WPSU

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Revved Up and (Almost) Ready to Go

Bill writes...

Spent this past weekend installing our electric motor.  The Dragonfly now has electric propulsion, which is very exciting, albeit with one unexpected wrinkle. Turns out that to reverse the propeller (that is, back the boat up or slow it suddenly), I need a piece of specialized electrical gear (a “reversing relay”) that I didn’t think we needed.

I ordered the part  on Saturday and it is supposedly air-shipping from China today. The company predicts that I will have it by Friday. It’s a rather essential piece of equipment because  without it, I can’t reverse the boat if I’m running on electric power..


To make things over this past weekend even more exciting, it turns out that the battery on our bow thruster was on its last legs. (The bow thruster is a transverse propeller at the front of the boat that helps you steer.  It lets you push the bow right or left, independent of the tiller.)

So my first sea trials were pretty exciting. The good news is that the boat runs wonderfully on the electric motor (going forward), and it even appears that it will drive the boat at speeds comparable to the diesel engine—about 6 mph. ( I had originally predicted a top speed under electric power of 3 mph.)

The “exciting” part is that whenever I returned to the marina and tried to dock (something I can do uneventfully using the diesel engine), various systems would conspicuously fail, requiring people to run over from other boats with ropes and boat hooks to wrestle our 13-ton beast back into place. My seamanship was the high point of the weekend for everyone, and I made lots of new friends.

In fact, we’re becoming locally famous. Yesterday, I overheard a charter tour boat go by and the captain was telling the passengers (a school group) over the loudspeaker about our boat! I’m not sure whether the narrative included the words “hare-brained” or “crazy.”

If all goes well, we sail in a week!

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