Monday, February 20, 2017


Now that I've shown an example of how I am able to easily Electro-Sail with BIANKA when the winds fail to show up. I'll discuss the components that enable me to achieve it and some of the things I have learned in the past nine years since I converted BIANKA to Electric Propulsion.

My Thoosa 9000 EP system specifications were designed  for 20 miles at 4 knots. This was using my 8A4D AGM batteries only. I have never checked if this was the actual case nor do I want to unless it becomes necessary. BIANKA is a sailboat and I always prefer to use the sail for propulsion. Another reason to avoid trying to push the battery bank close to depletion is you decrease the amount charge cycles of the battery bank. As this chart below shows:

It's about saving the amps champs! But, that does not mean I just use the EP system to get into and out of the harbor. Which is very easy for an EP system to do. I tend to leave my home harbor for other destinations not just day sails. But, EP makes that easy to do too.

So what do I use when I feel the need to Electro Sail? I will first start out under battery power alone. I watch the XBM battery monitor to see when my battery back has dropped down to about 75% battery capacity from the 100% fully charged condition I started out with. This is about two hours after I have started motoring. As noted above this habit allows me to have more recharge cycles out of the battery over it's lifetime. This is better than depleting the bank to down say 50%. It also reduces the amount of time spent to charge the battery back up to 100%

So when the battery bank has dropped to the 75% capacity.  I fire up the Honda 2000i generator and plug in the ZIVAN NG-1 charger into it.
The ZIVAN has turned into a real workhorse and has been very reliable. When I first installed the Thoosa system back in 2008 I was concerned about what would happen if the charger went bad and could no longer charge the battery bank while on a cruise. So I bought a backup NG-1. I'm happy to say that the backup has remained in it's box for these past nine years and has never had to be put into service.  The ZIVAN also works well with the Honda 2000 generator. When I use it for Electro Sailing on BIANKA it functions as a power supply pushing out 15 amps of max current to propel the boat acting as a power supply to push the boat along. It's output is just 900 watts well within the maximum 1600 watts continuous rating of the Honda generator. As the graph below from one of my harbor tests shows that 900 watts allows me to motor BIANKA at around three knots without drawing any amps out of the battery bank:

 In fact it allows me to operated the Honda Generator in ECO mode which makes the one gallon of gas in the Honda generator last for about four hours. I have operated the ZIVAN in this full out mode for hours at a time without issue. BIANKA will move along quite nicely at this speed until the fuel runs out. Of course despite being a fairly sophisticated charger the ZIVAN does not know it is being used only has a power supply to push BIANKA along on a windless day. It thinks it is still charging a battery bank. Which brings up something one has to be on the lookout for when Electro-Sailing with this and other chargers. Because the charger never sees the battery being charged at some point it will disconnect. Thinking the battery is not charging it will timeout. It takes several hours to reach this conclusion and it is easily reset by unplugging it from the generator and plugging it back in. Then it is good to go for another several hours.
 One of the nice things about having Electric Propulsion is how easily it is to modify components of the system or change operating modes. Because the ZIVAN's output is limited to 900 watts it means I am not able to take advantage of the full 1600 watts continuous output of the Honda 2000i. So I am contemplating buying a 48 volt 1500 watt power supply to use when it looks like I will have to operate on an extended Electro-Sail mode. I expect it should move BIANKA along about 4 knots. I'll test and post about that hopefully some this upcoming season.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


I was awakened from my mid winter doldrums by an email from a fellow who had some questions about electro-sailing if he were to convert to electric propulsion:
but because there may be rare occasions, like if we have to transit a canal the like Erie Canal, where we would need to motor for an extended period I am I am trying to determine if a small generator like the 2000i would be suitable to propel the boat at a slow speed for extended periods.

You stated that you could motor at about 3 knots with your 2000i generator. What charger do you use? Have you done this for several hours at a time? I am curious if you have experienced issues with heat build up, or other problems that might be an issue with extended use of the charger to power the electric engine."

These are great questions and ones I wondered about back in 2007 where I began to get serious about converting to electric propulsion. So I thought I'd make a blog post about my experience over the past nine seasons with electric propulsion and electro-sailing.

1) I am trying to determine if a small generator like the 2000i would be suitable to propel the boat at a slow speed for extended periods.
The answer is yes. I have found I don't really need to do it often but I have had to at times  motor up to 40 nautical miles just using a Honda 2000i generator and battery charger to move my 30 foot boat along. An example of such a day is shown in this video:

Again I have not had to do this often since at some point during most sailing days a breeze does kick up at some point. But, even if it does not I find electro-sailing with Electric Propulsion to be much quieter and much less vibration than when I had a diesel which makes for a much more pleasant day on the water.
I'll get into more specifics as to the components used on BIANKA for extended electro-sailing  and the things you need to know to make it possible in the next post.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017


There are lot's of ways to go cruising. Even those who live on board full time do get off from time to time and head off traveling on land and/or visiting relatives etc.... I have come to terms with pulling BIANKA out of the water for the winter and not taking her south to warmer waters. I think this is good for a couple of reasons it allows one to really look forward to the upcoming sailing season. That's the absence makes the heart grow fonder reason. Another reason is my semi-landlubber companion likes to go on mid winter sailing vacations on crewed Catamarans. We've been doing this for a number of years and have spent part of the winter sailing various parts of the world. So my wanderlust to visit these places like the Carribbean  is satiated and no longer have the strong desire to make the journey to these areas with BIANKA. This year was no exception. But, it was not just a quick Jet ride down to the Caribbean. It was a trip halfway across the world and out to the Indian Ocean to spend twelve days cruising in the Maldive Atolls. It's a special place with gorgeous reefs and also a place I'd never be able to bring BIANKA easily. Nor would I want to since the numerous reefs and sand banks are better navigated with someone with local knowledge. We spent most of January in the area and I will try and post some of the highlights of the cruise here in the next few weeks. Upon returning from this trip I got some more good news. In the mail yesterday came the paperwork from the Town for renewing the mooring permit. A sign that the sailing season is just around the corner.