Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing you

  • Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing yourself instead of taking photos of me.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

I like the idea of an electric outboard.

I like the idea of an electric outboard. 
The biggest problem though, is battery storage. The Elco's are expensive, but they work as well as an old two stroke. Because they rely on standard 12 volt technology, they only really work if you stay at a slip and can plug in to recharge every night. I'm on a mooring. But, come on Elco! https://www.elcomotoryachts.com they have been building electric yachts since the 1920's!


I like the idea of just keeping it onboard for an emergency, and never having to put it in the water until I need it. But the light travel 1003 model is really only appropriate if you ONLY use an engine in no wind. It's really meant for a boat half the weight of my CD26. (Torqeedo recommends it for boats up to 3,000 pounds. Segue displaces 5,300. And I really can’t find a source to determine my boats actual weight.)

I had an old Johnson sail master 2 stroke for over 20 years. [ I miss it] Since then, I've been through 2 of the "New Merc" four stroke 4HP and 6HP pieces of crap outboards in the last 7 years. My current 6HP Merc hasn't started when I've needed it in two years. It's 3 years old. The new 4 strokes are heavier than the old 2 strokes,[well over 100 - 150 pounds], the corrosion due to electrolysis is out of control, and being stuck permanently in an outboard well, means they are always fouled. I hate them. 

As a day sailor, I have to keep my water tank in the bow of the boat full just to balance out the boat. Otherwise she hobby horses to windward, and won't point without the extra weight forward.
But I'm a day sailor. I'd be happy with a light electric motor. I'd just keep my water tank empty.

So my choice was spend two grand on another 100 pound + 4hp 4 stroke, or spend the two grand on a Torqeedo and get it over with.

After talking with the tech guys at both West Marine and Torqeedo, I feel much better about my purchase.

Since I'll only really will be using it in no wind, we don't expect any lack of power problems.
Since the engine is electric, much like an electric car...the torque is more like that of a 4 hp gas motor. I found my 4hp Merc to pushed Segue around just fine, especially when you figure that the old outboards were  usually fouled, and the propeller looked more like a barnacle covered disk, than a prop.

As a daysailer, I will no longer need to fill my forward water tank to balance out the boat's trim, and the outboard will live safely in the lazaret or down below. This also means no electrolysis worries. [I hope].

Honestly, the only issue I see is my waterline might move, and I'll have a little more freeboard. Or the catastrophic failure of something that needs an outboard. Though after 50+ years of sailing...I can't imagine any situation that I couldn't jurry rig or kedge out of.

I do keep an old SUP Stand Up Paddleboard paddle on board. And it's adjustable, carbon, with an angled blade, and light. Fully extended it's about 6 3/4 feet tall. So I can paddle from the stern, standing on the lazarette. And I keep a light Danforth anchor in the Lazarett in case I need to kedge out of something.

So…Next: What have I learned about The Torqueedo.
  1. Buy the storage bags. They are about $250, but the 1003  feels delicate , I was worried about transport and storage. The shaft and tiller control unit with GPS, magnetic safety fit in one nicely padded travel bag. Even though the unit is light: it is awkward, and feels like I could easily damage it.  I plan to leave it on the boat. Unless I use it. Then, I like the bag for taking it on the launch, so I can freshwater clean it after each use.There is a separate bag just for the battery, and your charger brick. It only weighs 20 pounds. [the whole thing is only 30 something pounds! ] But that's perfect for me. My deep cycle battery is like 80 pounds and while I can keep it topped off with a solar panel, I'd hate to have to drag that thing back and forth all season.
  2.  Does it work? Yes. In light to no wind it pushes my 5300 pounds at about 3 1/2 to 4 knotsThis is fine for my purposes. But you're NOT going to fly at hull speed [6 1/2 knots].
  • Full throttle is 4.5 knots, but only 30 minutes battery life. 
  • 3/4 throttle was 4.0 knots. 
  • 1/2 throttle is a decent 3 to 3.5 knots. And now… you have about an hours battery life. 
I have the ability to buy an upgraded high capacity Lithium Ion with 2 hours battery life at 1/2 throttle. But the guys at tech support told me to wait a year, since they will drop in price, and increase in capacity considerably next few years.

Downside: 
  1. The damn LCD display is too small, and too hard to see, especially in direct sunlight. I down-loaded the phone app, but have not tried it. Also I'm not to sure about charging it. It came out of the box fully charged at 100% my first ride took it down to about 65%. I know "they say" charging these newer batteries with out running them down does not shorten its battery life...but I have read complaints that it does.
  2. Who designed the connection plugs? They must be oriented properly. And it is difficult to see if they are, as the plugs are tiny, and the little knub that shows the orientation is way too small. I think I can partially solve this with a white Sharpe. 
  3. I don’t understand why…but you need to shoot a little WD-40 every single time you connect the cables from the battery and the controller.  Just trust me on this.
Here is a little video from First day where I really used the electric outboard. I have to admit that it was so nice and light to take out of the bags and put it in the well. Just as easy to uninstall and pack it away.

Plus, I actually was giggling at the fact I was cruising around the bay under power . It was so cool.