The F/V Sunbeam is close to becoming Sitka’s first plug-in hybrid diesel-electric fishing boat. “It will probably save me maybe 30 to 40 percent on fuel,” Fabian Grutter said in an interview on the boat, “but another big savings is my main (diesel) engine won’t run 40 percent of the time, probably.”
Sunbeam’s diesel engine can charge the 70 kilowatt battery bank with an alternator. “Basically, it could charge that whole big battery bank in four or five hours cruising, then you shut the diesel off. And the theory is that it should get me gillnetting all day long, basically 12 hours of putzing around the net on one charge.” The batteries in question are lithium iron phosphates, a non-flammable form of lithium ion batteries. The boat is a plug-in hybrid because the batteries can also plug into dock power to charge.