Green Inventor Talks Solar Powered Boats

Before starting Tamarack Electric Boats, Montgomery Gisborne was interested in electric cars, but now he’s focused on the water. Since 1993, Gisborne has been involved in the technical aspects of electric vehicles in Canada. Gisborne has been competing in the American version of the Tour del Sol since 1997, placing first in 2003, and he even created a similar race called the Canadian Clean Air Cruise.

To date, Gisborne has logged over 31,000 miles of travel in electric vehicles. But he’s not only concerned with cars. In 2003 he built one of the world’s first electric snowmobiles, and two years later he founded Tamarack Electric Boats. We’ve covered solar boats many times, and the company’s latest invention, the Loon, caught our eye and when given the opportunity, we thought readers would like to know more about a man who designs such interesting electric vehicles.

image via Tamarack Electric Boats

EarthTechling (ET): You have an extensive background in electric cars, what made you want to start an electric boat company?

Montgomery Gisborne: Having built electric cars and electrified many other devices such as a snowmobile, I was always looking for a business opportunity in the mix. I had thought of building electric cars for a living, especially after coming in first in the 2003 American Tour del Sol electric car rally, but the reality that you cannot become GM overnight settled in. After much deliberation, I decided that the idea of a solar-powered boat must be a good one, perhaps my best, so I decided to build me first solar boat as a “science project” in 2005. The boat worked so well that I little choice but to purse it!

ET: Was there any specific reason that you were looking to move the company from Canada to the United States?

Gisborne: Sure, more people, water and sun. I think that we brought our ideas to NYS at a time when Canada seemed to focus its attention the Athabasca Tar Sands, and NYS was looking for sustainable product projects to create sustainable jobs. Then there’s this crazy little piece of legislation which was brought into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) called the Jones Act which prohibits Canadian companies from selling boats into the US, so we had a triumvirate of good reasons to move across the border.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.