A Boat Building Project Begins in Lamoine
Maine is one of the few places where wooden boats are considered a cool thing. I’ve always loved them so now that I need a boat I decided to build it. Not only am I crazy enough to take on this task, I’ve decided to design it as well. Why would anyone want to risk all that time and effort on a design when there are so many professional ones to choose from? Just crazy I guess.
I want a simple, light, tough, easily driven eighteen foot boat for recreational lobstering (5 traps). I want to use it for excursions to Bar Harbor (8 miles away) and I want it to be electric. Think of it as a Nissan Leaf in the water. It will be driven by a six battery 36 volt power supply and a state-of-the-art permanent rare-earth magnet motor capable of around 4 hp. This will have a gas engine equivalent of about 8 horsepower, so I’ve read. The full-blown fantasy includes a roof covered with solar cells capable of generating 400 watts in full sun but we’ll see how that goes.
The hull will resemble a mastless sailboat more than a runabout because it will be a displacement rather than a planing design. That means that the hull will not lift out of the water, the transom will be higher and the boat will have a maximum speed of around 6 miles per hour. I’m going to build it out of marine plywood, and the deep cycle batteries will be housed in a hollow keel; nice and low for stability.
How the heck do you design a boat? Actually, it’s easier than ever with free software available from Carlson Design Corp of Tulsa OK. The program is called Chine Hull Designer and it is made for plywood constructed boats. The software computes the waterline at a given load, stability, a table of offsets and plywood patterns just in case you have access to a zillion dollar plotter/cutter machine.
Imagine cruising silently without fumes, starting with the flip of a switch and recharging for pennies. Electric boat propulsion is growing fast. There are limitations of course, but with weight and speed less of an issue than with autos, it seems like a good fit. The Yahoo electricboats group has over 4000 members, and there are numerous sites on the web where you can learn more. I may be crazy but I’m leaving the virtual phase. The plywood will be delivered in a few days.