New Build - Electric Powered

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N4061

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Before I even start this post, full disclosure that this is not about a trawler "but" if the TF monitors permit, I would like to share our latest adventure as a means to help others who may be thinking about building a new boat.

For those who do not know us (John & Maria) we have been around a little while and enjoyed four trawlers (Nordhavn's & Helmsman) starting back in 2005. We live in San Diego, CA. and have experienced living aboard (part time) over a four period. We appreciate all types of boats and assisting others with discovering boating. After retiring from trawlers (now I'm not so sure), I decided to go against the current and learn to sail. After a year of researching different types of sailboats I contracted with Marshall Marine in Maine to build a little 16' day sailor I could trailer. After one lesson I taught myself the basics and enjoyed every minute being on the water. Fast forward one year and my lower back started to feel all the twisting associated with sailing and I'm forced to sell the boat.

While recent talks with Maria over a new margarita recipe have included a possible new trawler for retirement (getting closer) I do not want to be without a boat for too long and increased my research electric powered boats.

We came to appreciate electric power when we traded our 5hp Yamaha OB for a 3HP Torqeedo used on our 10' dingy. Not having to deal with fuel and the noise of the Yamaha were just two benefits we have come to appreciate with electric power. We liked the Torqeedo motor so much we had the same model installed on our day sailor. Wanting to expand our experience with electric power had me focus on Europe and various boat builders. My personal conclusion is that while advancements have been made, more work is required before I would invest significantly in an all-electric boat of any large size. For this reason, my approach in the new boat will be to "keep it simple" and focus on proven systems while others prove out the next generation of electric propulsion.

Our project is small but will include a few firsts for us; 1) contracting directly with an overseas builder 2) importing a boat into the US 3) dealing with exchange rates and I'm sure a few other items that will arise. No question we have a lot to learn but it's all part of the adventure and as some on TF already know this is the part of boating I really enjoy.

Future posts will focus on our decision-making process, building the boat, acceptance overseas prior to shipping and lessons learned along the way. Hopefully our posts will help a few others who are thinking about building a boat in the future.

John
Nordhavn 4050, 4061, 3522
Helmsman 38E
Sandpiper 15'
 
Update #1

Since my initial post we have been busy with our "decision making process" related to down selecting the final boat / builder. We are down to two potential builders both located overseas who offer similar boats at comparable prices. Other areas of consideration we are exploring is location for future visits, quality, reputation, willingness to work with us on shipping and overall gut feel. Not very different from any other boat we researched or built except for the distance the lack of face-to-face interaction.

One builder offers a hybrid system which I find interesting on a smaller boat but has perked my interest since this project is also a potential test boat for a future trawler build. Build times will be the killer with both builders backed up (I guess a good indictor) until summer so we are looking at the end of 2023 to see the boat which is OK. Now I have to hope the guy building my custom wooden Kayak starts next month as promised so I something to play with during the summer. Things are starting to heat up!

John
 
Sounds like a great project. Looking forward to following along.
 
John, thanks for opening this thread. So much has been said on TF about electric boat propulsion that I hesitate to comment further here, other than to say that I look forward with great interest to learning about / from your experience. All right, one comment: robust hybrid diesel-electric propulsion has been around since pre-WW II submarines, so it seems as though, in the 21st century, adapting the technology to a 40' +/- surface vessel should not be that hard.
 
Update #2

As mentioned in my previous post the builder of one boat we are seriously considering has installed a parallel-Hybrid system, so a diesel-engine with a electric engine behind. He uses Vetus (in-line) and Bellmarin(V-belt above gearbox). On one boat he used an electric engine with Fisher panda generator which was more expensive and better for a bigger boat. A few photos of the Vetus inline system using a 2.2KW motor shows a very clean installation. The only issue I see with this "dual system" is the amount of space it requires in the smaller size boat we are looking at building. I'm still on the fence about this neat concept and will bounce it around using the 90% rule which already is telling me this is likely over kill for the boats intended mission but as a test platform for a larger trawler boat this would be perfect. Time for another margarita and some serious soul searching on this decision.

Regarding the size of this boat, its small and driven by one major factor (thankfully not cost - this time) but what size I can fit into our garage. Yes, this is our major constraint and the same we faced with the Sandpiper. Despite recently moving to a new community with large lots and homes there is an HOA that does not permit trailers and such to be parked outside. A few homeowners with larger RV's built separate barns or garages to store them which we could do but it's not worth the hassle and the boat needs to remain small so I can easily trailer and launch it alone. Having to move the boat trailer by hand inside the garage is another consideration that drives the need for a single axle trailer which limits the weight of the boat. The Sandpiper weighs about 1,800lbs including the trailer which I can handle and likely OK with an additional 300 - 500lbs but that's it. I'm not getting any younger and despite working out again so I could lift the Sandpiper mast and move the trailer around I don't want to push myself much further. All the above equals a boat under 20'.

Hull shape is another factor I did not think would become an issue after launching and retrieving a sailboat with its keel & centerboard but was I wrong. The hull design I have come to appreciate (always looking for something different) is a SLOEP. The specific hull I like dates back to 1800's and has a deep keel and almost "V" shape hull aft making trailering almost impossible. The height of the aft hull support boards is so high the trailer would need to be submerged so far into the water the truck would be in the water or a long trailer extension would be required. As many of you know trying to retrieve a boat with the trailer fully submerged is not fun especially in a cross wind and performing this alone. The longer the boat the deeper the keel and hull thus smaller is required if being trailered.

Relating the size or length of this boat back to a trawler would be comparable to dealing with a slip size. Finding a boat that fits within a certain slip that may be available in both LOA and beam. The other comparison is single handling the boat, what size does someone feel comfortable with? When Mary and I were recently aboard an N55 I quickly realized we could not handle this size boat especially when I would be required to do most all the work. We agreed our next trawler will be under 50' and closer to 45' - 47'.

Back to the current project, the boat and builder I'm leaning towards would not be able to start our build until August with a completion around December so no boating this summer unless the Kayak comes through.

From a boat selection process and how this relates to someone looking at a trawler there are similarities. The mission of the boat, size restrictions, power and hull design. All feed into using the 90% rule and staying true to the process should result in the right boat.

John
 
Thanks for starting this thread! Did you see this video on a Devlin cold molded electric catamaran up in the PNW? There's a paywall but you might get the one video for free.
https://www.offcenterharbor.com/vid...-low-maintenance-cruiser-electric-philosophy/

If your cruising grounds will be SD based (where we are) the above design probably isn't appropriate for our NW Pacific swell but interesting nonetheless. I've thought a lot about electric, and can't quite figure out how to make it work with the distances we have to motor to get anywhere fun (i.e. 80nm chunks from SD-Catalina-Channel Islands). Curious what kind of range you are looking for.
 
Range

Thanks for starting this thread! Did you see this video on a Devlin cold molded electric catamaran up in the PNW? There's a paywall but you might get the one video for free.
https://www.offcenterharbor.com/vid...-low-maintenance-cruiser-electric-philosophy/

If your cruising grounds will be SD based (where we are) the above design probably isn't appropriate for our NW Pacific swell but interesting nonetheless. I've thought a lot about electric, and can't quite figure out how to make it work with the distances we have to motor to get anywhere fun (i.e. 80nm chunks from SD-Catalina-Channel Islands). Curious what kind of range you are looking for.

I did not see the video above but familiar with the cold molded process and looked into it when considering a wood boat this time around. Regarding boating in general around southern California I agree with you on the requirement for decent range.

For the new boat and its planned mission of staying out as long as the margaritas remain cold and the cell phone can play music my requirements are not that demanding. Four (4) hours is our minimum requirement with a desire for 6 - 8 hours. As a result our battery bank will need to be sized accordingly. But what if the weather is perfect with flat seas and we want to cruise from SD Bay to Mission Bay or Dana Point to Newport for lunch? Now we are talking about a good 8 hours (includes 20% reserve). This is where I like the hybrid concept of a small diesel in line with the electric motor for range and power redundancy if one should fail. With the diesel our range limitation now becomes dependent on fuel capacity - hey this is starting to sound like a trawler discussion. While I mentioned earlier, we will likely pass on this impressive set up your post has me thinking again.

Assuming the hybrid does provide redundancy, one could argue that's my back-up for when the electric motor may quit. Having recently experienced the loss of an electric motor at the worst time possible I'm already thinking about my wing engine on this little boat.

Looking back at lifetime of boating I can count three times when we required assistance out on the water. While may argue that's not bad for 45 years of boating its three too many times for me. Thankfully none of these occurred in the middle of an ocean but still enough to make me think about the next time. With the Nordhavn's we had the wing engine which has its issues but I'm glad it was there when we needed it. With the Helmsman we convinced ourselves a single new and reliable engine was fine for the planned ICW trip but after getting into trouble with the Sandpiper near the rocks I think the next boat regardless of LOA will have back up power. More on our final decision in the near future since I now have to rethink the hybrid system (again). All part of the fun planning for a new boat regardless of LOA. Thats for your question, this is what I really like about the TF.

John
 
Update #3

Our last update discussed power options including an interesting inline hybrid (diesel and electric) system that I really liked and caused a few sleepless nights as I weighed the pros and cons. In the end we stayed the course, used the 90% rule for the boats planned mission and selected the all-electric power.

A few Pros and Cons for the hybrid power system which are applicable to a trawler application and worth noteing include:

Pros: greater range, less fuel consumption, back-up power built into the boat and a very clean installation.

Cons: added complexity that comes with a hybrid system, higher initial investment costs, increased maintenance and cost of ownership, loss of deck space for larger engine box.

I know there are more items which are not listed but you can start to see the picture. To address each of the Pro's & Con's I came up with the following;

Range - insure correct battery size for planned usage
Fuel Consumption - Not an issue going all electric
Back-up Power - Need to address this and working on a solution
Clean Installation - Electric alone is even cleaner
Added Complexity - electric alone reduces complexity
Higher Investment Costs - Electric alone reduces investment
Increased Maintenance & Costs - Electric alone requires little maintenance
Cost of Ownership - Lower with all electric
Loss of Deck Space - no diesel engine reduces engine box significantly.

While the Pro's & Con's have worked out in our favor for this boat, they can all change on a larger boat.

With the final decision made to go all electric power we are now working on the motor manufacture, battery type and capacity for our planned use 90% of the time which is between 2-4 hours per trip. Our occasional trips may reach 6 - 7 hours and both require a 20% reserve which is the same percentage of fuel reserve we and most trawler owners use. More to follow on these next steps during our next posting.

A few other areas of interest we are working includes shipping and importing the boat to San Diego - a first for me doing this alone. The required US built trailer without a boat to use as the template. Dealing with the exchange rate and potential travel overseas. Things are starting to get exciting.

John
 
Have you looked at Duffy? They are open cockpit cocktail cruisers and wouldn’t be suitable for your cruising intentions, but they have been in the electric boat field long before green power became a phrase.

Their boats have an interesting drive motor, rudder, prop shaft and prop design called a “power rudder” that is a very compact and integrated system.

I would also take a look at their battery/charging system for similar innovations.

I first rented a Duffy about 20 years ago for a cocktail cruise with my family around the harbor of Newport Beach, Ca. Then I think the 18’er had four golf cart batteries. Lithiums now probably.

David
 
Our last update discussed power options including an interesting inline hybrid (diesel and electric) system that I really liked and caused a few sleepless nights as I weighed the pros and cons. In the end we stayed the course, used the 90% rule for the boats planned mission and selected the all-electric power.

A few Pros and Cons for the hybrid power system which are applicable to a trawler application and worth noteing include:

Pros: greater range, less fuel consumption, back-up power built into the boat and a very clean installation.

Cons: added complexity that comes with a hybrid system, higher initial investment costs, increased maintenance and cost of ownership, loss of deck space for larger engine box.

I know there are more items which are not listed but you can start to see the picture. To address each of the Pro's & Con's I came up with the following;

Range - insure correct battery size for planned usage
Fuel Consumption - Not an issue going all electric
Back-up Power - Need to address this and working on a solution
Clean Installation - Electric alone is even cleaner
Added Complexity - electric alone reduces complexity
Higher Investment Costs - Electric alone reduces investment
Increased Maintenance & Costs - Electric alone requires little maintenance
Cost of Ownership - Lower with all electric
Loss of Deck Space - no diesel engine reduces engine box significantly.

While the Pro's & Con's have worked out in our favor for this boat, they can all change on a larger boat.

With the final decision made to go all electric power we are now working on the motor manufacture, battery type and capacity for our planned use 90% of the time which is between 2-4 hours per trip. Our occasional trips may reach 6 - 7 hours and both require a 20% reserve which is the same percentage of fuel reserve we and most trawler owners use. More to follow on these next steps during our next posting.

A few other areas of interest we are working includes shipping and importing the boat to San Diego - a first for me doing this alone. The required US built trailer without a boat to use as the template. Dealing with the exchange rate and potential travel overseas. Things are starting to get exciting.

John


John, what about service, support, and repairs? If you are importing the boat yourself then presumably there is no dealer or other support infrastructure in the US?
 
John
Codger, RIP, sold his 42'OA and went with an all electric vessel for cruising around San Diego. In discussions with him the notion of a Tesla battery package, an off the shelf 40 KW genset and purpose designed Devlin hull in the 32' range was doable. A level 2 shore power setup would be required for coastal cruising.

Tesla engineering and power systems are very open minded in considering hybrid marine systems especially as they get into LFP batteries. Plus an all NA build and propulsion system eases import and communications considerations. The sky is the limit for an endeavor such as this, especially when applying ingenuity and $$.
 
Duffy

Have you looked at Duffy? They are open cockpit cocktail cruisers and wouldn’t be suitable for your cruising intentions, but they have been in the electric boat field long before green power became a phrase.

Their boats have an interesting drive motor, rudder, prop shaft and prop design called a “power rudder” that is a very compact and integrated system.

I would also take a look at their battery/charging system for similar innovations.

I first rented a Duffy about 20 years ago for a cocktail cruise with my family around the harbor of Newport Beach, Ca. Then I think the 18’er had four golf cart batteries. Lithiums now probably.

David

We looked at Duffy boats which are very popular in southern California and been around for a long time. They are built up in the desert about 75 miles from the coast. Their hull designs which are built for stability do not allow for them to be easily trailered and launched. This is something I must have so we ruled them out early on in our process. The other issue is that these boats are mass produced and options are limited. Since I like to design and change things around this company is not a good match for us. Their new rudder design looks impressive but I do not have any hands-on experience with it. I'm not sure if you remember Walt Pulson who was active on TF and recently passed away but his last boat was a 22' Duffy he kept in San Diego and enjoyed it.

John
 
We looked at Duffy boats which are very popular in southern California and been around for a long time. They are built up in the desert about 75 miles from the coast. Their hull designs which are built for stability do not allow for them to be easily trailered and launched. This is something I must have so we ruled them out early on in our process. The other issue is that these boats are mass produced and options are limited. Since I like to design and change things around this company is not a good match for us. Their new rudder design looks impressive but I do not have any hands-on experience with it. I'm not sure if you remember Walt Pulson who was active on TF and recently passed away but his last boat was a 22' Duffy he kept in San Diego and enjoyed it.

John

Maybe Duffy would sell you their power rudder to install on your own new build. Sure would leave lots of room in the bilge. Don’t know how it would work for trailering though as I doubt if it tilts.

David
 
Service / Support

John, what about service, support, and repairs? If you are importing the boat yourself then presumably there is no dealer or other support infrastructure in the US?

Service and support is a concern and something I'm trying to plan for in advance of signing the contract. If there is one thing I learned over the years associated with purchasing anything new is that you cannot always count on the seller to stand behind his warranty and every purchase comes with risk. No need to dive deep into this topic since most everyone has experienced something related.

We already discovered the electric motor is not serviced in California despite many dealers who will sell you a new system and order part's - ouch. I ended up calling the manufacture located in Maryland and spoke with their technical support person who advised that if I had any issues, he would help me. Not the answer I was looking for but maybe enough. His position on repairs includes "not much to go wrong" and the system is modular in design so anything requiring replacement would be shipped to me and I would do it with their assistance. The motor is well proven and gets high marks so this is a risk I'm willing to take. I guess one way of thinking about this would be buying a new trawler with Cummins or John Deere and it breaks down six months after delivery and you are in the middle of nowhere - warranty will not help you very much. On the flip side if I needed to find technical support I do live in southern California with many technicians. :)

The balance of the boat I will handle myself or contract the work like we do with our trawlers. When we require warranty work on our trawler's I end up managing the suppliers (engine, A/C, appliances, hardware) and deal with the paperwork so nothing new with this boat. The boat comes with a warranty and builder has been around 25 years with a good reputation (no dealerships) so I'm assuming he will honor anything under warranty.

The other consideration is our investment ($$) on this boat which is minimum compared to a Nordy so I'm not too worried about this. If I was working through an overseas dealer and not the builder, I would be a little more concerned but hopefully the relationship we are establishing will include trust and things will work out.

In regard to importing the boat myself, this will be a new challenge and something I'm looking forward to accomplishing as part of the overall process. I reached out to certain builder whom we worked with more than once or twice and obtain some useful information. I have a lot more to learn and manage but I feel confident between the builder of the boat and I, we will figure all this out. If not possibly I can hire someone with large Nordy to cross the pond, pick up our boat and bring it back to SD?

John T.
 
There is ongoing discussion on TF about Lithium Ion battery technology, safety, different types of Lithium Ion batteries, etc, mostly in the context of house battery banks. What's the state of propulsion battery technology for this class of boat? Is it LFP, or something else? How do you feel about onboard safety with what is presumably a pretty large battery bank? Personally, a large non-LFP bank on a boat would give me great pause. I might consider it for a harbor or canal boat, but beyond that it would take a lot to get me comfortable with it.
 
Batteries

There is ongoing discussion on TF about Lithium Ion battery technology, safety, different types of Lithium Ion batteries, etc, mostly in the context of house battery banks. What's the state of propulsion battery technology for this class of boat? Is it LFP, or something else? How do you feel about onboard safety with what is presumably a pretty large battery bank? Personally, a large non-LFP bank on a boat would give me great pause. I might consider it for a harbor or canal boat, but beyond that it would take a lot to get me comfortable with it.

Is there a specific thread focused on batteries or are you referencing TF in general? Most of what I'm learning comes from Europe, and I still have a long way to go with our final selection (type, size, manufacture and track record). Hearing about people burning down their houses while charging e-bikes is not comforting and makes me think about charging the batteries in the boat. But then again even with proven technologies we hear about boat fires caused by dock side power cable connectors wearing out or not correctly connected. Risk mitigation is key and all we can do.

John
 
Walt

John
Codger, RIP, sold his 42'OA and went with an all electric vessel for cruising around San Diego. In discussions with him the notion of a Tesla battery package, an off the shelf 40 KW genset and purpose designed Devlin hull in the 32' range was doable. A level 2 shore power setup would be required for coastal cruising.

Tesla engineering and power systems are very open minded in considering hybrid marine systems especially as they get into LFP batteries. Plus an all NA build and propulsion system eases import and communications considerations. The sky is the limit for an endeavor such as this, especially when applying ingenuity and $$.

Walt was a great person and had his OA on the same dock as our Helmsman. I was unaware of the discussion about the 32' project. Sounds very doable. Thanks for sharing.

John
 
Another Boat Sold

Today we completed the sale of our Sandpiper sailboat but will keep the boat until the new owner arranges transportation. Despite being an east coast boat, I did not expect the buyer to be from the northeast and incur the transportation costs. This little boat will have more highway miles than ocean miles under her keel. While I will miss seeing the boat every time I open our garage, I'm grateful to be able to check off another "bucket list" item and learn to sail, even it was just the basics.

A few observations from owning this boat includes.
1. The level of enjoyment you can achieve with a boat is not limited to it size or type.
2. Back-up power is well worth the cost (staying off the rocks is priceless)
3. If you own a boat with classic lines and great quality, you can expect to be delayed every time you take her out by people stopping to admire the boat.
4. Never too old to learn something new or different

John
 
Hybrid Power

I'm attaching a photo of the hybrid power system that is offered on this boat. Recognizing it is small but still a clean installation and makes me think about something similar on our next trawler for the redundancy and "get home power". The builder uses Vetus diesel and electric motors which we have no experience with, but nothing in my research (so far) has resulted in us choosing another supplier. It's turning out every boat we build it comes with a different engine Yanmar, Lugger, and Cummins diesels and Torqeedo electric. All part of the journey.

John
 

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Update #4

Now that we have enjoyed a boat with different and attractive colors we find ourselves debating what to do with the next boat. I think we can all agree dark colors are likely the worst color anyone can choose for a boat "but" they just look good. Scratches occur much easier on dark colors and can result in a trip to the local boatyard to be buffed out if one is not careful.

So what color did we decide for the new boat? Another shiny dark blue hull that matches the Sandpiper. An easy enough decision we thought until we started to discuss colors with the builder overseas. Turns out European builders use a standard color system (RAL) developed in Germany which is different from most US companies. Fortunately, we found a company in the US who works with the EU standard and offers a nice color fan on their website. Using the online color fan we were able to narrow down our choice to two samples. Holding the laptop against the hull of the Sandpiper in the garage to match the exact color was not working so we ended up having the purchase a color fan to insure we don't mess this up. $100 later (ouch) for the fan and shipping (cost of shipping is crazy) we now find ourselves waiting for its arrival and hopefully prior to the Sandpiper being picked up for transportation back east by its new owner. We also plan to match the topside of the Sandpiper which is light tan providing a nice color combination and looks great with teak wood trim. Bottom paint will be a dark red and likely need to be applied after the boat arrives due to EPA regulations in CA. With my luck some inspector at the dock would likely ask too many questions about the bottom paint and prevent the boat from being offloaded from the freighter due to the wrong paint. Needless to say, importing the boat has it challenges.


John
 
Course Correction

As with some voyages there are times when a course correction is required and building a new boat is no different. With a new boat it could be second thoughts on equipment, options or worst case the boat itself. While everything is fine with the boat and builder selected, we hit a snag with the process of importing the boat. While the costs are reasonable, logistics associated with the process are becoming challenging for this boat and may not be worth the risk. In some ways it would be easier to import a larger boat that can sit on the deck of a cargo ship.

While we have not given up on this project, we have placed it on hold until we are confident, we have plan that gets the boat home safely with minimal risk. If for some reason this project does not proceed we will search for a builder state side willing to take on a custom project at reasonable costs. On a side note we starting to see builders back-logs shrinking and fewer new orders as the market slows. This should help with lower pricing on used trawlers.

John
 
New Boat Purchased

Well this thread is definitely starting to take on a few twists and turns related to buying a boat and we still have a long voyage ahead. As I mentioned in my earlier post importing a new boat built overseas is not working due to logistics and risks. Shifting gears and finding a builder in the USA is forcing us to look at modifying an existing design or start from scratch. While discussions are proceeding on both fronts it is clear we will not have a boat this year so what to do?

I know, we will buy a smaller boat that can be ready for summer and provide time on the water. But what type of boat to meet the mission without going overboard on the cost. Talking it over with Mary and considering a RIB or center console or something similar she said "why not buy another tender like we had on the last boat"? What, a tender for messing around the harbor and bay? That actually makes sense, so I called Gig Harbor Boats in Seattle and discussed another boat. After considering the pros and cons of the different models I started to zero in on one model. Thinking about this a little more and how I always appreciated wooden boats I started researching wood boat builders and found a cool Dory that would offer similar capabilities as the Gig Harbor but I could experience the process of contracting and following a wooden boat be built. The Dory built by Cottell Boatbuilding in Maine is going to be modified to 11' and while already taller than our previous tender we will add a few more inches for back support while cruising under electric OB power. We will also expand the forward seating area for when Mary and Sailor Blue join me. The boat will be trimmed in solid mahogany, and we are adding a couple of custom touches to make this one special little tender. These boats are not cold molded or have any type of fiberglass outer shell so learning how to care for a traditional wood boat will be another experience I look forward to (on a very small scale).

The boat should be complete and shipped by August providing the summer and fall to get back into rowing for the exercise followed by a margarita and sunset cruise in the harbor. Fun stuff.

John
 
Interesting points about importing. Depending on boat’s size, might be better to ship it to Canada (or Mexico) then sail it to America. I have to believe that clearing customs and EPA and all that would be easier in the water than landing as deck cargo.
 
Importing

Interesting points about importing. Depending on boat’s size, might be better to ship it to Canada (or Mexico) then sail it to America. I have to believe that clearing customs and EPA and all that would be easier in the water than landing as deck cargo.

Even if we could ship it to Mexico we would still face many of the same issues including importing the boat into the US and require all the same paperwork in order to register the boat. With our luck customs would think we were trying to cut corners and confiscate the boat. Just not worth the effort and risk on a smaller boat. Thanks for the comment, always appreciated.

John
 
Update

With the tender on order to be built we are focused again on the electric boat project and our limited options stateside. The builder of the tender has expressed interest in this project which is great news. I also reached out to another well-known designer / builder on the east coast who expressed interest in a smaller project like ours. Studying plans of different boats (sail and power) has been educational and fun. Being able to take an existing design and turn it into an electric powered vessel requires some imagination and calculations which for me is a learning experience.

While a shoal hull would be simpler to build and require less power, I prefer full displacement or something close for many of the same reasons with our trawlers. Some of the roughest water we will ever see with this boat will be in San Diego Bay where on weekends we can encounter wakes from passing boats up to 3-4 feet. At 5 -6 knot maximum speed I prefer a hull that will not flip over easily if we get caught in a mess.

Since we appear to be heading towards one-off boat it will likely be built out of wood but cold molded or something similar to address the maintenance issues. Researching some larger boats built using this process has been enlightening and I'm looking forward to something new.

John
 
Here's a crazy idea for you.

5 years ago I was in Venice Italy. Their water taxi's were cool boats that might be the sort of thing you are looking for. They are diesel powered, and I read they were going to the same small engine Helmsman has shown as the standard engine on the H31. If you insist on electric it might be adaptable, with an inboard / outboard sort of power train. Its probably larger than I sense you are considering doing.

Engine bay in the stern. They frequently have a partially retractable roof over the passenger compartment.

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water-taxi-venice-22423404.jpg


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Venice

Here's a crazy idea for you.

5 years ago I was in Venice Italy. Their water taxi's were cool boats that might be the sort of thing you are looking for. They are diesel powered, and I read they were going to the same small engine Helmsman has shown as the standard engine on the H31. If you insist on electric it might be adaptable, with an inboard / outboard sort of power train. Its probably larger than I sense you are considering doing.

Thanks for sharing this concept. We have seen similar designs during our search and some are just amazing. 31' is a little large for our intended use but I like the wood and finish. Now that we decided to explore designing a boat from a clean sheet of paper it's becoming more challenging than finding an existing production. A one-off design allows your imagination to take over before you have to dial things back into reality. Fun stuff.

John
 
Update on Boat Design

Since my last post we identified an accomplished naval architect and boat builder to assist with our project. As with most searches we started out with general discussion about his career and work followed with discussion about our project. Next step was to review drawings of past projects similar to ours and sharing thoughts back and forth. This week I provided Paul with a specification / requirements document including everything I can think of related to the boat. Paul will use this document to start his preliminary sketches (phase I) we will use to bounce ideas off of until we settle on the final design concept. Once this phase of the project is completed, we will contract with him to build us a complete set of prints which would be used to build the boat.

A few observations to date related to taking on this project includes:
1. Unlike a production boat I have accepted all the risk and if the design turns out bad, I have no one to fault but myself. The buck stops with me.
2. Unlike the purchase of our Nordhavn's, Helmsman and even the little Sandpiper all those boats were in production for many years and proven. Our input on those boats was limited to a few options, electronics and interior finishes.
3. We are responsible for every aspect of the design including hull type, LOA, Beam, transom style, steering, rudder size, powerplants, interior arrangement (to list a few items) and even building materials. Screw up even one decision and it could sink the project.
4. Time required to manage this project will be significantly greater than any other boat we have researched or built with a builder.
5. Being able to collaborate with the designer on a new boat is a great adventure (so far) and checks another bucket list box.

There are many more items I could add but I think everyone gets the picture. To help understand what goes into building a cold molded wood boat I decided to purchase a small model of a rowing boat using wood construction. At first, I was not sure how much I would get out this project, but I learned a lot especially with my mistakes and have even a greater appreciation of the "art" that is required to build a high-quality wood boat.

Next step is to review the first set of design sketches and continue the collaboration on desired changes. Fun stuff.

John
 
Torqeedo 1103 - #3

This week we visited West Marine and purchased our third Torqueedo 1103 for the little tender being built in Maine. While the holiday weekend sale did not reduce the $2,949 price there is a rebate for a free carrying case which we decided was worth the early purchase. This same motor with the original battery design cost about $1900 in 2018 (ouch). I was a little hesitant purchasing the same motor that got me into trouble with the Sandpiper but I could not find anything else that compares with this unique design. Fingers crossed this motor operates as designed but as a backup I will keep the oars close by.

On a more serious note, my near disaster of ending up on the rocks with the Sandpiper once again instilled my belief that any boat we build in the future will have back up power. Maybe it's just me getting older and becoming more risk adverse but I'm sticking with decision. In case anyone is interested in our "less than fun" occurrences related to desire for back-up power here are a few keep reading.
1. Hitting a submerged object in the Great South Bay, Long Island, NY when I was 15 years old. Boat was fine but the prop and running gear was damaged. Needed to flag down a boat a tow.
2. Outboard Yamaha motor on our 22' Mako CC would not start while fishing off San Diego. Needed to call Vessel Assist for a tow.
3. N40 lost throttle control in busy harbor with high winds and relied on wing engine for power and control.
4. N40 incurred engine vibration in moderate seas and had to shut it down. The Wing Engine kept us heading into the seas keeping the boat stable while working the issue.
5. Sandpiper lost electric motor power near the entrance to the ocean as the stiff breeze pushed me dangerously close the jetty. I raised the sail 50% for power / steering control to clear the rocks.

Looking forward my backup power for the tender will be old fashion human power via a set of oars. For the electric launch with IB power I'm leaning towards a side mounted electric OB similar to the set up on the Sandpiper. The motor would be stored under a seat and could be set up and running in less than two minutes. Since the launch is being designed with a large rudder and tiller steering this should help with control using the side mounted OB motor. For the next trawler we never owned a twin-engine boat so that is something we will seriously consider. Fun stuff.

John
 
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