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Old 21-10-2019, 16:21   #1
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Toying with the idea of a solar/electric loop boat

Having had some success with converting our 15,000 pound 34 foot Pacific Seacraft sailboat to electric but really keeping it still a sailing boat, we were thinking about getting a smaller trailer boat and converting it to solar/electric.

Instead of inboard, we would use an outboard, like a Torqeedo Cruise 4.0 or similar.

I had in mind starting off with a older single rudder Macgregor sailboat, as these can be found quite cheaply and usually with a trailer. They already have a motor mount for an outboard, and the draft is something like 1 foot or so. We would strip off all of the sailing rigging and mast and just plaster the boat with solar on the bow and cabin, along with a solar bimini. I think you could cram nearly 2000 watts on a Macgregor 26S if you didn't care what it looked like and didn't have any sailing gear in the way.

They are pretty light without the water ballast. I think around 1600 pounds? The waterline length is 23 feet, so they should have about a 6 knot hull speed, meaning at 3 or 4 knots they might be moved fairly efficiently with a small motor.

Our 34 foot PSC34 can be moved at 4 to 4.5 knots with 3000 watts going to our 10kW motor but it doesn't have a significantly longer water line than the Macgregor and it has a lot more wind drag I should think (it is also 15,000 pounds, but that is mostly about acceleration). I am not a boat designer though and for all I know, the hull is more efficient on a PSC34 than a Mac 26S.

Would a Macgregor make a decent platform for this?
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Old 22-10-2019, 04:22   #2
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Re: Toying with the idea of a solar/electric loop boat

Excerpted from the 'Practical Sailor' Boat Review of the MacGregor 26

Performance Under Power
Owners like the transom-mount for the outboard. Most, but not all, said the engine controls were easy to reach (varies with motor brand).
The deck molding is held in place by weights while the resin cures. The entire production process is set up to move as fast as possible, which means cutting corners everywhere.
“The typical 8-hp. long-shaft outboard is adequate for most conditions. Only when trying to race back to shore in the teeth of a squall did it fail to make headway. The position of the engine in the motor well makes it comfortable to operate. Turning both the rudder and engine will get the boat to turn just about within its own length.”
“I have a Yamaha four-stroke 9.9-hp. engine with a large propeller geared down and an extra long 25” shaft with 6-gallon tank in the same well with the motor.”
“Maneuvering is much crisper with the centerboard down.”
“With our 8-hp. outboard at half-throttle, fuel consumption is about 14 mpg. No problem maintaining 5 knots.”
“Low speed steering is non-existent.” We’re not sure where the Yamaha owner above found space in the well for his 6-gallon tank as a number of others said there was no designated place for it.
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Old 22-10-2019, 08:51   #3
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Re: Toying with the idea of a solar/electric loop boat

Thanks for the reply. From my own limited research here it looks like a viable loop boat could be made from a Mac 26S (or any model with the single center rudder) by putting an outboard of 6 to 9.9hp in the provided outboard well and then perhaps adding the new design Torqeedo 1103 (direct drive, 33db noise) on a outboard bracket on the other side. Figuring out a way to run the 1103 from an external battery would be a priority. I called Torqeedo to find out if their new designed 3500 watt hour 26.8V battery (same voltage as the 1103 915 watt-hour battery) could be connected and they said no. I think it is just because the travel batteries have a built in gps. The Torqeedo cruise outboards (the 2.0 and 4.0) are not as robust IMO as the new 1103...I really like brushless direct drive.

For portions of the loop you could cruise in silence using the 1103 and solar while for other portions you could crank up the gas outboard (wind, current, or long distance portions like the gulf section).

Considering we already plan on getting a 1103 (we have used a 1003 for nearly a decade and love it even though it only has a 350 watt-hr battery, which still works!) and we already have a outboard, this would be a pretty cheap loop boat build if we can find a used 26S with trailer.
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