For nearly 150 years, visitors to Florida’s freshwater Silver Springs have been captivated by the area’s underwater beauty from within glass-bottomed boats. Florida State Parks’ newest vessel in its fleet is its first handicap-accessible boat. Powered by twin eco-friendly Elco EP-20 Electric Outboard motors, the Chief Potackee-Betty Mae Tiger Jumper has reached a milestone by carrying over 1,700 passengers with wheelchairs, scooters or other mobility aids since its launching last August.
As reliable as they are durable, Elco EP-20 Electric Outboards create no combustion odors. This makes sightseeing exceptionally pleasant for the vessel’s 28 passengers and an ideal work environment for its two crew.
With the Chief Potackee-Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, Florida State Parks converted from lead acid batteries to a pair of Lithionics NeverDie® 7.5 kW lithium-ion iron phosphate units. They provide faster recharging and less downtime between tours.
The Elco EP-20 Electric Outboard produces 177kgf of thrust—more than enough to move the 11.1m L x 3.6m W vessel. Similar to combustion engines, integrated water circulating systems cool the motors during high output. At a slow speed, electric propulsion will continue even without cooling water flow. Over-speed, overload, over-voltage, and over-current protections similarly increase operational safety. Plus, at only 38.5kg, EP-20 Electric Outboards are far lighter than their gasoline-powered counterparts and easier to maintain.
Designed by naval architects Lay, Pitman & Associates, the Chief Potackee-Betty Mae Tiger Jumper was named one of 10 Significant Boats of 2021 by WorkBoat. Named for the first female chief of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the boat features a flat deck with wide aisles and fold-down seats to easily accommodate the width of a wheelchair. It also has a unique induction-loop system for passengers with telecoil hearing aids to listen to the tour guide. Underwater lighting improves visibility through the 3.8cm glass. With a mere 30cm draft, the vessel easily skims over the shallowest water with the EP-20 Electric Outboards’ 57cm long shafts; short 44.5cm shafts are also available.
Located just west of Ocala, Florida, the US, the pristine waters of Silver Springs State Park are fed by a freshwater spring. Because the deck area is kept intentionally dim, passengers aboard the Chief Potackee-Betty Mae Tiger Jumper can easily view the area’s native freshwater aquatic fauna and flora, Indigenous American and Spanish artifacts, and old discarded movie props through its glass bottom. More information is at www.silversprings.com/glass-bottom-boats.
Press Release Article here: https://www.marinebusinessworld.com/news/250816/%20All-electric-tour-boat-fully-accessible