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Electric powered sailboat?


Jan 16, 2018
My wife has been getting into sailing and it seems like we might start a looking into creating a owner partnership with some friends and family for an affordable 30'-40' sailboat. Since I'm concerned about the emissions, maintenance, and weight of running a diesel motor, I thought it would be a good idea to strip out the existing system and replace it with an electric motor (with regen capabilities), inverter, and batteries.

I've seen a few legacy companies with electric retrofit kits, but I was wondering if it would be more beneficial (more power) to use a drive unit from a Tesla or other EV. I've seen low-miled motors from the SmartEV for as low as $800. Would there be any disadvantages to using an automotive EV motor such as increased corrosion?

As for batteries, traditionally marine batteries typically use deep-cycle lead-acid batteries that are joined in series or parallel connections. Is there a downside to using Li-ion battery modules from a Tesla, other EV, or NiMH battery from a hybrid car? I believe one Tesla battery module would be good for 5.2kWh (233Ah) @22.2V with a 58lb mass.

Ideally, the boat would sail under electric power through harbors/marinas, optional while traveling upwind to reduce the need for tacking/gybing, or to get maneuver to catch a current. Meanwhile, the boat would sail downwind by windpower alone while the propeller regenerates the batteries in conjunction with a corrosion-resistant solar array.

I'd love to get some input while I'm still in the planning phase.

Here are some random links and stories that I've been looking at lately:

Tesla Exec electrifies his sailboat:
Charged EVs | Tesla exec electrifies his sailboat with Torqeedo hybrid drive

Regenerative propulsion:
Regenerative Electric Propulsion - Call of the Sea

Sad story about CO death while boating:
Mom shares warning after son, 9, dies of carbon monoxide poisoning on lake trip

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