New Electric-Powered Boat to Offer Cruises on Memphremagog for Vermonters Affected by Cancer
Next spring, after the ice gives way to the warmth of the sun, there will be a new vessel on Lake Memphremagog ready for easy, peaceful and healing excursions on the water.
Starting just after Memorial Day, Floating Grace, a 22 ft Duffy, 100 percent electric-powered picnic boat recently shipped to Newport, will be available to take people and their families from around the region who are undergoing cancer treatments for a peaceful and memorable reprieve as they tour the lake. The effort has been supported by a range of sources, including Vermont Electric Co-op’s Community Fund.
“Our goal is to provide a respite from the daily struggles of dealing with this disease that touches far too many of us,” says Chris Johansen of Newport, who is spearheading the effort. “We are grateful for all the help we’ve received, including the support from the VEC fund,” he said.
The tours will be by appointment - morning, afternoon or evening depending on availability and roughly two hours long. Just where the cruise leads would be up to the family taking the trip. The tours will always be at no-charge because of volunteers and generous donations from the community.
Johansen, who was formerly the captain of Lake Champlain’s Spirit of Ethan Allen and now works at the North Country Hospital in community relations, says the boat would be available for a couple or can safely accommodate a family up to 12 passengers.
Floating Grace is powered by 16 six-volt batteries, similar to batteries used in golf carts. At top speed of six knots, the boat can run for approximately six hours; running at three knots, the boat can go for 10 hours and is easily recharged overnight.
“An electric boat is an entirely different experience than a conventional gasoline or diesel-powered boat – it’s silent. No sounds, no vibrations, no exhaust,” Johansen said. “The only thing you hear is the lapping of the water as the hull moves through the water. I have trouble explaining it – all I can say is it’s just different. You have to experience it.”
In some of Floating Grace’s test runs last spring, Johansen noticed that birds on the lake didn’t fly away from the boat as it approached because it’s so quiet. And people on the boat did not have to raise their voices to have a simple conversation.
Organizers have started a campaign to raise money for a second or third partially paid skipper, general boat care expenditures, and expanded guest offerings such as gift baskets filled with cozy blankets, tasty fresh food, inspiring books and more.
For more information about Floating Grace, and how you can support the effort, please visit https://www.floatinggrace.org/ or call 802-323-8424.
About the VEC Community Fund
The VEC Community Fund is a voluntary program supported by VEC members who choose round up their electric bills, donate their patronage capital dollars, or make one-time donations to the fund. The fund then makes grants to local organizations that support economic security, energy education, emergency and disaster relief, and community development.
Applications for the fund are on a rolling basis, and grants are issued quarterly. If you know an organization that could benefit from the support of the Community Fund, or you want to support the fund, you can learn more here: https://vermontelectric.coop/community-fund or call VEC Member Services at 802-635-2331 or 800-832-2667.