LAUNCH­ING THE ELEC­TRIC PAD­DLE

Cruising World - - Under Way - —Ann Hoffner

When cruis­ing, I en­joy the free­dom that comes with my in­flat­able dinghy and mo­tor, and switch­ing to an elec­tric out­board seems like a good di­rec­tion in which to head. Re­cently, my hus­band, Tom, and I had an op­por­tu­nity to test out a new elec­tric out­board called the EP Carry, from Pro­pele Elec­tric Boat Mo­tors.

Tom and I launched an 8-foot in­flat­able-keel Achilles dinghy into a har­bor with a large pro­tected moor­ing field and at­tached the light­weight EP Carry for a test run. EP stands for Elec­tric Pad­dle; it’s de­signed for ship-to-shore trans­porta­tion, not as an ex­pe­di­tion mo­tor. From the start, I could see that it’s clearly mov­ing in a new di­rec­tion with its long tiller arm that con­trols all the mo­tor’s func­tions. Steer­ing from amid­ships, you raise and lower the mo­tor with a tug or push on the arm, mak­ing it easy to beach or ap­proach a shal­low dock. For­ward, re­verse and throt­tle are op­er­ated by a dial on the end knob; the EP’S in­tu­itive to use, though with­out a lit­tle prac­tice it’s easy to in­ad­ver­tently change di­rec­tion and speed.

The mo­tor pushed the dinghy at 3.5 to 4 knots over flat wa­ter and in the moor­ing field’s wind and chop. It al­most seemed to op­er­ate bet­ter with two of us to bal­ance, so weight wasn’t an is­sue. There’s magic in start­ing from si­lence, with­out the in­tru­sive rat­tle and fuel stink from a gaso­line out­board.

How­ever, the magic was dis­con­cert­ing be­cause there were no in­di­ca­tors to tell how or even if the mo­tor was oper­at­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, run time de­pends on speed, with full throt­tle giv­ing about one hour, and half-throt­tle about two hours. Since un­der nor­mal use, users would rarely stick to one con­stant speed, this is a dif­fi­cult gauge. For my test­ing pur­poses, I just used the mo­tor like I would if it were my day-to-day en­gine, and ac­tu­ally got about 2½ hours out of it. Pro­pele’s vice pres­i­dent, Linda Grez, as­sured me the com­pany is lis­ten­ing to its cus­tomers, and plans to add a bat­tery me­ter to show charge re­main­ing, us­ing in­di­ca­tor lights in­te­grated into the bat­tery cable. Those who al­ready own the mo­tor will be able to retro­fit.

I like that the mo­tor cover is made of high-im­pact ABS plas­tic with a UV pro­tec­tant, and the main­te­nance-free na­ture of elec­tric mo­tors. At 21 pounds, it’s light enough to stow in a locker rather than on the stern rail.

The sep­a­rate bat­tery comes with its own PFD and can be charged at night, ei­ther plugged into an AC power source or through an in­verter to a boat’s bat­tery bank. The EP Carry goes for $1,600, which in­cludes mo­tor, bat­tery, fast charger, ac­ces­sory carry bags and a lock for se­cu­rity. While there are other elec­tric mo­tors around, in my opin­ion, this is the first to be de­signed with the needs of cruis­ing sailors in mind. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit the com­pany’s web­site (elec­tric­pad­dle.com).

The EP Carry elec­tric out­board is light­weight, sim­ple to use and com­pact enough to eas­ily stow aboard most cruis­ing boats.

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