Fast forward to 2006. We have a
24' V8 I/O powered runabout capable of 50 mph but find our principal
use of the boat is putting along the shoreline at 5 mph enjoying
the view, conversation and often a picnic supper with friends. We
were needlessly dragging a thousand pounds of expensive cast iron
and burning a lot of gasoline. Engine noise is intrusive, even idling,
and there is the whiff of exhaust with a following breeze. Often
we found ourselves turning the engine off and just drifting with
The notion of one of those classic launches but with electric power
came to mind. It would have all the speed we needed, but no noise,
no exhaust and no gas. The batteries wouldn't weigh much more than
a hundred-year-old gas engine so the designer's original weight
and balance specs could be preserved. No engine box would compete
with the passengers for space and no ugly outboard would be hanging
on the transom. The interior could be designed to suit relaxed cruising
and nautical dining.
COYOTE II became my new Harmony 25 electric launch. The
first boat was named SPARKY.
A few weeks after WoodenBoat magazine published a story about SPARKY in March 2008 I received this email from the designer's
First an introduction: I am Charles Schock grandson of
Edson B. and son of Edson I. Schock.
It was a pleasant surprise to come across your story about Sparky
in WoodenBoat. You made a good choice selecting the Coyote design
from Weston Farmer's book.
Using the electric drive catches the proper character of these
old launches that were intended for pleasant family outings. I
am reminded of a story from a book about the Herreshoffs. When
they first used gasoline engines in their launches the ladies
didn't like them because they were so much noisier than the steam
This design has quite a history. My father adapted it for a coaching
launch by widening and flattening the stern a bit so she could
be driven at 18mph to keep up with the eight oar shells. This
boat is the White Swan and, as far as I know, is still used on
the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass or in Duxbury. She was restored
to original condition including the Gray SeaScout engine. Several
fiberglass hulls were made using White Swan as a mold - one of
these was at the Harvard boathouse for several years. There was
also a high speed version (named something Babe as I recall) which
went around 30mph.
Most powerboaters of today have no idea how little power it takes
to drive a properly designed hull up to "hull speed".
A typical 40 footer of the early 1900s went about 9 knots with
18hp. You make a good point of this in your article with the speed/endurance
curves. A light, narrow hull, such as Coyote, is not as restrained
by hull speed - examples: rowing shells, catamarans and destroyers.
We owned White Swan for a couple of years and I enjoyed her.
A characteristic that you have no doubt noticed is her tendency
to slip sideways when turning. It took a bit of getting used to.
That, combined with the reluctance to go into reverse, must have
given you some anxious moments. A small keel, such as on a surfboard,
might help. [Note: The Harmony 25 has a skeg that protects
the prop and keeps the boat from sliding sideways and the reverse
issue was cured with new software from the controller manufacturer.
But I ramble on - I hope you receive a lot of interest in the
boats - happy launching!