It’s the first oceangoing solar-electric production catamaran in the world. Silent 55 comes from Austria and thanks to large use of solar panels and li-ion batteries it has a potentially unlimited range. Until the sun goes off…
While everyday we have a new electric powered car, there’s not so many boats which can claim to be virtually emission-free. Of course the main problem is where the electric power comes from. What if the source is just the sun? Easy to say, but in this case the issue is how much sun you need for having enough power. This didn’t stop Silent-Yachts, an Austrian company, from producing a totally clean catamaran. Silent 55 makes extensive use of solar panels, which combined to li-ion batteries and electric motors can power the boat in full comfort and total silence.
Pick the one for you
The Silent 55 is available in several power configurations to suit a variety of cruising applications. All of them stick to the yard’s philosophy of relying mainly on solar power for propulsion and onboard power needs. The standard “Cruiser” version of the Silent 55 has 2 x 30 kW turnable saildrives e-motors, while a more upgraded “E-Power” version is equipped with 2 x 250 kW e-motors. There is also a range-anxiety free “Hybrid Power” version with 2 x 220 hp diesel engines and two 14 kW electric motors.
Furthermore, a “Sailor” version can be equipped with all the previously mentioned drivetrain configurations and is rigged with a mast and sails to provide additional propulsion in fair winds. With 30 high-efficiency solar panels rated for approximately 10 kilowatt-peak, the Silent 55 uses maximum power point tracking (MPPT) solar charge regulators and lithium batteries, which provide capacity for all-night cruising, while a 15-kVA inverter provides power for all household appliances. The systems requires hardly any maintenance and produce no fumes or noise. Because of that, the operational costs of the vessels are substantially lower compared to motor yachts using more traditional propulsion systems.
The catamaran is available in five different layouts, ranging from three to six staterooms with three or four heads. A full-width central owner’s stateroom is the centerpiece in three of the layouts, with guest staterooms located in port and starboard hulls. All staterooms offer double or twin berths, and all heads include a separate shower. Other layouts are available on request. In all configurations, careful attention has been paid to onboard ergonomics.
Large portlights and flush deck hatches admit natural light. On the Silent 55, the interior layout is centered on a shared onboard space, a huge 40 sqm combination of saloon, helm and galley, while the lower helm has plenty of companion seating and an aft galley to keep guests around. Three of the layouts feature a forward owner stateroom that uses the 8.5-meter beam of the yacht for a spacious layout with a walkaround double berth.
Other accommodation plans optimize the space with additional staterooms as Silent-Yachts uses a modular construction and design methods that allow additional layouts at reasonable prices.
The Silent 55 is built using
vacuum-bagged resin infusion
to create a lightweight glass-sandwich
composite construction with good
sound and temperature insulation
With wide side decks for safety moving fore and aft, the Silent 55 has a spacious cockpit sheltered by a large hardtop overhang, and enormous open foredeck space as customary on catamarans. In addition, the flying bridge promises to allow helmsman and guests to enjoy time together in navigation enjoying the view of the sea all around.
The Silent 55 is built using vacuum-bagged resin infusion to create a lightweight glass-sandwich composite construction with good sound and temperature insulation. The hull is reinforced with carbon fiber at stress points, and uses vinylester resin to prevent osmotic blistering. It’s been designed using extensive tank testing for optimal efficiency: above and below the waterline it is designed to slip through the wind and waves with minimal resistance.
Designed with sealed deck sections and collision compartments for safety, the Silent 55 uses watertight bulkheads and integrated interior furniture to create a torsion-resistant hull structure. The electrical on-board system, despite depending on external power, still allows such features as powered swim platform, 1,500-watt electric windlass, and other features boaters expect on world-class oceangoing cruising yachts.
What about the range? Depending on the sun, as we said, can make it potentially unlimited, but not 24/7, as the power coming from our star can’t be stored in such amount to provide non-stop use of the electric engines. The boatyard then says that Silent 55 can cruise efficiently for up to 100 miles a day, still powering all onboard systems without need of fuel to power a generator. Not bad indeed, but the main value, probably worth more than anything else, is the chance to enjoy navigation accompanied just by the sounds of wind and water, with no fumes vibration or artificial noise.
The numbers of Silent 55 E-Power
- Length overall …………… 16.70 m (54ft 10in)
- Beam …………… 8.46 m (27ft 8in)
- Draft …………… 1.20 m (3ft 11in)
- Light displacement …………… 17.2 tons
- Fresh water reserve …………… 500 – 1,000 liters (113 – 227 US gal)
- Waste water tanks …………… 2 x 500 liters (2 x 113 US gal)
- Fuel reserve …………… 500 – 1,600 liters (113 – 363 US gal)
- Solar generator …………… 10 kWp
- E-Motors …………… up to 2 x 250 kW
- Generator …………… up to 100 kW
- Cruising speed …………… 6 / 12 knots
- Top Speed …………… up to 10 / 20 knots