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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2022 2 days ago

Local business corners market on electric boats

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Ed Kolodzieski won't just order an electric boat for you. You can visit his showroom and take one home the next week.
by: Spencer Fordin A+E Editor

Imagine being on the water, just you and your family, and no sounds of an engine.

That might have only been possible on a sailboat at one point, but now Longboat Key residents can avail themselves of a local business that stocks the latest in nautical technology.

Ed Kolodzieski, a marine patrol officer with the Longboat Key Police Department who moonlights as a boat seller, has been running Ultra-Yacht since 2020, and he believes he is one of the only local stocking agents for the Duffy boat, a zero-emissions electric vessel that can be charged using a shore power cord.

The Duffy boats are manufactured in California and have been made for a half-century, but Kolodzieski said he finds himself fighting a battle of low awareness.

People know about electric cars, he said, but for some reason they don’t know as much about electric boats.

And when they find out? It sparks a whole new life adventure.

“If you think about people who own a Harley Davidson, they don’t say it’s a motorcycle. It’s a lifestyle,” he said. “The Duffy is more likely to be bought by someone later in life.

"They’ve boated for a while, and they want to be out on the water. It’s not about how fast the boat goes. It’s almost about being in your floating living room and enjoying nature with your friends.”

Kolodzieski, who works on the marine unit, said that Sarasota Bay is one of the ideal places in the country to operate a Duffy boat because it has protected inland waters, and you can go boating year-round.

The boats can operate up to 12 hours on a full charge, so the occupants don’t need to go out on the water searching for gas stations before they return home.

In most cases, Kolodzieski said, you wouldn’t be able to just walk into a dealership and buy a Duffy boat. You’d go in and place an order, and it could take eight months to process and be delivered. Kolodzieski said he tries to keep a few in stock, but it’s nearly impossible to keep them around that long.

“We can sell every boat we get our hands on,” Kolodzieski said. “We’re proactively ordering the most common boat people are going to want, and we have them in stock. If they want a Cuddy Cabin, we’ll have to order it.

"But if you want a Sun Cruiser, we’re going to say: ‘We have a couple Sun Cruisers to choose from. Do you like one of the ones we have? If you do, you can own it next week.’”

Doug Coffman pilots a Duffy Sun Cruiser with a ruffled surrey top. (Courtesy photo)

When he’s talking to customers, Kolodzieski said he frequently asks them questions cast in the negative.

Are you looking to go fast, go water skiing or wakeboarding? Are you looking to go far off-shore? Because if you are, a Duffy boat might not be for you. Are you somebody who likes to fiddle with the boat? You might be out of luck. There’s not much boat maintenance to be done on the electric vessels, and the motor carries a full warranty for the life of the original owner.

So who is a candidate for the Duffy? Someone who doesn’t want to be forced to do a lot of work on their boat and someone who’s looking for a peaceful day on the water.

“You would never think of this boat if you need to go 40 miles off shore,” Kolodzieski said. “It’s interesting. The youngest generation is concerned about having zero emission boats, but people of my age are also interested in it. It’s not about how fast you go; it’s about slowing down and taking in nature and enjoying it.”

The boats retail at a price starting in the high $40,000s and ranging all the way into the $70,000 range, and Kolodzieski said there are three basic models that you can purchase.

There’s the Sun Cruiser, the most popular version, and there’s the Bay Island and the Cuddy Cruiser. All three models fit 12 people; the difference is the layout of the cabin.

With the Bay Island, the whole cabin is covered, but the Sun Cruiser can only fit eight people inside the enclosed cabin plus three or four standing exposed on the deck. The Cuddy Cabin can be completely enclosed, plus there’s the option of adding a small marine head.

“If six or eight people go out on the boat, I’m pretty confident that three or four people will want to sit outside,” Kolodzieski said of the Sun Cruiser. “It's kind of the best of both worlds.

"If it’s inclement weather or really cold, you still can have eight people out enclosed just like the Bay Island. But you’re limited to eight people. Most people aren’t taking 12 people out.”

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