Old dog, new tricks

Elec­tric dream­ing in a Lyming­ton boat­yard

Yachting Monthly - - EXPERT ON BOARD -

Jeremy Rogers’ yard in Lyming­ton: birth­place of the iconic Contessa de­signs and a ver­i­ta­ble tem­ple to long-keeled craft. Less well known is the yard’s in­ter­est in elec­tric aux­il­iary en­gines, some­thing they have been in­volved in for more than 10 years.

Their first project, the re­fit of a Contessa 32 called Ca­lypso, was an ex­per­i­ment to see what was pos­si­ble. ‘Ca­lypso was a test bed in the tech­nol­ogy’s in­fancy,’ ex­plains Kit Rogers. ‘In­evitably, we didn’t get it all right, but we learned a lot about the dos and don’ts of elec­tric yacht­ing. The end re­sult was a hy­brid. The more we did, the more in­ter­est­ing the project be­came. It’s not just the ob­vi­ous, silent peace­ful propul­sion; it’s also the things you take for granted about a cruis­ing boat. For ex­am­ple, no gas; we didn’t need it be­cause we had elec­tric power. In fact, we went fur­ther and in­stalled an in­stant hot wa­ter tap – both big safety im­prove­ments.’

The yard’s cur­rent project is an elec­tric folk­boat con­ver­sion for a for­eign cus­tomer. At first glance, she’s as tra­di­tional as it gets. A very small throt­tle leaver and elec­tronic sta­tus panel in the cock­pit is the first give­away of some­thing dif­fer­ent hid­ing be­low the com­pan­ion­way steps, whilst tra­di­tional brass rowlocks hint at the kind of cus­tomer they are work­ing on the project for. ‘The client, first and fore­most, loves to sail. He sees the elec­tric as an aux­il­iary op­tion, along with the row­ing, and is ex­cited to own a boat that’s qui­etly dif­fer­ent. He’s look­ing for a more con­nected ex­pe­ri­ence and the elec­tric en­gine helps him achieve it. When you’ve been mo­tor­ing in and out of mari­nas un­der chug­ging diesel en­gines for years, the elec­tric mo­tor is some­thing of a rev­e­la­tion. When we had some teething prob­lems af­ter the ini­tial in­stal­la­tion, the client just rowed out of the har­bour and went for a week­end’s sail­ing in the So­lent.

‘The end re­sult is a folk­boat re-in­vented, which, for the kind of sail­ing he does, is per­fect. Util­is­ing an Ocean Volt elec­tric mo­tor,con­nected to a con­ven­tional prop shaft, the yacht has enough range for a cou­ple of hours mo­tor­ing on full charge. For trips fur­ther off­shore a com­pact por­ta­ble Honda gen­er­a­tor plugs in to make the boat a sim­ple hy­brid,’ adds Kit.

Jeremy and Kit worked to­gether on their first elec­tric yacht ex­per­i­ment 10 years ago

The Ocean Volt in­stalled with wiring

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