Monterey Bay Eco Tours opts for electric propulsion

Monterey Eco Tours

June 29, 2023

California’s Monterey Bay’s stunning blue waters owe, in part, its legendary abundance of seabirds and marine mammals to adjacent Elkhorn Slough — the first estuarine sanctuary established in the United States. When Wendy Kitchell decided to start Monterey Bay Eco Tours, a charter tour business highlighting this critical natural resource, she wanted it to have minimal impact on Elkhorn Slough’s wildlife and fragile ecosystem. To power her 32-passenger power catamaran, El Cat, she naturally opted for clean, quiet Elco electric outboard propulsion.

Elco’s outboards are friendly to more than just the Slough’s wildlife, too. “Having an electric vessel is what sets us apart from other tour operators,” said Kitchell. “Passengers constantly remark on how quiet and vibration-free the trip is, especially when we idle and observe wildlife. Plus, we don’t have to constantly position the boat to keep exhaust fumes downwind from our guests.”

Wendy’s brother Joe Kitchell built El Cat using vacuum-infused fiberglass and carbon fiber for the hulls and 100% carbon fiber for the deck. The 37′ L x 14.7′ W David Walworth-designed, wheelchair-accessible vessel is not only incredibly strong, but exceptionally light, and its highly efficient hull is easily propelled to its cruising speed by twin Elco EP-20 outboards. Powered by Rolls 6V batteries wired in series to produce 48V, the motors create a combined 780 lbs. of thrust.

Monterey Eco ToursWhile Elco brushless PMAC motors are over 90% efficient, internal water cooling prevents overheating when fully loaded and facing headwinds. Because El Cat is a charter vessel, safety is paramount. Elco EP-20 motors include over-speed, overload, high-temperature, over-voltage and over-current protections, and unlike gas outboards, Elco motors continue to operate at maneuvering speed even with no cooling water.

“As a charter boat, El Cat needs to run without any downtime,” said Kitchell, who holds a US Coast Guard 500-ton master’s license. That’s another reason she chose Elco outboards with just four moving parts. In fact, only the lower unit gear oil and impeller require scheduled maintenance. “Elco motors are built in the US, and reliable. And if we ever have a question, their responsive customer service team is readily available.”

Celebrating 130 years providing electric vessel propulsion, Elco manufactures electric inboard and outboard motors ranging in power equivalency from five to 200 hp. With no exhaust emissions or gas to spill, it’s the ideal propulsion for recreational and commercial vessels alike, especially in ecologically sensitive areas.

Founded in 2020, woman-owned and operated Monterey Bay Eco Tours provides public and private narrated sustainability-oriented nature cruises through Elkhorn Slough, a seven-mile-long tidal wetland. The Moss Landing, California company’s website is

For Elco Motor Yachts visit;

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