Electric Motor Adventure

After seeing enough You Tube videos of full time sailors I noticed there was one common ongoing problem they have. It is ongoing engine trouble. So I started wondering how this nuisance could be avoided. We want to sail and enjoy ourselves, not have to repair an engine constantly. After doing much research on the subject we ended up purchasing and installing our 10 kilowatt electric sailboat motor kit from Thunderstruck Motors . Initially my biggest issue was getting the rusty prop shaft collar off the prob with no electricity. That was interesting to say the least. Battery powered drill and hammer to the rescue!

Anyhow, once we got that off it was pretty smooth from there. No engine mounts needed, just pre-drilled and screwed 2 decent size lag into the engine mount runners, attached the prop shaft collar to motor and then mounted the Sevcon controller and relay mechanism to the wall.

The only other issue I encountered was that the set screw for the upper pulley on the gear reduction unit was way to short and kept falling down the throttle cable attachment. I figured I could deal with the set screw later. Do NOT test the unit before replacing the set screw with a longer one!!!!!!! If you do, your alignment will be off and you will not be able to get the set screw in later which leads to other problems.

I tried to attach my exsisting  (not so great condition) throttle cables to the digital throttle unit, but try as I might I could not get the throttle play I needed to make it fully functional, so the cables went bye bye. I was bummed I would not be able to use my exsisting levers, but at least I could bypass the cables/levers and have a digital throttle assembly in the cockpit. Not the prettiest contraption, but I intend to make it look less like a toy in the future.

Our first real test did not go so well due to the fact I could not get the upper pulley set screw back into the upper pulley system. What ended up happening was that the pulley slid back on the shaft close to the motor and started shaving the metal off the back of the housing and the belt edge started shaving. NOT so good! A LOT of trouble to undo this!!!! Do NOT test system before replacing the set screw!

After undoing the upper pulley and getting a longer stainless steel set screw in (thank you ACE Hardware) our second try went much smoother. We probably ran it about a mile on low throttle and all was well, although the motor was getting a bit warm by the end. Maybe install a fan in the future?

Since this is a 48 volt system , you need to build the battery banks in sets of 4. We currently have a system of 4 group 27/125AH deep cycle marine wet cell batteries running the system for now.

Since we are on a mooring field, we keep them charged using our house battery 195 watt solar panel charging system. We do intend on getting separate solar panels in the future to maintain the batteries.

So far we love the fact that the system is quiet, not stinky, not to ridiculously expensive, no marine mechanic needed and it is more environmentally friendly. We will probably at least double the battery bank in the future and go with AGM batteries.

The magic question: How many nautical miles can the motor run for? Honestly we can not answer that as we have not pushed her to her limit. I hope it continues to work well for us. We encourage others to go the route of an electric motor after seeing and smelling all the pollutants (diesel and oils) that go into the bilge, water, and air. All the boats in the water day after day, year after year adds up to a big contribution in polluting our oceans.

Happy sailing.
Until Next Time,
Señora del Mar

 

 

 

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Did she survive Irma?

Hurricane Irma blew threw fierce as ever. It was the hurricane that would NOT end. Honestly it was the longest lasting hurricane I think I have ever experienced.

Our biggest concern of course was our little Bristol because all of our hopes, dreams and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears have been poured into her. She is the foundation of our next phase in this adventure we call life. The thought of losing her had my anxiety spiked and knots in my stomach. 

Day 1: we could not get downtown to see if she had made it through the storm. The city had been shut down. So we turned around and headed back to the house. Fingers still crossed and continually telling myself she was just fine and happily floating exactly were we left her.
Day 2: we made it downtown. The town was already buzzing with everyone cleaning up the mess that Irma had left behind.  We pulled up to the sea wall and got out of the car. Digging out the binoculars as I was shaking violently was a challenge. The fear as we looked past the boats that had broken loose of their moorings and slammed into the seawall was very unnerving. It is a devastatingly sad sight. I couldn’t even see through the binoculars because I was shaking so bad. I finally found a good spot to rest them on so I could actually see where she hopefully was still secured and floating. Tears, hugs, squeals of joy and high fives all around because she was still exactly where we left her. She made it through! I don’t even know how to begin to describe the relief and joy that washed over us when we saw her floating secured to her mooring.

Off we went down the street to the marina. Holy Shit!!! It was a disaster. Docks were destroyed and at least 3 boats had sunk. Marina staff was already hard at work cleaning up the mess. Although we could not take our own boat out to check on Señora del Mar the marina staff took us out to her so we could check the lines and make sure she was secure and dry. We are so very thankful for that. Now we wait till we can go back and get to work putting her back together.

Our dream is alive and for that we are ever grateful.

Until next time,
Señora del Mar

Hurricanes and Sailboats Oh My

Well, it was a lot of work, but we did our best to prepare the boat to give her the best chance of survival. Here is a list of what we did. Hopefully this may help you if you are faced with a  similar situation.

 

  • Removed roller furling head sail
  • Removed main sail
  • Removed boom
  • Removed anchor to prevent line chafe
  • Re-tightened all window screws
  • Checked bilge pump and lever
  • Removed solar panel
  • Shut down solar controller
  • Removed bimini and frame
  • Installed 2 new 5/8ths double braided rope
  • Secured anti chafing gear in place
  • Secured motor battery bank with tie down straps
  • Had a beer with a neighbor that is crazy enough to stay with his boat through the storm
  • Removed dinghy, scraped the bottom and stored her in the garage
The one thing I forgot and regret not doing is to turn the 2 dorades  (ventilation) to face back in the cockpit area. Water will more than likely enter here since there is no actual dorade box, just the pipes that lead directly to the inside back of the boat. Unfortunately it’s too late to take care of now.
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The rest is up to  God and Mother Nature. Wish us well…..
Prepared to weather the storm
Prepared to weather the storm

Is a dry boat really necessary?

Ok so…. The boat is all settled in. She is on a mooring ball as we work on her. The frustration has mounted as we take 2 steps forward and 5 steps back. There is much more work than we anticipated. Oh boy is there more work. The leak elimination was going well. So we thought. For every leak we fix we find another. While fixing the window leak in the head it starts pouring. Turn your head and what do we see across the way? If you answered another leaky window, you are correct. We didn’t know about that one. Also we Fixed the leaky mast only to find out there is water coming from inside the mast as well. Oh the joy of a dry boat. She will most definitely be a very dry boat by the time we are done with her.
Surely you have seen hamsters running on a wheel. This how we are feeling about now. And yes at any given moment one of us may be ready to jump ship. The thought has crossed our minds a time or two. That isn’t happening though. We are in this together for the long haul. The rewards will be AMAZING. That is what keeps us chugging along one project at a time. We have accomplished a lot though . To stay motivated we have to look at the projects we have accomplished. She was an  1 1/2 hrs. away before so every trip was less productive than it is now. The engine is installed and running properly. That took a bit of work. Not much info available for that installation. Dennis is working on a post all about that project. The house batteries and solar panels are up and running. Sometimes things got done more than once. She has gotten a good scrubbing on the inside to get rid of mold and mildew. The bilge has been scrubbed and is now free of past diesel and whatever the hell else was in there. It stunk. The shower drain leads away from the mast and into our nice clean bilge now instead of water sitting at the bottom of the mast.  Several leaks have been repaired so she is getting drier each time we go out to work on her.
We need to take her out for a joy ride soon though. All work and no play makes for a grumpy crew.

Until next time,
Señora del Mar

 

How many engines does it take?

A journey that expectedly took longer than expected. Isn’t that the way it usually goes? First off we got  a late start from Titusville and didn’t quite make it as far as we had hoped. The wind was not blowing and our engine is not set up for a long journey so we used the dinghy with the 9.8 outboard. Everything was cruising along smoothly and we anchored for the night. It is such an AWESOME feeling when things go so well.

How short lived that was. The 9.8 dies because we ran out of oil, the shaft slips on the inboard and it is no longer operational. We are now left with old reliable, the little 5hp champion that seems to always save our asses. Oh but it always gets better. The sun is setting, we are cruising at a super slow speed and not sure if we have enough gas to get to the marina to dock for the night. There is no place to anchor and we are not prepared to sail at night. The universe was not going to completely kill our spirit, we did make it to the dock. Have I mentioned that I have never in my life brought a boat into a slip. With a dinghy no less. A bit of a struggle but we got tied up for the night.

Morning comes and we start the day with the breakfast of champions, ice cream. We set off for the last leg of our trip. The power boats are out in full force so rather than get upset because the wake tosses the boat every which way, there was DINGHY SURFING to be done. I do believe Murphy was done with us at this point. Our travels to St. Augustine were pretty uneventful. We were going to have to dock again though. There are no moorings till after the 4th. The engine needs to be repaired already. I am saying my prayers and pleading with the universe that it is an easy fix.

Until next time,
Señora del Mar

Does it Run?

This is a long one so settle in and read on to find out if we were successful in installing the electric engine.

Ok, Finally after spending several days of attempted hand sawing (no shore power on a mooring) and killing drill batteries by drilling through the bolts in the collar that was hell bent on leaving the prop shaft, I prevailed.

Funny, even after preparing and buying a second drill for the daunting task that lay ahead, guess what was missing? Go ahead, Guess. The friggin charger! Needless to say there were many setbacks during the process but the first step (probably the most difficult) had been accomplished.

I managed to drill through 1 1/2 bolts that clamped the collar tight to the shaft and had to hammer it off after my drill died. Off she came.

VICTORY!
VICTORY

From there the next steps were fairly painless. The new propeller shaft collar was put in place. ***NOTE: Do NOT push the shaft back to far.*** Motor was mounted along with the gear reduction unit. Mounting the entire unit to the ground was super simple since there is no need for engine mounts (little vibration). I just simple drilled one pilot hole into each side of the motor runners (that is what I call what the motor mounts to because I like to make up my own names for stuff sometimes). Luckily most are just wood underneath fiberglass. I just ran one fairly thick lag screw on each side to hold the motor in place. I believe they were about an 1″ – 1 1/2″ long.

Next step I started applying the heat transfer grease onto the back of the heat sink which the Sevcon controller will be screwed into. I used my finger instead of a roller like they suggest because they give you a very small amount. I think using the roller would have absorbed it all and left me with nothing. A little extra would have been nice.

My plans were to mount the controller flush against the wall, but after consulting with Thunderstruck, they suggested mounting it on its side long ways top to bottom. This allows for better air circulation allowing the heat to rise away from the unit easier.
Do not place the relay switch under the controller as it creates a good amount of heat.

Next I just watched the Thunderstuck wiring video and got that all taken care of easy enough. I ended up placing the 4 group 27 batteries where the gas tank was for a nearly perfect fit. I am using wet cell batteries for now because they are cheap, but will most likely switch to AGMs in the future.

Installing the throttle cables gave me a bit of an issue. As hard as I tried, I could not get my current wire/lever assembly to give me the play I needed to get full throttle power in both directions (after fabricating throttle actuator-aluminum rod for cable attachment).

My intention by purchasing the Curtis ET-134 was to use my exsisiting cables so I wouldn’t have to mount the funny looking clown nose throttle lever anywhere near the cockpit area. The thing looks like a toy. I lost this battle, but I do intend on either covering or topping off the rod with something cool to distract from the cheesy red plastic knob. I really don’t like the thing.

Anyway, the existing throttle cable(s) were completely bypassed. ( They would have needed to be replaced anyway). The throttle is completely controlled digitally by the Curtis unit ,and yes we now have full throttle in both directions. Although I managed to install it backwards so forward is reverse and reverse is forward. But hey, it works and I am beyond ecstatic. It is now time to bring her home to St. Augustine. Let the move begin!

Until next time,
Dennis

 

 

 

Leaks, Leaks, Everywhere Leaks

Beautiful but a bit leaky at the moment.

We need the rain yes, but enough already! There is a reason for everything, at least that is what we keep telling ourselves. It seems to hold true enough in this instance and all this non-stop rain here in Florida lately has been a blessing in disguise. We prefer our boat to be as dry as possible, but mother nature as usual has other plans. The rain has shown us where every single little leak is. There still may be more we don’t see, yeah! Seriously it can stop raining now, please. The to do list is getting a bit longer than any of us would like. Did we really expect anything less? Nah, of course not.

The major leaks that need attention for the moment are above the engine room coming from fuel fill valve and one of the cockpit drain hoses. That one is kind of a big deal. It turns out all those frustrating  motor install delays have been a blessing in disguise. We would probably be cursing and crying had the motor been installed before finding that particular leak. Then we have the front port stanchions leaking that have done a good bit of damage to the front portion of the bulkhead. That’s going to be a whole other repair job. The window in the head needs 1 new latch and probably some type of new gasket. The amount of water coming in there is amazing.  Of course the keel stepped mast  is leaking. Lastly there are a couple of small leaks from the windows in the main cabin. It is starting to feel like I bought another fixer-upper (lol). The thought “What the hell did we get ourselves into” has crossed our minds more than once lol. 

The camera does no justice to the puddle of water.

Until next time,
Dennis