight hours of intermittent power on the Vortex, (the two-seat model),” said Hendrickson. An easy-to-read battery status light indicates the charge time remaining as you journey, and the push of a button starts the quiet motor. “Since these don’t run on gas, they are better for the environment too,” said Hendrickson. Many customers appreciate the “green” aspect of their boating experience, plus there’s no need to haul around gas tanks. “A keener awareness and appreciation for our lakes makes this a great boat. There’s no exhaust or that rainbow-slick of gas in the water.”


As electric cars and scooters become for prevalent people are very receptive to the idea of an electric boat. “People are generally smart about charging their electronics. For example, every night I charge my cell phone – it’s just a habit,” said Hendrickson. Some of the models can be custom made to also include supplemental solar power.


go float kids

Photo Courtesy of Go-Float

Priced between $3,000 and $6,000, this is often a small investment compared to other boats. Lee Bakken, general manager of Frontier Marine & Powersports in Fergus Falls, Minn. sees many couples buying the boat. “Women especially love the ease of use. A husband maybe has a $30,000 fishing boat, so this is a fraction of that investment.” Bakken is not surprised by the growing number of people who buy a Go-Float boat. “This is a new concept to most of our customers,” he said. “It’s often an impulse buy when they might be shopping for a pontoon and see the Go-Float model on display.” Most customers who go home with a Go-Float already have another boat –  an electric boat is a great complement to their other recreational options.


One such customer is Margo Shebeck who lives year-round on Anna Lake. This is her first year with a Go-Float boat and she loves riding around with her grandkids. Grandson Jakoby (age 5) loves to “just drift and sing songs Grandma.” That’s music to Shebeck’s ears. She also likes to watch the wildlife on the lake from her boat. “It’s so quiet I can go unnoticed while getting up close to birds of all kinds. Sometimes it’s just me and the loons.”


budsin electric boat 2

Photo courtesy of Budsin Wood Craft

Electric boats aren’t new but their popularity in the leisure market as a personal watercraft is just a few decades old. Tom Hesselink, executive director of the Electric Boat Association of America estimates there are only a dozen manufactures of electric boats world-wide. “This industry is still in its infancy,” he said. Hesselink is also the owner of Budsin Wood Craft, Marshallberg, NC. The Budsin boat is a different line of electric boats – more like a gondola ride. “Many customers in the Great Lakes area love the cruising nature of these boats with range from 15-22 feet and hold 4-9 people comfortably.” These custom-made electric boats are made of wood – usually mahogany with some orders for teak, white oak and ash. Hesselink said all are custom ordered and take for 9-12 months to build.


The Budsin line shares similar attributes like ease of operation and quietness. Winterizing is also a breeze: simpl make sure there is no water left in the bilge to freeze and charge the batteries. “Many people keep their boat on the water right up to the time the lake freezes. That way if it’s a gorgeous day in late fall they can still get out and enjoy a cruise on the lake,” Hesselink said.


Regardless of your age or experience boating, it’s not too late to enjoy the relaxation and ease of an electric boat.



by Jean Bowman 




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