Stray Cats, Ranger 33 powered by Electroprop Mariner
The electric motor and solar charging system on Stray Cats, a 1976 Ranger 33, make the auxiliary power very easy to ignore. It is quiet, responsive, doesn’t need seasonal maintenance, or to go to the fuel dock, or to be plugged in. The motor simply gets us out of the mooring field until the sails are up and brings us back in later, without causing difficulty hearing each other. And the solar panels keep the “fuel” topped up and provide plenty of house power.
My girlfriend, a former collegiate racer and racing instructor, and owner of a Herreshoff daysailor without a motor, loved the electric motor’s quiet and control from the first time she used it. She told her parents, who had just repowered their boat with diesel for about the same cost as my electric motor and solar system, that they’d love the quiet too. People watching us dock notice as well; they comment and ask questions.
I have found that the motor, at pretty much full throttle, can power my boat over 4 knots into 25 knots of wind. I only have enough battery capacity to do that briefly and we just did it to get through a 200 foot opening in a causeway with less speed and more control than we would have had sailing through.
The system is working well for me and allowing me to focus on sailing and on other systems. I had decided to remove the working Atomic 4 from Stray Cats because of the hassles of using very little gasoline and trying not to let it get too old. Removing a working engine allowed me to recover part of the cost of the new system by selling the old one. Initially, I planned to piece together my own electric propulsion system. I am a mechanical engineer and had started to read up on the subject and makes notes about do’s and don’t, good parts, bad ones, and their compatibility. I had chosen the motor and controller and was searching for a particular type of throttle when I came across Propulsion Marine. Here was a system with that type of throttle, the same motor and controller I was planning to use, and other details already worked out, such as the gearing and display. That taken care of, I put together the solar system, convinced another Ranger 33 owner to get the same system, and got back to sailing.
S/V Stray Cats