Report on Torqeedo 1003 Trial on Payne 7 keelboat
The motor we used for the test is a Travel 1003 which I use on my dinghy to get to and from my boat and for doing demonstrations such as this. I’ve had this one for about two months and its been used on most days since then. And at the boat show it was running continuously on the five days of the show.
The boat we used is one of the Sailability Payne 7 training vessels.
It took just few minutes to mount the Torqeedo on the standard outboard mount that is already used with the petrol motor. With the bracket lowered to the middle position the propeller was just under the water.
The short shaft version was used for the test and we found that after leaving the dock and beginning to make way an air pocket gathered behind the shaft and allowed the prop to begin to ventilate – especially when turned for steering. We stopped and lowered the motor to the bottom setting and at this setting no ventilation occurred.
The motor was tested with using both the control options available: the standard package includes a Tiller steering and throttle control, with an optional alternative of a remote throttle control.
With the outboard bracket lowered to the middle position the tiller controller in its normal position just touches the aft deck and to get enough knuckle clearance to allow it be steered easily it needed to be lifted slightly.
With the outboard bracket in the bottom position the tiller had to be tilted up to clear the top of the transom. In this position the steering was awkward although it could be managed. If this was to be used as the main solution the tiller mount could be adapted with a packing pad of some sort, such as a epoxy filler, so that it comes to rest at the right angle to clear the transom.
The use of the tiller style controller is helpful when docking and the boat’s position can be easily controlled in these close quarters by steering the motor and redirecting its thrust where required.
The optional alternative for motor control is a remote throttle which can be mounted in any convenient location on the boat. For the trial the remote throttle was loose and was just hand-held or positioned approximately where it was thought to be a suitable location nearby to the normal helming position.
The remote control is commonly mounted using velcro which has the advantage that a few different base pad locations can be set up. Then the skipper can position the remote to suit his/her requirements at the time. For example, when docking the remote control can be velcroed onto the deck beside the cockpit for easy operation while the skipper is also available for passing lines to the dock. Contrast this with a tiller control where the skipper is confined to area close to the (motor) tiller. When away from the dock the remote control could be attached to the side of the cockpit where it is out of the way of lines but close at hand for motor control.
The disadvantage of the remote control is that tiller steering of the motor is lost and all steering comes from the boat’s rudder. This proved to work well enough because the rudder is large enough to give good control at low speeds.
If it was thought advantageous to have the motor steer with the main rudder, a system could be worked out whereby the motor can be connected to the main rudder so they steer in parallel. (I have used this method with good results on my 43ft trimaran and would be able to help implement such a device if required. On my boat the connection to the main steering is easily connected or disconnected so that when sailing there is no extra load on the steering, which keeps it light)
Overall the remote throttle was thought to be the best option for this boat, and particularly when sailed by people of various physical abilities, and would give the option of locating the control in the ideal location. The throttle control is light to operate and yet has a very clear tactile feedback for neutral position, which is central to the forward and reverse positions. The remote control (and the tiller control) has magnetic key which shuts off the motor in the event of skipper overboard incident.
The maximum speed reached was 4 knots which was thought to be suitable for its normal use. The performance limitation is that the motor is range limited by battery capacity. During the trials we used the motor more than would be used for regular sailing day of motor out of the dock, and then motor back to the dock after the race. (39% of battery capacity was remaining after the trial). For such regular use the range would be adequate without special care by the skipper.
However for days when the boat is used to take visitors for a tour around the harbour, the range would need to be enhanced by the use of an additional battery. And even so the skipper would need to keep a watchful eye on the readout to maximise the range available.
Under full power the battery has sufficient power to go for 25 minutes. Normal use though would include a range of throttle settings and I have found that I rarely use full power, having in mind to conserve the battery. As skipper awareness and experience increases the number of hours/miles travelled under electric power can increase as well.
Performance and battery monitoring
Both the tiller control and the remote control incorporate a LCD readout which gives information about battery condition and boat performance and also predicts available range. The skippers will find this information useful so they can control their speed under power to make the best use of the available battery power. It will be also a good training in seamanship to understand the need to know how the wind and tide are effecting the boat speed at moment of the readout and to make their own appraisal of how the wind/tide conditions will effect the boat on the return journey.
The speed is deduced from a GPS unit in the battery pack, and the range is predicted based on the current power demand, the state of charge of the battery.