Friday, December 27, 2013

THE ELECTRIC PADDLE: Part One: What's in the box.

When I bought BIANKA in 1995 she had on board a Honda BF 20SA outboard a 2 HP four stroke outboard for use with the dingy.

 I did not use it a lot and most of the time it stayed down below in the cockpit locker. It weighed only 35 pounds and was small enough to fit there though one it was a little awkward to lift out sometimes. The outboards metal fins or handle would sometimes catch on stored lines and other items stored next to it. Since I did not use it all that often it was not a big issue. I mostly rowed the dingy. On occasions when I actually used it I found it noisy (especially after having converting the mother ship to electric propulsion) and a real gas guzzler when compared to the on board Honda 2000 generator I used for charging the electric propulsion system. Still it was nice to have on board and be able to use it when the need arose. Like other Honda products it was pretty reliable so it stayed on board.

At the end of October 2012 I was preparing BIANKA for what would become super storm SANDY. The winds the day before while I was on board preparing for the storm were blowing 20 to 25 knots from the northeast and the dock I needed to bring the dingy back to was located northwest. I was not sure I would be able to row the dingy in the docks direction without first being blown across the harbor. So I decided it would be prudent to bring out the Honda outboard and have it available on the Porta Boat dingy in case the winds prevented me from rowing to my destination.  It turns out I was able to row to the docks crabbing the dingy with just the oars and never needed to fire up the outboard. When I got inside the marina I tied the dingy to one of the docks protected by high bulkhead. I left the motor on the dingy just in case I would need to use  it once the worst of the storm had past to get back to the boat. I thought the dingy would be protected from the worst of the storm but, I was wrong. The dock it was tied to broke apart:

When it broke apart it flipped the dingy and sent the Honda BF 20 outboard to the bottom. I spent a few days with a grapple until I finally snagged it and brought to the surface. A few crabs and small fish had already tried to make a home inside the cover:

I quickly rinsed the outboard in fresh water and sprayed it liberally with WD-40. I spent a number of days over the winter trying to remove one or two screws that had over the years became severely corroded even before Sandy. It took several attempts using  PB Blaster . to remove them. By then the carburetor had signs of severe corrosion. Still I continued on the taking it apart:

 In the spring I started to look at the economics of trying to resurrect the thirteen plus year drowned outboard and decide it might not be worth it on such an old engine. So I started to look for a replacement.

I had done a post about a small electric outboard called The Electric Paddle back in 2011. I was intrigued with it's concept and it seemed like it was really what I needed for my dingy use. But, since I'm a "if it ain't broke don't fix it sailor" and the Honda BF20 was still working for me it did not pass the "want vs need" test. The drowning of the Honda outboard during Sandy changed all that. So earlier this season I decided to buy the Electric Paddle. It did cost more that replacing the Honda outboard but, my experience with converting to electric propulsion on BIANKA and it's low maintenance and high reliability tipped the equation toward buying it. It was also cheaper than other electric outboards like the Torqueedo's. It arrived just a few days after ordering it. It's made in the U.S.A built in the Pacific Northwest by a family run business. When it arrived I took the box on board here's what I found when I opened it up:

In the next post I'll share my experience with using the Electric Paddle.

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