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Electric Cruiser Concept

My wife and I would like to do some small scale cruising in the Puget Sound. We want a quiet, affordable, and trailerable boat that is big enough to be on for a weekend. We frequently go boating aboard other boats but would like to be less of a burden. Having our own boat would allow us to get there on our own. Having a separate place to sleep would help considerably.

Being sailors we think a 21 or 22 foot fiberglass sailboat that is fitted with an electric outboard would be a good choice for us. We will sail when there is wind. We will motor when there isn't.

Why electric? Mainly because it is quiet and convenient. No mixing of fuel and oil for a two stroke engine. No chance of spilling fuel into the bilge. No exhaust smell. Electric propulsion's main drawback is range. We don't plan on cruising over long distances. It is a shortcoming we can live with. Electric power also has the advantage of being able to refuel while being plugged into shore power.

Is electric power cheaper to run than a gasoline outboard? My research indicates that energy costs are not significantly different for an electric propulsion system compared to traditional gasoline outboard. The energy cost estimation linked to above is for the cost of electricity and gasoline in my area.

We have done some research into how much power we should have and how much battery we need. We have a goal of 10 to 20 nautical mile range at 4 knots. We believe we need at least one horsepower and about 200 pounds of lead-acid batteries.

Update: Since this was originally written the Eska Electra electric outboard has been created and we have access to a San Juan 21. Check this site for updates on the feasibility of the Electric Cruiser Concept.