KatieKat 2011/2012 Post-Cruise Chapter

GoBackTo 2007 Chapter Eight
31 July, 2011Overview 2007-2011
31 July, 2011Going Green
31 July, 2011Torqeedo Electric Outboard
28 December, 2011Torqeedo Electric Outboard Update
January, 2012Torqeedo Final Comments
February, 2012Another Electric Vehicle
December, 2012KatieKat Sold

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31 July, 2011 -- Overview 2007 - 2011

It is hard to believe that when we returned home to San Francisco Bay in September 2007 that this would effectively suspend not only our cruising but almost completely end our sailing on KatieKat! The primary external demands on our time have been completely unrelated to sailing or our hobbies shown below, and, except for the weekly visits to run her engines and give her an occasional washdown, poor KatieKat has been barely used. :-( I managed to enter KatieKat in a few San Francisco Bay races, but our daysails and outings on KatieKat have unfortunately been few and far-between. Certainly a dramatic change from our cruising lifestyle! Rather than bore you with the family and friends-related things that have kept us so busy, what follows are just a few snapshots of some of our extra-curricular activities, followed by an introduction into the beginnings of the transformation of KatieKat into a hybrid (petrol/electric) drivetrain.

[Manson Supreme anchor on foredeck] July 2008. During our Alaska cruise the galvanizing on the tips of my faithful Bruce anchor had worn through (lots of rocky anchoring), leaving unsightly rust stains on KatieKat's deck. Unable to find a local regalvanizer (the chain needs it too), as a trial I bought a Manson Supreme anchor - I would have preferred a genuine ROCNA, but the price differential for me was 3:1 at the time. I've since remounted this anchor in a different position on the aft end of the foredeck. It's worked fine every time I've used it, but that's not saying much compared to the daily usage when cruising. Hopefully we'll cruise again so I can give a full assessment of its performance.

[Adagio in front of Empress Hotel in Victoria] [Joe on Adagio foredeck] [Joe sitting at Adagio nav station] [Slippers]

October 2008. Friends Dorothy and Steve Darden invited me to sail down the coast with them on Adagio. Quick and luxurious trip from Victoria to San Francisco on this beautifully outfitted Melvin Morelli 52' cat. Note the sea boots. Steve and Dorothy have subsequently sailed Adagio back to Hobart.

[Pigeon on mainsail under sailcover] Graphic evidence of how rarely we've been using KatieKat: pigeons have a happy home under the sailcover!

[White seat slats] June 2009. Getting tired of varnishing, I made and replaced KatieKat's BBQ seat slats with a synthetic polymer, brand "Starboard". Truly maintenance-free!

[Joe positioning fountain] [Joe assembling fountain] [Kathy peeking from behind operating fountain] [Fountain with vegetation]

February 2010. On the homefront, putting this very heavy fountain together was 'interesting'. Third photo shows a happy Kathy, with the temporarily-placed spare solar panels off KatieKat powering the fountain pump. Fourth photo shows how the fountain looks today, with goldfish and lots of vegetation in and around it. The fountain pump continues being solar-powered, the solar panels aesthetically moved far away.

[Alinka on BikeBoat] July 4, 2011. Granddaughter Alinka enjoying our SeaCycle we named BikeBoat which had been our faithful tender to KatieKat for seven years.

[Whitehall on trailer] [Whitehall off trailer in water]

July 2011. I had acquired an old Whitehall rowing dinghy a few years ago and partially refurbished it but yet hadn't rowed it, so a few weeks ago we finally took it to a local lake. The boat failed the mussel quarantine inspection (despite not having been in the water for at least five years) because I had washed it and there was a slight amount of water left in the bilge (the inspector didn't like that). :-( First photo shows all the bureaucratic signage. We finally launched her a week later - she rows effortlessly with almost no wake, but is sure tipsy (to a multihuller)!

31 July, 2011 -- Going Green

Our years of cruising on KatieKat with all our household "necessities" powered primarily by our solar panels (with propane only used for cooking and the occasional hot-water shower) prompted me to install a 6.6KW grid-tied photovoltaic solar system for my all-electric house.

[Solar panels with Saabs parked under them] A side benefit of this photovoltaic solar array is that it doubles as a carport. Since this photo was taken I've sold the Saab Sonetts and mothballed the remaining Saabs.

Well, now that I had lots of excess energy, what better way to utilize it than to power our daily transportation.

[Electric scooter] [EcoScoot pulling five garbage cans on wheels]

I've had this electric scooter for almost 20 years, and, among other things, use it weekly to haul our refuse cans down to the main road a half-mile away.

[Orange Sparrow] [Sparrow aft view] [Blue Sparrow Joe & Kathy side view] [Two Sparrows in garage]

These ten-year-old single-seat all-electric Corbin Sparrows have become our daily drivers. They are quite rare, incredibly fast (freeway legal), very small and yet functional (store at least eight bags of groceries). Kathy and I use these two for almost all our trips to town which is five miles one-way. With a typical non-battery-stressing range of 25 miles (I could probably do 50 miles on a bet), range is simply not an issue and even if we have to recharge there's no shortage of 'fuel' stations as these Sparrows simply use conventional 120vac wall outlets to recharge the 156-volt system. The white polka-dots are incredibly reflective at night, and I'll be adding more of these dots to each side of these vehicles.

I'm afraid that I felt so guilty about the pollution generated by my faithful 1967 Saab (which I've had since new), that I've recently retired the poor wee beastie. I may bring it out of mothballs in the future (or maybe even convert it into an EV), but for now it's relegated to simply being another yard decoration sitting under the solar panels despite still being in good running order. Here's Sabby.

[Solar panels with Saabs parked under them] Not to worry, this recently-acquired Saab electric vehicle conversion will keep my 1960's-era Saab stable alive and kicking... if I ever have the time to dig in and figure out what's wrong with it. Those are just some of the 24 batteries used to power the 144-volt drivetrain.

[Red electric pickup truck with cans] [Red electric pickup with tailgate lifted] [Electric pickup's tailgate hippie graphics]

Another wacky addition to our electric-vehicle collection, this small electric pickup truck's primary function is to haul larger stuff locally. Price was right for this also DOA purchase - from Berkeley (could you not tell from looking at the tailgate?). Didn't take much effort to get it going again. In the middle photo you can just see the Telstar trimaran's bow peeking out. Poor tri also needs some TLC.

[Sparrow under-seat batteries and wiring] The pickup truck's liftbed for access to the batteries is heaven compared to this rat's nest under the Sparrow's seat which contains seven of its thirteen batteries, plus wiring for the battery monitoring system, individual battery overvoltage protectors, and small individual float chargers for balancing the system.

THE key element to successful electric vehicles is the battery. After playing with various lead-based batteries (flooded, AGM, and Gel) on both KatieKat and the electric vehicles, I'm presently just starting to evaluate a batch of Lithium-Ion (actually, LiFePO4) batteries and, more importantly, their battery management systems, for future use in the EVs and especially KatieKat where the weight savings will certainly be appreciated.

Since I had the spare solar panels from KatieKat sitting in the garage, I've now pulled them out and use them for a variety of small tasks, ranging from powering fountain and birdbath pumps, swimming pool solar heater hot water circulation using an old boat bilgepump, and, of course, direct battery charging.

Now, should we have a long-term power outage for some reason (such as the week without power after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake), it will be relatively easy to tap into the various solar arrays and utilize them to drive a makeshift off-grid power system utilizing inverters and the electric vehicle batteries - after all, we did quite well for so many years doing this on KatieKat.

[Photo of dashboard display showing 77.7mpg at 75455 miles] Finally, for further carbon footprint reduction for longer trips we have two Honda Insight hybrids. The silver one's lifetime mileage is still 77.7mpg for over 75,000 miles (3.02litres/100km for over 120,000km)!

31 July, 2011 -- Torqeedo Electric Outboard

KatieKat's two faithful Yamaha outboards have now run almost 2500 hours each. Despite being warmed-up and run almost weekly, their lack of use since we stopped cruising has resulted in occasional fuel-related problems - exacerbated by the ethanol fuel mixture used here in California. Happily, this is easily cured by removing the carburettors and simply cleaning them. Although they both still run very nicely, I've been longing for the simplicity and "clean power" and silence that I've experienced with my electric vehicles. Thus, I'm in the process of gradually easing into the concept of converting KatieKat's powertrain into a hybrid system: inasmuch as there is currently still no replacement for the amount of energy available in petrol for a given weight or volume, what I eventually intend to do is replace one of the Yamahas with an electric outboard. Thus, the single petrol Yamaha will provide the long-distance propulsion, whereas the electric outboard will provide the propulsion needed for maneuvering around the docks and, if needed, can even by itself provide significant range at reduced power (simply determined by battery size).

After doing a fair amount of research I've concluded that the best choice presently available for a lightweight pusher outboard is the German-made Torqeedo. The first step in my evaluation was to borrow a Torqeedo Cruise 2.0 from fellow Seawind owner Stephan Wendl and I conducted a series of tests using our small SeaCycle catamaran.

[Torqeedo on SeaCycle] [Graph of speed vs. energy consumed]

Made a mounting bracket for the outboard, instrumented the setup, and made quite a few test runs just to get a feel for this 24v motor and its performance. Hey, it worked! Furthermore, it quantifies what we all learn intuitively over time: REALLY slowing down REALLY improves range, be it electric or internal combustion on either water or land.

Being quite pleased with the results, I finally bit the bullet and (after selling my Laser sailboat and three Saab Sonetts) I purchased a Torqeedo Cruise 4.0R, the most powerful Torqeedo available and which runs off 48v and weighs only 38.5# (17.5kg). Since neither Yammie shows any sign of dying, I TEMPORARILY mounted the Torqeedo under the BBQ off KatieKat's aft beam and conducted some experiments to see if this outboard has the ability to replace one of the high-thrust 9.9hp Yamahas. A pleasant byproduct of electric propulsion is the near-silence compared to the petrol outboards.

[Raised Torqeedo] [Torqueedo upper mounting bracket] [Torqeedo under power]

The BBQ structure was never designed to take this type of load!

[Kathy recording data] Kathy dutifully recorded all the instrument readings: battery voltage, battery current, boatspeed and compass heading, boat GPS speed and direction, Torqeedo voltage and power readings, and windspeed and direction. This was the first go-around using four very small AGMs which I continuously recharged first using the onboard batteries and inverter and then with the Honda genset.

[Batteries under table] Since I had KatieKat custom-modified to relocate the fuel tanks under the mast, the cavities normally used for the tanks are perfect locations for batteries to drive the Torqeedo - it's a 48v system requiring four 12v batteries in series. Not shown are the acrylic isolators I fabricated to keep all the electrical contacts safely isolated. For my second set of experiments I used four 72AHr Group 24 Deka Gel batteries (temporarily swiped from the red pickup truck), which can handle deep cycling better than AGMs. This is still a stopgap approach as not only is this battery capacity rather low but in the future I'll be turning to Lithium Ion batteries.

My preliminary test results are encouraging. The variables of tidal current, bottom condition (it's been four years since the last haulout... our first data run was with a freshly-scrubbed bottom whereas the second set was two weeks later with visible growth), windspeed and direction, tidal current (I tried to go perpendicularly to the tide) etc. on varying points of sail demand a far more rigorous setup than we had, with preferably automated datataking. For a very rough order of magnitude, here are a few of the REALLY PRELIMINARY numbers: 2kts boatspeed at 400W, 4kts @ 1500W, and 5kts @ 2700W. Never did apply the full 4000W the Torqeedo is capable of handling. What further surprised me is the variability of current draw (power consumed) as the boat bobbed over even the smallest of waves, making manual datataking using digital displays iffy at best.

Inasmuch as I belatedly realized that I had grossly miscalculated the stresses induced on my temporary laminated wooden mounting bracket (I didn't take into account that the applied load is at the prop which is an additional 3-ft lever arm relative to the outboard mounting bracket), on the second run I restricted the drive to only 2000 watts, which is half-power. As it was, the BBQ support flexing was also most disconcerting, which further indicates that this mounting system is NOT a good long-term installation. I've since dismantled this setup and am mulling over the various alternatives in addition to the simplest, which is to replace one of the Yammies with the Torqeedo.

My subjective conclusion is that the Torqeedo, despite not having the full thrust of the Yamaha (see Yamaha Thrust) - the Torqeedo has a static thrust of 189# - is nevertheless a very capable replacement for one of the Yamahas... of course, when confronted by this electric outboard both Yammies purred to show that they're both alive and well and shouldn't be replaced! :-)

28 December, 2011 -- Torqeedo Electric Outboard Update

Well, it happened: during one of my routine engine warmups, the port Yamaha refused to spurt out any water. Normally, a bent paperclip simply clears the exit orifice of salt accumulation and the engine water spurts out happily (this is a bypass system, and only a portion of the cooling water comes out this hole). Anyway, the bent paperclip trick didn't work and removing the hoses under the cover didn't uncover anything unusual so I figured it was time to pull the engine and probably do an impeller replacement (besides, I really wanted to try the Torqeedo in this slot). Son Alec came over and helped muscle the Yammy off the boat and we installed the Torqeedo.

[Port Yamaha Down] [Torqueedo down in port well] [Port Torqeedo raised] [Port Torqeedo motoring]

This series of photos starts off showing the starboard Yamaha in its down position (an old photo before I added soundproofing). The next photo shows the Torqeedo in its down position (note all the tied-off Yamaha cables left intact). Viewing these two photos shows how tiny the Torqeedo is compared to the Yamaha! The photo of the raised Torqeedo shows that, instead of lifting the motor and its bracked by the motor's leg (as is the case with the Yamaha), I've attached an eye to the mounting bracket and pull it up instead - to simply reduce the loading on the lightweight fairing. Finally, the last photo shows the Torqeedo powering along, immersed a couple of inches deeper than the Yamaha.

[Headway 24V Battery Pack] This is one of two 24V 36AHr Headway Lithium Iron Phosphate battery packs that I put together to power the Torqeedo. This pack weighs 22lbs. (10 kilo), and is adequate for short-duration motoring with more-than-sufficient peak-current available. For longer-distance motoring, all it takes is more batteries or a small genset; however, as I mentioned before, I will use the single Yamaha for any long-distance motoring and will simply raise and stow the Torqeedo as soon as we leave the harbour.

I've only used this motor once, and that was simply to maneuver the boat out of the marina, dock at another marina, and then return home for docking in my marina. My initial impression is that it behaves more like a conventional high-speed outboard and doesn't have the very significant low-speed high thrust of the Yamahas. Nevertheless, it complemented the starboard Yamaha nicely and allowed for troublefree and very quiet docking. I'll be instrumenting this battery pack and hope to take a whole bunch of performance data points the next time we go out. This is still an experimental installation and for now I've merely located the battery packs by the portside steering station with cables coming up and over out of the engine well. When I finally decide on a permanent installation I'll be routing the power wires under the deck to the compartment under the main saloon table.

Well, another year has gone by and again, sadly, we've barely sailed KatieKat. We wish one and all a most happy and peaceful New Year.

January, 2012 -- Torqeedo Electric Outboard Final Comments

Anxious to do some testing, we took KatieKat out for a motoring quantitative comparison between the Torqeedo in the portside engine well and the Yamaha on starboard. Unfortunately, KatieKat's bottom was badly fouled and neither motor was able to push the boat to anywhere near the previous limits and so absolute measurements were meaningless. Nevertheless, here are some conclusions from the observations and data-scaling:

1. Based on measured maximum speeds, the new Torqeedo achieved 85% of the Yamaha's top speed when pushing KatieKat.
2. The energy consumption curve of the Torqeedo, just as the Yamaha's, goes up dramatically (and non-linearly) with increasing boatspeed. By playing with the numbers and converting to the Yamaha's previous performance with a clean bottom, I came up with single-motor consumption figure of 5.5nm/kWh at 2.8kts, 3.3nm/kWh at 3.3kts, 2.7nm/kWh at 4.0kts, and 2.2nm/kWh at 4.4kts. Please don't treat these numbers as gospel, as they are derived from scaling assumptions using single measurements and one would need extensive testing/datataking to make proper assertions.
3. I never had a chance to measure "thrust" in terms of the bollard-pull zero-velocity force in order to compare it to the Yamaha. Subjectively, and to repeat what I wrote above, when maneuvering around the dock using the two disparate motors, the Torqeedo acts like a "normal" outboard rather than like the "high-thrust" Yamaha; in other words, its low-boatspeed thrust is noticeably weaker.

Sadly, after this testing, KatieKat languished unused for the entire year with no further progress towards realizing a permanent Torqeedo installation.

Would I recommend to someone going cruising to install two Torqeedos? Despite the inherent efficiency of an electric motor compared to the huge inefficiency of an internal combustion engine, there is presently no substitute for the volumetric efficiency of liquid fuel compared to batteries; since cruising sometimes entails very long periods of motoring, then the answer, sadly, is no. A 'hybrid' configuration using one electric and one petrol outboard is certainly viable. If there were room onboard for a decent genset, then perhaps two electric outboards with genset use reserved for longer passages is certainly a possibility. An additional consideration is that any infernal combustion engine must be run often in order to maintain it in good running condition. I personally would simply love to get rid of the petrol outboards and their plumbing and fuel tanks and replace them with two electric outboards fed by a massive bank of LiFePO4 batteries, supplied by a bank of solar panels. 'Nuff musing...

[Torqeedo Installed] This photo shows the raised Torqeedo installed in the portside engine well. The detail shows the white spacer that I put onto the pivot shaft (compensated by the protrusion of the shaft out the other end) in order to keep that long shaft from hitting the support strut - the other option was to simply cut down the long shaft. Also seen in the photo is the re-routed tackle to raise/lower the motor support assembly. The simplicity of electric outboard installation compared with all the plumbing and throttle/shifting mechanisms of a conventional outboard (tied off to the side in the photo) certainly makes a compelling case if one is primarily using a boat for daysailing.

February, 2012 -- Another Green Vehicle

[Mitsubishi i-Miev] Not content with having five electric vehicles, I decided that "Kathy" needed a safer, more-comfortable, and longer-range 100% electric car. Thus the Mitsubishi i-Miev joined our stable. By year's end we had put on over 10,000 miles (16,000km) onto this workhorse, which has now become our PRIMARY car. To use a well-worn phrase, Mitsi has exceeded our expectations in every imaginable way. We simply love it!

December, 2012 -- KatieKat Sold

For the last five years, since we returned from Mexico, family/friend obligations have prevented us from resuming the cruising lifestyle. Not seeing any significant changes to these external demands, it now appears that we will be landlocked for the forseeable future. Despite continuing to keep KatieKat in tiptop condition, it's been heartbreaking watching her slowly withering on the vine, completely unused, as local 'cruising', racing, or even daysailing proved to be too much time-consuming effort. As the realization slowly sank in that our cruising days are probably over, we finally very reluctantly agreed to put KatieKat on the market. It was no surprise that she sold immediately because, in my own humble opinion, with our custom modifications she's not only the "best" Seawind 1000 in the world, but for us was (and still is!) the best cruising sailing vessel for a couple in the world! Thank you Seawind for not only having produced this wonderful boat but for your encouragement and support over the years.

Since we had kept KatieKat basically intact as a "second home", it proved to be a massive effort to rapidly offload all our personal "stuff". Amazing how much waterline is now showing, and, more significantly, KatieKat's interior looks almost as good as it did when we first retrieved her from the factory - a tribute to Kathy's meticulous care.

[Joe Crying] [Kathy in Galley] [Kathy in Galley] [Sad Kathy] [Last Photo]

Yes, I've been temporarily sporting a beard for the last couple of months. We reject the adage about the two happiest days of a boatowner's life (the day he bought it and the day he sold it) because we are truly attached to KatieKat and are really reluctantly parting with her. After all, as you can see on this website, the memories are priceless.

We wish the new owners all the best and hope they enjoy KatieKat as much as we did all these years. KatieKat will be leaving the San Francisco Bay Area for warmer climes soon, and will be renamed as we reserved her name for ourselves.

We wish to thank all of you faithful followers of this website over the years for your kind support and encouragement. I plan on keeping this website open for many years to come, and we might divide it up to perhaps serve as a family blog. We wish everyone a Happy New Year, with health, happiness, and peace for all.

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