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Old 09-03-2013, 17:18   #1
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Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

I feel like solar/battery/brushless electric propulsion will be the wave of the future once battery energy density gets within 15% of diesel, but right now it's not.

However, the longest I've had to motor was 2 days, and that wasn't strictly necessary, light winds between Tonga and Fiji. It was a pretty slow but sturdy monohull, and we had a flight schedule. Same boat had to motor 4 days between Galapagos and Marquesas, but that was also due to some urgency with supplies and repairs.

So I'm interested in real life examples of necessary long motors, such that if an electric/battery motor can't meet that range, it's not ready. I would be doing another trans-pac and possible round the world trip, so anywhere that requires sustained motoring is interesting.
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Old 09-03-2013, 18:04   #2
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

Is there any energy storage technology that can even get within 50% of diesel? I would love to go electric, but I don't see it viable for anything other than day sailing, and it would take immensely disruptive technology to make it a good choice for the offshore sailor. Hybrid sailing, maybe, but without some kind of fossel fuel generation, I don't see it. I have spent many many hours contemplating this.

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Old 09-03-2013, 18:29   #3
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

I've had to motor 4 days twice--once between Bali & Singapore, and once between Panama and Hawaii.
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Old 09-03-2013, 18:30   #4
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

7 days.... St Maarten to Bermuda
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Old 09-03-2013, 18:32   #5
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

frequently across the equator!
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Old 09-03-2013, 18:50   #6
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750 nm, 6 days?, Puerto Vallarta to Turtle Bay - the Baja Bash.
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Old 09-03-2013, 18:52   #7
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

"had to" really gets to your own philosophy of sailing, so there will be no single answer. My worst day on a passage was -17nm. Steve Dashew, on the other hand, starts the engine whenever speed falls below 5 knots. Different strokes, different folks.

I probably no longer have the patience for a -17 mile day, but it would depend on whether or not I thought I could motor to wind (ahhh, grib files). So, if I was still willing to put up with those days of waiting I could probably run an electric system for getting in and out of port, etc.
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Old 09-03-2013, 19:15   #8
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

3 1/2 days from the Florida Keys to Isla Mujeres with no wind and flat seas. 3 days up the Atlantic coast of Florida. Chuck
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Old 09-03-2013, 19:33   #9
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

Aargu:

For some boaters electric propulsion will never be ready. But, really one does not need have a motor at all to sail around the world. A motor is most useful coming into a marina or harbor situation. You don't need it out on the ocean what you do need is patience, planning and perseverance. Vendee Globe being the most recent example.
The longest I've motored so far has been 40 miles while using around 900 watts in a hybrid mode using less than a gallon and half of gas. I only did 40 miles because I had reached my destination. I could have kept going until my fuel ran out if I wanted. That 900 watts propels my 30 foot 8 ton boat along at 3 knots. My 900 watt limitation was the power supply/battery charger I was using.
It is hard to explain how different electric propulsion is to those who have not used it. Even how quiet it is. When I first converted I had many "what if" concerns about what could happen and what would I do if X happens. I've found over the past five years they were misplaced concerns as I gained experience with EP. Personally, I would never go back to diesel. Electric propulsion has proven more reliable and required much less maintenance than when I had the diesel on board. On most boats working on the diesel engine is not fun and plenty of boats have had engine problems while underway. Not to mention the diesel is usually in a cramped, dirty and hot location. An EP boat always has a clean bilge and lots of space around it. Most parts are located in convenient locations for access.
Plus there are also things you can do when you have electric propulsion that you can't do with a diesel. One of the things is making fuel (energy) when underway. You can do this with wind, solar and regeneration from a backwards turning prop that turns the motor into a battery charging generator. I do agree having a small generator does help keep things charged up and moving. In my case a Honda 2000 fills the bill nicely and is used for other functions on board like using power tools. For me the three legged approach to energy on board works very well and gives me options as opposed to relying only on diesel fuel for auxiliary propulsion.
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Old 09-03-2013, 19:48   #10
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

14 days, delivery from Cabo to San Francisco had the owner aboard and his wife. They were not wanting to go to hay-y-ee lol, afraid to go off shore, so we motored, and stopped most every night, Sorta slow for me and Connie but the customers were happy as hell! even gave a big tip LOL never really had one of those before !!We were able to sail a couple of days!!
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Old 09-03-2013, 19:55   #11
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

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3 1/2 days from the Florida Keys to Isla Mujeres with no wind and flat seas. 3 days up the Atlantic coast of Florida. Chuck
About the same for me. My 38-foot motorsailor has better than a 500 mile range, but if I had the right sailboat that was a good light air sailor I could live with say a 50 mile range if I had a way of also charging it back up without burning fossil fuel. I almost never tie up in a marina and solar would make for a slow charge on a huge depleted battery bank. I think if fuel just became too expensive I would skip the engine altogether and have a boat that was very handy under sail. The world got around that way for many centuries, and we could do it again.
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Old 09-03-2013, 20:09   #12
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

Don Street Joshua Slocum
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Old 09-03-2013, 20:44   #13
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

36 hours powering back to SF from 180 miles west. Auxillary rudder self steering lost one of two bolts bolting it on, on the way to Hawaii. Vane rotated tearing itself out of the stern. Left a narrow strip of fiberglass holding the backstay. Set a triple reefed main to help stabilize the mast and powered in light air all the way back. Did a quick and dirty repair on the transom, reattached the vane, and made Hilo in 15 days.

Powered for about 24 hours to get through the Doldrums on the way to the Marquesas. Tried for two days to sail through it. Gave me new perspective on Coleridge's 'Rhyne of the Ancient Mariner. 100 degree temp/100% humidity, 10' swells from a storm in the Southern Ocean and ZERO wind to stabilize the boat let alone sail. After seeing my wife eyeing her carving knife longingly, decided to bite the bullet and power. Guess I consider a decent powering range as a life extending necessity.
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Old 09-03-2013, 21:21   #14
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aargau View Post
I feel like solar/battery/brushless electric propulsion will be the wave of the future once battery energy density gets within 15% of diesel, but right now it's not.
You may be waiting a while. Lithium batteries have energy densities of what, around 100Wh per kg?

Diesel would be around 15,000Wh/kg.
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Old 09-03-2013, 22:25   #15
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Re: Longest time/distance you've had to motor?

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Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat View Post
You may be waiting a while. Lithium batteries have energy densities of what, around 100Wh per kg?

Diesel would be around 15,000Wh/kg.
Feel free to correct below...

With combustion engine efficiency around 12% of its energy density, diesel is about 1.5K Wh/kg when measured engine to propulsion.

The not-ready-for-production Lithium seawater systems on a 25% efficient electric motor are 375Wh/kg for propulsive force.

Not there yet. However, batteries do have the advantage of being rechargeable by solar over time. No diesel dumps between Marquesas and Johnston atoll.
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