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Motors on Sailing Dinghies: discuss


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Personal experience with this. Pretty extensive cruising of a GP-14 as a kid with father and a 2 hp model. The value of the motor was mixed. It made possible getting out and exploring the oppressively still and humid Chesapeake in July.

We raced it a lot, too. Boat had a bolted on bracket. Mainshieet would catch on gybes. "Dad, let's take that ^$%# thing off." When I became more in charge, it came off. Still cruised. Chesapeake. Just put up twin headsails and tacked downwind. Out sailed 30 foot cruising boats in 5 kts that way.

We also bought a Bullseye in the mid 70s. Came with a seagull and a bracket all nicey nice. We NEVER used it on the bullseye--in heavy tidal Gulf of Maine waters. We did put the gull on a tin fish and ripped around.
 

I see outboard motors on sailing dinghies infrequently. The classes of sailing dingies I have NEVER seen under power (of any sort other than tow):

Sunfish, scorpion, butterfly, phantom, bluejay, penguin, interclub, windmill, snipe, laser, ffive, lightning, FD, 505, snipe, comet, V15, JY15, ensign, aquacat...

Boats I've seen under power:

JY14, Rhodes 19/mariner, GP14, Ospray, Daysailer, Drascombe Lugger, bullseye, and a smattering of other inidentified 17 footers of the burdensome variety.

Notable is that I've never seen a board boat with a motor. This is not surprising. Min Kota shortest shaft is freaking 36" long The damned thing is not light.

 

I've also designed a number of small sailboats and rowing boats. I've had rowing boats of mine converted to sail, and I've had sail as part of the rowing centered design as auxiliary. I've never had anyone even remotely interested in putting a motor on. The question really is, when does this really happen, why--and why amongst the sailors, is there so little interest in putting a motor on a Sunfish? (I think I know the reason...but let's see what we learn).

The Drascombe was one of those "do everything" boats. I think I remember this right. Actually I think there was another somewhat similar boat maybe by drascombe or someone else. What was that thing called?  "She rows, she sails, she paddles, she motors--4 boats it one!" (or something like that). (And none of them particularly good). We actually looked at one at the Boat Show in the early 70s and came closer to buying it than we should have. But the used GP14 took us (mercifully) in a much better direction.

 

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IMHO one of the dividing lines between a sailing dinghy... meaning one that is primarily intended for the enjoyment of sailing... is responsive and nimble enough to never need a motor. They can be paddled or rocked when it's dead calm.

Generally rowing is a poor compromise, because at best the hull shape is completely different. Then you have the dagger/centerboard trunk adding drag, the seating position, the rowing equipment is just an annoying clutter in the way of sailing... and vice versa... but a workable compromise is possible as long as you don't demand the highest performance in both rowing and sailing.

It's unfortunate the terminology hasn't evolved to keep a clear distinction between dinghies for cruising boats, tenders, and racing class dinghies.

FB- Doug

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In our club it's against club rules to race with the outboard fitted dinghy or yacht. I've only seen dinghies or come to that open keel boats of up to 25ft race with outboard bracket fitted when in transit between clubs or to/from a club from a home mooring.

Most dinghy sized outboards these days have the bracket integral to the outboard, there's nothing to leave on the dinghy..

Many of the open keel boats use a side mounted outboard bracket,, just tied on with thin rope. 

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4 hours ago, fastyacht said:

Personal experience with this. Pretty extensive cruising of a GP-14 as a kid with father and a 2 hp model. 

...

The Drascombe was one of those "do everything" boats. I think I remember this right.

 

4 hours ago, fastyacht said:

Actually I think there was another somewhat similar boat maybe by drascombe or someone else. What was that thing called?  "She rows, she sails, she paddles, she motors--4 boats it one!" (or something like that). (And none of them particularly good).

That's how I understand the GP14... Also the Mirror,  though a bit small for any but the smallest o/bs.

ISTR, at least some Drascombes come with an outboard well.

 Wayfarers often have a bracket on the stern. I've seen them on the occasional "modern Wayfarer" designs, like the Laser 16/Bahia or RS designs, that try to reinvent the Wayfarer but end up with a boat that maybe does something better but fails to improve on the overall package. 

Cheers, 

              W.

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Here on the Dart I have often seen Wayfarers with small outboards.

One of the problems with OBs on dinghies is that they are heavy and if you go to the stern to start/stop/ lift/refuel and so on,  the stern sinks and they get all wobbly. Wayfarers are ok because they weigh a ton and have a great big fat backside.

I occasionally use a Dreascombe lugger, it's really not a dinghy in any meaningful way. Looks great, sails like a brick, worst steering system known to mankind and the outboard is behind the nastiest rudder I have ever had the misfortune to drop on my toe.

However for 5 years I sailed a borrowed Hawk 20. This is like a Wayfarer that been pumped up on steroids and has an outboard well forward of the transom mounted (very large) rudder. This works really well. So if I were to fit an auxilliary power unit to a dinghy I'd do it like the Hawk, deffo' electric. It would not need a big well. The Hawk has moulded GRP blocks you put in place to block the well when you lift the motor.

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When growing up in Western Kentucky, my Dad and I sailed an O'Day Day Sailor on the Ohio River in the summer and fall. Since the Day Sailer is on the heavy side, wind in Western KY in the summer and fall can be on the light side and even at summer pool levels, the Ohio has current (and a lot of barge traffic), we used 4 hp Mercury (smallest I think you could get in 1978). When sailing on lakes, the motor stayed home. I also sailed Lasers and Thistles on the Ohio River at the same time but never considered a motor on either - always head up river from the launch site and watch out for barges on light air days.

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This must be a northern hemishere issue.  In Aust the only dinghies I have seen with motors are aways in January summer holidays, and are only ever Mirror Dinghies with a small two stroke, oars, fishing lines and complete absence of rig/sails etc. Every summer for 40years we encounter at least one Mirror in some coastal tidal backwater, doing what Jack Holt intended as an alternative to sail racing. 

 

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10 hours ago, Phil S said:

This must be a northern hemishere issue.  In Aust the only dinghies I have seen with motors are aways in January summer holidays, and are only ever Mirror Dinghies with a small two stroke, oars, fishing lines and complete absence of rig/sails etc. Every summer for 40years we encounter at least one Mirror in some coastal tidal backwater, doing what Jack Holt intended as an alternative to sail racing. 

 

Yeah but you get wind down there haha;-)

 

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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned what seems to be the most obvious reason to me.... dinghies, particularly board boats, are designed to capsize!   Outboard motors don't like being submerged or inverted. For me, that rules out a gas outboard (or any device that can not be submerged) on a board boat. 

It's tempting to dismiss this as a 'stupid' question, but it is not, the OP is bringing up a good point.  It has been on people's mind for decades.  I grew up in Annapolis in the '80s and worked at Backyard Boats in Eastport while in high school.   We sold Lasers, Sunfish, Hobies, etc.   Customers often requested motors for their Hobie Cats and dinghys.   We sold the little 'cruise and carry' outboards, which were really light, and if I recall correctly, pretty poorly made (we had many of them coming back for work).   We did our best to discourage motor use on smaller boats.  But some buyers insisted.  We sold a Capri 14.2 with a cruise and carry motor on it, that is the smallest boat I can recall sending out the door with a motor.   

What will likely be game changing in this area are the developments we are seeing in ultra compact electrical propulsion systems now being developed for SUPs and foilboards.   Batteries, electronics, and motors are all getting smaller, more powerful, and less expensive.   A small foil/propeller assembly can easily be mounted to the bottom of a dinghy, and a battery pack strapped into the cockpit.   There are quite a few DIY parts available now for folks that are curious and handy.   Amazon sells an 'E-Fin' kit for $459 that has a skeg and propeller that can be epoxied to a hull, and a box with a speed controller.  Not sure if it includes the battery or not.   Its designed for an SUP, so it would e underpowered for a day sailor, but it would move it.   Some company named Bixpy sells a 'power shroud' and battery pack for $1100, designed to power a sea kayak 6-12 miles at 5mph.   So there are options out there now, and they are certain to keep improving over the next few years.   

But will people buy it?   Sure, but I'm not sure how many.  As added piece of mind for new sailors, I can see its marketing value.  I worry that people will use it in conditions they shouldn't like heading out in 20 knots of wind and assuming you can motor home if the sailing is too much.   That won't work, particularly if you can't take the sail down on the water.   But I know of folks that would benefit greatly from a small dinghy auxiliary to get from a protected creek out to a good sailing venue.   So I predict that we will see an electric dinghy auxiliary being produced in the next few years.  Likely something you clamp/bolt/epoxy to your rudder/centerboard/hull with a small battery and control box that is strapped to the cockpit or hull and gives you 45-60 minutes of go for $1000-$2000.   

I predict boat builders will be slow to offer propulsion themselves for two reasons.  First, batteries, controllers, and motors are not a technology that they understand or want to support.  When batteries fail, they don't want to have to spend time troubleshooting them with the customer or be on the hook for warranty expenses.  I believe we will need to have a few industry leaders, like Torqueedo, who demonstrate that the products and the parent company are both 'bulletproof' before a boat builder will be willing to incorporate it.   Second, I don't think that they want the liability.   Some customers will use the motor as another reason that they don't need lessons, and motor out beyond their range or ability, then complain that the range is too short or motor not powerful enough to get them home.  

But as the costs drop and the reliability of the product improves, I do believe that more an more smaller boats will have an electric propulsion option.   It's not something I personally want for my boats, but I can see the market responding positively to a well built, $500 option that gives 30 minutes of hassle free motoring.   It wont be long...

 

 

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Champlain thanks for that very cogent essay. Indeed, in that other thread, I just mostly bit my lip because the instigator seemed unreasonable and not worth my time. An anecdote I left out involved capsizing the GP with the 2 hp and having to immediately service it so that it didn't die.

The battery power thing is certainly improving. There is a scale issue here. The reason it may work out for smaller boats has to do with speed expectations (low). Even right now, with the most advanced battery options and motor options (definitely NOT torqeedo by the way) the difference between fuel an battery is still stunning. 25 foot boat, 1 hour of operation at 20+ knots is about 1 TON of batteries (give take based on weight--I won't do the exact numbers right now but I have them, as I designed a boat of this sort a few months ago).  A few hundred pounds of fuel gives you 4+ hours range---and the net weight difference (fueled) is over a thousand pounds.

Battery power has a long way to go to equal fuel in terms of weight and range. But if you keep the speed down (4 knots max) things d start to work.

I am on the water almost every day from April through October and my office is on the water of a busy waterway. I see what is going on in SUP, kayak, sailboats, fishing etc basically all year long. I have yet to see a single kayak, whether trimaraned or not, with a motor...which I think is because the range is just not reasonable. You haul this heavy awkward thing that is in the wrong part of the boat for what? Saving 2 miles of paddling or pedaling? Why? That's only 45 minutes anyway and you went out in a kayak to get some exercise...

Clearly, there are people in FL and other places who have gone and mounted modified trolling motors to hobie adventures. Having paddled the backcountry, I fail to see how a motor would get you out of trouble, there is too much water for that motor to help...

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I really like the Hawk, but it's a bit bigger than what I would call a "dinghy." It makes sense to use a motor with something that size/weight.

My post above may come across as elitist and harsh, so I should add that the threshold of "too big to rock/scull/paddle" will be different for different people. Another factor is the location; some places with narrow channels, current, commercial traffic, it makes sense to have the capability to motor.

 

9 minutes ago, Champlain Sailor said:

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned what seems to be the most obvious reason to me.... dinghies, particularly board boats, are designed to capsize!   Outboard motors don't like being submerged or inverted. For me, that rules out a gas outboard (or any device that can not be submerged) on a board boat. 

....

 

Or other dinghies! I well remember helping a very nice, and not unskilled, pair of middle-aged ladies in an Albacore who had one of those little air-cooled self-contained outboards... I tend to think of them as "Ted Williams" engines, as that was a marketing name they carried (Montgomery Ward?) when I was young... after they had capsized on a summer afternoon that turned squally. The engine was ruined as well as making an oily mess across most of the back of the boat. The squall had left a dead calm in it's wake and another squall was fairly obviously on it's way. Two friends and I were rock/pumping a Lightning back to the club at a good clip, and we diverted to take them in tow.

I've never used an electric motor auxiliary on a sailboat but I think it has great potential, espically in the scenario where you need a brief push at the beginning/end of going sailing but are not expected to motor for long transits.

FB- Doug

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Americans find engines very reassuring.  They feel they can rely on an engine to get them out of trouble if the sails somehow fail to work.  Personally, I feel just the other way around, and am really uncomfortable without sails to get me home if the engine quits. 

Otherwise, a suitable set of oars or a good paddle with someone who knows how to use either is more than enough auxiliary power for any dinghy I sail.  And for most small keel boats as well. It may be my lovepeasetiediehippy tendencies coming trough, or my aversion to liquid fuel on board, or the fact that an engine weighs more than a pair of oars, definitely not like getting wet  and definitely won't run if it has,.  Or it just might be I hate the fucking things and all "Real Man" bullshit that goes with them.  Fuck it, I'd rather have a boat that sails better- and there isn't a single boat ever built that sails better with an engine than without an engine- and use that superior performance and my superior skill to get home without it. 

SHC

 

 

 

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55 minutes ago, xonk1 said:

For all who advocate for some sort of power on a dinghy, just get a power boat. Too much talk.

I was thinking about this today as I crawled around in a 40 footer diesel bilge today.

I went down the path reading hobiie forums. Apparently Torqeedo now makes a unit for big yaks. Some of these guys talked about "now I can go 20 miles in a day".

Okaaay  sure. Of course. On yoir hobie trimarab. I see the logic.

But as I thought abouit it I wondered well, this is really better served by a purposeful low drag multihull powerboat....

....which means you will see it posted in maritime art anarchy soon. Haha

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@Steve Clark I'm the other way 'round too.

I've been out with plenty of folks who turn the motor on as soon as they get nervous. They don't realize there's way more power and maneuverability with the sails, especially when the wind is up; and the motor has nowhere near enough power to bring the bow up into the wind, even without sails, let alone with them flogging.

All that fooling around in Sabots and Lasers as kids, rocking and rolling and pumping, sailing backward, without rudders, etc., taught us a lot that's easy to take for granted.

There were a lot of split Sabot rudder heads from sculling, but I don't remember ever being stranded.

 

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On 12/29/2020 at 11:21 PM, blurocketsmate said:

@Steve Clark I'm the other way 'round too.

I've been out with plenty of folks who turn the motor on as soon as they get nervous. They don't realize there's way more power and maneuverability with the sails, especially when the wind is up; and the motor has nowhere near enough power to bring the bow up into the wind, even without sails, let alone with them flogging.

 

 


I'm the person who instigated this discussion.  The motor is not for times when sailing is scary because its windy, its for times when sailing is impossible because there is no wind.  Or when your put-in is a mile or more from open water and you don't want to awkwardly paddle a single-blade for 40 minutes,  both ways, to get your sail on.  Or you have two hours and the wind dies 30 minutes in .  As if virtually every actual sailboat in the world didn't have an engine. 

Batteries and motors sucked until about 10 years ago.  Now they are light powerful enough to be useful- and they are useful.  But if you don't have a motor, but  you do have good oars and locks (or in Hobie's case, an efficient pedal drive) the problem is solved that way. 

Anyone who wants to make money selling small boats to the masses better put some form of propulsion on the boat other than sails, or they ain't gonna sell many boats to the masses.  

Many folks have only the days they have to sail- they can't pick and choose.  A motor can be the difference between a nice time on the water, and not.   
 

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My Albacore, which I bought used about 20 years ago, came with a motor mount:

image.png.42d01f2d11b0dbeae0d32eb39176a913.png

 

I never used it, and removed it before very long. Eventually I traded it to a Mutineer owner for a six pack of beer.

I have to say I've thought about fitting an electric trolling motor. My club is on a chain of lakes - about a dozen or so - but it's not possible to sail to the others and I've long thought about a small motor so I could get there to sail those other lakes. I've visited them all in my kayak, but it's not worth it to paddle the sailboat to any of them.

Probably never happen, but I've considered it. Call me motor-curious.

 

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8 minutes ago, MrSwordfish said:

My Albacore, which I bought used about 20 years ago, came with a motor mount:

image.png.42d01f2d11b0dbeae0d32eb39176a913.png

 

I never used it, and removed it before very long. Eventually I traded it to a Mutineer owner for a six pack of beer.

I have to say I've thought about fitting an electric trolling motor. My club is on a chain of lakes - about a dozen or so - but it's not possible to sail to the others and I've long thought about a small motor so I could get there to sail those other lakes. I've visited them all in my kayak, but it's not worth it to paddle the sailboat to any of them.

Probably never happen, but I've considered it. Call me motor-curious.

 

That mount is an abonimation. What fun gybing must have been for the previous owner.

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Even I am offended by that mount.  

Motor-curious leads to you- know-what.  

To move an Albacore for a few hours you would probably want around 45lbs of Thrust and a 100AH lithium - set you back probably around $1K and weigh about 40 pounds total, but the battery could be forward and low.  Torqeedo are absolute shit and should be avoided. 

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Well we agree on something. Avoid Torqueedo. Heavy, expensive, prone to failure. Not actually optimized motors or controllers.
"Thrust" is a trolling motor rating for bollard pull (zero speed). That is of course not what you will develop free-steaming...

Capsizing is the real issue. Albacores and other monohulls go upside down. It will happen. Make sure you have an arrangement that can be submerged.

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10 minutes ago, fastyacht said:

Capsizing is the real issue. Albacores and other monohulls go upside down. It will happen. Make sure you have an arrangement that can be submerged.

Yeah, what's the deal with that? Are any electric or gas outboards submergible?

I understand the viability of the hobie pedal drive on a "hybrid" pedal/sail boat, but the outboard setup strike me as not fully thought through...

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22 minutes ago, martin 'hoff said:

Yeah, what's the deal with that? Are any electric or gas outboards submergible?

I understand the viability of the hobie pedal drive on a "hybrid" pedal/sail boat, but the outboard setup strike me as not fully thought through...

Having been through the outboard dunking on a 14 foot dinghy, yeah, its "great" right up until it's not. And the weight is always an issue. 45 lbs is very noticeable. I don't think the 2hp with gas weighed even 60% of that. And the weight off the transom is bad. The thing is not to depend on the motor. Treat it as a useful bonus in circumstances where it might be helpful. But be prepared to come home without it.

Example of Torqeedo fuckery. Well at least they want to make good:
image.thumb.png.775652753758397183b2c4c7cdfea9ec.png

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For a typical board boat 18# to 24# pounds is adequate, and those motors weigh about 5 pounds an the transom and cost maybe $120.   A 35 AH  sealed battery (cheap) is about 19 pounds.  a 40 AH lithium (not cheap) is about 12 pounds.  The batteries can be low and forward.  The electronics don't love salt water but most can be briefly submerged and survive.  The battery, of course must be secured.   768 watts is one horsepower, or 64 amps at 12 volts.  A 24# draws about 20 amps, or 1/3 HP, give or take.  You can't take a battery to zero but a lithium can go pretty low, so about 90 min of operation.  

For a heavier boat, everything gets bigger.  For reference, a 2.5HP Yamaha clocks in at 37 pounds and each gallon of gas is about 7.2 pounds.  The Yamaha is the best built in that range- A Suzuki is about 8 pounds lighter.  The Yamaha runs for about four hours on one gallon and costs about $1200.  Small gas outboards tend to hold value well.  

 
 

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You forgot the 10 lbs of copperl wire to keep the voltage drop below 5%.

On a board boat. No fun.when the wimd is light the fun of board boats is swmimg with them.

Serioisly. But hey go for it.

 

2 cycles weigjt much less.

Having built power cats I can see the trimiran thing.

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10 hours ago, fastyacht said:

That mount is an abonimation. What fun gybing must have been for the previous owner.

Yes, an abomination. It didn't last long, nor did the heavy 1" thick backing wood.  But Albacores of that era came with mid-boom sheeting and a traveller, so gybing was not a problem.

It took a couple of years before I replaced the mid- boom sheeting with a split-tail. I removed the traveler, which is now in a box in the basement with my 8-track tapes.

 

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I have some experience with electric propulsion and power, and am a big fan of it.  On the surface, it seems like an easy no-brainer.   Get a motor (cheap), a speed controller (cheap) and a battery, connect them and you are done.   A few hours on  ebay or amazon and how you have an Electric boat.  If it has oars or a sail, you can call it a 'hybrid' and charge more :D   And for the hobbyist, it really is that cheap and easy today.   For several hundred dollars and a few hours of tinkering you too can be silently cruising the waterways.

However, and this is a big however, there is an enormous variation in quality in what is available.   There is so much cheap hardware available, sourced from the folks that are making e-scooters and e-bikes by the 100,000.    Some of it is decent.  Some of it is crap.   Can you tell the difference?  As purchased, almost none of it is rated for full immersion.   

i worked as an engineer with an electric outdoor power equipment firm for a few years, and I can tell you that even when the hardware is sound, if there is any  maintenance or special operating procedures required by the user, you will have a market failure.   Some battery types don't like to be run down below 50%.   Others want to be kept on the charger all the time.  Yet some should only rarely be charged to 100%.   Unless the battery charger automatically charges properly and the motor controller only lets you use the product safely.  When the unit does not perform, the first call is to the dealer, next is to the manufacturer.  Customers are not interested in learning about batteries, customers want to push a button and have the boat go.   The system must protect itself from the user, which is easier said than done.

So, to make an electric propulsion system that a boat manufacturer can stand by, they must ensure that the components are user-proof and work well as a system.  They then have to address the non-insignificant problem of making them water resistant (and if you want this on a small dinghy, fully submersible).   This is not impossible, but it is not easy or cheap to do it right.   Torqueedo has done a commendable job in this area with outboard motors.   But they have had challenges too.   Lift foiling surfboards sells foil board as well as battery powered 'efoil' boards.   A foil board (not powered) is about $2800.   An efoil costs $12,000.   So the battery, controller, and motor add about $9K to the price.   I've had the pleasure of using one of the Lift efoils and can attest that it is incredibly well engineering and  built.  All of the components are robust and well thought out, and the motors performance is astounding.   Cheaper efoil packages are available, as are multiple videos on line of customers receiving them and showing them short out, fail to start, etc.     

I'm confident that electric marine propulsion will continue to get cheaper, more reliable, and more powerful in the near future.  But we don't live in a world where $500 is going to buy you a reliable electric system that will run day in and day out for 60 minutes on a single charge.   Stay tuned, though, it may not be far off.  Likely years away, but not decades.

 

 

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I bit my lip above and am glad ypu wrote that instead of me.

In my profession I have also the same observations about battery propsion...it is changing fast. Do not buy Chinese if ypu want it to work and not kill you

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20 minutes ago, fastyacht said:

I bit my lip above and am glad ypu wrote that instead of me.

In my profession I have also the same observations about battery propsion...it is changing fast. Do not buy Chinese if ypu want it to work and not kill you

I'd counter your position slightly in that you can successfully buy Chinese hardware (in fact, it is hard to find speed controllers made anywhere else) but you better know what you are looking for, and you need to either be at the factory that is making your product or have a knowledgeable rep that is there.  There is some great hardware coming out of China, Taiwan, and other countries in the region, but there is a ton of junk too.  If you don't know what you are buying and who you are buying from, you are almost certainly buying the junk.

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29 minutes ago, Champlain Sailor said:
53 minutes ago, fastyacht said:

I bit my lip above and am glad ypu wrote that instead of me.

In my profession I have also the same observations about battery propsion...it is changing fast. Do not buy Chinese if ypu want it to work and not kill you

I'd counter your position slightly in that you can successfully buy Chinese hardware (in fact, it is hard to find speed controllers made anywhere else) but you better know what you are looking for, and you need to either be at the factory that is making your product or have a knowledgeable rep that is there.  There is some great hardware coming out of China, Taiwan, and other countries in the region, but there is a ton of junk too.  If you don't know what you are buying and who you are buying from, you are almost certainly buying the junk.

And from a business perspective, the problem is that good equipment is expected to price-competitive with junk.

This was starting to happen in industrial instrumentation. I had some arguments with insurance companies that were unhappy with long standing customers who went cheap-from-China when sensors need replacing and this affected systems which operated alarms/shutdowns.

Well, sorry but it ain't my fault. Read the spec sheet. Oh wait, the manufacturer doesn't supply a spec sheet? Take 3 guesses why!

- DSK

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Yet another SA thread gone off the rails with discussion about some separate side issue. Someone has already stated a thread about outboards on sailing dinghies, and a new thread is needed for eletric outboards.

Get back to the ROCKET please.

I may sail a high tech boat now but nearly 60 years ago I stated sailing with a home built Sailfish look alike and I commend Dave for modernising the concept so that new sailors can have as much fun as I did. Maybe they can get just as adicted to sailing as I did.

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5 hours ago, Champlain Sailor said:

 

I'm confident that electric marine propulsion will continue to get cheaper, more reliable, and more powerful in the near future.  But we don't live in a world where $500 is going to buy you a reliable electric system that will run day in and day out for 60 minutes on a single charge.   Stay tuned, though, it may not be far off.  Likely years away, but not decades.

 

 

A cheap 12v 24# thrust non-PWM trolling motor is $50 wholesale.  You dunk it, maybe it works again, maybe it doesn't, but it hardly matters because you replace it for fifty bucks. A sealed lead acid 35 AH battery will run that motor for 60 minutes no matter how you mis-charge it.  Low-tech.  

The power to weight ratio and efficiency of the foil-board is a whole other planet.  Not the planet I'm talking about for shuttling between lakes or swimming you home in a drifter on a sub 100 KG watercraft. 

Why do so many posters have to police the subject matter of these threads?  Don't like it?  Click somewhere else.  This has been eye-opening. 

 

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19 minutes ago, bluelaser2 said:

You dunk it, maybe it works again, maybe it doesn't, but it hardly matters

That might be ok for something you DIY, and you don't care. 

There's a range of angles in this discussion and @Champlain Sailor, @fastyacht and @Steam Flyer know a few things about manufacturing products, so they are thinking of something viable as a product; something you can build and ship with good yield, reliability, and that can be actually used in practical, real life. 

In the real life where dinghies capsize, and warranty claims will put you under if you didn't ship a product that can handle capsizes in salt water.

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30 minutes ago, martin 'hoff said:

That might be ok for something you DIY, and you don't care. 

There's a range of angles in this discussion and @Champlain Sailor, @fastyacht and @Steam Flyer know a few things about manufacturing products, so they are thinking of something viable as a product; something you can build and ship with good yield, reliability, and that can be actually used in practical, real life. 

In the real life where dinghies capsize, and warranty claims will put you under if you didn't ship a product that can handle capsizes in salt water.

The builder need not supply the motor and battery.  I suggested a molded or fabbed mount and a wide eyestrap to hold a battery down.  The motor and battery are commodities.  Hobie (my go-to example of people who know how to sell boats and make money) do something similar with thier 'yaks where they are "Lowrance Ready" with a cavity for a transducer and wiring plugs, but they ain't supplying the electronics.   

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6 hours ago, Champlain Sailor said:

I'd counter your position slightly in that you can successfully buy Chinese hardware (in fact, it is hard to find speed controllers made anywhere else) but you better know what you are looking for, and you need to either be at the factory that is making your product or have a knowledgeable rep that is there.  There is some great hardware coming out of China, Taiwan, and other countries in the region, but there is a ton of junk too.  If you don't know what you are buying and who you are buying from, you are almost certainly buying the junk.

That's the thing: China only works out if you move there and take over :-)

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2 hours ago, Phil S said:

Yet another SA thread gone off the rails with discussion about some separate side issue. Someone has already stated a thread about outboards on sailing dinghies, and a new thread is needed for eletric outboards.

Get back to the ROCKET please.

I may sail a high tech boat now but nearly 60 years ago I stated sailing with a home built Sailfish look alike and I commend Dave for modernising the concept so that new sailors can have as much fun as I did. Maybe they can get just as adicted to sailing as I did.

HAHAHA Phil you posted that in my Motors on Sailing Dinghies by accident :-)

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49 minutes ago, bluelaser2 said:

The builder need not supply the motor and battery.  I suggested a molded or fabbed mount and a wide eyestrap to hold a battery down.  The motor and battery are commodities.  Hobie (my go-to example of people who know how to sell boats and make money) do something similar with thier 'yaks where they are "Lowrance Ready" with a cavity for a transducer and wiring plugs, but they ain't supplying the electronics.   

They actually go through a design verification process to be sure it fits. You talk about this stuff like a software geek.

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1 hour ago, martin 'hoff said:

That might be ok for something you DIY, and you don't care. 

There's a range of angles in this discussion and @Champlain Sailor, @fastyacht and @Steam Flyer know a few things about manufacturing products, so they are thinking of something viable as a product; something you can build and ship with good yield, reliability, and that can be actually used in practical, real life. 

In the real life where dinghies capsize, and warranty claims will put you under if you didn't ship a product that can handle capsizes in salt water.

Hey, I don't know diddley about manufacturing products, I just know (or used to know) about industrial machinery and instrument/control systems.

And we all know -nothing- is salt water proof. Or at least, not in the long run!

FB- Doug

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7 minutes ago, fastyacht said:

They actually go through a design verification process to be sure it fits. You talk about this stuff like a software geek.

Batteries are manufactured with standard form factors, and mounts are literal lumps of wood or metal.  The tolerances are in whole inches. Once deciding to do it,  the execution is trivial. 

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36 minutes ago, bluelaser2 said:

Batteries are manufactured with standard form factors, and mounts are literal lumps of wood or metal.  The tolerances are in whole inches. Once deciding to do it,  the execution is trivial. 

Again, you talk like a software geek...

...that is just not how it works but OK.

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Just now, fastyacht said:

I have a couple boxes of them. But they keep shorting out my ham radios.

I never understood why you'd put it in a radio. That'll never work. Ham goes in the sandwich.

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Just now, martin 'hoff said:

I never understood why you'd put it in a radio. That'll never work. Ham goes in the sandwich.

Now I know why the professor never did manage to make contact...

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18 hours ago, Champlain Sailor said:

I have some experience with electric propulsion and power, and am a big fan of it.  On the surface, it seems like an easy no-brainer.   Get a motor (cheap), a speed controller (cheap) and a battery, connect them and you are done.   A few hours on  ebay or amazon and how you have an Electric boat.  If it has oars or a sail, you can call it a 'hybrid' and charge more :D   And for the hobbyist, it really is that cheap and easy today.   For several hundred dollars and a few hours of tinkering you too can be silently cruising the waterways.

However, and this is a big however, there is an enormous variation in quality in what is available.   There is so much cheap hardware available, sourced from the folks that are making e-scooters and e-bikes by the 100,000.    Some of it is decent.  Some of it is crap.   Can you tell the difference?  As purchased, almost none of it is rated for full immersion.   

i worked as an engineer with an electric outdoor power equipment firm for a few years, and I can tell you that even when the hardware is sound, if there is any  maintenance or special operating procedures required by the user, you will have a market failure.   Some battery types don't like to be run down below 50%.   Others want to be kept on the charger all the time.  Yet some should only rarely be charged to 100%.   Unless the battery charger automatically charges properly and the motor controller only lets you use the product safely.  When the unit does not perform, the first call is to the dealer, next is to the manufacturer.  Customers are not interested in learning about batteries, customers want to push a button and have the boat go.   The system must protect itself from the user, which is easier said than done.

So, to make an electric propulsion system that a boat manufacturer can stand by, they must ensure that the components are user-proof and work well as a system.  They then have to address the non-insignificant problem of making them water resistant (and if you want this on a small dinghy, fully submersible).   This is not impossible, but it is not easy or cheap to do it right.   Torqueedo has done a commendable job in this area with outboard motors.   But they have had challenges too.   Lift foiling surfboards sells foil board as well as battery powered 'efoil' boards.   A foil board (not powered) is about $2800.   An efoil costs $12,000.   So the battery, controller, and motor add about $9K to the price.   I've had the pleasure of using one of the Lift efoils and can attest that it is incredibly well engineering and  built.  All of the components are robust and well thought out, and the motors performance is astounding.   Cheaper efoil packages are available, as are multiple videos on line of customers receiving them and showing them short out, fail to start, etc.     

I'm confident that electric marine propulsion will continue to get cheaper, more reliable, and more powerful in the near future.  But we don't live in a world where $500 is going to buy you a reliable electric system that will run day in and day out for 60 minutes on a single charge.   Stay tuned, though, it may not be far off.  Likely years away, but not decades.

 

 

This is not a criticism of you or your post. Just a comment on the market. 

 I'm intrigued that electric propulsion is expected to Just Work, providing reliable and robust service despite the ignorance of the user, whereas everyone is expected to know that internal combustion engines need clean fuel,  regular filter changes,  cooling and "monitoring" (anything from guages on cylinder heads, exhausts or fuel lines to "it doesn't sound right"). 

 It'll change soon enough,  I expect, battery knowledge is improving rapidly,  and it's the batteries (or better still,  the energy converters that charge then) that need focus... and we're already at the stage where many younger users don't know what a choke is, or the difference between a spark plug and a glow plug.

Cheers, 

               W.

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47 minutes ago, WGWarburton said:

....   ...

 I'm intrigued that electric propulsion is expected to Just Work, providing reliable and robust service despite the ignorance of the user, whereas everyone is expected to know that internal combustion engines need clean fuel,  regular filter changes,  cooling and "monitoring" (anything from guages on cylinder heads, exhausts or fuel lines to "it doesn't sound right"). 

 It'll change soon enough,  I expect, battery knowledge is improving rapidly,  and it's the batteries (or better still,  the energy converters that charge then) that need focus... and we're already at the stage where many younger users don't know what a choke is, or the difference between a spark plug and a glow plug.

Cheers, 

               W.

 

I dunno if it's like this in the rest of the world, but in the USA it seems like people expect magic. "I don't understand it, I just know it works." Or worse, they fool themselves into thinking they understand it.

This is a HUGE change from the era that I grew up in, where the average American male was expected to be able to fix a car and wire a house, or the rest would make fun of him.

FB- Doug

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I like small light responsive sailing boats, for enjoyment, exercise, and health.  Have a cruising dinghy that can sail and row, and a faster boat that I can paddle holding the hatch covers, but can make progress in almost no wind.  Would not take a motor on either, even as a gift.  If I want the ease of a motor, I take a ferry.  The tide and weather conditions help decide my daily route and goal, and like all plans, it is apt to change with conditions.  As I get older, I get luckier with getting home by dark.  Sailors don't need motors, sailors need patience.  

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13 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

 

I dunno if it's like this in the rest of the world, but in the USA it seems like people expect magic. "I don't understand it, I just know it works." Or worse, they fool themselves into thinking they understand it.

This is a HUGE change from the era that I grew up in, where the average American male was expected to be able to fix a car and wire a house, or the rest would make fun of him.

FB- Doug

When I was a boy growing up in England last century, the average Englishman was expected be able to build a sailing dinghy. Doesn't mean that most of us don't prefer to buy a Laser or an RS Aero off the shelf these days rather than building a boat from scratch.

Over 70,000 Mirror dinghies were built.

http://www.ukmirrorsailing.com/images/building_a_mirror_dinghy/mirror_canadian_building_instructions.pdf
 

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11 hours ago, martin 'hoff said:

Dunning-Kruger batteries would fit right in.

You do realize that irony is lost on this character - which makes this even funnier.

 

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1 hour ago, PurpleOnion said:

You do realize that irony is lost on this character - which makes this even funnier.

 

Yes the irony within the irony that Dunning-Kruger wouldn't apply to such a witty retort. 

Hahahaha you are SO funny PurpleOnion.  

 

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2 hours ago, Steam Flyer said:

 

I dunno if it's like this in the rest of the world, but in the USA it seems like people expect magic. "I don't understand it, I just know it works." Or worse, they fool themselves into thinking they understand it.

This is a HUGE change from the era that I grew up in, where the average American male was expected to be able to fix a car and wire a house, or the rest would make fun of him.

FB- Doug

Every house i have lived in has had polarity backwards on some circuits "because I know how to wire a house." YGWYPF.

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You 

4 hours ago, fastyacht said:

Every house i have lived in has had polarity backwards on some circuits "because I know how to wire a house." YGWYPF.

You don't have polarity on AC supplies, you have,

live, neutral, earth 

Or two phases and a neutral which is linked to Earth. ( Some systems use 4 wire with separate neutral and earth)

Or three phases, neutral and  earth.

 

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4 minutes ago, The Q said:

You 

You don't have polarity on AC supplies, you have,

live, neutral, earth 

Or two phases and a neutral which is linked to Earth.

Or three phases, neutral and  earth.

 

In the us we have polarity. One leg is grounded at the pole. The center tap of the 230.

If you have polarity wrong someone gets dhocked.

Ok pedantic definition of polarity. But at least here you know what I mean.aybr not in uk

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7 hours ago, WGWarburton said:

This is not a criticism of you or your post. Just a comment on the market. 

 I'm intrigued that electric propulsion is expected to Just Work, providing reliable and robust service despite the ignorance of the user, whereas everyone is expected to know that internal combustion engines need clean fuel,  regular filter changes,  cooling and "monitoring" (anything from guages on cylinder heads, exhausts or fuel lines to "it doesn't sound right"). 

 It'll change soon enough,  I expect, battery knowledge is improving rapidly,  and it's the batteries (or better still,  the energy converters that charge then) that need focus... and we're already at the stage where many younger users don't know what a choke is, or the difference between a spark plug and a glow plug.

Cheers, 

               W.

W:  Not taken as a criticism at all.   Sadly, this is not just restricted to electric propulsion.   Most consumers in the US are fairly ignorant of any mechanical or electrical principles that make their products work.   That's why cars now just tell you 'maintenance required' and don't have guages.   People can not be trusted to pull over when the oil pressure gage drops into the red zone or an idiot light comes on (and why are they called idiot lights)?   Companies can create great instructions and print them in manuals, but most consumers look for the power switch and just turn it on.   When the device fails, they return the product.   The good news is that it forces companies to simply make better products.   Modern automobiles are phenomenally amazing, and require just about no maintenance or attention these days.   Gas engines suffer too, particularly in our current era of ethanol mix gasoline.   Leave gas in your outboard over the winter and good luck getting it started.   

But electric propulsion seems so simple, even thoughtful people can be fooled into thinking an electric consumer product is 'easy.'   I worked on electric riding mowers for a few years.   The existing players (Ariens, Toro, etc.) would simply remove the gas engine, put an electric motor and some car batteries inside, and release the product.   The transmissions were inefficient, the chargers were an afterthought, and the batteries would typically be overcharged and fail within the warranty period.   A few smaller outfits tried more sophisticated products (Hustler Zeon arguably the best), but the cost was so high they either went out of business within a few years or dropped the line.   Only now are we starting to see mass market electric riders showing up that seem to have good performance and robust designs that will last several yearrs with a mechanically ignorant owner.   

Again, a hobbiest can add electric propusion to a sailboat (or bike or mower) quite easily.   But if you want to sell a propulsion system and make enough money to stay in business year after year, you need to do your design, sourcing, and manufacturing homework thoroughly enough that you don't get buried in warranty calls.   Its not impossible, its just harder than it looks.  Been there, done that.   

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1 hour ago, The Q said:
5 hours ago, fastyacht said:

Every house i have lived in has had polarity backwards on some circuits "because I know how to wire a house." YGWYPF.

You don't have polarity on AC supplies, you have,

live, neutral, earth 

Or two phases and a neutral which is linked to Earth. ( Some systems use 4 wire with separate neutral and earth)

Or three phases, neutral and earth.

 

Or in redneck lingo: hot or live, return or middle, and ground or do-nothing.

And yeah, a lot of guys including some "professional licensed electricians" tend to be casual about mixing up hot and return. However that is the kind of attention to detail which makes the difference between thinking it's some kind of magic, and actually knowing how it works IMHO

- DSK

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