Restore project idea - need advice

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Agent_1000, Sep 7, 2007.

  1. Agent_1000
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Location: SC

    Agent_1000 New Member

    Hi, I've read a lot of post and there seems to be some pretty knowledgable people on here so I figured I'd see if I could get any advice/suggestions on an idea I had..

    I would like to build a "solar sailer", basically a boat with an electric motor powered primarily be solar panels. I am not really interested in using wind power. I'm pretty confident on the electrical side of the project, the main questions I have is about the boat/hull itself. My idea is to purchase a boat in poor condition / no engines, gut it and use its hull. I'd really like to make it sea-worthy but the size/cost neccessary might be impractical for me. Probably should be on the smaller end of seaworthiness (looks like 30 feet is about as small as anyone goes?) if so.

    What would you say would be the most efficent boat/hull type for something like this? It seems that old sailboat hulls are much cheaper/easier to come by for the money. What should I expect to pay? What I'd really like is a bare hull/cabin.

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. K.Otis Hill
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Location: Mallorca, Spain

    K.Otis Hill Junior Member

    Interesting idea......

    1. Yes, sailing boat hulls are much cheaper than my-hulls, for reason unknown to me, but until know I have never given that much thought. Theoretically much more knowledge and material and constructive effort is needed to build a sailing hull than for any motor vessel, while basically you can slam an engine onto/into anything that floats and it will at least move. Reason cant really be the price of engines because (a) even sailing boats have them and (b) a rig aint that cheap either. Guess the only explanation is that motorvessels tend to be furnished and equipped more luxuriously ?

    2. Sails do have the major advantage to serve as propulsion but the downside of them is, that quite incredible forces are generated up there in the rig. In order to offset that a sailing boat (pretty much like an iceberg *smile*) needs a lot of surface below the waterline (keel) ... and the downside of a keel is that, under engine, it's nothing but "drag" which you have to carry along. Now an electric propulsion system should not be burdened with anything that "unneccessary"?

    3. For true offshore / long distance purposes you'd need a lot (!!) of power storage facilities (= weight?!) because I shudder to think of a situation where you'd need all the power you can get to either outrun bad weather or keep the boat stable if caught IN bad weather, but you end up being adrift because bad weather usually is associated with days and days of no sun!

    4. Summary: I would conclude that "solar-powered" is only a good idea for a day cruiser. nice thought to drive those 5-10 miles to the next nice bay to anchor and swim without any noise on a great sunny (and calm) summer day - or, if long distance it has to be, I would start looking into sailing hull shapes with little to no "wet"-surfaces. Set aside the catamaran and trimaran that comes to mind (and which also offer quite some deck space to mount your solar panels!) taking a look into the i.e. turkish kaiks might be a good idea. My first one had a beam of almost 5 meters at a hull length of 14,5 meters (= deckspace for your solar panels) with a draft of only 1,40 meters. It was a boat constructed for sailing traditional routes - and those all tend to follow the flow of the wind (hence no need for major underwater profiles) ...chinese djunks and arabic dhau's would come also to mind.
    Same general requirements which should suit your purposes:
    => large beam = lots of deckspace, (for your solar panels)
    => proportionally large payload (since they were designed to carry cargo), = can carry the weight of your many batteries,
    => little draft = little drag
    => and probably quite important for you: These hulls you can usually come by very cheap for the size you'd get. ... but then, these things also don't offer the amenities one has to come to expect from modern yachts of either kind (MY or SY)

    I by no means am a design expert, just an old salt-back with some 40k miles under sail in my joints, so the above would only represent my personal first thoughts on this subject. Not unlikely that the other members of this community might disagree with me. Lets see.......
  3. Agent_1000
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Agent_1000 New Member

    Thanks a lot for info! It is still just an idea, but the thought I had would be to store just about a days worth primarily for night use and then have a generator for times when more power is needed. So that will keep the need for batteries down. I am going to do a searh for those recommendations.

  4. artemis
    Joined: Oct 2004
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    Location: USA

    artemis Steamboater

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