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Old 13-09-2010, 21:39   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: west of Chicago - brrrbrrrbrrrrrrr
Boat: Shell Swifty 14, & 24' Culler / Bolger cat ketch sharpie
Posts: 155
Electric or Outboard ?

Setting:
24' x 5' sharpie cat-ketch with leeboards, about 700 pounds unladen.
Looking for auxiliary power.
Bought off an estate. Previous power and mounting system loooong gone before I saw the boat.

I am currently west of Chicago, meaning the boat may see lakes in this area or Wisconsin. Long-term, boat will probably hit the Eastern estuaries and sounds of North Carolina.

Pics from the past show both electric trolling motors and small gas outboards. Both mounted on brackets off the starboard stern, about 2.5 to 4 feet forward of the transom. Neither has to turn to steer, as being a sailboat, there's a rudder. I'm thinking it would be best if the motor/engine would just rotate downward and drop into running position, and then stay at a fixed position side to side.

Choice:
2 to 5 Hp outboard
vs
60 to 80 pound thrust electric (4 batteries?)

Motor does not need to pivot L/R to steer, only up and down for in or out of the water.

Mainly need as backup for harbor maneuvers, and for emergency drop-sails-and-run panic attacks. Either must have the capacity for at least an hour of running against a bad chop.

Gas has the advantage of better portability. But the issues of gas on board, in a tilting set-up for an engine. Electric means instant-on, and I'd already have a better DC system on board for lights and radio, but need shore or portable PV charging capacity. BIG PLUS with electric is silent running when what I want to do is tool around the land's edge wetlands.

What would you pick, and why?
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Old 13-09-2010, 21:52   #2
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Easy: Gas

4 batteries = about 240 pounds vs. about 60 pounds for a gas engine and fuel. Carry a backup 3 gallon gas tank and you can run hours longer. You can see how much capacity you have left by looking at the tank. With batteries you'd need a battery monitor (about $300) to have a realistic "fuel gage".

You don't have enough deck real-estate on that boat to run an electric engine on solar for an hour a day, and if you did it would cost thousand$ more than your boat is worth (in solar panels, batteries, controllers and mounting hardware).
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Old 14-09-2010, 15:39   #3
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Location: west of Chicago - brrrbrrrbrrrrrrr
Boat: Shell Swifty 14, & 24' Culler / Bolger cat ketch sharpie
Posts: 155
I hear ya.

But there's a lot to be said for putzing around the wetlands noiselessly. I'll wind up with at least 1 battery regardless.
Just looking for thoughts from those that have tried both on smaller boats.
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