Electric assist is very useful on a bicycle, so why not take that concept and put it in a boat? Bionx has done just that with the SeaScape 12 - a low-maintenance, no noise and no local pollution craft for four that deliver a speed of 5 knots (5.8 mph) for around 4-5 hours.
Bionx is best known for its proportional power assist technology used in pedal-assist bicycles. The company's power measurement system can gauge the user's input and multiply it by 50%, 100%, 200% at the rider's discretion.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,200 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Now the technology has been applied to electric leisure craft for the water, offering a turnkey human-electric hybrid that you pedal yourself at speeds up to 5 knots (5.8 mph or 8.1 km/h). Designed for salt or fresh water, the initial version of the SeaScape 12 offers seating for two adults and two children, very low-maintenance, and a craft that will cruise along silently for up to 5 hours on one battery charge.
Not surprisingly, there are special versions coming, with a specialist fishing package first, and no doubt diving and other versions somewhere in the wings. Having a silent watercraft that can move you through wilderness at 5 knots for five hours gives you access to all manner of recreational opportunities and an opportunity to witness nature close up.
As such, it's an ideal base craft for resorts as it can support multiple activities and has great novelty value for the guests.
For eco-resorts, the Seascape 12's no-emission and completely silent running make it a highly appropriate addition to the fleet.
The combination of pedal power and electricity means the SeaScape 12 is cost effective to run, low on maintenance and it is sustainable. Two 12 volt batteries provide 250 watts of power to supplement the power provided by the boat's occupants.
At 12 feet long, the SeaScape 12 is small enough to be trailered behind a compact vehicle and can significantly extend your exploration capabilities with its range and speed.
You can purchase extra batteries and charge them ready for a quick swap if you have a day in the wilderness planned. A standard 110V / 24V charger plugs directly into the dashboard.
The unit is built in Austria at present, but plans are to take manufacturing to the same Canadian Aurora plant where the BionX e-bike system is assembled.
Hence there's limited availability of the SeaScape 12 during 2012. It costs US$6000.
The BionX video below runs us through the key features of the SeaScape 12.
View gallery - 30 images