March / April 2021

A Fast Cat for Islesboro

An economical Maine island commuter

The power-catamaran FLOW, launched late last season at Islesboro, Maine, is a multiuse commuter and charter boat—and a means of exploring energy efficient design.

Last summer, moored among the center-console runabouts, working lobsterboats, and summer daysailers of Islesboro, Maine, was a subtle, futuristic cool-gray 32' power catamaran. It looked like a water strider at rest, with a passenger pod perched calmly above the water’s surface and supported by two lean molded-plywood hulls. The boat’s appearance hinted at the capacity for easy speed. This lightweight custom-built, wood-composite craft is the product of Earl and Bonnie MacKenzie, longtime island residents and professional mariners.

Launched in July 2020, the boat, FLOW, was conceived to have a minimal environmental impact. While low fuel usage is an important part of this, the concept goes beyond energy efficiency. FLOW also incorporates ideas for minimizing annual maintenance, mitigating the slamming and discomfort too often inherent in small powerboats, and lowering material requirements and construction waste.

FLOW will be used primarily as a commuter and day cruiser throughout Penobscot Bay, also for occasional charters. These trips will be on water that turns from lake-smooth into a sharp chop when the wind sets against the tide. Even in summer, a rough day on the bay can produce bone-chilling spray.

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