The future of marine propulsion? Practical Sailor sea-trials the portable Torqeedo Travel 801L electric...
Three things attracted us to the long-shaft Torqeedo: It is a light motor; it is a portable motor; and it is an electric motor. The dream of being able to easily tuck the daysailers engine in the cuddy cabin, or tool around silently in our dinghy, is alluring. And the Torqeedos detachable, rechargeable battery makes that possible. Unfortunately, two of the features that we find so attractive are also potential trouble spots.
Sealing the holes in decks where Loran and VHF antenna cables penetrate is a fairly common problem on modern boats. If there were only the cable to be considered, a hole of the appropriate size plus a dab of sealant would do an adequate if tacky looking job. But these cables inevitably include sizable end connectors which require holes much larger than those required for the cable itself. Solutions include removal and reinstallation of the connector each time the cable is removed during storage or servicing, and any number of commercially available through-deck fittings or plugs. None of these solutions is simpler or better than the wood fitting shown here. It is attractive and can be made in a few minutes for a few cents.
This article launches Practical Sailors long-term test of electrical wires, electrical connections, and corrosion inhibitors for electrical applications onboard sailboats. Ultimately, the goal of this ongoing project is to examine corrosion in wires and connectors in a marine environment. More concisely, it could be presented as a closer look at three common elements in marine wiring to answer some basic questions: What is the best wire to use on a sailboat? Is it tinned wire, automotive wire, or stranded machine tool wire? What are the best corrosion preventatives? Do you apply the anti-corrosion treatment to every connection and every crimp, or just certain types of connections? What are the longest-lasting connections? Which were most prone to electrolysis? We made observations during the six-month test period without disturbing the samples. At the end of the full one-year test period, we will unbolt all of the fittings from the terminal strips and look for corrosion under the fittings.
The last time we tested alkaline batteries (June 15 and November 15, 1995), we reported that Duracell dominated the market, with Energizer and Rayovac...
According to multiple reports, most AC electrical fires occur at the boats shorepower inlet. To address this and other shortcomings of the standard twist-type boatside connection, SmartPlug Systems developed a new AC shorepower system that the company hopes will become the new marine standard. Loose and corroded connections are most often the culprits when overheating occurs. Corrosion typically results when moisture gets in at the plug-inlet connection, while arcing-which in turn leads to pitting, scorching, and heat build-up-is partially due to the shape and small contact area of the connector pins.
Oscillating models fail early in long-term testing.
One of the fastest moving targets in boating equipment is LED lighting. While researching products for a larger test, we stumbled across three products that struck us as potential stocking-stuffers worthy of mention this month. The Lightship Solar Light, manufactured in China and introduced by Simply Brilliant in the fall of 2006, weighs only 5.5 ounces and sells for $15. Its powered by the sun, but stores that energy in a rechargeable, nickle-metal hydride (NiMH) battery. The battery, circuitry, 2x2-inch photovoltaic panel, and three LEDs (two white, one red) that produce the light are all mounted to a polycarbonate plate that fits snugly inside a housing of the same material, with a silicone O-ring to keep out moisture. That housing has three legs fitted with small suction cups, enabling the Lightship to stick easily to the underside of a hatch or inside of a portlight. Wed like to see the product modified for easier mounting in more locations.
I have always been a big fan of brass berth lights, but have never really liked the halogen bulbs commonly used in them. The little halogen bulbs run hot, use a lot of power, and are prone to vibrating loose. When Sailor's Solutions (www.sailorsolutions.com) introduced the Sensibulb, I quickly ordered a couple to test in our custom built boat Suzy. They worked so well that I converted all six of our berth lights. The original Sensibulbs were nice units, but the mounting system was iffy. I elected to bypass the mounting system by removing the ceramic bulb holder and directly gluing the bulb support post to the back of the Sensibulb.
First sailed in 1978, the Singlehanded TransPac (SHTP) crosses 2,120 miles of Pacific Ocean from San Francisco Bay, Calif., to Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Practical Sailor contributor and SHTP competitor Skip Allan took time out from his race preparations onboard Wildflower—his Thomas Wylie-designed 27.5-foot sloop/cutter—to open his notes on solo sailing. Last month, the veteran offshore racer and singlehanded cruiser discussed his gear, sail inventory, storm tactics, and his approach to provisioning. This month, Allan focuses on the electronics, safety gear, and routing tactics he employs when racing alone. Allan’s onboard systems include two deep-cycle wet-cell batteries that total 165 amp hours, two solar panels, and a 35-amp alternator on Wildflower’s10-horsepower Yanmar single-cylinder diesel. He has a fixed and handheld VHF, an Icom SSB radio, a Pactor modem for weather charts and weather faxes, and Winlink email. Other electronics include handheld GPS, LED lighting, and a small portable radio.