Changing the Game
The diesel-powered 36 from Greenline Hybrid opened Jason’s eyes to the ever-expanding potential of technology.
Boating allows us to capture the best of all worlds, letting us experience nature through a pleasing combination of technology and free will. If you want a simplified way to think about how this works, consider that there seems to be an inverse relationship between technology’s complexity and the ease of the user experience. Think about it: Since our mobile devices have gotten more and more user friendly over time (and cell phones have become smart phones), the technology inside has become substantially more sophisticated.
To a degree, the same goes for boats. Whether it’s the safety of the systems, or the efficiency of the craft, or the comfort she offers, the technology bears the brunt of the work. It’s what we do with it that can make the real difference in the experience.
When I sea-trialed the Greenline 36, my eyes opened to new benefits of embracing technology, and I think immersion in the novelty of it can serve to inspire. The Greenline 36 is the first new model introduced by a new ownership group of Greenline Hybrid, SVP Yachts, and the company seems to want to make the most of fitting together people and technology.
Full disclosure: I am intrigued by the idea of a hybrid-powered boat, and have long been a fan of the concept behind Greenline boats since the principals at J&J Design founded the brand in 2009. But the appeal for me is not because of the “green” implications, though that certainly doesn’t hurt. What I like most are different operating modes (including silent, emission-free, electric-powered running) that give a boater choices. There’s a back-to-nature feel to it that could be a real gamechanger.
Greenline Hybrid, under its new owners, is now full steam ahead, with a full line under 50 feet LOA, including the new 36 and refreshed “legacy” models: 48, 40, and 33. For larger yachts, SVP has four models planned, ranging from 57 to 90 feet under a division called Ocean Class Yachts. The company philosophy is to use smart design and technology to improve energy efficiency on board, from the hull to the hardtop solar panels.
Technology seems to have three effects on the user. First, it appeals to us as the next big thing and may get us to try something new. Much of what we have at our disposal now wouldn’t exist without early adopters and influencers offering their support. Think of your first boating experience (if you can remember it), when a friend or parent introduced you to the sport. This was something new, and you immediately started building your knowledge and adding to it.
Second, technology exerts its influence on the user, bending our will to its requirements until it becomes ingrained. Think of visiting the fuel dock or switching on batteries, or conducting a radio check before heading out. That diesel in the engine room, or onboard electrical system, or fixed-mount VHF changed behaviors—though they’re not new technologies, they were once new to you.
The third, and perhaps most important thing, is that users innovate their thinking under the influence of technology, and the result is a win win win. The user gets more from his purchase and experience, the technology functions the way it was intended, and, down the road, the company that is applying and selling the technology gets a new evangelist on the docks and a good result.
The Greenline 36 I sea-trialed was not hybrid-powered, instead relying on a single 370-horsepower diesel. Since the philosophy of the company speaks to efficiency, it makes perfect sense: Diesel is popular not just because Rudolf was a great guy. It’s still the most efficient way to power a recreational boat over any distance. Rather than let the hybrid propulsion steal the show (more on that in a minute), this 36 shows off other kinds of efficiency.
This diesel-only Greenline, gave us an easygoing ride with a 17-knot cruise speed at 3100 rpm. This soft-riding hull (they call it “superdisplacement” because it works well at any speed, but also planes at 14 knots) maneuvered well in gentle conditions. To be frank, she’s not a speedster, but she felt stable on our day of light winds and kindly seas, and she was responsive to both wheel and throttle.
“She runs like she’s on rails,” says Dennis Rhodes of Atlantic Yacht & Ship, a U.S. dealer for Greenline Hybrid. “She’s a nimble little boat. She doesn’t lean outboard or inboard, probably due to her stabilizer fin on centerline.” I certainly liked the way she ran during my time at the helm.
I also really like the huge, slide-open window by the helm station, which becomes a step-through door that can simplify line-handling for single-handers—smart. If this were my boat, that window/door would be open any time I’m on board. In contrast there was a piece of overbearing wood trim right above it that worried me—I thought I might bump my head when standing at the helm. I’m sure I’d get used to it eventually if it were my boat.
Greenline Hybrid uses technology and power management to give the boater and guests the comforts of home on board. The layout on the 36 has two staterooms and a single head with one door for private access from the master forward, and one door for day-head or shared use. The master has a 6-foot-1½-inch overhead at the standing area at the foot of the berth. Or should I say berths, since the double divides and scissors outboard to create separate berths. There’s hanging-locker space to both port and starboard, and handy stowage in light wood cabinetry all around. Greenline has continued to use numerous windows in the design, with narrow rectangles in the hullsides and high windows around the trunk on the foredeck—a treatment that allows plenty of light in while heading off the cave-like quality. That natural light speaks to efficiency: I wouldn’t need to turn on electric lights in the daytime. The second cabin has 6 feet 1 inch of headroom in the entryway, but the inboard berth is a crawl-in affair with a low overhead. It seems to be a worthwhile sacrifice for the level deck above, from the companionway to the transom.
And that main-deck interior does a lot with the space, from the one-step-up-elevated helm to starboard and dinette to port that provide excellent views from comfy seats, to a galley with lots of stowage and counter space to port opposite a console with a popup flatscreen. Beneath the sole of the galley is the engine hatch, which opened wide for fairly easy access to service points. And there in the starboard aft corner, a full-size household fridge on a 36-footer (Gorenje brand on our boat). While it affects panoramic sightlines, the cold stowage is surely a worthwhile tradeoff—and no need for cockpit refrigeration, it’s right there inside the door.
The aft glass bulkhead has a mirror finish on the outside, with a sliding door in the middle. To port the window flips up and latches to the cockpit overhead, and then a small backsplash on the galley’s aft counter folds down to extend the counter into the cockpit. It’s a cool effect as this counter will become a hub for serving guests, inside and out. It’s in the cockpit that I noticed the house on this boat is cheated to port, creating more interior space while allowing the starboard side deck to offer wide and easy passage to the foredeck, where there’s a sunpad atop the cabin trunk, or to that helm-side window/door.
The transom can fold down, controlled with a powered remote, to create a twofold effect: The transom becomes a swim platform, and, second, it makes the cockpit wide open and more roomy—better to allow more room for guests to spread out, enjoy the air, and use the port-side settee. All of this is contingent on a calmish day at anchor of course. The transom retracts with a motorized system that winches a nylon line. It’s a solution that is not unnecessarily complicated or requires too much energy. I like that.
Speaking of power, there’s another benefit of hybrid systems and solar panels: This company thinks about electricity in ways that other companies don’t. “We make it possibile to use 110-volt power on board permanently,” says Vladimir Zinchenko, CEO of SVP Yachts. “We try to bring boating closer to the home environment, and so we offer home appliances like the regular fridge and freezer, air conditioning, electric induction cooking, and so on. Just bring any appliance you want on the boat and plug it in, without any need even to flip a switch.” Zinchenko was referring mostly to the company’s hybrid boats, with their slick touchscreen battery management system running an array of Lithium-polymer batteries. The non-hybrid 36 uses massive AGM batteries to mimic the experience. The solar panels on the hardtop power the fridge, and the battery system can provide three to four hours of air-conditioning, according to Rhodes.
But you can’t go this far and not find out about that hybrid system, so Rhodes also took me out on a Greenline 40, a legacy model from the company. Switching to the 10-kilowatt electric drive (that’s 15 horsepower) in the channel off Harbour Towne Marina in Dania Beach, Florida, the silence overtakes you and fills the boat. No sound. No vibration. No emissions. It’s almost eerie, to be frank, until you push the throttle a bit and touch the wheel and realize you’re under power. It’s nothing short of a gamechanger, where wind noise and water flowing past the hull are the loudest noises you hear.
Hybrid technology is a great idea and seemingly getting better all the time. The challenge, in a nutshell, is that automotive hybrids derive charging gains from braking, an effect that does not exist in boats. Greenline Hybrid and others persist in trying to break the code of this system because of its ace in the hole: truly silent running. I’ve sea-trialed electric-drive boats before and I think I would use the system regularly. And I’m curious how the technology would change how I would use a boat.
Adopting technology and adapting to it can change everything, so long as we let the technology handle the complex side of the equation, and we bring along the free will. No need to keep that quiet.
Warranty: 2 years stem-to-stern for all systems, components, and workmanship; 10 years structural for the hull and deck; and 5 years for gelcoat blisters
Conditions During Boat Test
Air temperature: 80°F; humidity: 65%; seas: 2'
Test Boat Specifications
- Test Engine: 370-hp Yanmar V-8 diesel
- Transmission/Ratio: Yanmar KMH50A, 2.13:1 gear ratio
- Props: 4-blade 22 x 20.7 ISO Class 1 Metric Shaft
This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.