Launching in 2020, the Spirit 44E will be fully electric with solar panels and no hydrocarbons onboard

Spirit Yachts has announced it has started constructing a 13.4m electric yacht, the Spirit 44E, for an eco-minded overseas buyer. Due to launch in early 2020, the yacht is the first fully electric yacht to be designed and built by Spirit Yachts.

Spirit Yachts head designer Sean McMillan commented, “From afar, the Spirit 44E will look like any other Spirit sailing yacht. Low freeboards, long overhangs, flush decks and the timeless beauty of quality wooden craftsmanship. Up close, she will display signs of the sailing yachts of the future.”

Two solar panels will be integrated into the aft deck and will colour match the teak, so they blend with the deck both in aesthetics and alignment. The panels will charge OceanVolt 48VDC batteries (total capacity 30.4kWh, made up of x16 1.9kWh batteries), which will power her Oceanvolt ServoProp15 sail drive.

“From afar, the Spirit 44E will look like any other Spirit sailing yacht. Low freeboards, long overhangs, flush decks and the timeless beauty of quality wooden craftsmanship.”

Spirit Yachts managing director Nigel Stuart commented, “The lightweight electric drive system uses hydro generation via the propeller to regenerate the batteries whilst sailing.

“Regeneration will depend on sailing speed, but it is realistic to see 1.5kW under sail. The equivalent energy generated would be boiling a kettle, which is one of the highest power consuming appliances you would find on a yacht, or in your home for that matter.”

Spirit Yachts is working with OneSails GBR (East) to develop a solar solution for the Spirit 44E’s sail wardrobe.

John Parker from OneSails GBR (East) explained, “We are exploring the use of the very latest ‘thin cell’ PV panels with the intention of utilising the yacht’s 4T Forte sails and covers as sources of electrical generation. The work is cutting edge, therefore at this stage a number of the details remain confidential.”

OneSails’ 4T Forte sails are currently the only sails made from a cloth that can be recycled.

Manual Lewmar winches will give a nod to more hands-on sailing, whilst a carbon mast and boom from Hall Spars will ensure her rig remains lightweight. A large lazarette under the aft deck will house a tender with an electric motor, and a 40” Mahogany and stainless-steel steering wheel will be fitted for easy handling.

“We are exploring the use of the very latest ‘thin cell’ PV panels with the intention of utilising the yacht’s 4T Forte sails and covers as sources of electrical generation. The work is cutting edge, therefore at this stage a number of the details remain confidential.”

Down below, the Spirit 44E’s eco credentials continue throughout. A reversible heating/air-conditioning Webasto pump will heat and cool the yacht using minimal power. All lighting will be LED and a Webasto 4.2gallon 115v/750W heater will provide hot water. At the owner’s request, there will be no hydrocarbons onboard and any cooking will be done on a spirit stove.

Nigel Stuart added, “With the 44E, we are taking the learnings from the 34m Spirit 111 and applying the same principles to a smaller yacht. The lack of hydrocarbons and the addition of solar sails will allow us to take a step closer towards creating a completely sustainable yacht.”

The interior layout will accommodate four guests across two cabins. A forward twin with ensuite will serve as the owner’s cabin and a starboard aft cabin will sleep two guests in twin berths. A fold-down chart table will be built into the forward bulkhead of the guest cabin to maximise space.

A central saloon will have a port-side, u-shaped sofa around a wooden dining table, complemented by a second sofa to starboard. Aft of the saloon, to port, will be the open-plan galley. White bulkheads, mahogany ringframes and exposed yellow cedar planking will give the interior a warm, natural feel.

The 44E was conceived and commissioned by a new Spirit customer, Vincent Argiro, a retired technology entrepreneur living, sailing, racing, and exploring in British Columbia. Development began on the model back in October 2017 and Spirit Yachts told IBI that going forward it will be offering varying Eco options from silent nights without a generator, no generator options where there is one engine for propulsion and power regeneration, and fully electric such as the 44e.

Stuart added that the builder is witnessing a growing trend among buyers wanting ‘green’ solutions;  ”Our customers range from motor yacht owners looking to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions, to sailing yacht owners wanting fully sustainable yachts.  Eco-minded buyers are well-informed when it comes to eco-tech as they have it in their homes and cars. We work closely with our suppliers to find ways to deliver the same green credentials on their yachts.”