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Thread: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

  1. #141
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    I just invested in a "foldable" 50 watt panel, we'll see if it will keep up with my electronic charts, radio etc. (it should) Stowing the one you show proved problematic and I returned it for a foldable version. About the size of a book when folded, but 36x24 when "opened", it fits on my hatch cover.

    I have anchored right here at Nurse slough and ended up buoying my anchor and sailing around the "loop" out onto the river for three days! Has to be one of my favorite spots.
    It can get seriously windy on the river right there, it is such a great relief to duck into that slough...
    We have had at least one broken mast right there!
    B13C07BF-0B78-4BBE-AF32-BBA3ECDF5004.jpg

    and an image search for Montezuma Slough finds us at the Collinsville entrance on the first hit!
    Shaking out the reefs!

    90111E1F-7569-427D-8516-34A33E560390.jpg
    Last edited by Canoeyawl; 01-17-2021 at 08:17 PM.

  2. #142
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Hi Jake. I am really looking forward to the time we can all go cruising together again, and check out the mods we've been doing to our boats during this time. Hopefully by June.

    The folding 50 W panel sounds perfect for your use. To get the power I needed to run the motor meant a bigger panel, and the hard case or folding ones were just too heavy.

    My last significant task on this project is to put all the electronics in some kind of package. First thought was to make a wooden box, then I remembered I have been keeping a gasket sealed plastic case for 25 years now, just waiting for a use for it. Well, this is the time. The battery fits inside, I plan to make a hinged panel that holds the meters and outlets. Most of the time we are in dry weather the case can be opened enough to flip up the instrument panel. In case of rain or spray it could be sealed shut. It only needs flying leads for the motor and solar panel connectors, those would go through the case and get sealant.


  3. #143
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Yesterday I made this odd looking wooden thing:


  4. #144
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    It fits into the sealed case and holds all the electrical bits. The two current meters face forward, so I can keep an eye on the battery charging with the case propped open.


  5. #145
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Fantastic!

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  6. #146
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Really nice work!!!

  7. #147
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Nifty setup.
    -Dave

  8. #148
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Looks really slick. Have you considered how you'll fix it to the boat? It'd be a shame to see all that nice work go overboard!

    James

  9. #149
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Quote Originally Posted by pez_leon View Post
    Looks really slick. Have you considered how you'll fix it to the boat? It'd be a shame to see all that nice work go overboard!

    James
    That case has rubber feet and fits on the sole tucked in with the aft foot stretcher mount. It is pretty secure there. I am still a bit worried about having a battery aboard, so the cables will be long enough that I can grab the case and chuck it overboard if the smoke starts to leak out....

  10. #150
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    I have two of the 50-watt versions of that panel. Hmmm. Now you have me thinking of how I might use it on a rowing cruiser.

  11. #151
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    McMaster has some nice submersible cable grips, I used three to pass the motor and solar cables through the side of the case. Internal wiring not quite done, but this is the "briefcase of power" ready to carry:



    In position on the boat and cables connected:


  12. #152
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    One of my favorite projects to keep track of—any updates?

    Jeff C

  13. #153
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Sorry Jeff, life got a little busy. Since the last post I got my new business up and running, my mom had major heart surgery, we moved my MIL into memory care, and we are just about done getting her house ready to sell. I am hoping it all calms down for a while and I can mess around with the boat again.

    -Rick

  14. #154
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post
    Sorry Jeff, life got a little busy. Since the last post I got my new business up and running, my mom had major heart surgery, we moved my MIL into memory care, and we are just about done getting her house ready to sell. I am hoping it all calms down for a while and I can mess around with the boat again.

    -Rick
    Wow, thatís a lot to deal with! Best to you and your family.

    Jeff C

  15. #155
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Thanks Jeff! It did seem a lot for a while. mostly under control now.

  16. #156
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    MIL's house is now in the hands of the realtor, so I got a few hours to play with the boat. Launched at my local Suisun harbor again, here is the setup with the electricals in the case and solar panel up:



    On the water with the panel lowered:


  17. #157
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    I went about 4 nm down the slough under motor power only, which took just over an hour but there was some ebb current helping. The motor was set at 4 A, which gave just over 3 kts on my calm water tests. The mid-summer, mid-day sun provided 5.5 to 6 A charge current during the run, so it was charging the battery even while motoring. Motor current is the left meter, solar charge current is the right meter:



    For the return I started by rowing (need the exercise), and the solar charge continued at almost 6 A. The battery had been partially discharged from earlier tests, in 45 minutes of rowing it reached full charge. I noticed that the current actually increased as the battery voltage rose, hitting right at 6 A at 28 V. That is almost the full 180 W rating of the solar panel. I switched back to the motor to run the battery down again, using full 9.5 A for a while but only going a bit faster than at 4 A.

    Clouds had been building up in the afternoon, for the last couple of miles I was in the shadow of this one:



    I expected no charging under the cloud, to my surprise the current dropped but did not go below 2 A at the darkest. The Genasun boost controller does not do much in this setup under full sun, the solar panel is a close match to the battery voltage and current. Genasun tech support had advised me that I would see the controller harvesting power at low sun, where it's boost capability made the most of whatever hit the panel. This does seem to work!

  18. #158
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Excellent!
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  19. #159
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    So far I've encountered 2 problems with this solar setup:

    1) Weeds. The big efficient prop is not weedless, so if I run through a patch of the grassy stuff that grows in the brackish Delta it winds up like this:



    I made a weed remover from a pole with a sharpened wedge at the end, but it takes a while to dig this stuff off. Worst case, I suppose, is I just row until reaching a spot where I can get out and clean the prop.

    2) It works too well. By that I mean it would probably power the boat for a full day's distance without rowing. It's nice to see forward, and easier to do other things like use the radio or have a snack. My ebike makes me go farther and ride longer, I use it for errands and commuting, so I get more exercise than when I was riding regular bikes. I'm afraid this motor will discourage rowing and make me lazy. Maybe I can set a schedule alternating 1/2 hour motoring and 1/2 hour hard rowing on trips.

  20. #160
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Ah, the perennial challenge of tech solutions! How to set limits so we can remain the master, rather than the servant. Good luck with that...

    That's why I am likely to resist innovation--not because I am "too good" or "too pure" to sully myself, but precisely because, if I did have it available, it would quickly induce changes to my routines. Changes that would conflict with my present goals.

    This is an interesting thread, though. I think for my purposes, any solar I'd indulge in would be to power cameras for film-making on long trips. Right now my solution is to use a cheap(ish) but surprising good little point-and-shoot camera that runs on AA batteries, so I can carry spares. But I could all too easily see myself going down the rabbit hole of "better" (i.e. more complicated) solutions. Maybe that's why I haven't yet!

    The ebike to electric motor comparison is interesting. One technology seems to push you toward your goals (the ebike) while the other seems to be pushing you away from them. It'll be interesting to see how you work through all that.

    Great thread--thanks for sharing your experiments.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  21. #161
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    I'm not quite the Luddite you are Tom (close, though), but you are right that the tech changes the nature of the trip. I plan to do the Delta Gunkhole in a few weeks, probably 70 to 100 miles covered in a week. This thing has already trashed my reputation (never towed, never quit, always make the destination under oars). In my defense I am getting older, and this year had no time to train or grow any decent callouses. My hands would be bleeding if I rowed the whole way.

  22. #162
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post
    I'm not quite the Luddite you are Tom (close, though), but you are right that the tech changes the nature of the trip. I plan to do the Delta Gunkhole in a few weeks, probably 70 to 100 miles covered in a week. This thing has already trashed my reputation (never towed, never quit, always make the destination under oars). In my defense I am getting older, and this year had no time to train or grow any decent callouses. My hands would be bleeding if I rowed the whole way.
    I also think you're in a whole 'nother game without a sailing rig. I rarely have to row for too long--probably 15 miles in one day is my max so far, but those days tend to be few and far between. Rowing 100 miles in a week, I can see the appeal of an electric boost for sure. The combination seems like it can open lots of possibilities, much like you say ebikes have done for you.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  23. #163
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    This brings up the concept of "solar sailing", which I heard from Joe Grez. Instead of using solar power in the form of wind to drive your boat, you use solar power as the direct radiation from the sun. The cost and complexity of sails, mast, board and rudder is traded for the cost and complexity of solar panels, battery, controller and motor. Oars are the auxiliary in both cases, and in both cases you have to plan your trip to account for the loss of the primary power (when the wind drops or the clouds block the sun). I know, sails are much more picturesque and romantic and require much more skill, but there is a similarity.

  24. #164
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post
    So far I've encountered 2 problems with this solar setup:

    1) Weeds. The big efficient prop is not weedless, so if I run through a patch of the grassy stuff that grows in the brackish Delta it winds up like this:



    I made a weed remover from a pole with a sharpened wedge at the end, but it takes a while to dig this stuff off. Worst case, I suppose, is I just row until reaching a spot where I can get out and clean the prop.

    2) It works too well. By that I mean it would probably power the boat for a full day's distance without rowing. It's nice to see forward, and easier to do other things like use the radio or have a snack. My ebike makes me go farther and ride longer, I use it for errands and commuting, so I get more exercise than when I was riding regular bikes. I'm afraid this motor will discourage rowing and make me lazy. Maybe I can set a schedule alternating 1/2 hour motoring and 1/2 hour hard rowing on trips.


    Have you tried reversing at a burst of full speed to clear the prop of weeds?
    ( often works)

    Kevin




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  25. #165
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Have you tried reversing at a burst of full speed to clear the prop of weeds?
    ( often works)

    Kevin
    Thanks Kevin. I have tried that before, no luck. For this mop the motor was not turning either way. This is a very low power (and low torque) motor, it senses load and is designed to stop before the prop breaks (electronic shear pin).
    I am thinking of getting one of those grabbers on a stick, for old people. It would be useful for lots of things, and soon I may need one anyway....

  26. #166
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post
    Thanks Kevin. I have tried that before, no luck. For this mop the motor was not turning either way. This is a very low power (and low torque) motor, it senses load and is designed to stop before the prop breaks (electronic shear pin).
    I am thinking of getting one of those grabbers on a stick, for old people. It would be useful for lots of things, and soon I may need one anyway....





    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  27. #167
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    This brings up the concept of "solar sailing", which I heard from Joe Grez. Instead of using solar power in the form of wind to drive your boat, you use solar power as the direct radiation from the sun. The cost and complexity of sails, mast, board and rudder is traded for the cost and complexity of solar panels, battery, controller and motor. Oars are the auxiliary in both cases, and in both cases you have to plan your trip to account for the loss of the primary power (when the wind drops or the clouds block the sun). I know, sails are much more picturesque and romantic and require much more skill, but there is a similarity.
    The calculations get very interesting. The auxiliary power on my little yawl is an electric motor running off a pair of lithium-ion cells charged at home. My home electric is now 100 percent from a wind and solar electric supplier. So I'm solar driven unless I break out the oars. If one were to attempt to figure the carbon footprint of the sail rig vs. the electric rig, which would be smaller? If cost is a good measure, the electric drive is a bit more efficient, although top boat speed is less as well. It may actually be a wash. The batteries will cost less to replace than the sails when that time comes - about half as much.

    An analysis of commuting by bicycle once argued that an all-electric car is more environmentally responsible due to the carbon cost of the extra food the cyclist must consume. Is electric drive from solar and wind actually the most Earth-friendly way to cross the water?
    -Dave

  28. #168
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post
    Thanks Kevin. I have tried that before, no luck. For this mop the motor was not turning either way. This is a very low power (and low torque) motor, it senses load and is designed to stop before the prop breaks (electronic shear pin).
    I am thinking of getting one of those grabbers on a stick, for old people. It would be useful for lots of things, and soon I may need one anyway....
    While reading of the weeds I too thought of a grabber thingy. Then my thoughts went to a pruning tool I was using the other day. Maybe you could snip them off?

    iu.jpg
    Jeff

  29. #169
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Thanks Jeff. I have a grabber on order, will try that first, but the pruner is a good idea!

  30. #170
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Rgthom, weed fouling is hardly unique to your elegant setup. I have exactly the same problem with my Seagull, which is about as different as possible from your propulsion system. See you on the 14th at Korth’s.

  31. #171
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Hello rgthom,

    We just finished reading this thread and was fascinated by your ingenuity, forbearance, and attention to detail. . . it's been a very interesting project and a most enjoyable read! Great work!

    Just thought you'd like to know that a few of your ideas such as the solar panels, have us looking at panels and wind turbines for our build - a "shallow water river cruiser" that may spend a considerable amount of time on the water with the outboard engine off. So, engine off, no electrical production for the house battery - that's one of our concerns.

    Hope you have a great summer in your motorized camping rowboat.

    Stay safe, stay healthy.

    J.
    "Ships are the nearest thing to dreams that hands have ever made." Robert N. Rose

  32. #172
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Great to see you back on the water, RG! I figured there would be times during the late spring and summer where you could run electric as much as you wanted and still bank some charge...

    Jeff C

  33. #173
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Thank you everyone, for the comments and continued enthusiasm for this little project. A few more details are done in preparation for the gunkhole trip.

    The 12 V and USB ports are wired in to the electrical case, so I can charge the VHF and cell phone:



    The VHF remote antenna used to go on the back deck. No room there now, so I put a mount on the removable mirror holder:


  34. #174
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    The control room . Mainly its nice to see speed on the old Garmin. It has Bluechart installed, but these days I am not often lost on the Delta and don't really use it to navigate.



    Today was very windy on the sloughs. With the motor at 4 A I was doing about 3.2 kts in the calm sections, but it dropped to 2.2 kts going dead upwind (25 kt of wind? That's typical Delta afternoon). I cranked up the current, back to 3.2 Kts at 8 A and up to 3.4 kts at max 9.5 A. So the extra power is helpful in overcoming wind.

  35. #175
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    Default Re: Electric boost for a camping rowboat

    Not really related to the motorization, but I converted the forward enclosed section into an anchor rode locker. A deck pipe feeds the rode out. This is much cleaner and saves cockpit space compared to the previous bucket storage.

    Anchor stowed:



    And deployed:



    I need to add a bail to keep the rode from jumping out of the roller.

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