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Old 29-04-2013, 15:02   #1
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Jumping Ship to Power?

Well maybe. Never been a fan of the noise, smell, vibration of diesel. Also not a big fan of being awaken at night in a squall that didn't trip the radar alarm and having to reduce sail in high winds and buckets of water.

Cost of cruising, well of course cheaper with sails providing propulsion, but the $15K for a new suit of sails would buy a lot of diesel.

I have been following the advances in hull efficiency and Chris White of multi hull sailing fame designed a power catamaran with extreme hull efficiency whereas a pair of 140 hp diesels can push it over 30 kt. With a pair of 300 hp outboards it is a tick shy of 40 kt. This cat is called the Buzzard's Bay.

Larry Graf of Glacier Bay fame has started a new company in the PNW called Aspen Catamarans and has received a patent for his efficient power proa hull, single engine design. Looks like a power cat but one hull has 35% less beam than the other and no drag inducing appendages. I have crunched the numbers on his hull, and like the Chris White designed Buzzard's Bay, is a perfect candidate for a diesel-electric solar assisted propulsion. With just 1520 watts of additional solar panels over what it comes with standard, 36.4 Kw-hr of lithium batteries, here is what it can accomplish....

Distance on a single charge, higher the speed, less distance.

12.5 kt 16 nm
10 kt 26 nm
7.8 kt 41 nm
6.3 kt 65 nm
5 kt 104 nm
3.9 kt 162 nm

Time to recharge the batteries at your pristine (and quiet) anchorage is 5 days. Or if you hit a marina, overnight, and most marinas for overnight offer free electricity in the inflated single day slip fee. It won't be that inflated as you suck down 36 Kw-hr of juice.

Now if you want to cross oceans with this setup, a larger solar array would increase your 24 hour run distances.

1520 watts solar dedicated to propulsion would give 66 nm daily runs keeping the batteries full. Step up to 3000 watts of solar would give a 90 nm daily run.

Reuben Trane who just joined the forum yesterday has designed a power cat trawler with 6000 watts of solar that he has been using for the last 6 years and is currently in the early phases of development of a trimaran with efficient hulls and amas.

If others are interested in the best of both worlds, sail and power, it looks like our wishes are soon to become reality. Here are a list of links to wet your appetite.
transatlantic21: The world's first crossing of the Atlantic on a solar boat

Boat - SolarWave

Island Pilot DSe Home Page

Aspen Power Catamarans | Technology

Buzzards Bay 34 power catamaran | Buzzards Bay Cats - Power Catamarans

Aren't you glad that your a baby boomer with cruising options like this in the pipeline? I know I am.






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Old 29-04-2013, 15:09   #2
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

I'd like to see how high that thing will fly off the water during a hurricane. IMHO why fight mother nature? The wind is there, it is free, it is great fun to sail, so why not take advantage of it? Plus, you can repair it in the middle of nowhere, it is quiet, and looks a lot nicer too. One reason I sail is to get away from all the hassles of technology, not to quadruple my dependence on it.
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Old 29-04-2013, 15:20   #3
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

I've sailed, like most aspects of it. I have also designed and installed a few off grid systems for remote home sites and really like the independence. For a cruising boat I want a self sustaining lifestyle, no dependence on diesel, gasoline for the dinghy, or propane for the galley. No rigging and sail replacements, and a single moving part in an electric motor that provides propulsion.
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Old 29-04-2013, 15:26   #4
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

I think DO has a point here. I am a confirmed sailor and love voyaging under sail but to be honest, a sailboater is just as tied to technology as a motor boater. Without miracle fibers for sails, lines, halyards and/or stainless steel wire for halyards, standing rigging, etc we are back to wood hulls, hemp rope, deadeyes and cotton sails.
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Old 29-04-2013, 15:27   #5
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

Quote:
For a cruising boat I want a self sustaining lifestyle, no dependence on diesel, gasoline for the dinghy, or propane for the galley.
But you are swapping those dependencies for dependence on batteries, battery monitors, wiring, solar panels, the availability of sunlight, the reliability of the electric motor. I have had failures of all these things on a sailboat, and yet I was still able to proceed to my destination safely and in good order. Always best to have backups, and sailboats usually have two propulsion systems. You could just skip the auxiliary engine, use the sails for propulsion, and if you wanted solar and wind for the other stuff. You can easily paddle or row a dinghy. Lots of people have circumnavigated that way since the time of Magellan.
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Old 29-04-2013, 15:42   #6
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

I have brutalized controllers in EV racing, to date only one failure and it was my fault. I have the same solar panels from my Cal 40, 25 years old now and going strong. As to batteries, I've used about every type out there, from flooded L16's to 700 a-hr 2 volt AGM, and if treated right they have returned the expected cycle life. I now have LiFePO4 cells, and it is because of the cycle life and the recent price drops that make this whole concept viable now. They really are that much better than any other battery. We have a thread on these batteries on CF that is approaching 3000 posts. Reuben Trane just upgraded his Odyssey AGM to (16) 1000 a-hr LiFePO4 Winston cells in the above link of his DSe 12.

skipmac, as to your signature, I have always found the waters bluer 100 nm and further offshore.
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Old 29-04-2013, 16:19   #7
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

admit it, you guys are jealous
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Old 29-04-2013, 16:37   #8
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

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skipmac, as to your signature, I have always found the waters bluer 100 nm and further offshore.


Come to south FL where the Gulf Stream is only a couple of miles offshore and you won't have to go quite as far.

I'm not really sure if the water is actually bluer on the other side of the ocean but I sure do have the bug to go look and find out. Of course it only counts if you go by boat.
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Old 29-04-2013, 16:58   #9
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

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Come to south FL where the Gulf Stream is only a couple of miles offshore and you won't have to go quite as far.

I'm not really sure if the water is actually bluer on the other side of the ocean but I sure do have the bug to go look and find out. Of course it only counts if you go by boat.
I generally shipped out from the west coast, Tacoma, Oakland, LA, and Long Beach. It would take a good 6 hours running at 18 kt to reach clear blue waters that stay pristine blue till about the same distance from the shores of Asia and Japan.
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Old 29-04-2013, 17:11   #10
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

Sailing is... sailing, and no amount of motor propulsion whiz-bangery will persuade many of us to give that up. On the other hand, cruising does also often require motoring, so I am also receptive to any improvements in propulsion systems. I am particularly interested in seeing hybrid systems (diesel genny/batteries/electric motor) become practical for cruising boats.

So, it's all good!
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Old 29-04-2013, 17:56   #11
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

Lake-Effect, I agree, sailing is serene except when it isn't, awakened from quickly changing conditions that weren't forecast and missed by radar, carrying too much sail. As a single hander I thought maybe at least electric propulsion on a sailboat until the efficient hull offerings of the above mentioned boats. Then last year the price of LiFePO4 cells dropped, and some boat designers are going solar electric for principal propulsion. I'm thinking now, why not? This means of propulsion keeps all the positives of both motor or sail, and leaves behind all the negatives.
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Old 29-04-2013, 21:06   #12
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

I certainly agree, the advantages of modern technology are its simplicity,
so my boat, is being built without traditional sails.

Sailing is a very complex, difficult, and expensive method of propulsion.
But I'm sure that is one thing that makes it so appealing, it is challenging and difficult,
and therefore very rewarding when done well. Power boats were looked "down" upon
because of the dirty expensive diesel engine (and being too easy) but now we can have power boats that are clean and quiet like a sailboat, and maybe even easier than before with less work than a diesel powered boat. what's not to like?
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Old 29-04-2013, 21:29   #13
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

I don't see the problem of wanting to use a powered boat for cruising instead of sailing. It's definately not because it's cheaper to sail that I sail. It really isn't cheaper. It's because I like it and prefer it that way. If the goal is to go from anchorage A to anchorage B and then stay there for a while, all the time with the absolute most comfort and less work, I don't see how a sailboat can offer that. I don't look down on people having a motorboat (diesel or otherwise) because I can most often see why it is preferable to them and their needs and wants.

I prefer to sail myself, be wet and miserable at times, but it is that which makes it an adventure to me. I also like to fine tune sails and handsteer when the weather is "interesting", and I like going to weather.

If you can make a solar/electric boat work for you, I say more power to you!
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Old 29-04-2013, 21:49   #14
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Re: Jumping ship to power????

Typical Caribbean cruising is 100~150 nm then hanging out for a week, more than enough time to fill the battery bank from solar.
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Old 29-04-2013, 21:58   #15
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Typical Caribbean cruising is 100~150 nm then hanging out for a week, more than enough time to fill the battery bank from solar.
Sounds like a comfy place to retire Bob.
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