First off thanks guys.
I hope that what I stated doesn't come off as being disappointed with the system. There is a large learning
curve with any new boat let alone one with a new technology such as electric
drives. Add the fact that I'm learning
to sail it as well, I have a full plate. With that said I've had the boat all of 8 weeks and since I still work, the weekends + a few days = to about 20 days on the boat. The first 2 days was the run from 11 miles up the IWC then roughly 80 miles over 10 hours of delight to an overnighter in a cove, winds at 10 to 15knots with 2ft seas. The next day was 30 miles in 30 knot
winds gusting to 40 and 8+ choppy mess and it took around 14 hours of intensness. In the next 18 days on board the first 6 were spent on just cleaning
, looking, moving stuff around, and studying the 60 to 80lbs of manuals
. We try and sail at least 1 day a weekend and the other is used for fixing little things that need to be fixed. So I don't think It would be much different than anyone else's startup on a new boat. With a few different kinda problems. I'll hold off on that and try and answer David's questions first.
David, there are all kind of boat owners. Dock
queen's, day sailors, weekend warriors, coasties, and then the cruisers. I'll also add a category of Renters. Dock
queens are hooked to the grid so don't need a Hybrid and Renters (typically) aren't smart enough that I wouldn't even consider putting a Hybrid in a fleet yet I know several have so it would be interesting to here from them. I'm a day sailor with hopes to be a weekend warrior by the end of my first season on board. The Hybrid system is perfect for this type sailing at this time. I believe it would work also for the coasties as well as long as support was available and since a number of the boats are in the Caribbean
it should be fine down there as well. Both Moorings and The Catamaran
Co. have knowledgeable people on the systems, supposedly, down there. I say supposedly since I still haven't heard from a few I tried to contact with questions in that neck of the world. Now to answer your first question, Yes I would have still bought my boat with the Solomon system.
As to the types of systems out there it's interesting to see that several systems that were out there are no longer around. Yes a couple of my sub systems are gone as well but there has been improvements in equipment
, like the Genset, that I see as vastly superior to what I had to start with. Fortunately most of my system biggies are already updated but as with the computer industry things are changing rapidly, some forward and some back. My Solomon's system is 144v, others went to 72, 120 and I believe a few other voltages during the last few years, and now it looks like the 144v may have been right in the first place. There isn't anything wrong with most of the main equipment
I have other than what I previously posted. Would I have picked a different system? No I believe this is a damn good system and overall I don't think there's anything to beat it yet.
Would I wait for the tech to mature? I'll first tell you I wouldn't by a Hybrid Car because IMO I felt it was a means for the Auto Industry to sell another product (car) before they finally developed an EV at which time I would buy one. In the case of sailboats, there was already a free energy source, the wind
. The power side was the problem. Hybrid drives on a Sailboat just makes so much sense at this point. IF you're using them IMO as I am, day sailing
to coastal. Yes, boats have done Transatlantic from Europe
to here but I haven't heard of any going long distances to wind
for long periods of time. Maybe I just don't read enough. The main drawback to the Electric
drives are the Batteries. The motors, controllers, inverters, and whatever are pretty much solid systems. The Controls, and monitoring will be improved very quickly once people start to realize there is a better way, they just haven't realized that there can be a better way. Look at it this way, I'm an old gear head
, the more info and gages the better. I never liked idiot lights but the majority of people out there don't know what that gage means. It's the same with this type system. Most of us that have bought into the Hybrid boats aren't afraid to tweak with the gages to start with. Now we want it to be idiot lights. My gut feeling is we're a year or 2 away from some great batteries. My system is just about ready to drop them in. I want 5 hours of run time on straight batteries with a recharge rate at 2 hours, half the weight I have know would be a great bonus.
Standardization and Consolidation has already started. More and more subsystems are being used by the same companies just like the big boys do. They might be different flavors but any packaged deal will have a few issues within them. The big issue and what will separate the good from the bad over the next few years will be customer support and quality control. Same ol same ol. If they don't listen to us and own up to issues then they will fall to the way side. I can honestly say that Solomons Eng. has been very helpful even though I'm the 3rd owner, My systems have changed, and subsystems aren't theirs and they still talk to me. I would think that the Glacier Bay system would be a good one based on their generators. One company is offering a no battery
system, don't know if I like that idea but what the heck, may be good for the racing
croud and TowUS.
Another thread here "electric main drives" was very interesting to reread since it started back in 06 I believe. Many of the discussions and questions were well founded, several posters even said that this system probably wasn't for the Cruiser and if that's the case I would have thought the "Renter" would have been vetoed as well by that string. Would love to here from "Ape" since he was a major poster as well as I think a "sealord". A lot of 420 Electric Drive owners there prior to them getting their boats.... then they disapeared... hope their sailing. It would be interesting to get their opinion on their systems since it's a little different than mine. Might be able to swap parts! Or at least ideas.
I will always be available to answer questions David, I'm just hoping others will be able to help me as well with some issues and ideas. There has been some real bashers when it comes to these systems but if they look at the system overall and know the limits I think they would be happy until mini nuke plants are developed for the Cruiser market.
Steve in Solomons MD