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Old 08-06-2016, 06:25   #31
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

I'm retired and a BIG believer in NO SCHEDULE ...

In my business(operated for over 30 years), I always said anyone who would listen, that " the only appointments I miss are the appointments I make", and I was very serious in that respect.

Of course, my business(land surveying), does not lend itself to allocating a specified time to a project, and doesn't lend itself to having to leave a project with 1 hour more work to complete, to meet a client at my office 2 hours away.

Court appearances, meeting with important clients and such truly important "appointments", were special occasions.

My sailing/cruising will be the same ... I will be where the boat takes me ... NO SPECIFIC SCHEDULE ... if i find myself, somehow, needing to be somewhere, I will attempt to arrive in a very flexible period of time that will coincide with the appointment ... like a few days before, and just wander in the area. But, I will not make haste or expect to travel 5+knots for 10hrs per day to get to a specific place at a specific time ... just won't do it.

With this mindset, I think a 1 to 1.5 kw, 36 volt motor(a very small motor as compared to my nightmarish gas-sucking chunk of iron), would be a nice compromise to almost sailing engine-less ... something to control a boat's movements in a Marina or tight channel ...

On longer passages(where the motor is not needed), the extra available batteries might be more useful(like running a Black & Decker 12 volt, sander or saw) ... then spend a day or two recharging my batteries before entering a harbor or marina.

It would be nice, for once, to open a discussion about sailing with a minimal power needs(engine/motor), without so many posters tossing out what appear to be almost ridiculous numbers(what ... 10kw at 48 or 60 volts?), at almost ridiculous costs(sometimes well over $10,000), when the OP only wants to motor at 3-4 knots for a few hours at most.

I know, I don't give a rat's crap, about pushing my boat at 6+knots(under electric power, for 40 miles), and I can only imagine that most sailors who really like "sailing", in the purer sense, only use engines when coming in from the sailing grounds to the marinas, or anchorages ... short distances at slow speeds.

These are "sailboats", we're talking about.
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Old 08-06-2016, 06:29   #32
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

It depends where you sail. I just sailed 700nm up the java coast, slowly but I sailed. The moment I hit Sumatra I've motored approx 500nm. You can't sail if there's no wind. I'm almost on the equator and assume I'll motor the rest of the Sumatra coast. A good diesel is very much part of a cruising sailboat for me, its not a auxiliary, its the other engine.

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Old 08-06-2016, 06:36   #33
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SURV69 View Post
I'm retired and a BIG believer in NO SCHEDULE ...

In my business(operated for over 30 years), I always said anyone who would listen, that " the only appointments I miss are the appointments I make", and I was very serious in that respect.

Of course, my business(land surveying), does not lend itself to allocating a specified time to a project, and doesn't lend itself to having to leave a project with 1 hour more work to complete, to meet a client at my office 2 hours away.

Court appearances, meeting with important clients and such truly important "appointments", were special occasions.

My sailing/cruising will be the same ... I will be where the boat takes me ... NO SPECIFIC SCHEDULE ... if i find myself, somehow, needing to be somewhere, I will attempt to arrive in a very flexible period of time that will coincide with the appointment ... like a few days before, and just wander in the area. But, I will not make haste or expect to travel 5+knots for 10hrs per day to get to a specific place at a specific time ... just won't do it.

With this mindset, I think a 1 to 1.5 kw, 36 volt motor(a very small motor as compared to my nightmarish gas-sucking chunk of iron), would be a nice compromise to almost sailing engine-less ... something to control a boat's movements in a Marina or tight channel ...

On longer passages(where the motor is not needed), the extra available batteries might be more useful(like running a Black & Decker 12 volt, sander or saw) ... then spend a day or two recharging my batteries before entering a harbor or marina.

It would be nice, for once, to open a discussion about sailing with a minimal power needs(engine/motor), without so many posters tossing out what appear to be almost ridiculous numbers(what ... 10kw at 48 or 60 volts?), at almost ridiculous costs(sometimes well over $10,000), when the OP only wants to motor at 3-4 knots for a few hours at most.

I know, I don't give a rat's crap, about pushing my boat at 6+knots(under electric power, for 40 miles), and I can only imagine that most sailors who really like "sailing", in the purer sense, only use engines when coming in from the sailing grounds to the marinas, or anchorages ... short distances at slow speeds.

These are "sailboats", we're talking about.
Well, good for you.

Having no schedule is like having no budget. If you have unlimited time to burn -- then burn it. It's a bit like being a billionaire and not caring a bit what anything costs. Others may not be in the same position, with regard to time, or money, or both.


As I wrote -- if you want to sail and only sail, and you're not really heading anywhere in particular and can wait for favorable wind, and stay in port for as long as necessary to avoid passing spots where a motor might be needed for safety, then you could sail like the Pardeys without any engine at all. Or as you propose with a very small engine which will only move the boat in very calm weather.

If that suits your sailing style, more power to you.


It doesn't suit mine, because I like to get places (and over long distances) and I don't always have time to wait for perfect conditions. I'm not retired (and don't want to be; I like my work), and I often sail with crew who also may not have unlimited time at their disposal. I sail places where it would be dangerous to be caught without power.

But just because that's the way I sail, doesn't mean that's the way you have to. Suum cuique.
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Old 08-06-2016, 08:54   #34
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

We are doing precisely what SURV69 asked about. Not yet done, but well on its way. We took out the Yanmar 12hp engine, and are replacing it with a less than 5kw motor. We will have enough motor and batteries to go a few miles at "full" power to handle those bad moments, and enough to motor a good few hours at 3 knots, to handle those times when the anchorage is close but no wind and too close to want to drift at night.

We will not motor long distances, we will wait for proper tides (but with ability to power if need be for a few miles). So, powerless - no, but using the motor as truly an auxiliary to a sail boat - yes.

It all depends on how you want to use it, and feel comfortable with the "need" to use it times.

Dan
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:05   #35
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

Hi there. Im building a 36' fero ketch with electric drive. A pair of commercial pallet jack engines. 1.5 kw each. (24 volt at 83 amps)
With 1kw solar charging and a diesel genset as a back up with a 9.9 kicker as a back up back up, you think i will be ok? Swapping ino a propper marine bldc motor would be easy. The setup i have cost me almost nothing. I was hoping for 4 knots or so.
Its nice to see someone else trying alternative methods.
Gotta go to work. Enjoy your day everyone!
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:10   #36
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

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Originally Posted by bluegreen View Post
Hi there. Im building a 36' fero ketch with electric drive. A pair of commercial pallet jack engines. 1.5 kw each. (24 volt at 83 amps)
With 1kw solar charging and a diesel genset as a back up with a 9.9 kicker as a back up back up, you think i will be ok? Swapping ino a propper marine bldc motor would be easy. The setup i have cost me almost nothing. I was hoping for 4 knots or so.
Its nice to see someone else trying alternative methods.
Gotta go to work. Enjoy your day everyone!
Having an outboard as backup is a very good idea

Then you can experiment with what you can do and what you can't do with low power electric drive, without putting yourself in mortal danger.

Please keep us informed about how it works in different conditions -- very interesting.
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:15   #37
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SURV69 View Post


It would be nice, for once, to open a discussion about sailing with a minimal power needs(engine/motor), without so many posters tossing out what appear to be almost ridiculous numbers(what ... 10kw at 48 or 60 volts?), at almost ridiculous costs(sometimes well over $10,000), when the OP only wants to motor at 3-4 knots for a few hours at most.
.
You know I don't feel you have gotten the feedback you complain about above. I feel people have said for you to go ahead and do it if you want. Near as I can tell there hasn't really been a question asked as much as you stated a desire for a style of boating.

But I feel you are basing some of you thoughts on misplaced knowledge. Maybe you should state what you have learned about the size of batteries you will need, the size of the motor needed, how long and fast it can move your boat, how much space will all that require, how much space difference that is compared to your engine that you could just leave on the boat and operate the same as your electric motor idea, etc. etc. etc.

I can say that I doubt that I could fit a big enough battery bank and electric motor combination on my boat to do all but the smallest amount of motoring under calm conditions in the same amount of space taken up be my current systems. And I've gone out on my a weekend sail when the weather turned bad and it was all I could do to motor into the harbor with my diesel engine.
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:18   #38
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

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Originally Posted by boat_alexandra View Post

These currents are tidal correct? So they flow the right way half the time?
Yeah, but I wouldn't want to be caught in some of the tidal rips around here with no steerage, even if they were going the right way!

For what it's worth I was looking seriously at an electric replacement for my diesel - if I could go 5 knots for 5 hours then I would have switched. Unfortunately, the battery pack I would have needed put it out of my price range.

Once I stop working and go full time travelling I'll look again at a small electric, as I won't need to be back 'on time' for work and such.

The other thing that put me off is I'd still need a diesel tank for my heater (as it gets cold and wet during the winter) so I wouldn't even be getting diesel off the boat!
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:28   #39
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

For some a sailboat is a tool. It gets you from point A to point B. When you have that attitude, whatever works, works. Engine, wind etc. The more options the better.
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:30   #40
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

If it's the Bristol 29 you'd like to go engineless with then as mentioned earlier a sculling oar might at times work. The alternative might be to convert your rudder to a swing up that would act as the oar. I did this with my Watkins 24 years ago. I was only lake sailing and docked on the face of my T dock. If I missed the approach and timing I could just pull the rudder to horizontal and swing the tiller until I reached my destination. I found this to be amazingly effective. YMMV.
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:48   #41
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

Surv69,

I am obviously one of the biggest opponents of electrical propulsion. But it isn't because I object to it on principle, I converted an boat to electric (Olson 30). Where my problem comes in is with people who are simply wrong about the amount of power they need, the amount of power they have, and often the amount of power they can produce.

For a given boat it is pretty easy to run the numbers and predict with a high level of certainty how much power you will need to drive the boat at a given speed, multiply that by the number of hours you want to be able to run will give you the size of the battery bank you need. Almost always the bank size is too large for the boat to carry, so people either decide to scale back the speed, or the range to what I consider unacceptable and sometimes unsafe.

If you are ok with absolutely no schedule, with living on the hook waiting for the right wind, etc. the it very well may be a great option for you. But it isn't for me, I have spent days becalmed in the middle of the ocean waiting for wind, and it is decidedly not fun.

But if the trade offs work for you, go at it. I'll even help to the limit of my knowledge to help design the best system possible. But what I won't do is try and sugar coat the realities.
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Old 08-06-2016, 09:52   #42
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

Tides will be your friend and you will get good a heaving to off shore.
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Old 08-06-2016, 10:15   #43
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

So funny. I'm all for sailing and try to motor as little as practical. I've had boats with no engine. But trying to argue that it is better is funny and trying to argue for tiny engines is funny. I might do either, in very specific cases, but as a general rule it is just silly.

  • No schedule--I will never move anywhere in a hurry. You will find yourself in front of an approaching storm, not just a squall, often without wind; you could be old school and get pounded, or you could move it. Someone could become very ill (it's happened on my boat) and there is no wind.
  • Injury. You cannot end the sails due to injury. Been there. Pulled my back terribly while underway. Took me 10 minutes to get off the deck. If I had not been able to just drop sail it would have been very serious. Heck, it was serious even with the engine.
  • Real sailors only use the engine in and out of the harbor. Perhaps, but these people can also have disproportionate problems with engines due to not using the fuel up in a reasonable period and not running the engine under load enough. They aren't actually saving anything.
  • Getting becalmed in a ship channel is no joke. It is irresponsible. Just last week I was sailing in a nice 15-knot breeze that suddenly went to absolute zero. I watched as a freighter approached from 5 miles away, constrained by the channel, and was forced to start the engine to create a suitable safety margin for both of us. Though I did not cut in front of him, without an engine it would have been a "situation." A smaller engine would have been fine.
  • Range. Well, the C&D canal is no-sailing for about 14 miles, but at least 25 miles are really too tight for sailing in the presence of large shipping. Goofing around with a small engine would likewise be unsound.
  • Tides. This has been covered. I can think of a lot of cuts with swirling tides that would require very specific conditions to cross safely under sail.
No, you don't need an engines, or a big one, but admit to yourself you are being Luddite rather than defend it, and recognize the risks you are taking for yourself and those around you. Dingies are different, though even then it depends on where you launch (I've tacked dinghies through channels that in retrospect I should not have. But I was young.)
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Old 08-06-2016, 11:01   #44
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

I have a few thoughts:

1. I sailed two really good sailing boats (Moore 24 and Olson 30) probably 7,000 miles without an engine, including high current areas like SF Bay. I thought it was splendid, and never really considered carrying an outboard (or installing an inboard). The sailing qualities of the boat make a big difference.

2. Presuming I had an inboard-installation boat (say with a dead Atomic 4) and I wanted to go electric, I might be tempted to use a short duration, medium power electric replacement. I am guessing, but possibly 4 ea Group 31 batts and a 5HP motor. No, I haven't done the math, but if I could have 30 minutes of modest power, that would solve 90% of the issues, which would consists of docking out and docking in.

3. 48 volts (or whatever) just reduces your wire size needs and may allow you to use a commercial or industrial motor that works with speed controllers that are also appropriate. You're going to need a bunch of batteries; why not wire them in series?

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Old 08-06-2016, 12:56   #45
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Re: If No Engine ... Why All The Fuss About "Proper", BIG Electric Motor?

Yes you are right it is absolutely feasible. Modern sailboats are all now what we called 'motor sailors' when I started. That description means a sail boat capable of undertaking a passage under engine alone. As a rule of thumb it requires a diesel engine of about 4-6hp per ton. An auxiliary sail boat was anything that had an engine but which was not rated for passage making (including outboard mounts).
Auxiliaries basically fell into;
<1 hp/ton Maneuvering only, sheltered water, little weather.
1-2hp/ton Maneuvering in sheltered water but with reserve power for windy conditions
2-4hp/ton capable of passage making in sheltered waters of offshore in calm conditions - classed as an auxiliary passage engine (4hp/ton will make hull speed in calm conditions
5/7hp/ton A motor sailor capable of making any passage under engine and with enough power to motor to windward in adverse conditions.

Obviously all the above are ratings for diesel engines and you would need to work out the equivalent for electric. They are still all realistic options but you need to think about 2 things. Modern marinas and harbours are not lid out for boats with limited maneuvering and many have 'no sailing' rules which makes no or very low power engines an issue if you plan to use such facilities. Fitting anything less that 5-6hp/ton will be seen as 'under-powered' and effect the resale value. Basically if you want to sell the boat most buyers will be discounting the price of a new engine into the offer price.
I think it makes a lot of sense when thinking about an electric conversion to go for minimal power especially if you can fin enough solar to recharge batteries. Another option to consider is a small portable generator for the occasions you do want a bit more range or to keep the battery size down.
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