Converting the sailing vessel Panormos – Case History
Converting the sailing vessel Panormos,
Gulfstar Sailmaster 39, 21000lb displacement
San Diego California
Happy to share a few thoughts on the system and more importantly, how it has affected my sailing “habits”. Below is something I am writing in hopes of submitting and getting publish to help push along the “green” revolution. Please feel free to add a few words if you would like.
First, I couldn’t be more pleased with the overall end results, as with anything new, there has been a learning curve of course but the system has performed, not only as quoted but in some cases better than expected.
I am a sailor. That means I have always had a love / hate relationship with my Diesel. The second I could switch that noisy smelly hunk of iron off I would. However, the days of “sailing” into your slip are pretty much over, auxiliary power is just a simple reality of modern boating, for safety as well as piece of mind; it’s good to know you have the power if you need it.
The need to re-power was not urgent for me, my trusty Perkins M-108 ran well, but stank likes no one’s business, and the smell was in EVERYTHING. I looked at all options, re-power with a new diesel, which would have been a very straight forward task. But, being someone who really tries to live as “green” as possible I also began exploring other options. The only really viable alternative to diesel was electric for me, as the hybrid option just seemed too much of compromise. Now, there are several electric propulsion option on the market place, some have been around awhile and some are fairly new, each has their own pros and cons, and the pros and cons vary by person as to the type of use your vessel will be tasked with.
My choice in electric systems was driven by 6 main factors,
- Ease of installation and maintenance.
- Programmability of the propulsion as well as re-generation modes.
- Battery options
Let’s talk about each of these factors and what they mean to me.
Installation and Maintenance
We have ALL been there, just when you needed your engine the most, it fails. A clogged filter, air in the lines. We could list a whole page of issues your “trusty” diesel can have at the worst possible time.
The beauty of the QuietTorque system is its simple, straight-forward construction and operation. With only one moving part ( the belt to drive the shaft ) and off the shelf components, your list of “issues” to identify in case of a failure are VERY small, and outside of a basic understanding of how batteries work, no PHD required. This makes installation, maintenance, as well as trouble shooting fairly simple compared to the combustion alternative. Yearly maintenance consists of checking your belt for wear (although most quality belts should last you 2-3 years EASY), grease a few parts to keep them running smooth, and check your batteries. THAT’S IT! I don’t know about you, but I would rather be sailing than spending a whole day or two on my diesel maintenance every six months.
As for installation, ONE DAY and you’re up and running. Due to its simple and “component” design, it’s a breeze to change or replace any of the “pieces” if needed by one person. I opted to go with a dual motor system, allowing me the option of running with just one motor if ever one to them failed, giving me redundancy piece of mind. To replace a motor that may have failed, I take off four bolts, drop a new one in and tighten. Could it be simpler?
Seriously, there are some expensive options out there … and reason for the added cost. These were not issues for me (such as a water tight housing) and those option did not fit my install requirement due to the non-flexible install option (I had a very hard to configure location for the motors). The QuietTorque system had the most bang for the buck in my opinion and flexibility, they were the only option that could program to suit my boat, as well as customize the mounts to fit my space.
Programmability and Battery options
The system allows me to set motor and battery parameters from the helm. The QuietTorque system allows you to build an almost “custom” unit. Having the system programmed to your boats specs allows you to get the most out of the system as well as customize it to your sailing needs. QuietTorque allows the user to program for more power or more re-gen, or a compromise of the two. You also can change battery type, a unique feature for sure. This was important to me as I was unsure how I would be using the system at the end of the install.
My first battery bank would be a flooded option, an inexpensive way to start. Now that I have used the system for several years, I have a better feel for the permanent battery type I want to go forward with. Now that I have experienced the system and know how I like to use it, I feel the flooded work fine, but for the space I have and ease of maintenance I am changing to a different battery configuration. The flooded I have costs very little for my 440 AH bank and are in great shape, I will be able to sell them and get some of the investment back. Not a bad deal.
The Team at Electric Yachts has been immensely supportive. The initial install was not without a few glitches, but they were there along the way with me at every step, and often IN PERSON, not just by phone.
WOW! I get incredible re-gen from my system. I have seen as much as 680 watts coming back into the system while sailing at 7 knots. Now, granted, I have a larger prop, and have it tuned for more re-gen, as that was what was important to me. But what that means, is that I feed my house bank from my propulsion bank, replenishing not only my propulsion bank, but feeding power to my FRIDGE, keeping the beer cold and good food in the belly of the crew, as well as all my electronics powered. I don’t need a noisy wind generator, a huge solar panel over my head, and all the maintenance and issues these come with.
So let’s talk real life performance. How has it gone these last few years?
As for propulsion, my system as configured will push me at almost hull speed, which I rarely use, but glad I have in case of need. I generally sail in San Diego bay and sometimes head out of the bay. The downfall of San Diego bay is if you head out of the bay, the wind is often on your nose, and being a heavier boat with a fuller keel, pinching is tough, making the journey out of the bay long. However, I now often times throw in a few amps of power to the prop, allowing me to pinch straight up and out of the bay and get into open water faster, at first I didn’t think I would use the system that way, but I have really come to appreciate it.
Often time in the bay we have races going on, and dodging them can be a bit frustrating, not so with my QuietTorque, as just happened a few weeks back, we had a CLOSE call with a racer, but thanks to the electric drive, I was able to throw it into gear, pop off to starboard and avoid an ugly afternoon.
With my current 440 AH bank, I have motored for 24 hours at 2.5-3 knots in 3-4 foot seas before depleting the power, impressive in my humble opinion.
I have installed a generator as a back-up charger just in case of emergency at sea, as I would rather have it and never use it than be caught without any options.
SV Panormos, Gulfstar Sailmaster 39
San Diego, CA
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