I did it a second time. I bought an electric vehicle on the Chinese mega-shopping site, and it looked awesome. It was a five-seater boat.
How it happened is explained here.
I write a weekly column called The Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week. It is a chance to see the weird electric vehicles that Chinese engineers dream up and bring to life.
It is usually a window shopping exercise where I pick something out of the pile. Sometimes I need to have something that is fun looking and cheap. The mini-truck had an electric motor. It has happened again now that I have found this boat.
It took me a long time to pull the Trigger. I featured this electric boat in my column over a year ago and was trying to justify the purchase for a long time. I decided to give the electric boat a try after having a good experience with the pickup truck. Since my family lives in Florida, it would be great to use it.
It can’t hold a candle to the best electric boats on the market, but it will hopefully be good enough for some nice use on the lake and cruising the mangrove-lined rivers of Florida.
Our graphics guy imagined a Chinese electric boat in the middle of the ocean.
I am designing my boat.
The model was the first thing that came to mind. There were a lot of options to choose from.
There were cute little two-seaters.
I chose the 14-foot flat-bottom boat because of its compact size and general utility, and because it was cheaper to ship.
If I wanted to take it out with my wife, it would be too small, but it would be big enough to bring the family on. It felt like the Goldilocks option because the two-seater options seemed like little dinghies.
The front entry design made it easy for everyone to hop on and off, since I could just nose it in right on the bank of a lake or river. It could be used as a swim platform. A rope ladder on the cleats would be a great way to get back into the boat.
Frank was communicating with me over the various details of the boat. I decided to have them build mine without batteries since I wouldn’t have to worry about international shipping with them.
I could take a pair of 100Ah LiFePO4 batteries with me. I plan to use a pair of 12V 200Ah batteries to give me some added peace of mind that I won’t have to use my emergency folding paddle. 5.12 kWh is the amount of battery that will be given to me.
Lead acid marine batteries are heavy and don’t last as long, so you could save a bit of money by using them. The peace of mind of good-quality LiFePO4 will outlive the boat.
I intend to use the 200Ah batteries.
The boat has a 500W motor, but it looks beefier than any 500W motor I have seen, so I think it should be powerful.
It has a belt drive setup with an inboard motor, which is kind of funny because usually inboard motor are found in higher end boats and sailboats. A simple and easy solution is outboards. Since this is an electric boat, I’m able to brag about my inboard and make it sound like a fancy boat, until someone actually sees it.
It will be very easy to upgrade in the future because of the belt drive setup. A bigger motor could make me go a bit faster.
I think the electric boat can get up to 10 km/h (6 mph or 5.4 knots) with a single person. I don’t think this will be a fast boat.
My motor is in the ship’s hull.
There were a number of cleat options for me to choose from, from traditional to eyes. The eye cleat in the middle of the front entry seemed to be a trip hazard. It is important to be clear with your instructions when purchasing from China. It’s important to be clear with your instructions.
Color was the last decision. Frank said he could mix it up with any color I wanted.
If I ever break down in the middle of the channel, I will be nice and visible to oncoming boat traffic. Making it easy for the helicopter to spot me is a good thing.
If I am going to be a sitting duck, then I should be a yellow duck.
The last thing I wanted to do was pay for my new boat. When Frank told me the shipping price was over $3,000, I almost gave up.
In the waning months of the COVID-19 Pandemic, when everyone is having supply chain issues and ordering like crazy, sea freight isn’t cheap. He told me that if I waited, prices would likely come down since the trend in pricing had been over the last few months.
It turned out that Frank was correct. The price went down a little each week. I decided to go for it after a few months. I didn’t want to wait any longer and I wanted to make sure the boat arrived in time for winter.
Frank was able to build my boat after I paid a 30% down payment. After showing me pictures of the partially assembled boat, he finished the boat. Frank got my small boat on a bigger boat after I paid 70% of the balance.
I decided to do LCL shipping because it was the cheapest. My boat is going in a shipping container with everyone else’s stuff that also chose LCL shipping. All of us split the cost of the container and we get a good price because the container is packed efficiently. I waited a few more days but my container was on a ship.
I had a video call with Frank to see the boat before it was packed. It was great to see a live view of the boat and to walk around with an explanation of the parts.
There are a lot of weird, silly, normal, and high-quality boats in Frank’s factory. Frank put my boat in a big wooden crate, which he expects will be harder to open than I want it to be. The boat is on the water after passing through the Panama Canal on its way to the East Coast. It would have been cheaper to ship to California from China, since it is a straight shot from China and you don’t have a lot of costs. I am waiting for my boat to arrive so I can take it to my parent’s place in Florida. Customs is never a good idea in terms of how fast it goes through. The boat is electric and so I don’t have to worry about the EPA certifications on the boat engine. I don’t have to worry about those certifications because I shipped it without batteries. It will slide through easily and the duties will be minimal. How much can they spend on a boat?
It will need to be registered in Florida. Some life jackets, an emergency paddle, and a few other bits and pieces will be added. I plan to put 500W of solar panels on the canopy, which should give it nearly as much charging power as it is draining, making it capable of infinite range.
I am trying to decide on a name for the boat and I am looking for a used trailer. If you have good electric boat puns for the name, I am all ears. The high point was suggested by one of my subscribers.
I will share the maiden voyage once the boat arrives and I will update you on how it looks. If the lake stays hull-down and above the water then I will take it to a river that feeds out into a bay with a lot of dolphins.
I don’t think I’ll take it out of the bay The small boat wouldn’t have the power to fight the strong current needed to get back into the bay. I did it in a kayak and used all of my own power to fight the current at the inlet.
I will be in a bright yellow boat if I get swept out into the gulf. The Coast Guard’s job is more difficult because of it.
Keywords: electric boat, boating, Electric Vehicle