I must confess that I too have jumped off the deep end into electric territory. My Atomic 4 seized my first time that I left the marina, and I decided that at this point it would probably be more economical to simply replace the engine.
I'm nervous as heck about this decision, as obviously it's not the popular one and I'm clearly new around here. However, there is but a single
drawback to the electric, and I think we all know what it is: range.
However, here's what you get in return for accepting that limitation:
1. trivial maintenance
(my initial installation
was out of alignment, so I pulled out the engine while at the dock
and fixed it)
2. extreme quiet
3. built in power generation (for regenerative systems)
4. no diesel or gas smell
5. fine docking
control. I'm a complete newbie at maneuvering under power (have done it maybe 6 times total), and yet have received compliments on my single-handed docking
6. enormous battery bank for house systems
7. turn key departure - no warm up or cool down or opening seacocks and fuel valves
I think there are a few factors that can make the difference in whether electric is sensible or not.
1. Where on the cruising spectrum does on fall? i.e. camping vs. comfort. If you're not running any high power electrical
systems like refrigeration
or a watermaker
, electric may make sense
2. What is the local geography? If it involves long narrow channels, then the limited range of electric is going to be a dealbreaker. If, however, the distances involved between open water and anchorages/docks are typically only of order a mile, electric can be a perfectly reasonable alternative, especially with regenerative charging
3. How big is the boat? Electric scales poorly with boat size. Smaller boats can get by with a modest bank. With 4 105Ah batteries, I easily have a range of 12 miles at 3 knots, which is more than adequate for weekending. For longer cruising, solar
, or a generator is a must for use at anchor
. However, for passagemaking, the regenerative capabilities* of the motor
should be more than adequate by themselves to recharge between ports
The Panama Canal
question has bothered me. However, there are several options: 1.) use a generator. 2.) use the dingy outboard
. 3.) Get a tow. (although I suspect buying
the generator may be cheaper than this option!)
*i'm just going by the spec sheet on regeneration. Haven't gotten it working yet myself, which may be due to some combination of my inefficient propeller and the fact I haven't had winds of more than the single
digits when I was at the boat since I finally got my boat into a vaguely operational state.