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Thread: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

  1. #1
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    Default steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    i am thinking my next build will be an electric launch of some sort. it seems that some steam launch designs ( gartside has some which look nice ) would lend themselves to such a project, or perhaps a sailboat hull. i think the 20' to 23' range would be nice size to seat six or so people. i saw a short piece on a double ender that ken bassett of onion river boatworks just built, but he doesn't have website so there is not much information on it. the thought was to use minn kota's engine mount saltwater trolling motor on the rudder, to eliminate the need for an engine box of any kind. they have a model with 160 lbs of thrust. it seems a simple and cheap solution. has anybody ever tried something like this? does anybody have an idea of what performance might be like?

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    I remember something in a Messing About In Boats mag, within the last couple of years, that had a pic of a fg daysailer hull converted into a steam launch.

    You could look for something here.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Dan Pence of Portland Oregon built an extremely successful electric launch using the Elliot Bay Steam Launch hull as the basis. Dan is a friendly and helpful guy who would be a great resource for you in building a similar project. David G here on this forum lives in Portland too and knows him--he should be able to help you get ahold of Dan.

    If this post did not meet all of your needs, please consult this thread for more options.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    I too would go for a steam launch hull. Sail boats will be beamier than needful for standing up to the rig.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    that's a good point. a sailboat hull without a heavy keel, which i wouldn't want, would have to have the beam to stand up. their hulls would also be designed to slip thru water most efficiently heeled over not straight up ( which we non sailors find preferable )

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Actually, they are designed to move through water on an even keel (why sailing flatter is better). A steamboat hull would be so much nicer though.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    For a start, join this group- another very clever bunch of people JayInOz

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/electricboats/

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    I would definitely go the true inboard route rather than the minkota adaptation, that is unless you are considering a very small boat. It isn't simply about thrust. The diesel launch I am currently building was going to initially be electric but the 6 hour max run time I was coming up against made cruising with the boat unreasonable. That being said, do a search on ev motodepot, and also electric motorcycle conversions. There are several companies producing simple electric motors, controllers and chargers that are easily adaptable to a boat. Most of the "old-time" launch style hulls (displacement) can easily accomodate the necessary bank of batteries (which make great ballast incidentally). You can start with 4 twelve volt batteries to get a 48 volt bank at reduced range and then double up as finances permit. You should be able to put together a motor controller package for less than 1,000 bucks. Cog belt pulleys can be used to drive the shaft (which must have a thrust bearing to transfer thrust to the hull) and the combination of the two cog belts gives you almost unlimited adjustability in gear reduction to swing an appropriately large diameter wheel (like a steam launch uses).

    Keep to a narrow and long hull to improve efficiency and to get the most possible speed and range out of your motor / battery bank combination.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Years ago I saw the cutest little steamboat made from the hull of a thistle sailboat. It was when they were still hot-molding plywood Thistle hulls on a production basis, and the press actually made them about 6" longer than the class rules, so that the final builder could fit a transom, but this guy used all the length he could. The nicest thing about this conversion was that the plumb stem of the hull fit the steamboat aesthetic very well. The owner had made the steam engine and boiler himself from scratch and they were gorgeous.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Quote Originally Posted by greatharbor View Post
    they have a model with 160 lbs of thrust.
    The static thrust specs of a trolling motor aren't worth a dang, because they don't tell you what the prop pitch and RPM is, so you don't know what the speed potential is with an easily driven hull. I have a 17' Rangley and I loaded it up with friends and towed it with a tin-boat, rope, and a fish-scale at 7mph and got about 27# of drag, so I foolishly bought a 35# trolling motor and thought I would have it nailed. I think I maybe got 3.5 mph out of it on flat water. I got a little over 4mph by changing to a 10" model-airplane propeller, but it drew more current and was no longer weedless.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    this boat would be used for short trips from an island camp base. a gilligan tour ( 3 hours )would be more than enough run time. mostly run in good weather but our island is an outer island exposed to the open atlantic and in maine things can pickup pretty quickly. if i keep hull length around 20' i'm guessing hull speed to to be 6 - 7 knot range - not fast enough to outrun sneaky bad weather. this is not primary transportation to get to island, that is stinky and fast, but just to putter in peace once there. i sailed enough in younger days and don't want to bother with sails, wind dying halfway home, etc. . the fact that it will see some open ocean use steers me away from thames river type hulls as not designed to work in bumpy water. i think you are probably right about propulsion. to use the minn kota setup would force me to use a design with removable transom mounted rudder as i doubt the minn kota is designed for constant immersion. i am leaning towards a fantail hull for looks, and they of course , could not have a removable rudder by the nature of their design.it looks like i might have to bite the bullet and do some homework on inboard electric propulsion. i will check your link, thanks

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    great link - thanks very much

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Greatharbor,

    Trolling motors are designed to push heavy boats slowly. Putting one on a sleek displacement hull is like taking a John Deere tractor to a drag race.

    Check my website to see an electric launch pretty much fitting your specs. The hull is "coyote" from Weston Farmer's book. Offsets are yours for the price of the book.

    Denny Wolfe
    www.wolfEboats.com

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Just curious, but why wouldn't a hybrid make sense - except maybe cost? Make a regular electric launch with a plug-in charger. Add a small diesel with alternator to charge as well. That way you could get the best of both worlds: quiet for short runs & all the distance you could want.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Greatharbor,

    The Harmony 25 launch (or something similar) is certainly the right track - long, narrow, light/easily driven hull. Pleasing to the eye, as well.

    Maybe it is because I am old, but I just can't get comfy with a battery electric only propulsion system. Range and speed limitations are a big issue IMHO, because of safety and encountering the unexpected (mostly weather). Add the loads of navigation lighting - further decreasing the range/speed; when the batteries are exhausted and you aren't home yet (unless of course, you are a sail boat), darkness beckons, and you won't have any lights either.

    I suggest the Harmony 25 approach, but add to that propulsion system an ICE driven alternator package. Part of the cost of this would be offset by using flooded lead acid batteries instead of the pricey AGM batteries (AGM technology will soon be replaced, anyway with better (and even more expensive) technology. A number of these engine/gen sets are available off-the-shelf packaged, some are air cooled.

    I stole this idea from GM - Chevrolet Volt. As with the Volt, the engine would not be used all the time, so peace and quiet would prevail, and you (I) could finally relax, knowing we will be getting home.

    Boat on.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    I used a Honda Eu2000 quiet generator in the Harmony a few times. It sat in the lazerette with a tin stove-pipe elbow screwed to the end to aim the exhaust and cooling air air upwards. This worked great - it was quite quiet, on a par with a small 4 stroke outboard, would push the boat about 5 mph with no battery drain at all and could be used to recharge the batteries with the boat at a dock lacking a shore power outlet. These gen sets cost about $900 and are useful in other ways as well, like when I used the RO sander to prep for a last coat of varnish on the way to a boat show.

    Electric is certainly not for everybody but it can be a good option for a displacement hull kept on a trailer or at a dock with a 110v outlet. Battery-only range on the first Harmony was 40 miles at 7 mph, more than most people would want in an open day boat.

    My 18' Arctic Tern will go 10 miles at 4 mph with one 12v 53# AGM battery. The motor is dead silent and stores completely within its well. I thinks that's a lot better than a hard-to-stow, noisy 2 hp gas engine.

    PS: My thoughts on batteries: AGM's are about double the cost of wet lead acid but free you from having to check the water level in difficult to access batteries, won't spill if the boat rolls (critical in a heeling sailboat) and will hold their charge all winter. LiFePO4, like used in DeWalt power tools and Tesla roadsters, are now becoming available to the general market. Well engineered packages like from Torqeedo and Mastervolt are about 10x the cost and 1/3 the weight of AGM. They may be worth their cost in very weight sensitive applications or uses where very rapid charging or discharging is needed but I don't see the need in a displacement hull. Using LiFePO4 instead of AGM in the Harmony 25 would have added 0.5 mph to top speed (by virtue of lighter weight) and $20,000 to the cost.
    Last edited by mcdenny; 01-31-2011 at 09:46 AM.
    Denny Wolfe
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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Selway Fisher has many steam designs http://www.selway-fisher.com/Steam.htm

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    love the look of the harmony, does the flat transom drag a little water though? the shape looks like it would be an easy build. it is similar to my frontrunning choice ( at this point) of paul gartside's 19' steam pinnace. i still want to know for sure if this wouldn't work with this minn kota setup:
    http://www.minnkotamotors.com/produc...saltwater.aspx
    the dual props might make up for small diameter and they have a 36 volt version that must have some kick. sure would be a lot easier than boring shaft log, with thrust bearing and stuffing box, etc. , if it won't work i will go that route but i think it will add considerable time to build. the 19' pinnace has an external rudder that could be removed and could be steered with tiller avoiding steering mechanism

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    great old boats ! our family was in ireland for thanksgiving week and visited killaloe, the boating center of the upper shannon. sort of the irish lakes district. some really nice launches still in the water. however, and at the risk of being crucified and taking this thread off topic if you look at a lot of the boats on the other side of the pond you see that it is possible to build an ugly wooden boat. interesting and picturesque, yes, beautiful - no. obviously fife and a few others excluded. 98% of beautiful boats are american. i only dare write this because of anonymity. let the hate mail begin

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Well, if all you are used to are Irish cots, I'm not surprised.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    I think you should consider a torpedo sterned launch also. I have mine going together right now on the Cape so you would be able to see a hull shortly, and I would be happy to share patterns and such that I have already lofted, I could even send you computer files to print out for all the parts. The hull is plywood and epoxy, yet the sharp entry, sweeping sheer, and torpedo stern give it a classic look. Just a thought. Also, on the boring a shaft log issue, I am using a fiberglass shaft tube that is laminated into the keel; not too expensive and super simple set up.

    Don

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    The Harmony's transom is 100% above the water line so no dragging water. #1 has a conventional inboard setup. #2 (on the web site now) has an outboard in a well.
    Denny Wolfe
    www.wolfEboats.com

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    please don't issue a fatwa against me, it would be ironic as i am an unapologetic anglophile. we are having a snowy, cold winter over here and we all start to get a bit cranky by february. that was my first trip to ireland in 25 yrs. , we usually go to the u.k. , but it is the same, as you travel around the coast in general it seems that the brits have built boats with an eye to function over form, even including the some modern fiberglass horrors, of which we are also certainly guilty. even back to the 1800's the clipper ships of donald mckay were sleeker it seems than their counterparts. the brit boats always looked more burdensome and the early bluff bow shapes took longer to change. i'm talking aesthetics only, the british boats could have been superior in use. the loch fyne skiffs in this month's woodenboat are a good example ( i know, scottish ) . they are really interesting boats and i might drive a hundred miles to see one, but beautiful - i don't think so. the comparable purpose boats in the u.s. ( chebacco's, hampton's ) i feel have sheerlines and grace to their hull shape.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    i would love to see pictures

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Quote Originally Posted by greatharbor View Post
    please don't issue a fatwa against me, it would be ironic as i am an unapologetic anglophile. we are having a snowy, cold winter over here and we all start to get a bit cranky by february. that was my first trip to ireland in 25 yrs. , we usually go to the u.k. , but it is the same, as you travel around the coast in general it seems that the brits have built boats with an eye to function over form, even including the some modern fiberglass horrors, of which we are also certainly guilty. even back to the 1800's the clipper ships of donald mckay were sleeker it seems than their counterparts. the brit boats always looked more burdensome and the early bluff bow shapes took longer to change. i'm talking aesthetics only, the british boats could have been superior in use. the loch fyne skiffs in this month's woodenboat are a good example ( i know, scottish ) . they are really interesting boats and i might drive a hundred miles to see one, but beautiful - i don't think so. the comparable purpose boats in the u.s. ( chebacco's, hampton's ) i feel have sheerlines and grace to their hull shape.
    As always it is function driving form. Our tea clippers were as fine as any American clippers, whilst our bulk carriers were as boxy as you say.
    As to working boats, ours needed to be more rugged than yours. I heard of one East Coast boat that came over to fish Irish waters. She took so much of a pasting in one season that she went home, and no one repeated the experiment. The prevailing weather makes Europe a lee shore for the ocean swells, which is why Biscay has such a foul reputation.
    I agree those Loch Fyne skiffs are ugly. They are too pointy in the stern to be typical. Even the good ones are not as nice as their east coast cousins Garribaldies and Zulu skiffs.
    You want pictures?
    Zulu Skiff

    Fyfie (a big Garribaldie)

    Shetland sixareen

    Ness Sgoth

    Falmouth oyster dredgers racing

    and a motly collection
    http://www.youtube.com/user/KeepTurn.../7/8B8iAaLmuLM
    Last edited by Peerie Maa; 02-02-2011 at 12:47 PM.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    You might be interested in the Mar-Apr 2011 issue of WoodenBoat Magazine. Mine hasn't arrives yet, but it appears on the WB Home Page. It features a sweet-looking Electric Launch operating in Upstate NY and S Ontario.

    I have a lot of interest along the same lines as you, however, will submit my own post later today rather than hijack your's.

    Moby Nick

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    For best efficiency, you need a big, slow, prop. Those are not available on the Minnkota drives. Why they don't make an optional (say) 5:1 step-down planetary hub with a properly sized and pitched prop I don't know, but they don't.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    don't have my woodenboat yet either. i will be in brooklin this weekend and i will swing by store and take a look. the cost and complexity of this project would be significantly reduced if i can find a way to get the minn kota dual prop system to work. my run requirements are less than what most people might want, so i am going to keep working on it. so far, i haven't been able to find any examples of this having been tried for a launch. i have heard of some sailboats using them for auxiliary power, and should be close enough. if anything gartside's 19' steam pinnace should be much easier to drive.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    i'm sorry, i just went back to your post and saw link to website. what i am looking for in this project is exactly the same as you. we get out to our island camp with 300 hp @ 30 mph ( and, unfortunately, 1.5 mpg ) , which is great for keeping the 10 mile run short and convenient. but as you said, once we are there if we want to go out and putter around slowly, quietly, and out from underneath a cabin top in the sun. having a generator on board could be good backup. i will be keeping the launch out at the island, which has no electricity. i have a honda 3000 for our camp and also a 1000 which is tiny and very quiet. by the way, my construction company has three honda generator's, one is 20 years old and must have at least 5,000 hours on it. you absolutely cannot beat them. i would keep a medium sized solar panel on deck while not being used, but could use a generator to speed charge if needed. your drive system looks much easier than an inboard shaft drive, but i'm guessing a lot of $. the 19' hull i'm thinking of probably has a hull speed of 6 mph, and if i can pull off some system with the dual prop minn kota attached to the rudder my costs and installation difficulty will go way down.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Did you have a look at the web address I posted mate? The whole forum is electric boats- building, converting, whatever, and all the technical stuff to do anything you want to try. It's all been done before and it's all on the website JayInOz

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    i did, but haven't got too deep into it yet. i had to join the group to get in, and normally i won't join any group that would have me as a member. a quick look seemed overwhelming. i keep hoping the simple solution could work but have talked to minn kota tech and they say even if boat moves thru water easy 4 to 5 mph is max, i'm assuming because of prop pitch, of which they only offer the one. that might be ok for my use, but thru this winter as i have time i will start to scratch around the group. i really am committed to electric, even the relatively quiet of a small 4 stroke is more than i want. it will take me a whole winter to build the hull which will give more time to research to see if there are some electric alternatives to minn kota that aren't too complex and expensive. thanks for the link, that is one that a google search might not have found being, a yahoo group.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    A heavy battery bank stores a small amount of energy - you want the most efficient drive system possible to make the most out of that precious energy. That means a relatively large slow turning prop as htom says above. You don't get this with a trolling motor. They aren't cheap in larger sizes either - I think those dual drives are almost $1000. You can get a 6hp MARS motor and Sevcon 100 amp controller for that. A pretty complete kit of motor, controller, throttle, wiring harness is around $1500. (batteries not included)

    You have the complexity and cost of an inboard installation but can pick whatever gear reduction you need for your big prop.

    Torqeedo make very advanced electric outboards with big 12 x 10 props, they are a very good option if you don't mind the outboard esthetics (and price).
    Denny Wolfe
    www.wolfEboats.com

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    i went to the torqueedo website and was surprised by their bigger motors. it looks like their bigger motors would have more than enough push for me. i had thought they only made small dinghy motors with built in batteries which i had heard had much less run time than claimed. went back and studied how you set up the harmony and the more i look i see why you came up with that solution. you've really done a great job and put some thought with both your design and propulsion. i'm not totally averse to inboard setup, but a rig like yours could make a lot of sense. i do wonder, however, if torqueedos have a short life span, i.e. , how many hours run time before they die? after looking how you have set up your outboard in a well i am thinking that i could do something similar in a fantail hull. i know they are slow for their length but i do like the look.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    What about large diameter, high torque motors installed like a conventional inboard with direct drive to a large prop? That should minimise transmission losses as well as any unnecessary wetted area.
    1947 Nordic Folkboat "Nina"

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Having built a Harmony with a conventional inboard shaft drive and another with the outboard in a well I can say the outboard gives much greater steering authority at low speed and is much quieter. (electric boats are quiet but rarely "silent"; motors, belt drives, not perfectly round spinning shafts and the prop blades passing by the hull all create noise. An IC engine drowns all this out but it is noticeable with electric power). The direct drive submerged pod drive in the second boat is essentially a big trolling motor.

    Buying an electric outboard package takes away all the complexity of figuring out the controller, throttle and wiring it all together so the smoke stays inside. It is also somewhat more expensive and you choices are limited to a few motor power, gearing, and prop combos. Its a lot easier to build the well and bolt on the motor than to do the shaft log, rudder, motor mounts, etc. needed for an inboard. If you can design the well to allow the motor to tilt up you get another significant benefit.

    For me the biggest shortcoming of an outboard is esthetic - nothing worse, IMHO, than a beautiful classic hull with a ugly powerhead sticking up.

    If I built another Harmony i'd look real hard at a Torqeedo Cruise 4. They have a double planetary transmission in the lower unit with the motor so are not as quiet as a direct drive setup but they are really new technology, even have a GPS built into the throttle handle to show speed and estimate range remaining on the battery charge. They cost about $4k but replace probably $2.5k of parts and a lot of labor you would devote to an inboard install.
    Denny Wolfe
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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    i thought the same. the motor looked low enough at mounting brackets that i might not need the raised house. i think i could cut a well into the fantail hull so that like the harmony you would not see the motor from side while running. it seems to have enough power that i could build a bigger boat than i originally planned, with more freeboard, which could possibly hide the motor below a flush hatch. the inboard amep mark 11 c motor i like the look of is $3500 not counting shaft, propellor, stuffing box, etc., so no cheaper. the torqueedo does look plasticky, however, and i wonder if there is any real world experience on how many hours they run before they wear out.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    On the Yahoo Group "electricboats" there is a PDF file showing the building of an inboard electric launch for less than $1000 US (with trailer). "Building an Electric Javelin". The boat has been in service for more than 5 years now, and continues to run very well.

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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric


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    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    Hmmm, couldn't seem to add text to the line drawing above.

    Anyway, it's my 28-ft Shearwater Yawl, a Bolger design produced by Edey & Duff. Obviously it is exceedingly contrary to the conventional views of "sailboats" offered by others in this thread and would make a very atractive electric launch.

    I am prusuing the idea of this hull as a Motor Cruiser powered by a small Diesel.

    I know where the molds for this hull are located, should you know of a shop willing to layup a hull or two.

    Moby Nick

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    19

    Default Re: steam launch, or sailboat hull to electric

    The cutest little thing below, is it not?

    Selway Fisher Felix, electric launch. New design.


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