The new 190ft, 470-ton ketch Ethereal is battery powered and is leading the way in hybrid propulsion systems for sailing yachts


This is Ethereal, a Ron Holland-designed 190ft ketch just launched from Royal Huisman in The Netherlands for Americans Bill and Shannon Joy. Just another superyacht, you may say, but this yacht’s hybrid power system represents something very different and this unusual picture of her seemingly gliding across a ‘sea’ of green is significant.

She is seen here manoeuvring along the Dutch canal system en route to the open sea for trials where her she was put through her paces at 10 knots under power with no internal combustion engine in use. Instead she was using her lithium battery bank of 400kWh, designed to keep her running for a day with most of her onboard systems in use too. These batteries drive a Combimac electric motor/generator which rotates the shafts and then charges the battery bank when the yacht’s more conventional twin Caterpillar 533kW diesels are brought into play.

She also has two 177hp electric Van der Velden hubless thrusters which can turn the yacht through 360 degrees in just 1min 40sec, not bad for a yacht weighing almost 500 tons!

According to Mike Koppstein of Huisman, who we talked to at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show yesterday, the silent running mode is quite unnerving with no engine noise or vibration while ‘motoring’ with electric power. The same goes for the hubless electric thrusters.

Ethereal is currently undergoing sea trials in the North Sea and we hope to bring you a more detailed report in the pages of Yachting World in an upcoming issue.