Electric propulsion on sail boats works and works well.
A sail boat with electric drive has got to be one of the most fuel-efficient forms of transport on the planet.
More than 1,500 nautical miles and 3 months extended cruising on OCEAN STRIDER, has forced us on a steep learning experience to say the least. My sailing confidence, and trust in the electric drive system, is now at a stage I’m more than happy with.
OCEAN STRIDER is a Sailing Power Station.
A sail boat with electric drive is propelled by clean wind and green electric energy. Green energy, is produced by drive re-generation, solar and wind generator. The battery bank can also be charged using generator and external power sources.
My decision to go electric took months of thought and deliberation. I didn’t want to ruin my one and only chance to make this epic journey. There were un-answered questions, no matter whom I asked; all I received were sales pitches. It was down to me to decide. The following points helped me.
- Easy to fit. The motor weighs 18kg
- Environmental. Absolutely clean.
- 99.9% Free to run. No diesel costs and huge service intervals.
- Fuel/energy regeneration and green power. Its almost like re-filling the tank for FREE and whilst sailing. Its fantastic!!
Good planning and weather reports are key to any sailing journey.
If you sail, (and I mean sail) you know deep down, the outcome can’t be controlled. The wind has the last say. To sail distances and feel safe, you have to plan properly.
When I first started out on this trip, I didn’t realise the importance of the BATTERY MONITOR. The information the monitor supplies is an absolute must. Its just like a fuel gauge but more precise. Once you understand this, it all falls into place. It’s really not difficult, even if you aren’t technically minded.
To much sailing in non tidal waters, makes you lazy.
How I plan my sailing journey, using electric propulsion.
- First the plan. Where am I and where do I intend to go? Not difficult!!
- Check your course for bolt holes. For those not in the know, these are places you can go if whilst under way, you’re not happy you’ll reach your chosen destination.
- Check the wind, waves, currents and tide will get me there. I make an educated guess on my Windy Weather, prediction map, where I’ll be and when; “Start to Finish”. Look at all information, at say 2hour intervals, using my estimated course positions. This information is now readily available on several apps and should be a major part of any good sailing plan.
- I aim is to be sailing as soon as possible. Using the drive as lightly as I can, I position the boat to set the sails. If I need the motor to keep the boat positioned, it’s there. I save as much drive power as possible.
- When sailing: A sail boat with electric drive, there’s a position on the control leaver, where the drive will make its own power, under sail and re-charge the batteries “If you leave the ignition ON”. The boat must be sailing at a reasonable speed. Charging is dependent on the efficiency of the propeller, how well the drive is set-up and sailing speed through the water. You must keep an eye on the charge state on the battery monitor, you don’t want to over charge and damage the battery bank.
If wind speed drops so does boat speed. Use the drive there are no diesel fumes.
- Whilst under way, there’ll be times you’d like a little help from the engine/drive. If wind speed drops, boat speed drops. Use the drive with the sails. You’ll find you are using almost no power to increase the speed of the boat. Average speed is maintained. If you are running, there’s no diesel fumes. Its another world, cleaner quiet and free. Its why we sail.
- When you’re sailing only, you re-charge.
- If the wind completely dies! Check the plan, you will have a good idea when to expect more wind. Wait it out and use the drive as lightly as possible to keep you going in the right direction.
- Entering a marina or harbor, can be a long-drawn-out affair as we all know. You’re initial planning, will insure you have more than enough power to enter.
- Re-charging the battery bank after a journey: Plug into the marina hook up. You’ll need a good battery charger.
- If at anchor use solar and wind generator but be prepared for a long stay at the anchorage. I recommend a generator if you do a lot of anchoring, just in case.
- When under way, I check the battery monitor as often as possible. All the information I need is there.
The correct Electric Drive is as capable of driving your boat as a diesel engine is.
I fitted a generator for belt and braces security and it make things easier but is not absolutely necessary. With experience I use it less all the time.
If you decide to go electric, ask the supplier to for his recommendation. He will need specific boat information for your boat.
The electric drive on OCEAN STRIDER, is more powerful than the diesel motor previously fitted.
In heavy weather OCEAN STRIDER is more than capable of getting me to port.
Last point: Remember your planning. It gets easier as your experience grows.
If you have questions, or information that may be useful. Please contact me through the contact page.