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Old 02-02-2007, 10:11   #1
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R&C Electric Leopards

Hi, my name is Tony West. I'm new to Cruisers Forum -- only just discovered it but wish I had long ago!

I see there's LOTS of interest in electric catamarans, so I thought I'd start a new thread to post/discuss things about my boat, which is the first Electric Leopard built by Robertson & Caine -- hopefully the first of many!

The boat is powered by an OSSA Powerlite diesel/electric system built by Glacier Bay, Inc. It does not use a large propulsion battery bank (like the Lagoon 420), but drives the motors directly from the generator. The system is DC, not AC, and the gen is variable speed/computer controlled, and so it's extremely quiet and fuel-efficient. The engine is a work of art - collaboratively developed between Glacier Bay and Mercedes - uses common-rail injection, so gets fantastic fuel economy and low emissions. More later.

The boat was built in the factory in South Africa 11/2005 and was sailed to Tortola, BVI in early 2006.

I was expecting some teething problems (given the hassles reported elsewhere that have been experienced with other systems), so we decided on a conservative approach and planned on a lengthy shakedown period before the boat went into production "service".

We did, indeed, have a number of problems - all fairly minor, I'm happy to say. As an ex-service guy myself (computers), I know about product service, so I was relieved that, when they did root cause analysis of each problem, a deterministic cause was identifiable in each case and easily resolved, so we're not expecting recurrence.

I'll post all the details in a separate post early next week.

Electric Leopard is now operational in The Moorings' charter fleet there.

All 3 companies have been great/responsive - The Moorings, Robertson & Caine and Glacier Bay - thanks, guys!

Any of you that might be planning to go to the Miami Boat Show will be able to poke under the covers - my boat will be there at The Moorings dock. I'll be there too and look forward to meeting any of you who would like to go into this in more detail.

I'll start posting things as I think of them, but meanwhile, any questions? Fire away and I'll answer. Also, you can find some more info at my website, Electrosail -- I just need more hours in the day to get more info up on the site.

Links:

The Moorings' Leopard sales site is at Leopard Catamarans
Robertson & Caine's website is at ROBERTSON and CAINE
Glacier Bay's website is at Glacier Bay's Home Page
Info on OSSA Powerlite is at Diesel-electric marine propulsion systems and accessories.

Enjoy,

Tony West
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Old 02-02-2007, 10:18   #2
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Welcome,, Tony!

A number of us have heard that your boat exists, but there has been relatively little information about it, or even if R&C intended to produce more. So, I'll start with some of the fairly obvious questions:

What sort of fuel consumption figures are you seeing?
Noise under power?
House bank size/charging?
Does R&C/Moorings intend to build more?
Pricing?

Thanks, and again, welcome.

ID
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Old 02-02-2007, 10:20   #3
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Tony,

Welcome aboard. I look forward to reading all about Electric Leopard. Thanks.

Kevin
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Old 02-02-2007, 10:31   #4
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As you can see in only minutes you have attracted some attention. I know there are a great many more that want to hear all about it. Welcome to the forum.
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Old 02-02-2007, 11:44   #5
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Tony - great to have you aboard. Another part of the equation where you may be able to shed some light is the mysteries around electric motor kW in comparison to diesel HP.

What is the kW rating of your electric motors?
How does this translate into boat performance in calm weather?
How does this translate into boat performance in rough seas? (I have heard it suggested that electric props in turbulance fair better than smaller diesel props)

Steve
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Old 02-02-2007, 11:51   #6
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Tony,

What value did Glacier Bay finally decide on for their DC voltage, is it over 200 volts? Also does your boat have an inverter to convert the DC voltage to usable AC current.

Fair Sailing _(\_
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Old 02-02-2007, 12:08   #7
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Hi Tony,

I am also a Moorings owner, we have a M494 in Tortola and we were also considering getting one of these cats after we finish with this contract. I am not happy with the present level of monohulls they are putting into charter.

We also belong to the MOG, Moorings Owners Group through The Moorings. It is a private forum which only members have access to. A lot of info for owners and very interesting posts. I would highly recommend joining. You can contact Joyhn Keyes or Ann Beck to hook you up with the procedure to join. If you don't get anywhere for whatever reason contact me and I will get in touch with the individuals who can set you up.

Also try Yacht Charters | Discount sailboat charters | Charter yacht ownership | Sailonline.com; there are many charter boat owners there; some of which are Moorings Owners
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Old 02-02-2007, 15:03   #8
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Dr. West:
Welcome aboard!
When did you (or have you) leave Sun Microsystems?
Is your new venture, Electrosail, primarilly dedicated to developing & prommoting the Electric Leopard, or have you other R&D intrerests?
Regards,
Gord
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Old 05-02-2007, 11:57   #9
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Hi, Sonny - I think I'm already in MOG. At least, would this be the one which starts off with Moorings Yacht Owners? If so, I'm awest there.

I exchange emails with John Keyes from time to time. I'm looking forward to meeting him in Miami.
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Old 05-02-2007, 12:32   #10
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Electric Leopard - How it all got started...

Hi, Folks:

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.

Regards, Tony
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Old 05-02-2007, 12:36   #11
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GordMay: I left Sun in January of 2005. Electrosail's first project was Electric Leopard - working in partnership with The Moorings, Robertson & Caine and Glacier Bay. I'm not quite decided as to where this might go next - I'm enjoying learning about the process of technology transfer of computers/next-gen motors, etc. into various transportation fields.

I try to keep abreast of things going on in a number of fields. Web2.0 is very active at the moment, and I have a long-standing interest in expert systems technology.

Tony

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Originally Posted by GordMay
Dr. West:
Welcome aboard!
When did you (or have you) leave Sun Microsystems?
Is your new venture, Electrosail, primarilly dedicated to developing & prommoting the Electric Leopard, or have you other R&D intrerests?
Regards,
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Old 05-02-2007, 12:38   #12
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Hi Tony,

No, that is the Moorings Owners website with the Mooring, It is run and moderatd by them. We have a separate forum that only the Moorings owners have access to. Ann Beck or John Keyes were to direct you to the forum. This forum is set up by and for The Moorings Owners only (MOG), it's part of the Yahoo groups.

We have an executive committee (EXCOM) that reviews matter pertaining to our ownership and dealings with The Moorings. Here is the email address:
moorings_owners : Moorings Owners Group

I tried to get the email addresses for the Excom; but couldn't. I will notify them and have someone contact you.

WELCOME!
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Old 05-02-2007, 13:10   #13
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Electric Leopard: 1. OSSA Powerlite overview

Electric Leopard is equipped with an OSSA Powerlite system from Glacier Bay.

The OSSA Powerlite components of this system as implemented are:
  • 25KW 240Volt DC variable speed generator powered by a 3-cylinder common-rail-injection diesel engine.
  • HVDC power distribution & breaker box (incl. shore power rectifier)
  • Two 35HP microprocessor-controlled DC propulsion motors. The power is gen-limited - 25KW gives about 17HP of drive each.
  • Twin electronic helm control throttle
  • Two OSSA touchscreen control panels
  • Provision for two 20,000 BTU HVDC air conditioning units (to be installed shortly)
  • Two hot water heaters
  • All the control bus, wiring harness, etc. for all this
Note that there is no propulsion battery bank - propulsion (and, soon, airco units) run off the HVDC output from the generator directly.

The system also is connected with the following:
  • Shower power isolation transformer. Shore power just comes in (if it's there) and is rectified onto the HVDC power bus. No switchover needed.
  • Victron charger/inverter. The charger runs off the HVDC bus and charges the 12 Volt house (3) battery bank. The inverter generates 3KW of 110VAC for the household sockets in the cabins, etc.
  • The house battery bank supplies 12VDC to the standard equipment R&C fridge/freezer setup.
OK, I think that's the basic stuff. I'll go into the gen/motor stuff next.

Tony
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Old 05-02-2007, 16:35   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quiet Riot 420
Tony,

What value did Glacier Bay finally decide on for their DC voltage, is it over 200 volts? Also does your boat have an inverter to convert the DC voltage to usable AC current.

Fair Sailing _(\_
Quiet Riot 420


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Glacier Bay designed the OSSA Powerlite implementation for a target of 240 Volts DC. The system actually is variable voltage - the gen is variable speed depending on the load, so if you're not drawing much, it runs slower.

To feed any 110VAC house loads (e.g. hairdryer, microwave, Playstation,...) the boat has a Victron Phoenix charger/inverter which draws from the house bank (12 Volts DC) and puts out 110VAC. 3KW.

The house bank is the regular R&C Leopard house bank with the optional extra battery (3 total).

Tony
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Old 06-02-2007, 02:50   #15
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“OSSA POWERLITE”
Diesel-Electric Marine Propulsion Systems and Accessories
Diesel-electric marine propulsion systems and accessories.
And:
Power Generation Products

Moorings Leopard 43'
Ossa Powerlite customer pages - The Moorings (Roberson & Caine) Leopard 43'
And:
Leopard 43
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