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Old 17-01-2020, 07:42   #31
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

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Originally Posted by recollect View Post
Hi Folks,

While we were planning our electric motor conversion the topic came up of transiting the panama canal. From what we have read, sailing is not allowed nor practical. Anyone know of any electric boats that have done it?

Our understanding is that its approx 81nm. We planned on a 48v 300ah LiFepo4 bank or roughly a 14kwh bank. We dont even come close to that range even at 60% hull speed. A small 2kw generator might let us motor at ~3kts but not sure thats fast enough to get though in the allotted time frame nor fight the currents.

Dan

Hi Dan I crossed the Panama canal in 1995 when still under US control, so things have probably changed quite a bit. I was in my 26' sail boat, we needed the skipper plus 4 line handlers and they provide a pilot and his apprentice. So quite a squeeze with seven of us in total ! By the rules then we had to make at least 6 kts or they said they had to arrange a tow (pilots time is money). With our small petrol two stroke we just about made it. Even then we had to stop over the night in the lake so the pilots could go home for dinner. Not sure of the size of your boat but you will need considerably more than 2kW to meet 6kts.



Best regards


Graeme


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Old 17-01-2020, 08:02   #32
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

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Originally Posted by gosstyla View Post
I did it south to north in 2007 on a diesel electric cat. If memory serves capable of 5kts was required - don`t know if that was enforced.
That was still the case in 2019.
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Old 17-01-2020, 08:23   #33
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

I assume you have a dinghy...

How about mounting the outboard to help you out.. I am building an electric 48v catamaran and I plan to have a 20 HP outboard for my dinghy that can help me out in similar cases.

Hope it works out
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Old 17-01-2020, 08:24   #34
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

What boat ? Would an outboard be an option ? If you traveled with another boat, they might, conceivably have a standby motor that they could lend/rent to you.
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Old 17-01-2020, 11:50   #35
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

The Panama Canal length is 80 kilometres. Kilometres is a measure of distance used in every country in the world except USA I think. A nautical mile is 1852 metres. Metres is measure of distance used in every country in the world except USA I think. A kilometre is 1000 metres.
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Old 17-01-2020, 12:14   #36
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

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Originally Posted by warrior 90 View Post
2 Hondas 2200 in companion configuration will give You 4400 W max power.
As a range extender once Your batteries are full that might give You more then 5 knots.
I am sure those 2000 $ are a good investment as there will be most likely more situations like that.
Watts and Horsepower are equivalent measures. 750W=1 HP, more or less

4400W is a whopping 6HP, not counting conversion waste/inefficiency, etc. Probably won't cut it.

Electric power for cruising boats remains impractical at this time. Just doesn't make sense given the profound limitations. Its one step up from engineless. And I drive an electric car, so I am favorably biased.
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Old 17-01-2020, 12:27   #37
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

The transit will cost about $1600 + agent ($300). The agent fee includes the fenders and 4x150 foot line rental. To be safe, purchase an outboard, a 15 hp Enduro (weights about 85 lbs), about $1100, used and sell it on the other side. Probably cost you a net of $300. e.z. and then you will not have any headaches. There is enough going on to the transit to worry about a "failure to transit" problem which will easily cost another $2000 or more. You sure would not get back the deposit if you fail to transit & the canal authority and advisors have no time for small boat traffic, which makes no money at all. Good luck & have fun!
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Old 17-01-2020, 12:30   #38
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

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Originally Posted by Jimmyhenry View Post
The Panama Canal length is 80 kilometres. Kilometres is a measure of distance used in every country in the world except USA I think. A nautical mile is 1852 metres. Metres is measure of distance used in every country in the world except USA I think. A kilometre is 1000 metres.
And a nautical mile is 1 minute of latitude, used by navigators throughout the world.
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Old 17-01-2020, 12:32   #39
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

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If you have a 5hp or 6hp (4.0-4.5kw) outboard for the dinghy that you can mount on the mother ship then you need 2kw from the battery or generator to maintain the 5kt.

If you have a 9.9hp outboard motor you can mount then you should be able to maintain 5.5-6.0kt and only use the electric motor maneuvering in the locks when you need quick response.

How big a motor were you looking to mount on your vessel?
Did the vendor give you any info about likely power usage?

Those numbers look about right to me, I have a 35ft 16,000 LBS long keeler and with a 9.9 Yamaha high thrust outboard at full power it will do 6knts in calm conditions.


Re-purposing your dinghys outboard just for the transit sounds like a good, low cost way to go, but I'd suggest to try and find a high thrust prop (large blade surface area and fine pitch) that will fit it (Solas make 4-blade props that fit many small outboards for example), for when you do this. Trying to move a heavy boat with a standard outboard/prop combination (optimized for a light dinghy) probably isn't going to be very rewarding......
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Old 17-01-2020, 12:46   #40
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

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Originally Posted by Adelie View Post
...


You can split the transit into 2 days but it's not clear where the midpoint anchorage is, that's something to research. As long as to have a generator and fuel you can run that all night and have the batteries topped up the next morning. The big question is where is the overnight spot. Let's assume the worst and say it's near one of the locks and not half way and you need to make 35nm on a full charge.



...
Normal overnight stop is in Lake Gatun.
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Old 17-01-2020, 12:51   #41
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

Going from the Pacific side you can sometimes make it in a day (going "North"), coming from the other side small boats always stay overnight. Uplock, tie up to a mooring ball in the lake. Go south the next day. When you come from the Pacific side (going North), you do the entire transit north and stay over night (if that happens). Then downlock the next day.
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Old 17-01-2020, 14:02   #42
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

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Originally Posted by sanibel sailor View Post
Watts and Horsepower are equivalent measures. 750W=1 HP, more or less

4400W is a whopping 6HP, not counting conversion waste/inefficiency, etc. Probably won't cut it.

Electric power for cruising boats remains impractical at this time. Just doesn't make sense given the profound limitations. Its one step up from engineless. And I drive an electric car, so I am favorably biased.
Yea, but no. I agree with your math, so yea.

The surprising thing is that diesel engines are amazingly inefficient at propulsion of sailboats, and so its not even close to a hp to kw conversion in actual use.

My boat is an Olson 40, 36 foot waterline, 10k lbs displacement. It had a 3GM30FC that said 17.7kw continuous at 3400 RPMs. Flat out, at 3200 rpms, we went 6 knots. Now, with a 10KW electric motor, I use 4.8KW to run at exactly the same speed, exactly the same conditions. So in my actual measured real world case with a real boat, real LiFePO4 batteries, real boat, real water, real wind, 4.8KW electric is the same as 17.7kw of diesel.

So no, the math does not at all predict reality.

In actual use, I use about 1.5KW to go 5 knots, for exactly the same reason I ran at 5knots under diesel. It's quieter, calmer. The electric motor is almost silent. But the shaft going through the shaft log and the cutlass bearing, and the prop spinning in the water, do make a lot more noise than I expected. All that stuff is normally drowned out by those disgustingly rude noises of a diesel. Remove that irritation, and the background noise becomes noticeable.
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Old 17-01-2020, 14:20   #43
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

In fact, this difference between apparent kw of an internal combustion engine and electric also applies to cars, as reflected by the eMPG ratings: the eMPG is about 4x higher than a direct conversion would suggest.
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Old 17-01-2020, 22:51   #44
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Re: Panama Canal on an electric motor

I just went thru the canal on January 5th, 2020. I would plan on 2 days. The overnight is on the lake. All pleasure vessels tie up to a large metal bouy. Cannot drop anchor as you most likely wont get it back. The overnight area is about 1 mile from the north locks near the gulf side. So you would need to make it from the bridge of the Americas all the way to the bouy area. Definitely need something to charge your batteries along the way. Currents weren't too bad. Even if they didnt require min 5 kts, I wouldn't try it with less. You dont get a choice of behind or in front of whatever vessel is in there with you. We were in front on the south locks and in back on north locks. Fortunately, we didnt have a side tie with another boat on either day.
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