News & Projects

Volvo Penta Engines Providing Power & Reliability to Ferries


To get to Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, you need a boat. The special thing about the island is that it offers a glimpse, for visitors and residents, of what sea islands were like before bridges, causeways and development.

Richard Inglis, Director of Transportation for Haig Point, located on Daufuskie Island, began working for the ferry company in 1985, as a captain. All but one of the boats were built in the mid-1980s, the other built in 2007. Inglis began working with Western Branch Diesel in 2016 on a project to repower four of their vessels with Volvo Penta engines. The Palmetto Merchant and Palmetto Trader were repowered with twin D13-600s and the Haig Point I and Haig Point II with twin D13-500s. The company is planning to repower one more, which is scheduled for completion in 2021.

“In our power range, Volvo Penta had the engines we needed and met Tier 3 EPA requirements. Volvo Penta was the best one for staying in compliance and offered consistency in the project,” says Inglis. “We’re seeing benefit from the new engines, which we’re running about 1500 hours per year, per boat.”

The vessels typically spend more time docking than underway, with about a dozen docking tasks per day. The boats are seeing an increase in power from the engines, with improved torque even when they are at their 10,000-pound payload. The captains are enjoying the extra power on their runs to Savannah, getting underway more quickly, and providing a smoother ride for their passengers.


CUSTOMER Daufuskie Island Ferry Service
VESSEL Haig Point I & Haig Point II
LENGTH 55 ft
BEAM 17 ft
DRAFT 3 ft, 6 in
VESSEL Palmetto Merchant & Palmetto Trader
LENGTH 49 ft
BEAM 17 ft
DRAFT 3 ft, 6 in

With the engines, “we are seeing improved docking control, and the engine electronics have been very reliable,” says Inglis. “The new controls are holding up and working great. The captains are happy with them.”

The company is seeing an increase in business. What started as an experiment in 2016, when the test boat was repowered with Volvo Penta engines, has really paid off for the company. With the new engines and overhaul of the 30-year-old boats, it has breathed new life into the ferries, and has raised Inglis’s confidence in the capability of the engines.


“Since there are no vehicles on the island, the ferry engines have to be extremely reliable and ready to run. We’re excited to be working with Haig Point and the Daufuskie Island Ferries on the project, and appreciate their support and business,” says Ken Cotte, territory manager, Western Branch Diesel.

With regard to regular maintenance, Inglis is seeing service for parts and supplies as dependable. “I can’t tell you anything that we’ve needed, that hasn’t come on a timely basis. The engines are capable and I feel confident in them,” says Inglis.


“The Volvo Pentas are more reliable engines. We’ve had real glitches with other engines. We believe Volvo Penta is a better product than the others. They are capable engines for our application.”

Richard Inglis, Director of Transportation, Daufuskie Island Ferry Service