Traditional Heligoland boat with Torqeedo e-motor

Heligoland, a small island off the northern coast of Germany, has electrified one of its traditional handcrafted oak boats called börteboote, (boarding boats) with an electric drive from Torqeedo.

The approximately ten-meter long boarding boats are used on Heligoland to bring passengers from large ships to the port – also on the large passenger ships that sail daily from the mainland to the island. The boats, which the UNESCO considers “Intangible Cultural Heritage” then carry up to 50 passengers each from the ship to the jetties. The municipality of Heligoland has now had one example converted to an electric motor with a lithium-ion battery.

“Our transfer boats have been a tradition on Helgoland for centuries. With the installation of the electric drives, we are leading this tradition into the future,” says Mayor Jörg Singer. “The new Pirat will noticeably improve the passenger experience and set a signal for the protection of nature and active climate protection in the tourism industry,” adds the mayor. The first electric boat will be presented to the public on August 10th on the occasion of the 65th edition of the transfer boat regatta at the Helgoländer Landungsbrücke (the pier).

The Torqeedo engineers have specially adapted their Deep Blue 50i electric drive for the boat called Pirat, which initially went into service back in 1962. The newly installed electric motor has an output of 50 kW, and the 40 kWh battery uses the technology familiar from the BMW i3. The information does not indicate which adjustments have been made to the boat itself, however.

Boatbuilder Rainer Hatecke however, noted that the extra torque provided by the Torqeedo electric drive helps the boat punch effortlessly through the high North Sea waves. “Together with my shipyard crew we have built a real ‘e-pirate’ for Heligoland,” he says.

Another advantage for the boatmen: since the old diesel engines were very noisy, the crew had to shout to communicate on the open boat. In the future, the ship will glide quietly through the water, enabling a far more pleasant and calm harbour atmosphere.

Additional reporting by Nora Manthey.


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