I'll post a couple of things this week to fill in the blanks. First, though, let me just share with you the story of how this all got started (short version)!
I used to be a workaholic Silicon Valley exec. One day in the 2003/4 timeframe, my wife said to me: "Tony, you have no life - get a life!". Well, I thought about that and decided to take up sailing - something I'd done as a teenager in Cyprus
(sailed dinghies), but then we moved back to England
Trouble about doing things in that order is that the Mediterranean
spoils you for the English Channel
- it's coooold in UK (relatively), so I didn't sail (or dive, brrrr) at all for the intervening 30 years or so until my wife encouraged me to ger back into it.
My wife's from Curacao
, by the way, so she shares my preference for warm water!
I decided I'd like to sail larger boats this time, so we both joined a club in Berkeley (OCSC), and did basic certifications, etc. To get going, we bought a Catalina
C320 (great little boat, by the way) and daysailed on San Francisco
Bay for a few years until I sold it October 2005.
We took grandkids and friends out on the boat, and decided we'd try chartering in the Caribbean
. The first time, I chartered a large, skippered trimaran
in BVI - Promenade - and I took the whole gang (wife, kids
, grandkids, mother-in-law, son's parents). We had an absolutely fabulous time on Promenade - Kerry Hucul was just great - and, as they say, there was no turning back. Kerry got married in the meanwhile to a great guy, Bazza, and they are doing really well in BVI. Their website is here
First, the family loved
BVI. Well, I don't need to dwell on that, I guess.
But second, my wife loved these boats that don't lean over, so it was catamarans for me!
Soon after, I chartered again, this time with an instructional skipper
, and spent 10 days on a Lagoon
410 in BVI learning
how to sail it (Abilene, TMM). I really sailed a lot, pretty much single-handed after the first day or two, and got to love it.
I started looking around, and fell in love with the Lagoon 470. I went to the Lagoon factory in France
to look at things, but, somehow, I didn't quite decided to take the final step and order one...(about 2004/5 or so)...I just waited a bit, then a bit more.
Then I went to a boat show
and started hearing about electric drives. I was intrigued as (for better or worse), I'm a little xenophobic about engines, but electric things I'm comfortable with (just my background).
I started checking things out and soon ran across Solomon Technologies. I read up on them, and their system sounded really good, so I decided to charter a Solomon-equipped boat - Waypoint - which is a Lagoon 410 in the fleet with Catamaran
Company in Tortola.
It was a great charter (grandkids again), and we had a great time. That using electric motors in sailboats is a great idea was resoundingly
confirmed - I really
liked the experience - but I was less sure about the Solomon implementation, and, particularly the whole battery
bank thing. There'd been some issues with the boat, and I didn't like the quality of the implementation, so, although I liked the electric concept
, I decided I wouldn't consider a Solomon implementation. Well, we can go into that separately/later, but for now, let's press on. I started looking for alternatives.
Soon after, I approached The Moorings around the end of 2005 and asked what kind of thoughts they
had had about electric power. I had been on Leopards and liked the design and solid feel of the boats. Surely, they must be considering electric power options, given what the competition was doing? They said they had been having conversations with a number of companies to explore possibilities, and had become very interested in the approach of a company in Oakland, CA - Glacier Bay Inc.
Meanwhile, I saw the L440 announcement went aboard one and loved
the look and feel of the boat - but I was not clear about how Lagoon were going to approach the electric power option. It was also a little more than I wanted to spend, so I didn't go that way. Later, the L420 was announced, but, by then...
I visited GB and talked to them about the pros/cons of their system, and came away impressed. Again, more detail later, but I then went back to The Moorings and Robertson & Caine and proposed to them that I be the catalyst to cause them to build a GB-equipped electric boat in a 3-way collaborative partnership
- then we could all see how well it would work. The result is Electric Leopard
, which is a Robertson & Caine Leopard 43, only with Glacier Bay's diesel/electric OSSA Powerlite system in.
As I mentioned before, the boat was built in South Africa
at the end of 2005, sailed to BVI in early 2006, and we've been putting it through its paces since. I'll give you more detail about that later.
So that's how the boat was born, and next thing, I'll give you a technical description of what's on the boat.