The BOATHOUSE - Powerboat Engineering for a New Era!

Evolving Power & Fuel Installations, engineering and application R&D

The BOATHOUSE, is the place where a passion for both powerboat performance and the natural world, come together in harmony. It is the place where power and fuel evolution will guide you toward net-zero carbon emissions – while retaining all the fun and performance your heart desires.

Reaching ‘Net-Zero’ by 2050, doesn’t begin in 2049. It begins ‘now’ – and this is exactly where the Boathouse is heading. As power and fuel technologies evolve to meet both net-zero emissions and the performance demands of planing-hull applications. So too does the demand for research and development into the application, operational practicalities, and market acceptance. 

The concept of an R&D facility, evaluating the application-engineering and operational functioning of evolving power and fuel technologies as they meet ‘real boating world’ realities, is the initiative now being put forward. While equally presenting a new generation education/training opportunity - and a market development and acceptance platform.  

The evolving mission leverages on the wealth of powerboat engineering skills, knowledge and experience, inherent in the Boathouse, to introduce new power and fuel technologies, focusing specifically on the performance planing-hull segment. Validating and demonstrating not only the performance, operation and value, but the measurable difference being made in the quest for net-zero.

It must be understood that we are facing environmental catastrophe. There is no escape! Every sector of society must respond decisively. Our planing hull-segment – from service vessels to military, commercial and leisure craft, through to our revered performance and race boats, must acknowledge the responsibility and accept change. It’s not ‘macho’ to be a denialist, it’s naïve, and just plain irresponsible. Don’t wear that label. It’s time to accept reality and play your part. There is a much bigger picture to be grasped here!  

Think about this long and hard! If we – and future generations - are to continue doing what we love, in a viable living marine environment, we need to act NOW!

But where to from here?

Before we can evaluate solutions, let’s look at the issues we are up against:

In Australia, the remaining entities in the fossil fuel industry – and the venal governments (on either side) to whom they make political donations – are still happy to disseminate misleading propaganda denigrating alternative fuels. Note: This remains the case for liquid fuels. However, an amusing change was the realisation that pure electric auto power, plugs into a largely coal fired power grid. Suddenly, fully electric is not so bad. “Hey, we are supporting zero-carbon cars”- except for many reasons, it’s simply not true!

Public perception, as a consequence of the above, has been that alternative fuels damage engines, or are totally impractical. This deception has been possible thus far, because any alternative fuel is, by default, sold through the very entity threatened by its use. Hence the manufacturers of the alternative fuels are beholden to their ‘customer’ – the petroleum industry. Which is why you never see any market promotion of bio/renewable fuels. The negative propaganda from the petroleum industry is soaked up by the media and even marine industry representation - but despite being an option for the past decade at least, you never see the alternative fuels industry presenting any counter argument with the true facts!

While alternative fuels are distributed through petroleum industry outlets, the manufacturers cannot promote their virtues. To do so negates the only outlet for their product. The petroleum industry effectively has its foot on the neck of the alternative fuel industry - and therefore, have direct control of the availability of alternative fuel. Note: an ‘Up to’ 10% ethanol mandate = zero if they choose. The most I have ever measured is 5%!

A solution right now is to bypass the petroleum industry and make alternative products available independently – as is the case for electric and embryonic hydrogen options. The message here is that practical, useable alternative liquid fuels, as available for over a decade, have no hope of adoption unless governments legislate otherwise.

‘Vested interests’, not to mention those gullible enough to believe the lies, will resist any alternative power source or fuel. But reality is forcing evolution. The auto industry is transitioning, through hybrid and on to fully electric – even if acceptance at present is primarily just a status symbol. Meanwhile a ‘spooked’ oil industry is becoming aware of the need to acknowledge reality and invest in alternatives if they are to retain corporate viability. The main reason for this is that really big corporate customers – aviation and shipping – understand their environmental responsibility and, unlike you and me, can take their substantial demand for sustainable low-carbon fuels, elsewhere and buy directly from the alternative fuel manufacturers. For reference, they also understand that adopting alternative fuels leads to not only cleaner air, but cleaner engines. This in turn, will ultimately open up a path to alternative power sources, bringing superior performance, range and economy, beyond anything fossil fuels could ever provide.

Now, back at the Boathouse:   

Understanding the engineering, presents the opportunity to demonstrate and ‘evidence’ the superiorities and true values of alternative power and fuels that may be viable for fast boats. So stay tuned, because this revolution is happening right now!

Let’s look at the contenders:

As deployed in the auto sector, the ‘hybrid’ path is a potential transition path. Electric propulsion with smaller engines constantly charging battery banks. Weight still remains an issue. The existing fuel infrastructure can remain but the transition to very low carbon fuel must accelerate.

While practical for inland waterways, the performance, range and safety demands will limit the practicality of pure battery-electric (BE) power in true offshore planing hull applications. Fuel (charging) infrastructure would need to start from ground-zero.

At some stage it may be that green hydrogen fuel-cell power may be a real and practical option. Cost, time, and again, ground-zero for fuel infrastructure are the issues. While ‘ideal’, this reality is still potentially decades away from being a planing hull option - and we simply don’t have that time to wait!

The above realities alone, ensure any suggestion that the internal combustion marine engine (ICE) is on its death bed, is pure speculation. The fact is it will remain with us for decades to come, especially in such specialist applications as planing hulled boats. But equally certain, is the imperative that the fossil hydrocarbon fuels must be usurped by low-carbon alternatives.

The petroleum industry is grasping this ‘nettle’ right now – and as they kick and scream toward accepting the inevitable, expect to see a revolution in alternative power and fuel developments and marketing. The future in our transport sector will be evolving through bio, renewable, synthetic – and potentially even internal combustion using ‘green’ hydrogen.

The time to accept change is right now, and here in The Boathouse, is where you will find the engineering and application information needed to guide you forward.

Note: The Blog will always alert you to what is happening in the Boathouse.


Go Sister - Keep on Rockin!

Equal opportunity is a core value at ABPE and throughout this website. Offshore powerboat racing is a 'gender neutral' sport that has seen a grandmother, Betty Cook, become a two-time world champion. Recently more females have shown the grit and determination to be top level offshore drivers. Equally, more female engineers and mechanics are showing interest. However, also greatly appreciated is the value of the 'feminine' in marketing. The Beach, boats, and indeed the Boathouse are there for all and ABPE upholds and values gender and cultural equality in all its engagements, sporting and environmental challenges.  

Modern marine petrol/gasoline engine. Smaller capacity, higher compression, variable valve timing, direct injection, catalyst exhaust and ethanol compatible. Greater power density, lower emissions!

Injection pump, rail system and injectors on an E85 compatible, direct injection V6 marine engine. The system in the boat must be equally well designed and engineered.

Steyr-Motors marine diesels. Biofuel compatible from day one! Steyr unit injectors and variable injection timing, present performance, economy and Tier 3 emissions compliance.

Consultancy – now very specialised!

While I am currently still consulting on a particular protracted legal case, the open ended aspect of my engineering consultancy work is no longer available. The focus is now exclusively, the power and fuel developments that will take us to Net-Zero and beyond in the small-craft marine industry. Specifically the R&D required to enable practical application of new technologies in the planing hull segment.

The background profile on the QUAY page assures the skill-set is coming from credible training and qualification, passionate engineering study, and years of direct experience in installations and rigging of, sterndrive, surface drive, petrol and diesel, in vessels of 20 to 40ft (6-12 meters) and primarily focused on high performance applications.

Expressions of interest in regard to projects, proposals or financial investment in this realm, be they from private, industry or institutional entities, are very welcome, as are media enquiries.