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Image from electric Maid of the Mist. Image courtesy of Ryan Leeper.

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Our Niagara Falls, Maid of the Mist Electric Ferry Trip — End of Summer Family Tesla Model 3 Trip

By Ryan Leeper

School is starting soon for the kids, so my wife and I took them on a trip to Niagara Falls. Living in Ohio, we decided to drive our Model 3, as it was only a 5 hour trip. Charging along the way was simple with the Supercharger network. We stopped at Presque Isle Beach #8 so the kids could play in the lake, and we charged up on the level 2 station there in the meantime.

The hotel we stayed at didn’t offer charging, unfortunately, and the ones that did were already booked. I still checked all the light posts and boxes, but no fixture outlets existed. After our last leg of the trip, we were down to 40 miles of range, but there is a charging station on Goat Island at the falls. Upon arrival, the right side of the station was dead and the other side had a broken receptacle. I had to call ChargePoint to get the charge started, as the app wouldn’t work. Thankfully, they were able to start the charge on their end and also put in a ticket for repair.

On to the Maid of the Mist. Image courtesy of Ryan Leeper.

If you are unaware, in 2020, the Maid of the Mist ships were upgraded to electric. There are two of them — the Nikola Tesla and the James V. Glynn. Both are catamarans and completely electric, no backup combustion engines. (Here’s a short video from the ferry.)

Electric charging cables on the Maid of the Mist. Image courtesy of Ryan Leeper.

Maid of the Mist has been taking visitors on journeys to see breathtaking views since 1846. But in order to protect this amazing natural wonder, we need to do our part.

“That’s why we’re excited to announce the creation of two new zero-emission vessels to ferry our visitors to and from the majesty that is Niagara Falls.

“These catamaran-style boats are game changers for our visitors, the environment and the industry. Our new vessels:

  • Are among the first all-electric passenger vessels in North America
  • Utilize lithium-ion battery power that recharges to 80% each trip
  • Produce zero emissions
  • Operate nearly silently with little to no vibration
  • Have complete redundancy in propulsion and battery power, with independent systems located in each hull
  • Are made from 5086 H116 marine-grade, a superior marine-environment, corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy
  • Won’t have diesel or combustion-based backup propulsion systems; unlike most other electric vessels, these will not be hybrid vessels
  • Utilize forward bow thrusters to further enhance the steering capabilities, allowing the vessel to maneuver sideways and dock with ease
  • Are designed to reduce both heeling and wave-induced motion, compared to a single-hull vessel.”

The experience was similar to how I describe any EV. Smooth. No diesel exhaust, no engine roaring, no jerking or jarring vibrations. Nearly everyone on board was in awe of the majestic experience. I too enjoyed it, but I was also thrilled by the EVness of it all.

The ship made its way up the river past the American falls and up to the Canadian. Upon reaching the bottom of the falls, the ship used its bow thrusters and spun, doing a full 360-degree turn and allowing everyone onboard to get a full soggy view. This maneuver was silent, easy, and eloquent. On the return trip down river, it again pulled a full turn to allow viewing of the American falls.

Charging started as soon as the ship docked, even before passengers started leaving. Two very large connectors are manually plugged in and locked into place. Each charge takes 7 minutes and replenishes the lithium battery up to 80%. The cables are very thick, about the size of a soda can. Another bonus of the system was that the power provided was 100% renewable from the hydro-electric dam.

It was a wonderful experience for my family. The two children were awestruck by the raw power of the water surging over the falls.

 
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