Where are all the hybrids?
If this has beaten to death, please let me know but I haven't really found the definitive answer. I was reading about the system of Lagoon here
Electric drive for Lagoon catamarans
and an Outremer implementation here
To me, this just sounds like a great way to go; especially regenerative props that recharge your batteries while sailing. So, if its a hot as it sounds, where are all the hybrid boats? For reference, I hear there are very few of the Lagoons and one of the electrics that is on the market has been there for a long time. The Outremer article is from 2003 yet if you go onto their website I don't see any mention of hybrid systems (that said, the whole thing is in French; so much for 'english coming in January of 2009!).
I know sailors are probably some of the most conservative people out there but with the benefits I hear of, surely this would win people over? I mean, whats the worst that can happen, your engine stops working....ok, well it is a SAIL boat after all right? You could always, you know, sail to your destination!
Thoughts, opinions, witty comments? Why don't you have a hybrid on your boat now? Would you consider it on your boat if you were buying new today or in the near future?
Ducky...the systems are quite complex and there have been all sorts of bumps on the learning curve. I know and have chatted with 2 the owners of 2 of the Lagoons and one says that if he had it to do over again...he would not do it. Both have had lots of problems and knew they would be guinea pigs before getting the boats which are NOW (a couple of years later) pretty well sorted out. Both have high praise for Beneteau in terms of support and spending the money to put things right...but it is clear to me that getting this to work properly on a cruising boat is still not quite ready for prime time.
Nigel Calder is presently putting together a new Malo with both diesel and electric systems and the latest technology in charging and batteries to try to quantify what the issues are and to make it all work.
In the future, I think we'll see a lot of hybrids. Follow the project here:
Blog - Background
Looks like I need to be pondering diesel then! It does seem intuitively simple but I gather implementation in reality is quite a different story.
There are a lot of problems with doing a diesel electric hybrid on a small sailboat at the moment. First, is the weight of the battery banks needed to make the system workable. Second, is the reliability problems with any electrical system you'll find on a small sailboat. Third, is the fact that the technology is still very much a work in progress...so if you do go the diesel-electric hybrid route, you'll basically be a guinea pig.
Also, if you're planning on cruising long-term, you'll have to consider the difficulties of getting the system repaired in remote areas. Parts and such are likely to be far less accessible.
Stick with diesel. It is a solid, proven, mature technology that is relatively simple to operate and maintain.
In this month's (February) Wooden Boat, naval architect Dave Gerr makes a fairly persuasive case for why hybrid technology doesn't make sense in most pleasure craft.
The gist of his argument is that all the conditions that make hybrid technology in vehicles advantageous are absent in the marine environment. Primarily, automobile engines are subject to intermittent loads (start/stop at intersections, idling in traffic, coasting downhill, braking, etc) that make much of the power generated by the internal combustion engine superfluous. This power (and fuel consumption) can be conserved by shutting the engine down. Also, downhills and braking allow for regenerative charging.
But boats normally need continuous power/constant thrust. The most efficient and least complex way to achieve that is by coupling the diesel engine directly to the prop shaft via a transmission.
Also, the idea of "regeneration" (via the spinning prop) while sailing creates too much drag resulting in lost boat speed. Sailboats are already slow enough!
Sailboats are slow? Are you in a hurry? You can always fly! I keed I keed!
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