Friday, December 03, 2010


The third season since I pulled out the old diesel engine and replaced it with an electric motor has ended. I've been reflecting on this. I think this was the season I became completely comfortable with the decision to go electric.
My first season with electric propulsion back in 2008 was full of fussing and watching every aspect of the propulsion system to make sure there it was always charged and ready and operating properly.  I would run the Honda 2000i generator more than necessary just to make sure the power would be available even when I was not really using any electric propulsion at all. For example when I was making my first 12 mile transit down the East River via Hell Gate  since converting to electric propulsion. I kept the Honda generator running on deck because I did not know how much I would be using the electric propulsion. In previous trips with my diesel I ALWAYS had to have it running for the entire trip. Just to make sure power was available and their were no starting problems.  I found out that with electric propulsion there really is no need to have the generator fired up at all. I let natures currents carry the boat along and just need a little thrust from time to time to straighten out the boat. It has become a quiet and pleasurable journey.

My second season was marred by the failure of the Xantrex XBM battery monitor display.

 Which meant I was flying blind in terms of being able to see how much current and amp hours I was drawing from the battery bank when under electric propulsion. It is akin to running a diesel engine with  with a broken fuel gauge. You just never know when you would run out for sure. So again I was very cautious when using electric propulsion.

This third season was very different. The XBM battery monitor display was repaired and working plus I installed a backup meter inside the cabin. This season I rarely fired up the generator while underway. Instead waiting until I anchored to charge up the bank after the days travel. I also did not hesitate to add a little electric propulsion and motor/sail quietly along when the current conspired to do it's best to make sure I would not be able to round a point of land or buoy.  I only used about seven gallons of gasoline the whole season. Since I traveled about 350 miles I made about 50 miles to the gallon. Though the actual amount is probably greater because at least a gallon of that consumption was for the noisy Honda BP-2 four stroke outboard I used on occasion to power the dingy.  I was amazed at how much gas the little 2 horsepower outboard consumed when compared the Honda 2000 generator. Another revelation I had this season is when this outboard finally dies I'll probably replace it with an electric outboard too!  Of course BIANKA is first and foremost a sailboat and there was help from the wind turbine and solar panels on board when charging the battery bank too.  All of which also helped to decrease the amount of time I need to run the generator. I even found uses for the excess energy from the 48 volt solar and wind turbine after the 48 volt battery bank was fully charged. I am looking forward to next season even more now that I am completely comfortable with how reliable, quiet and useful my electric propulsion system is. In short I am so glad I made the decision to go electric with every year that goes by. 


Greg said...

Great post! I definitely had to re-post this on Electric Seas, if you don't mind... I have had the same experience on Intrepid. I'm into my second season now and the longer this goes on, the more confident I am about it.

Capt. Mike said...


Thanks! Unlike with the diesel I no longer seem to be worried about what is going to need to be repaired next. Converting to electric propulsion has been a pleasure on many levels.