Electric outboard - or not?

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Electric outboard - or not?

Patrick Hay 3474
Does anyone use a Torqeedo electric outboard?  I have been thinking of getting a Travel 1003CL to replace an old 2 stroke Johnson 5 which has definitely had its day.  

There are pros and cons, of course (though I may not be aware of all of them).  

Pros: Lightweight, simple,  Forward-Neutral-Reverse, low running costs, no starting problems, no fuel cans, no smell, no smoke, comparatively quiet, no separate heavy batteries to lug about, no battery stowage compartment to fit, no wiring, minimal maintenance, USB socket to power phone/satnav/tablet/led lights.

Cons:  High initial cost, slow to recharge (10 hours?), battery degeneration over 5/6 seasons implies an expensive replacement from time to time in order to be sure of reasonable range.

I have also noted there is now a similar unit from ePropulsion (Spirit 1.0kW) at a slightly lower price and same sort of performance.  It charges in half the time but doesn't have a USB socket.

Either of them should be capable of driving my boat along for at least 2-3 hours at rowing speeds, or for one hour flat-out at around 5-5.5 knots.

My boat is similar to a Wayfarer in size, performance and weight, but lacks a rowing thwart and provision for rowlocks - so please let's not have the "oars are better" debate!  The rowers might be right but I'm too old for all that.  Anyway, if I really wanted to row I would probably choose a different boat.

Any thoughts, especially if you have some experience with one or other of these units, would be welcome.
"Salvo" -  1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple
France
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Elizabeth Baker
I  know nothing about electric motors, except that for an outboard you can refuel the engine from a gallon can in five mins. You might not have time to wait 10 hrs for a recharge, and that's assuming you have somewhere to plug it in. Not recommended for the open sea, but could be useful in inland lakes, rivers or canals. Depends where  you sail.
Liz Baker
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 6:04 PM
Subject: Electric outboard - or not?

Does anyone use a Torqeedo electric outboard?  I have been thinking of getting a Travel 1003CL to replace an old 2 stroke Johnson 5 which has definitely had its day.  

There are pros and cons, of course (though I may not be aware of all of them).  

Pros: Lightweight, simple,  Forward-Neutral-Reverse, low running costs, no starting problems, no fuel cans, no smell, no smoke, comparatively quiet, no separate heavy batteries to lug about, no battery stowage compartment to fit, no wiring, minimal maintenance, USB socket to power phone/satnav/tablet/led lights.

Cons:  High initial cost, slow to recharge (10 hours?), battery degeneration over 5/6 seasons implies an expensive replacement from time to time in order to be sure of reasonable range.

I have also noted there is now a similar unit from ePropulsion (Spirit 1.0kW) at a slightly lower price and same sort of performance.  It charges in half the time but doesn't have a USB socket.

Either of them should be capable of driving my boat along for at least 2-3 hours at rowing speeds, or for one hour flat-out at around 5-5.5 knots.

My boat is similar to a Wayfarer in size, performance and weight, but lacks a rowing thwart and provision for rowlocks - so please let's not have the "oars are better" debate!  The rowers might be right but I'm too old for all that.  Anyway, if I really wanted to row I would probably choose a different boat.

Any thoughts, especially if you have some experience with one or other of these units, would be welcome.
"Salvo" -  1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple
France



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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Roger Barnes 936
In reply to this post by Patrick Hay 3474
You could consider carrying a sculling oar! Torquedo are pretty good, but not as powerful as a similar sized petrol outboard.

From Roger Barnes by mobile

On 10 Apr 2018, at 18:04, Patrick Hay 3474 [via DCA Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

Does anyone use a Torqeedo electric outboard?  I have been thinking of getting a Travel 1003CL to replace an old 2 stroke Johnson 5 which has definitely had its day.  

There are pros and cons, of course (though I may not be aware of all of them).  

Pros: Lightweight, simple,  Forward-Neutral-Reverse, low running costs, no starting problems, no fuel cans, no smell, no smoke, comparatively quiet, no separate heavy batteries to lug about, no battery stowage compartment to fit, no wiring, minimal maintenance, USB socket to power phone/satnav/tablet/led lights.

Cons:  High initial cost, slow to recharge (10 hours?), battery degeneration over 5/6 seasons implies an expensive replacement from time to time in order to be sure of reasonable range.

I have also noted there is now a similar unit from ePropulsion (Spirit 1.0kW) at a slightly lower price and same sort of performance.  It charges in half the time but doesn't have a USB socket.

Either of them should be capable of driving my boat along for at least 2-3 hours at rowing speeds, or for one hour flat-out at around 5-5.5 knots.

My boat is similar to a Wayfarer in size, performance and weight, but lacks a rowing thwart and provision for rowlocks - so please let's not have the "oars are better" debate!  The rowers might be right but I'm too old for all that.  Anyway, if I really wanted to row I would probably choose a different boat.

Any thoughts, especially if you have some experience with one or other of these units, would be welcome.
"Salvo" -  1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple
France



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Roger Barnes
President
Dinghy Cruising Association

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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

John Lidstone 1503
In reply to this post by Patrick Hay 3474
Patric,
Michael Wilkinson discussed his Torqeedo Travel on here Aug to Sept last year in the "acquiring and using" section. He had some success after he found he had a broken shear pin. Looked like 1/2 to 1hour range depending on speed and battery option.
John
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Patrick Hay 3474
Just had a look at Michael Wilkinson’s post from last year.  Interesting - but if Michael is reading this post perhaps he can update the forum with some more recent experiences and opinion.

Range might not be critical.  I don’t much like motoring so I have rarely used my old outboard for more than a few minutes at a time.  It is useful for getting into engine-required marinas or harbours, or up rivers or narrow creeks when the wind or a long paddle won’t serve.  The only time I used it in rough-ish water was when my rudder blade snapped off in a tide race in the Morbihan and I couldn’t steer under sail so had to motor for 40 minutes or so.  I think I could probably get by for several days at a time on a single battery charge with either of these electric motors.  

Roger suggested a sculling oar.  Yes, I can scull!  I learnt how to do it almost 60 years ago and have used the skill many times, but my boat has a big stern locker which means I can’t easily or safely stand far enough aft to use a sculling oar of reasonable length.  I could possibly use one of about 8 to 9ft length but would then have a stowage problem.  Along the boom would be the only really convenient place.  Anyway, Roger, who on earth would want to scull for more than a couple of minutes?  Honestly I have considered making a removable bracket to propel the boat in Venetian gondola style with a single oar, just in order to avoid having to adopt the sculling option.

The alternative to electric power would probably be a Suzuki 3hp outboard which weighs about the same but is much less convenient to stow and carry.  It also needs regular servicing, and a fuel can must be carried to match the electric range.  It is noisy, lacks reverse gear and can’t provide power for instruments or lights.  On the plus side it costs one third of the price - but comes with higher running costs.

Still interested in all comments and opinions - especially if you have used a Torqeedo or similar.
"Salvo" -  1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple
France
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Paul Hadley 2898
In reply to this post by Patrick Hay 3474
750W is one horsepower, so those motors are 1 to 1.33hp which is a long way from your 5hp 2-stroke.

I doubt you will get the range or speed quoted, as they probably tested on a flat lake with no wind.

1000 Ah is a lot of charge. I have 160 Ah from 2 lead acid leisure batteries and a low cost 38lb thrust trolling motor on my 14ft pocket cruiser. At a slow speed (slower than rowing) I can potter about 25 or 30 miles down the Thames before a recharge.
However at a higher speed range reduces quickly, if I went too fast I might not make the overnight charging location.

So arrange a careful test of range, on your boat, until the battery dies. Only buy when you are happy with the speed/range tradeoff for your boat.

Paul
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Alastair Law 2624
In reply to this post by Roger Barnes 936
I have no personal experience with the Torquedo motors, but hearsay
seems to suggest that some of the plastic bits are liable to damage.

I do carry a Minn Kota with an 80AH battery on board. It is ok for
short distances but, in open water, is no substitute for a good
sculling oar.

Torquedo--
Sail when you can, row when you must, motor only
when you have to be at work in the morning.

Alastair Law
Yeovil, England.
<http://www.little.jim.freeuk.com>


--
Sail when you can, row when you must, motor only
when you have to be at work in the morning.

Alastair Law
Yeovil, England.
<http://www.little.jim.freeuk.com>
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Roger Barnes 936
In reply to this post by Patrick Hay 3474
My oars are 10.5 feet long, and are used both for sculling and rowing - but more often for sculling. The longer the sculling oar the easier it is to use. I have certainly sculled for over an hour - much more than that I would tend to row with two oars instead. But Alistair Law, who has no alternative means of propulsion on his Paradox, seems to be able to scull her all day. I stow my sculling oar projecting out over the stern ready to use. I imagine you could do this on a Tricorn too. Do not write off sculling as something you would only do for “a couple of minutes"!


On 11 Apr 2018, at 10:48, Patrick Hay 3474 [via DCA Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

Just had a look at Michael Wilkinson’s post from last year.  Interesting - but if Michael is reading this post perhaps he can update the forum with some more recent experiences and opinion.

Range might not be critical.  I don’t much like motoring so I have rarely used my old outboard for more than a few minutes at a time.  It is useful for getting into engine-required marinas or harbours, or up rivers or narrow creeks when the wind or a long paddle won’t serve.  The only time I used it in rough-ish water was when my rudder blade snapped off in a tide race in the Morbihan and I couldn’t steer under sail so had to motor for 40 minutes or so.  I think I could probably get by for several days at a time on a single battery charge with either of these electric motors.  

Roger suggested a sculling oar.  Yes, I can scull!  I learnt how to do it almost 60 years ago and have used the skill many times, but my boat has a big stern locker which means I can’t easily or safely stand far enough aft to use a sculling oar of reasonable length.  I could possibly use one of about 8 to 9ft length but would then have a stowage problem.  Along the boom would be the only really convenient place.  Anyway, Roger, who on earth would want to scull for more than a couple of minutes?  Honestly I have considered making a removable bracket to propel the boat in Venetian gondola style with a single oar, just in order to avoid having to adopt the sculling option.

The alternative to electric power would probably be a Suzuki 3hp outboard which weighs about the same but is much less convenient to stow and carry.  It also needs regular servicing, and a fuel can must be carried to match the electric range.  It is noisy, lacks reverse gear and can’t provide power for instruments or lights.  On the plus side it costs one third of the price - but comes with higher running costs.

Still interested in all comments and opinions - especially if you have used a Torqeedo or similar.
"Salvo" -  1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple
France



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Roger Barnes
President
Dinghy Cruising Association

president@dinghycruising.org.uk
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Alastair Law 2624
On 12 Apr 2018 at 7:59, Roger Barnes 936 [via DCA Forum] wrote:

>
> My oars are 10.5 feet long, and are used both for sculling and rowing
> - but more often for sculling. The longer the sculling oar the easier
> it is to use. I have certainly sculled for over an hour - much more
> than that I would tend to row with two oars instead. But Alistair Law,
> who has no alternative means of propulsion on his Paradox, seems to be
> able to scull her all day. I stow my sculling oar projecting out over
> the stern ready to use. I imagine you could do this on a Tricorn too.
> Do not write off sculling as something you would only do for oea couple
> of minutes"!
>

Note also that a properly designed Chinese style sculling oar (yuloh)
is curved. This not only assists with feathering the oar during use
but facilitates storing the oar round the curve of the hull.

It's not my idea of fun but a Frenchman recently crossed the Atlantic
using only a sculling oar.

--
Sail when you can, row when you must, motor only
when you have to be at work in the morning.

Alastair Law
Yeovil, England.
<http://www.little.jim.freeuk.com>


--
Sail when you can, row when you must, motor only
when you have to be at work in the morning.

Alastair Law
Yeovil, England.
<http://www.little.jim.freeuk.com>
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Patrick Hay 3474
This is all very interesting, and I did follow the exploits of Hervé Le Merrer, the transatlantic single oar sculler, which were thoroughly covered online, in the press, and on TV here in France.  However, I have already decided not to carry a yuloh or sculling oar on my boat - mainly because of the deck layout aft which is unsuitable for this means of propulsion.  I don’t decry sculling which is useful for small boats over short distances, but it’s not what I want to do in my boat.

So, to return to the subject...

I don’t really like outboards, but sometimes nowadays you need one.  The trouble is that conventional petrol motors bring a lot of complication with them.  Fuel can, funnel, oil, grease, spare plugs, and rags for wiping up spills.  Then there is the pain and frustration of starting the bl**dy thing and the winter servicing.  I hate having an ugly heavy motor tilted up on the transom all the time, too, but they are too unwieldy to extract from a locker and mount or dismount, perhaps in a seaway, for readiness only when you need them.  

These electric motors seem to combine clean power with lightness and compact design for easy stowage and mounting.  They may not drive you to windward in rough water, or take you more than 10 miles in smooth water, but that’s surely not the point.  We are dinghy sailors and we choose to sail when we can - and stay in port when we can’t.  The motor is often there more to pacify family and harbourmasters than as a real means of serious propulsion.  But is it worth the investment?

Ouch! The cost! Probably more than my boat is worth.  But then many of us buy expensive binoculars, satnavs, handheld vhf sets, chart plotters, “fishfinders” (whatever happened to the lead line) and a host of other gear we could probably perfectly happily sail without.  I don’t have any of those things - except a couple of old handheld Garmins that cost about £25 each.

I think the point is I want stuff on my boat that will do the job it is needed for and not clutter up my life and my lockers the rest of the time.

"Salvo" -  1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple
France
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Roger Barnes 936
Francois Vivier has a torquedo as the auxiliary in his latest boat (a 26 ft yacht). It is very impressive.

From Roger Barnes by mobile

On 12 Apr 2018, at 21:31, Patrick Hay 3474 [via DCA Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:

This is all very interesting, and I did follow the exploits of Hervé Le Merrer, the transatlantic single oar sculler, which were thoroughly covered online, in the press, and on TV here in France.  However, I have already decided not to carry a yuloh or sculling oar on my boat - mainly because of the deck layout aft which is unsuitable for this means of propulsion.  I don’t decry sculling which is useful for small boats over short distances, but it’s not what I want to do in my boat.

So, to return to the subject...

I don’t really like outboards, but sometimes nowadays you need one.  The trouble is that conventional petrol motors bring a lot of complication with them.  Fuel can, funnel, oil, grease, spare plugs, and rags for wiping up spills.  Then there is the pain and frustration of starting the bl**dy thing and the winter servicing.  I hate having an ugly heavy motor tilted up on the transom all the time, too, but they are too unwieldy to extract from a locker and mount or dismount, perhaps in a seaway, for readiness only when you need them.  

These electric motors seem to combine clean power with lightness and compact design for easy stowage and mounting.  They may not drive you to windward in rough water, or take you more than 10 miles in smooth water, but that’s surely not the point.  We are dinghy sailors and we choose to sail when we can - and stay in port when we can’t.  The motor is often there more to pacify family and harbourmasters than as a real means of serious propulsion.  But is it worth the investment?

Ouch! The cost! Probably more than my boat is worth.  But then many of us buy expensive binoculars, satnavs, handheld vhf sets, chart plotters, “fishfinders” (whatever happened to the lead line) and a host of other gear we could probably perfectly happily sail without.  I don’t have any of those things - except a couple of old handheld Garmins that cost about £25 each.

I think the point is I want stuff on my boat that will do the job it is needed for and not clutter up my life and my lockers the rest of the time.

"Salvo" -  1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple
France



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Roger Barnes
President
Dinghy Cruising Association

president@dinghycruising.org.uk
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

John Lidstone 1503
Yes, Vivier's Pen-Hir looks a very pretty boat too. However, I think it's worth pointing out that the Torqeedo is the 6hp cruise version with 4x100Ah batteries under the bunks to give a 20 mile range in smooth water at a reduced speed of 4 knots.
I sympathise with Patrick's aim to rid himself of a petrol outboard along with fuel and mess although in defence of modern 4 stroke engines I would say that they start very reliably, tick over like clockwork without oiling up, need less fuel (which without oil mix is easy to clean up) and with the right spare fuel can you don't need a funnel and need never spill any fuel, anyway.
With care, electric outboards may be worth a try for some dinghy sailors although I still have my doubts about relying on them beyond lakes or rivers where your range requirements can be more confidently predicted and planned for. So, do take your oars along as well!
John
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Paul Hadley 2898
Another factor is battery weight, mine are 22kg each.
MilliBee like many pocket cruisers became a little tail heavy for various reasons (outboards on transom, crew can't sit forward easily etc)

So I fitted the two batteries behind the collision bulkhead, 1ft from the bow. She balanced much better and seems to take waves better.

However the nose weight shot up which means the bow digs into a beach quickly, making it very difficult for me to move her around with my dodgy back.

Battery weight needs to be carefully considered in a small, low displacement dinghy.

Cheers
Paul
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Jude Miller 3515
In reply to this post by Patrick Hay 3474
Patrick,

I investigated the electric outboard motor to replace my Honda 2.3 HP gasoline outboard.  But decided to start sculling using one of my oars instead.  My Sea Pearl is 21' LOA, 19' LWL with a 6' beam.  I was skeptical at first, but once you get into it it is easier than rowing.  The electric motor thought is great but battery and charging technology just isn't there yet. Even with solar panels. I can't scull at hull speed but it's less expensive, less maintenance and better for the environment (I'm no tree hugger.) But you probably know all this already.  Good luck with your choice.
Best Regards,

Jude Miller

"S/V BushcraftCanoeist"
1986 Sea Pearl 21 LBHull #109

DCA - Dinghy Cruising Association DCA # 3515
TSCA - Traditional Small Craft Association TSCA #4545
OCSG - Open Canoe Sailing Group - OC #265
ACA - American Canoe Association - Lifetime # 10773564
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Patrick Hay 3474
I took the plunge and bought an electric outboard.  It is not so pretty as either the Torqeedo Travel or the ePropulsion Spirit, in fact it looks positively industrial in comparison with those stylish machines.  However the Aquamot Trend (silly name) is substantially more powerful than the competition, with 1.6kW instead of around 1kW, slightly lighter, and the battery recharges in (I am told) a couple of hours.

Though the battery is of lower capacity than the ePropulsion at 640W instead of 1018W - and therefore will run the motor at full power for a shorter duration, I believe it may turn out to make not much difference, as the more powerful motor turns a bigger 3 bladed prop and might easily give me boatspeed suitable to my purposes at very economical power settings.  Extra batteries cost considerably less (around half the price) than either the ePropulsion or Torqeedo brands, so depending on results in practice, I might later invest in a spare in order to double my range.

This motor lacks some of the frills and design cleverness of the other two brands.  There is no gps, no USB outlet to power phone or satnav, the battery doesn't float, etc., but it is reassuringly robust in construction and is made by an Austrian firm that already has a lot of experience with electric marine inboard and outboard drives.

I managed to get a reasonable discount from the list price so it cost only a little more than the less powerful but prettier types.    

     
"Salvo" -  1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple
France
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Michael Wilkinson 3461
In reply to this post by Patrick Hay 3474
<<Just had a look at Michael Wilkinson’s post from last year.  Interesting - but if Michael is reading this post perhaps he can update the forum with some more recent experiences and opinion. >>

Sorry, this is the first time I've had a proper look at this forum for a while.  I tend to interact with the club via the Facebook page.  I see I've "missed the boat" (ho ho) as the OP has already bought a non-Torqeedo electric.  Good decision.

The Torqeedo is smart, stylish, capable, but very expensive.  The tiller attachment, in particular, is not very robust.

The only four advantages of the Torqeedo compared to a small petrol outboard are:

1)  Quiet — although, personally, I quite like the sound and smell of a petrol outboard.  (Heresy, perhaps, but in addition to sailing, I am a biker and I also enjoy using a small inflatable with an outboard.)

2)  Cleaner at the point of use, especially compared to a 2 stroke outboard.  This is the pretext used by water companies to forbid the use of petrol outboards on some reservoirs.  I can use my Torqeedo as an auxiliary on Rutland Water but I can't use a petrol outboard there.

I say "at the point of use" because of course electric outboards cause pollution somewhere else when the electricity is being generated.  I say "pretext" because reservoirs that forbid the use of petrol outboards often make exceptions for safety boats, hired fishing dinghies and so on.  I am convinced that the real reason is because a blanket ban on people using their own outboards is because it is easier to police than trying to regulate how they are used (speed, noise, etc.)  All sensible outboard owners suffer because of the sort of person who wants to race around doing donuts and scaring canoeists.

3)  Easy to split into 3 parts (tiller unit, battery pack, shaft/motor/prop) for security and storage.

4)  The battery is a sealed unit, which has to be safer than those trolling motors connected to a car battery with two crocodile clips.


The disadvantages are:

1)  Price.  I could have bought about 3 Honda 2.3 HP outboards for the cost of one Torqeedo.

2)  Low power.  It's fine for moving the boat about a marina, or chugging back across a lake when becalmed, but I would not want to rely on it in the teeth of a strong wind, a tide or current, or big waves.

3)  Range: half an hour or so at full power.  A couple of hours at dawdling speed.

4)  Time to recharge (overnight) compared to just pouring some more petrol into a petrol outboard.

5)  Physically fragile.  On my first trip, I had a messy capsize and the hinge between the tiller unit and the battery was damaged.  It still works, but it is not reassuring.  The propellor is soft plastic and the shear pin is apparently made of vanilla fudge.  (It broke when the engine was not even operating.)

6)  Price again!

Most of the time I don't take the Torqeedo out when reservoir sailing.  These days when I do, I put the shaft/motor/prop on the bracket and leave the battery pack and tiller unit in a dry bag.  It takes a minute or so to attach them if needed.  If you leave the whole thing on the bracket, fully assembled, it flops about and I fear damaging the tiller.

My small Travel model Torqeedo will push my heavy 12 ft dinghy at 5 mph (not kts) according to GPS, with the mast up and sail down, with no substantial headwind.

Would I buy it again?  Probably not.  Knowing what I now know, I'd manage without an outboard on the lake, and get something like a 2 or 3 hp petrol for somewhere like Windermere or the sea.
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Re: Electric outboard - or not?

Patrick Hay 3474
Thanks, anyway, Michael, even though I had already decided not to get the Torqeedo motor.  

The one I did buy is much less fancy in looks and rather basic in design - for instance, it is awkward to carry because the designer neglected to incorporate any provision for a handle.  But why would you want to walk around with it in your hand, anyway?  The only bit I need to take off the boat is the battery, which does have a handle and is very lightweight.

I can’t yet give any complete report on its performance as I have not tested the flat-out speed and duration.  I did use it at harbour speed and manoeuvring power for about 15-20 minutes a day for a week recently without recharging.  It finished the week at 57% charge.  This proves nothing except, perhaps, that it can provide adequate propulsion for a 16ft boat at minimal power settings.

The only reason I have nothing more to report is that I am waiting for a replacement charger before using the motor again.  Unfortunately I stowed the charger badly - It got water inside its case and shorted out, frying its electronics with a gentle pop and fizz.  Fortunately not an expensive mistake, but it’s been a long wait with no news about delivery of the replacement.  Happily I still have a tatty two-stroke petrol motor as a temporary “backstop”.



"Salvo" -  1963 Tricorn dinghy designed for coastal cruising
Conchil Le Temple
France