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  #11  
Old 11-08-2011
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Hi, the article Cruiser2B mentioned is in the May/June 2011 issue and is by Joe Steinberger. His DIY system was rather different than the $$$ systems Practical Sailor covered around the same time.

Aside from the resources mentioned, the listserve electricboats : Electric Boats is full of information and has many people who converted their boats, who sell the systems, and those who are just learning about it.

I think the biggest factor is the range you need. If you need ~100+ miles fuels can provide, electric is out of the question. If you only need a few miles, a low cost system like the one in GOB could do it. Electric motors have enough power for short bursts through inlets, but have trouble storing enough energy to run for long periods. That said, if the range works for you, which it could if you don't spend time in narrow rivers and channels and have some patience and flexibility, electric offers a lot of advantages such as: silent operation, no trips to the fuel dock guesstimating fuel so as to have enough but not having it grow old in the tank, no antifreeze or oil changes each season, and potentially extra space where the motor, transmission, tank, exhaust, and water intake used to be, and to repeat that last one, you get to remove a hole from the bottom of you boat

I've just put a deposit down on a system for my Ranger 33, and am going to fit the batteries in with the electric motor where the old A4 was. I suspect it will weigh about the same as the old system, but with the weight near the center of gravity and none out under the helm seat where the old fuel tank was. It's been helpful to have a friend who converted his boat last spring. See if you can find a local on that electric boats listserve. I highly recommend searching the archives and asking questions there.

Best of luck!

Damon
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There are many "naysayers" who have no real experience with an electric re-power conversion. Those who have made the conversion are most always very happy with the choice. The commercially available kits are sized for a wide range of length and displacement hulls. This takes away the "experimental" part of the re-powering project.

The properly sized electric conversion will handle winds and seas as well as any gas or diesel powered boat. Don't forget that most of the very large vessels at sea use electric motors as the final drive.

This past season I used a Torqeedo 2.0 Cruise model on my Capri 22. The previous season I used a Nissan 5 HP 2-cycle outboard (equivalent "sizes"). I had much more control at all speeds and instant on power with the Torqeedo. I could get to hull speed (6 knots) except against the strongest winds (25 knot winds) with both motors. I could motor sail all day and still not exhaust (got to 80% depth of discharge) my 225 amp, 24 volt battery bank.

Most of the time, I used the electric motor to maneuver in and out of our slip and through the mooring fields. Solar panels will replenish that energy use quickly. Since we had electricity at the slip, the batteries were always at full charge when we left the dock.

Next season we will move this Torqeedo to a Cape Dory 25 and will be on a mooring with solar recharging. We will have a small generator available for those few times when the solar recharge or the distance to travel requires a bit more.

My wife and I sail for the quiet. The electric motor auxiliary adds to the relaxation with quiet on-demand power. We can enjoy conversations at normal levels. All guests who come with us remark how much they are impressed with the setup.

Oh yes, you will probably "sail" more since you know you can turn on the electric motor instantly and then turn it off until needed.

John
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Well so far in this round the boats that make any distance seem to be a hybrid type as they carry some type of generator which sort of defeats the point to me as you still have to keep a motor running
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommays View Post
Well so far in this round the boats that make any distance seem to be a hybrid type as they carry some type of generator which sort of defeats the point to me as you still have to keep a motor running
Are you "sailing" or "motoring"?

If sailing with an electric motor which is rarely used, a generator is not needed. The batteries can be topped off with solar or wind.

If motoring everywhere, why bother with sails?

It really depends on how you choose to travel. The original poster sounds like he wants to sail mostly, but have a backup or auxiliary. Electric will do that.

John
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Old 11-08-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jepomer View Post
Are you "sailing" or "motoring"?

If sailing with an electric motor which is rarely used, a generator is not needed. The batteries can be topped off with solar or wind.

If motoring everywhere, why bother with sails?

It really depends on how you choose to travel. The original poster sounds like he wants to sail mostly, but have a backup or auxiliary. Electric will do that.

John
Even on the Chesapeake, with decent wind almost all the time blowing some direction, motoring is a needed thing. Sometimes in an emergency or to avoid.

So as much as I love to sail, in the real world motoring is happening quite a bit.

Electric MAY do that, or may not...depends on budget, size of boat (not a DIY on my 42') even if I had the money, currents, how far up the creek you berth or moor, etc, etc.
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Old 11-08-2011
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I live near Annapolis, and for a few years I drove a 1974 Beetle converted to 100% battery-electric drive. I put 10,000 miles on it, and it topped out at 70 mph, with a 35-40 mile range depending on where I was driving and how fast.

Even though I'm an advocate of electric propulsion, I am a realist about it's costs and limitations. Here's what I have to offer:

Energy storage or cost is the limitation. You can easily afford lead batteries, but they are heavy and don't store a lot of energy. Lithium batteries are available and comparatively store a lot more energy for their weight, but are very, very expensive and require complex monitoring systems to prevent damaging them during charging. A wind turbine and/or a solar panel or two will help you recover a little energy in a day or so, but not totally re-charge. You'd have to completely upholster your deck to get that kind of power. In order to have a bank that gives you any appreciable range, you HAVE to have access to shore power (or not use the motor for a week of solid breeze and sunshine).

I do agree that in the sailing environs of the Chesapeake, electric drive is practical. A marina or gunkhole is always a short hop away. If your sailing skills are up to snuff, it can be a way to go.

Something to consider: Yeah, things are close by in the Chesapeake, but we also have long periods with little to no breeze that can cause extended periods of motoring. You'd better have a good suit of sails, tailored for light air sailing, and not be afraid to fly a spinnaker, and you'd better have flexibility in your schedule.

Re-powering with electric propulsion isn't like switching from gasoline to diesel. It requires a little additional preparation and forethought, but it can be done, and in some instances, should be done.
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Old 11-08-2011
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Electric technology is "there" for many people

I'm surprised by the number of people voicing a resounding "No" in response to your electric repower question. The technology is "there" and is becoming more and more popular the more people get acquainted with the notion. Boat manufacturers are making electric power as an option on new builds, and a viable one at that.

There was a thread on Sailnet about electric conversion, unfortunately it has a misspelled word--it is titled "Calling all electic drive boats". I encourage you to read it, then I encourage you to engage in one on one conversations with people who have done similar installations. Then you can start talking to electric motor companies.

I just finished up my first season with my electric conversion on a Victoria 26. I had the same reservations--power equivalency with the OEM gas motor, range of batteries, etc. The more I talked to people who went through conversions themselves, the more comfortable I got with it and decided to take the leap. Marine propulsion of any sort has its pros and cons--you yourself will need to determine what will work for you. An electric system has made my boat more enjoyable, I may not think so if I had to make a transatlantic passing.

The beauty of it is this: electric motor technology isn't going to change much in the next decade. Battery technology will. Sure you will have to spend money replacing batteries (I saw someone estimate 5 years--that is generally under heavy use/abuse--AGM batteries are good for 1000 cycles), but other maintenance costs are next to nothing compared to an internal combustion engine. So most of the concern with electric motors are battery related (weight, range, lifespan, etc)

A detailed blog documenting my repower can be found here Coincidence - Victoria 26. Feel free to email me directly if you want to talk more.

Eric
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Old 11-08-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommays View Post
Well so far in this round the boats that make any distance seem to be a hybrid type as they carry some type of generator which sort of defeats the point to me as you still have to keep a motor running
I can see an advantage to a "hybrid" setup over a new diesel engine, even if this means running a motor now and then. With a small generator like a Honda as the emergency recharger, you've got an electric setup that works now, and most days you wouldn't be running a motor. As battery improvements come down the pike you can take advantage of them. Meanwhile, the Honda generator is a movable component that can be used elsewhere or sold if you don't need it anymore.
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  #19  
Old 11-08-2011
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Repower marnier

As a disclosure, I am in the business of selling electric propulsion.
I have come to the conclusion that just about all the EP systems from full product companies work. Your boat would be easily propelled by an electric system which is correctly balanced with the right prop, right motor, and the right battery system coupled with your understanding of the advantages, nature, and limitations of power storage. I do have concerns about those who use the parts catalogue and do not have someone who is experienced or the engineering and build experience to assemble their own.

I believe the key is being willing to go slower - 3 to 4 knots is where you need to be. Develop the skill of motor sailing so that you can go farther, point better, jib better, and go faster with apparent wind. We have a growing number of users in Southern California and I suspect the same is happening on the East Coast. I would recommend you visit the Yahoo Group as I have read many very well presented discussions on electric propulsion. I have noticed that a number of Yahoo Groupers have shared their thoughts and that the general thinking of those who have converted is positive.

Do not count on too much power from solar or wind generators. They are good but limited and most useful when you have your boat on a mooring or at anchor. Regeneration in as small a boat as yours is limited.

Take a deep breath before you buy and get ready to enjoy the truly enjoyable additional sailing capabilities.
Mike
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  #20  
Old 11-08-2011
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It sounds like there are two lines of argument here: One about whether electric propulsion is a good idea, the other about whether it's a good idea on the Chesapeake.

I joined the Electric Boat Yahoo list yesterday and noticed that someone put out the alert about the electric motor threads on Sailnet. So we have everyone with electric motors extolling their virtues regardless of where the sailboat is located and how it will be used, everyone without electric motors saying they won't work and the technology has not had time to be really tested. Rarely an unbiased middle ground.

As I've said before, we too are considering electric. We've looked into every corner of it off and on since we bought our boat and extensively for the past two weeks trying to make it work for us. Right now I'm considering going with diesel only because of the nature of the Bay. We go to quite a few anchorages that are located up rivers. About half the time it is not possible to sail. Returning from the Annapolis sail show to Rock Hall, even if our transmission had not been near death, there was NO wind in the middle of the Bay and we couldn't sit there for a day or two waiting for it. We could go hybrid but the weight is a setback for our size boat. So, if we limit ourselves to just those anchorages located at the mouth of the tributaries, we're missing an awful lot of what the Bay has to offer and why we chose to keep our boat here.

It's almost like when we mentor new sailors to buy the boat that's appropriate to where they will sail. I need to take a breath and determine if electric propulsion will allow us to get as much out of the Bay as we can. As of now, I don't think that it will with the time we have for each trip. If we were retired and didn't have to be at work on Monday morning, that would change things.

I get that electric is possible. I get it's advantages. We absolutely love the idea. But right now in it's current form it just may not be the most appropriate means of power for the location in which we sail and we have to make a decision based on what is practical and what will allow us to enjoy our boat in the way we intended when we bought it. It does the electric motor industry a disservice by having folks screaming that it is the right way to go for everyone rather than just putting the facts out there and letting people make an informed decision.
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