Motoring On!

During the winter, I got a good deal on a Torqeedo 1103 electric outboard, which I planned to use on Boudicca and also the little Piccolina. Just after I bought it, my sister rocked up with my late father’s Seagull 40+, which seemed to be a more fitting and traditional companion to either craft.

Of course, it stayed on the floor of my garage, and regularly took chunks out of my shins as I tried to step over it, and with the recent report on climate change predicting the end of mankind, the electric option looked a better bet.

Yesterday, I found a new home for the Seagull, as my friend Chas has been renovating a beautiful old cold-moulded Albacore, and he was looking for some cruising propulsion. I shall miss the sound, which is always redolent of the sun going down over the saltings, and accompanies the call of curlews and the like.

But progress is progress.

I chose a nice sunny day on the harbour to give it a go, and Signora came along for the ride. It was all a bit gusty with the wind from the north, so I decided to ship the mast and leave the sails down for now.

The Torqeedo is a heavy beast (mostly battery), and I was concerned that the 1103 might be too heavy for a 12 footer. However, with Signora installed on the forward thwart, and me to one side on the bench, it balanced beautifully.

I had hoped to fix the motor, and use the rudder to steer, but on a sharp angle, the rudder fouls the propeller, so we unshipped the rudder and used the tiller on the motor.

With a full charge, I wondered how far we would get, so we set off at full throttle, and everything was beautifully smooth. It even has a reverse, which is something the Seagull never had!

When we got as far as Chichester marina, against the flood, I thought I’d check the remaining juice, and we’d already used 30%!

There was no way we could hope to get to East Head on this throttle setting. I made a mental note to check the manual when we got back. I throttled back to a more leisurely pace – we were still doing 3-4 knots – and it proved to be absolutely silent. Almost like sailing, with the ripple of the waves against the clinker lands, except, we didn’t have to do that zig-zagging against the wind which Signora gets a bit bored with.

We worked our way along the shore down to Itchenor, and threw out a hook near the Itchenor ferry landing on the Bosham side. Time for a nice picnic, while watching the activity in Itchenor Reach. The battery by this time was down to about 63%, so we’d used almost nothing since the marina. That’s more promising. The range anxiety was under control. I can see why that would spoil driving an electric vehicle though!

Once the tide had turned, we headed for home, and on the way explored a few little nooks and crannies in the harbour, which we probably would never have been able to do under sail. Even the birds don’t hear you coming.

Getting back to Dell Quay, we still had 30% left, so I clearly need to research consumption vs speed. The specification of the 1103 is as follows from the manual:

so I can see why we burnt the juice on the first leg. Half throttle at 3 knots is perfectly fine, and it looks like we could make quite a long trip before heading back. I can’t see us doing 18 miles ever, but it’s nice to have something in reserve. There’s always the sails!

The only downside I could see is that the tiller is quite short (which is why I wanted to use Boudicca’s rudder to steer) so when I’m solo, the stern will tend to drag (note to self – lose some weight!). So I’ve ordered an extended tiller for the motor, and let’s see if that fixes it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *