The invaders

Eighteen years after personal watercraft (PWCs) were banned from Kachemak Bay at the southern end of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, a new battle is brewing over the little boats.

It has a little to do with watercraft, and a lot to do with American culture wars.

Opponents of allowing PWCs on the already boat-busy Bay see the operators of the one, two or three-person, motorcycle-like vessels as speed-crazed renegades who can’t be trusted to responsibly operate their “thrill craft.” Proponents of opening the Bay to PWCs, see PWC owners as a tiny minority singled out for unjustified discrimination by those who know nothing about PWCs except that they look fast.

Exactly how many PWCs there are in Alaska is unclear. Given that the operators are exposed to the cold spray of northern waters and chilly Alaska rain, PWCs appear significantly less popular here than Florida, California or Hawaii, where they have become an important piece of equipment in ocean rescue operations.

Past fears

When the Bay ban was imposed, PWCs were near their peak in national popularity and looked poised to swarm into the 49th state. Nationally, sales peaked at 92,000 units in 2000, according to the website Statista, and held steady around 80,000 units until 2007 when sales began to plummet. They bottomed out at 38,500 in 2012.

Sales crept back up to almost 70,000 units in 2018, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, but the little boats still represent only 25 percent of total boat sales.

The National Park Service in 2000 banned PWC from 11 national parks with one park official saying at that time that many park users objected to the “loud, mosquito-like noise they make,” reported.

The market responded with quieter, and cleaner, PWCs.

The Personal Watercraft Industry Association was by 2006 claiming that a majority of PWCs were being manufactured with four-stroke engines “universally recognized as the cleanest and most fuel-efficient engines on the water” and that combined with new muffling systems those engines were powering  “personal watercraft that are 70 percent quieter than models produced in the late 1990s.”

The Park Service, meanwhile, settled a lawsuit filed by the Earth Island Institute by agreeing to close all parks to PWC by 2002 absent environmental analyses and rules for their use.  Use rules were later written for 15 parks, most of which contain large water bodies, and PWC use continued.

PWC tours are today popular in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the 247-square-mile impoundment behind the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas. But the Park Service, which manages the area, requires PWC users comply with a variety of environmental and safety regulations that apply to all boats.

Among them are requirements that:

Reporting on deaths at Lake Mead in 1998, High Country News referred to PWCs as what  “some call tools of the devil,” but emotions seem to have mellowed since then. Either that or the internet has stolen the “tools of the devil” label.

Whichever the case, the Park Service at Lake Mead these days seems more concerned about evasive species and falling water levels than PWCs, which might have something to do with the aging of PWC owners.


PWC manufacturers say “the average owner is (now) in his or her mid-40s, college-educated and with a family,” Boating Industry magazine reports. But the image of PWC owners as young and wild lingers among some.

There are fears in Homer, the largest community along the Bay, that PWCs could disrupt the already motor-dominated, city scene in summer when the local boat harbor is a noisy chaos of boats and motor-vehicle traffic backs up on the Homer Spit.

The PWCS “will typically congregate in small areas, spin in circles, jump waves. They are capable of very high speeds — you know, over 65 miles an hour for just basic jet skis coming out these days,” Bob Shavelson of the environmental group Cook Inlet Keeper told the local newspaper, the Homer News.

The Sea-Doo Spark has largely defined the market for “basic jet skis,” according to industry experts. It has a top speed of 50 mph, but compared to a kayak that’s flying.

There are PWCs capable of 65 mph, though, and more than that in the right conditions with a lightweight rider. But the U.S. Coast Guard sort of put a bar up at 65.

There are traditional boats considerably faster. The Triton HP21 bass boat has a top speed of 77 mph. There are no restrictions on such boats in Kachemak Bay, although maybe there should be.

“Since 2001 when Gov. (Tony) Knowles went along for the ‘no ride on top of a boat (ban),’ the population of Homer has doubled,” said Rod Arno, executive director of the Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC). “How about a scientific evaluation of their effect on Kachemak Bay’s habitat?”

A hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation group, the AOC has supported lifting the PWC ban although Arno said he wouldn’t be opposed to closing some areas to all motorized boats if there is science to support such closures.

The problem with that idea is that development has crept into many of the Bay’s coves and bights, and the owners of vacation cabins in sensitive areas would no doubt howl bloody murder if anyone tried to restrict their motorized access.

For some of them, a ban on PWCs is thus the perfect American solution: they can console themselves that they are doing something about the problems and potential problems caused by internal combustion engines while continuing to happily motor along.

A cleaner future

Maybe the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which is refereeing the Bay ban, could offer the perfect solution to satisfy no one and prepare for the leap into the future with a plan to begin a general phase-out of all internal combustion engines in the Bay.

Torqeedo, a German company, is already selling electric outboards up to 80 horsepower, and high-torque inboards up to 135 horsepower.

Meanwhile, Taiga – a Canadian company – unveiled the Tesla version of a PWC in September.

The carbon-fiber hulled, jet-drive Orca comes in at 600 pounds “ready to drive,” according to Canadian Yachting magazine, and with “up to 180 horsepower available with instant torque, the craft offers leading power to weight and agility for an unmatched ride experience.”

The magazine noted the “heated debate over personal watercraft use in bodies of water shared by homeowners, marine life, and other recreational watersport enthusiasts…since the late 90s,” and highlighted “the heart of the controversy (as) pollution and noise levels.

“Orca presents a solution to bridge the societal rift between those ultimately looking to enjoy a day by the water, producing 0 g/kWh of emissions and a quiet ride.”

Oh if only the solution was as easy as ordering up a cleaner, quieter Bay.

The problem is that those really aren’t the issues. The issues are image, plain and simple. The bad people on the little boats might decide to start spinning brodies and upset the good people on the big boats.

Or vice versa.

Culture wars.







36 replies »

  1. It amazes me how everyone still suggests that people who own personal watercraft do nothing but spin around in circles and hoot and holler. Seriously folks, my personal watercraft is a boat. My friends and I fish from our boats, visit remote areas only accessible by boat or plane, sight-see and all the same things other ‘boaters’ do. I have been to Kodiak from Anchorage on my personal watercraft, circumnavigated the island 2 times including crossing the Shelikof Straits 10 years ago. I routinely go to Valdez and Cordova and I have friends who have been from Whittier all the way to Seattle on their personal watercraft boat. All we are asking is to be allowed to use a public boat launch that is for the use of all boaters, fish the same waters as other boaters, visit Seldovia and beyond as other boaters. Why everyone thinks Kachemak Bay is going to ‘invaded’ by thousands of personal watercraft owners is beyond me. There’s seriously only a handful that enjoy the ocean because it’s rough, cold and can be dangerous if not prepared. It’s not an inexpensive hobby. My drysuit alone costs several hundred dollars, I wear a helmet not only for safety but warmth. I have hand grip warmers just like you put on a snow mobile. My personal watercraft is equipped with a GPS and other safety gear. I am 56 years old and most of my ocean going friends are between the age of 45 and 65 +. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game realizes that the AK Marine highway is part of Kachemak Bay and legally one specific type of boat can not be banned for following that route. I think what everyone is concerned about is the State Parks side of the bay which is managed by the Department of Natural Resources. That is another battle entirely as far as I am concerned. The ban needs to be repealed. If anyone is truly concerned about the waters of Kachemak Bay in an environmental aspect, then a serious look should be given to following California standards and phasing out all older 2-stroke engines because everyone knows a 2-stroke does discharge a certain amount of pollution in the water.
    Quit calling my boat a thrillcraft, and implying that I am some out of control renegade. I am a boater who happens to enjoy a personal watercraft as my boat of choice. Personally all boats are thrillcraft because you should be getting some kind of thrill/enjoyment out of your hobbies.

  2. It is interesting that this is such a controversial issue and a clear indication that PWC people are generally regarded by the public as ass bags. There’s also a wildly misleading reference in the article stating that owners are in their 40’s, college educated, etc. That may be the case but if so those owners’ spawn must be strikingly douchey as the behavior associated w/ jetski ownership is at best inconsistent with buyer demographics.

  3. A quick search online shows 63 Commercial Fishing Charters out of Homer…most of which have “over 4 star ratings” and say “we caught our limit”…anyone who thinks a few PWC’s on the water is a real concern to the environment is obviously missing the bigger picture.

      • Steve O (whoever U are)…
        We have been through this a bunch.
        Play your “symantecs flute” all you like.
        Toxic, pollution, carcinogens…
        We know what is in this stuff and it ain’t good!
        You may say the “wastewater” is “treated” and only “produced water”…this is just paid industry propaganda.
        From PA to Texas the results are in…this stuff is bad for the environment and should not be dumped in the Cook.
        This is home to Beluga whales and King Salmon species…both of which are barely hanging on these days.

        “Environmental groups are protesting the state’s move to renew a federal permit that allows oil and gas producers to release a variety of pollutants into Cook Inlet…
        This is the first time the state has issued the permit…
        Cook Inlet is the only region of the state where DEC allows oil and gas producers to discharge wastewater and other pollutants…
        “toxic dumping loophole” that will harm northern Cook Inlet’s lucrative commercial and sport fisheries.”

      • We have been over this before and you continue to make false claims, I’da thunk that you’d get tired of being wrong but apparently you enjoy it.

        Just to clarify, nobody is dumping billions of gallons of carcinogens in to Cook Inlet and nobody is dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste in to Cook Inlet.

        You are the boy who cried wolf Steve…wholly unbelievable at this point.

  4. Have been boating for 20 years in PWS where I occasionally see PWCs in use. I get the feeling that what is often the case in PWS is that folks bring their PWCs down to Whittier, head out into Passage Canal, get tossed around by nasty chop and boat wakes, discover it is no fun at all, leave and never come back. I remember a quote I once heard: “[Ocean] boating in Alaska is an indoor sport.” It can get damn miserable on the deck of a sailboat, holding the tiller on a Zodiac or riding the back of a tiny PWC when our waters and skies get angry. Likely the same for PWS holds true for Katchemak Bay. Ban or not … PWC use will always be limited by small craft boating conditions, which are shitty more often than not in Alaska.

  5. Everyone needs to email Rick Green to let the Governor know you support the removal of this ban. See the Alaska Outdoor Council’s website for information.

  6. My first encounter with the Self Appointed Cook Inlet
    Keeper was on a ADOT Sterling Hwy project. Showing up in flip flops, cut offs, and a rabid disrespectful pie hole. After Accusing the Road builder s of polluting Cook Inlet.
    We then showed Boob the Science that the water flowing thur the Highway Project was CLEANER than the the water entering. Mr Boob then went on a all in Disinformation Propaganda mission. Of coarse the Anchorage TV stations and ADN gobbled up Boob s BS.
    Anything from Boobs mouth should be greeted with a No Thank you.

  7. Since Bob Shavelson thinks PWC “will typically congregate in small areas, spin in circles, jump waves. They are capable of very high speeds — you know, over 65 miles an hour for just basic jet skis coming out these days,” you would think he would be supportive of giving them an area to spin in really fast circles and jump waves where they could only harm each other…

  8. Reconsidering the PWC ban wouldn’t have anything to do with 2016?

    It’s not that far from the old Guns in Parks Ban. No Agency wants that egg on their face.

    Maybe the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which is refereeing the Bay ban, could offer the perfect solution to satisfy no one and prepare for the leap into the future with a plan to begin a general phase-out of all internal combustion engines in the Bay.

    I take it the idea to ban all internal combustion engines on the Bay is an informal ‘write-in campaign’ suggestion. I don’t see any information at the link that indicates ADFG is actively weighing or posing such an option.

    Of course, there is a contingent out there who are fond of the pipe-dream (bong-hallucination?) to ban all IC machines, in any & all contexts for which any plausible excuse can be found.

    “Leap into the future” by pushing for IC boat-motor bans? Hmm.

    Likewise, torturing the Science to extract support (Habitat! Species!) for political goals is another been-there, done-that … wore out its welcome, idea. Starting, with Science.

    Obama, could be. Deep-state EPA, why not? But if 2016 prevails, and develops further, this will all be dealt with like the No Guns in Parks move that it resembles.

  9. Yep it’s a culture war alright, but even more it’s about selfish folks who enjoy being surrounded by publicly owned lands/waters and wanting to keep them just for their personal use. It’s happening in much of Alaska where all but 12% of the state is public lands and waters.

    • No doubt, just look at how a handful of people are trying to lock down Pebble Mine and other mines throughout the state. What is it about public land that these people do not get?

      • Nope. I’m saying locals should share publicly owned resources with the public. Completely banning one type of regulated motorized use on state managed waters when other types of motorized recreational use are allowed is being selfish. No two ways about it.

      • Rod,
        So what your saying is you or someone else has been denied access to public lands in K bay, correct?
        You can rip up n down either coast of Cook Inlet,up and down Resurrection Bay and of course the Outer Coast.All of Prince William Sound,and if your Cahones swing low enough, blast over to Kodiak.
        From there you could zip up to the Litnik river for an afternoon of steelhead fishing, too.
        But because local pressure I assume was against PWC’s “they” are selfish.
        K bay is against alot of things, some imo to there detriment, but they made there bed.
        If I had to guess I think you’ll find yourself against a coordinated brick wall thats the commercial tourism sector(and locals).
        And then of course we’re talking real $’s

      • Alaska’s State Construction does not protect those suffering from the NIMBY (Not in my backyard) syndrome.

        It doesn’t matter if you are a country rock singer trying to keep folks from driving up to your front yard around Homer, the Alaska Tourist Association, or the US National Park Service. Title 8, Section 3 of the Alaska State Constitution protects “Common Use” of water.
        The US Supreme Court even agrees with that 9-0, not once but twice in the Sturgeon v NPS case.

        No matter how much any group, individual, or federal agency would like to enforce their cultural preference on state land and waters that won’t work. Its just a matter of an individual, group, or the State (on behalf of good citizens) being willing to spend the money to fight back in court.

        Thank goodness for Alaskans that organization like the Alaska Outdoor Council are willing to go to the efforts and expense to protect your “common use” of publicly owned resources. NIMBYs don’t like that.

      • Rod Mc,

        K bay is against alot of things, some imo to there detriment, but they made there bed.

        No big surprise, there might be more levels to this supposed review of a Personal Water Craft ban than meets the eye.

        A glance at the real estate pages, eg, tells us things didn’t pan out on the southern Kenai, as was once hoped. They’re just kinda picking over the debris-field these days, after the Grand Plan of yesteryear landed a wee short of the runway.

        If I had to guess I think you’ll find yourself against a coordinated brick wall thats the commercial tourism sector(and locals).

        Nice thing about sinking the big bucks into a cruise ship industry, is that if ticket buyers prove less interested in any particular region than was hoped (BS’d?), you just bring up a new chart on the screen and go try a different region of the world.

        All iterations of the Tourism industry have this act down pat.

      • Rod,
        With all due respect, your argument reminds me of the Zoebels a few decades ago.And sure they won, but the original payout for the PFD really was more fair.
        In the end we all lost to the guaranteed welfare state.
        The reality is the only winners in this fight is the lawyers, regardless of the outcome.The only thing you and AOC are really pushing is a grudge.
        Seems like theres far more important things to push(on behalf of the good citizens).

        I love that line…

      • Had not a number of Local NIMBYs complained to their elected officials to extend the comment period deadline AOC would be finished advocating for equality in access to natural resources in the Kachemak Bay area on January 6th. Unfortunately ADF&G capitulated and I’ve got another two weeks to inform the public of what Title 8, Section 3 of the Alaska State Constitution does to protect their common use of state waters. Advocating for equality in access to natural resources is one of three top purposes of AOC.You can check the other purposes on AOC‘s website where the bylaws are posted. The Personal Watercraft Club of Alaska (PWCA) is one of 48 statewide clubs that The AOC Board of Directors represents, along with its individual membership.

        Perpetuating the natural resources that AOC’s membership depends on is number one under purposes. You could help AOC out by contacting your elected official and ask what they could do to encourage Alaska Department of environmental conservation (DEC) to adhere to the regulations under 18 AAC 36.001. To help prevent the introduction of animal disease that could infect the state wildlife populations. M.ovi is a serious bacterial infection that has already spread from domestic livestock to Alaska’s wildlife populations. AOC is encouraging the state to do every thing possible to stop the spread of infectious diseases from invasive species arriving into the state. You can check what ADF&G has done to address the concerns of M.ovi on their website. AOC would appreciate your help in encouraging the state to use all the resources at their disposal to prevent the loss of wildlife populations in Alaska. I would encourage you if you’re not a member of AOC to join. You can help set the priorities each year for AOC to work on at their annual meeting, also posted on the website.

      • Dave Mc,

        I’ve gone to the ADFG page, Notice of Proposed Changes on the Use of Personal Watercraft in the Fox River Flats and Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Areas (And I advise others to do the same: it’s brief, simple, no strain.)

        There, ADFG guy Rick Green inserts his email in the text 4 times, and repeatedly invites everyone to send him their take on the proposed repeal. My draft email is awaiting final touches, and will be sent later today (deadline is 5pm tomorrow, Monday the 6th).

        There are 3 PDFs at the bottom of the ADFG page, all little, and/but none of them say “why” this change is being considered. To me, that’s key information. Did somebody gripe, and the agency is responding to public pressure? Or did the agency (or State) decide their own legal butt was hanging a bit too far out in the breeze? No way to tell (I’d guess, ‘by design’).

        This is a specific type of case, in the more-general ‘game’ of locals trying to manage nearby public resources, because “Waters” are a cut-and-dried matter, Authority-wise. At the same time, though, NGOs have gone after agencies, trying to achieve (typically) Eco-political goals. And they’re happy to use local sentiment.

        My straight-forward inclination is to support the Repeal of the Ban. My instinct is also to generally support the goals of the Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC). However, I also know that cases like this are often not as straight-forward as they might seem (or are spun), and massaging folks’ instinct is an important skill-set for leaders at places like the AOC. I don’t like to admit that I can be ‘had’, but it’s been known to happen.

        It seems to me there might be something going on ‘between the lines’, in your exchanges with Rod Arno (AOC). If you think some of that might work to modify my inclination & instinct, here’s your chance to spell it out, and maybe influence my vote. It’s possible (I’m big on Local Power & perspectives).

        And Rod Arno, same applies for you & the AOC.

      • Rod, the ADFG page has not been updated to reflect an extension of the comment period. It still says it ends tomorrow.

      • Thanks Ted, I’ll send ADF&G a message to update the deadline, it’s the 21st.

      • Ted,
        With regards to K bay, look at the underlying status of the area(waters) involved.I wasn’t aware of this till 2 days ago, trolling around Google.
        This isn’t yukon-charlie,middle of nowhere.
        And what may be gained really won’t be worth the expenditure of AOC resources(imo).I would think it also would put the ADFG in a very untenable position.Protectionist group lawyers will see right through the “access to natural resources bs”.Since there is no denial of access to any resource (that Im aware of).
        Welcome to the Buzz Saw..

        popcorn anyone?

      • Dave,

        With Rod reporting that we now have another 2 weeks in the comment period, I will hold off at least through tomorrow, to see if ADF&G does publish a new deadline. As of this evening, they have not.

        Although Rod (dis) credits complaints from the NIMBY gallery for the extension, my take is that this move represents worry on their part, that the pro-Ban corner haven’t gotten as much of a supportive response from their presumed base, as they would have liked.

        Although Rod poses the extension as an inconvenience for himself, my take likewise is that it opens more of an opportunity for AOC (although he/they will have to work for it), than it does for his opponent.

        To the extent that pro-ban sentiment is actually a local phenomenon, and everybody else – including oh say Anchorage – is like ‘What’s their trip?’, yeah, Keep The Ban could be getting clobbered.

        I’ll do some more trolling.

  10. Bob Shavelston needs to stay focused in his opposition to the real threats to the Cook Inlet.
    The billions of gallons of toxic wastewater from oil and gas drilling operations (along with continued non disclosed Fracking) is way more detrimental to marine life than a handful of yuppies that trailer their Ski Doo’s down to the bay on the weekend.
    Back when all jet skis were two stroke motors there was more of an argument to make for degradation, now a days these vessels are much quieter and pollute way less.

    • From what we see on their website, Inlet Keeper might be in trouble.

      Squandered their nest-egg, and now they can’t rebuild it? (2008 heavily impacted many NGOs … and what followed the Recession has not been helpful.)

      Let the early funding windfall go to their head, took on too much overhead?

      Or has their Public simply realized that the original job that needed done, has been done, that now it’s about supporting the organization for the sake of the organization … and are no longer responding to funding appeals?

      Coming out on the PWC issue, yes, is symptomatic of poor judgement in the leadership. It does say that Inlet Keeper is more about positioning, even posturing, than identifying & addressing actual issues.

      • Ted,
        I would hardly say that the job has been done in respect to conservation in the Cook Inlet, but Hilcorp and the Commercial fishing industry are well connected to Juneau politics.
        Looking at the Salmon closures in streams of the upper Cook Inlet tributaries and lack of public disclosure on current Fracking operations, I would say the general public is last in line of concerned parties to the state.
        Allowing PWC in the bay is just a way for the Dunleavy administration to show Environmentalists who is in charge…but fighting it only gives the Republican Army more talking points to further expand the “no rules and no regulations” across the board.

      • Steve,

        Yeah, there’s a tendency now to put the eco-squad on-deck for some slapping-around, and ‘going there’ isn’t really in the interests of those who basically just want to see the past excesses & trespasses checked. Doesn’t have to be about reparations & pay-backs …

        It looks like Inlet Keeper may be facing a strategy-choice. They can continue to flatter the perspective of a certain small-minority element who like their activism sensational & over-the-top, or they can ratchet down the drama & hype and make themselves more relevant to a wider swath of the community.

        You’re right, in that there is (‘always’) lots of good conservation to be done around the Inlet, and elsewhere. Believe it or not … Browns do & embrace lots of conservation. There is a potential role for an existing organization like Inlet Keeper, which – believe it or not – could include effective relationships with folks who aren’t in it to fight the Man.

        But taking on high-level public-policy positions arrived at by the Democratic process … trying to overturn matters driven by Ballot Box input … painting the public as a deplorable ignoramus because they don’t buy the line … no, nobody died and left Inlet Keeper to play god.

        It’s like with the Judicial “Beyond the shadow of a doubt”. It’s not, eh? It’s ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. Same thing with lots of environmental factors/issues; defining the goal as perfection is a gimmick, to bestow oneself with permanent employment/unearned powers.

        Climb-downs are always tough (or maybe you don’t know ;), but nobody who ever had to do a few themselves, is going to laugh (too much) at their opponent/competition, struggling down off some pedestal they’ve ill-advisedly put themselves on.

    • Actually many Alaskans modify their sleds or watercraft to actually make more noise. Quiet 4 Stroke can be modified to increase noise and pollution to make it as bad as a 2 stroke. Perhaps state regulation stopping that makes sense.

    • Steve,

      I’m glad to see you’ve moved away from your demonstrably false talking point of there being billions of gallons of carcinogens dumped into Cook Inlet. I am disappointed that you have now changed to “billions of gallons of toxic wastewater” being dumped into Cook Inlet. Do you have any documentation to support your claim of toxic wastewater being dumped in the quantities you speak of, or are you just talking nonsense and calling treated wastewater toxic the way you previously and falsely claimed billions of gallons of carcinogens were being dumped into the Inlet?

      I will agree with you that Bob needs to focus on real threats, unfortunately CI Keeper doesn’t really deal with real threats they mostly just take part in saber rattling about nonsense like billions of gallons of carcinogens and toxic waste. CI Keeper would be better off, much like yourself, in dealing with actual facts instead of using false talking points.

  11. A battle over values. Thanks for the history. My perspective of PWCs is from when they were obnoxious, mosquito sounding crafts ridden by hotdogs.

    Today, the opponents of PWCs are the same people who are opposed to any and every resource development and they believe KB, Susitna etc are their personal sanctuaries. So bring on the PWC.

  12. Ran into a guy back East who fished a smallish, man-made lake with a Torqeedo. Traditional outboards were not permitted and his Torqeedo worked just ok. Just ok. A well functioning electric motor that carried a hefty price tag. I think he carried 6 12v marine batterie$$$ to power his 21′ bass boat. He would only get a few hours out of the whole rig and forget about openning it up for any length of time.
    Agree, this is nothing but politics of a cultural war.

    • I worked longshore in Port Angeles, loading log-ships from rafts in the bay. They steel-band entire truck-loads of logs, then put them in the water. On the raft, we positioned the bundles under the crane-rigging, with pike-poles. You can easily push around a truck-load bundle, with one hand. A finger, even. You can line the bundles up and mule-train them. In fact, you go up on the ship and pull breast-lines, moving *the entire raft*, by hand. You also occasionally push the entire loaded log-ship away from the pier … by hand.

      Long as you go slow, movement on water is incredibly efficient. Long as you stick with displacement-hull vessels, their weight-carrying capacity is immense.

      Lead-acid setups can outlast the owner. We did it with old diesel submarines, and usually you never replaced the battery. The IC engine was mainly the charger.

      The 2 tricks are, keep the discharge-rate low. Size the battery-array to easily provide the juice, for whatever motor you’ve chosen. Second, don’t deep-discharge; only use a portion of the capacity. Many thousands of cycles. There are formulas; it’s well-known, mature tech.

      The major limitation in this approach, ends up being the trailerability. Thing gets too heavy too quick … then it just lives in the water, full-time. Moorage$$.

      But if ya need speed, fergitaboutit.

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