Vesper,  Serendipity 43,  powered by Electroprop Mariner

Vesper 1 was the first boat in our fleet powered exclusively by solar power.    Vesper was owned by Patrick Muran, who had the great idea of the drop pan mount which became our standard mounting platform for Electroprop drives.   The Serendipty 43 was designed as an IOR racer for the transpac.   This boat is a powerhouse under sail.   Every attempt was made to make her slippery so she was a natural for electric propulsion and easy to push with a minimal amount of energy.   Patrick’s requirement was to be able to navigate to and from his mooring in Port San Luis.

Vesper at anchor

Vesper was the first completely energy independent vessel getting all of her power from 400 watts of solar panels mounted above the cockpit as a solar bimini.   In 2011 we replaced the single stator motor with a double stator motor and updated the controller to the Gen 4 controller.

Patrick at helm

Patrick’s wife, Heather Muran, wrote this charming article shortly after the conversion.

Sailing Greener: A New Alternative to Diesel

You see the new alternative to gasoline everywhere these days: from solar electric homes to hybrid vehicles, the future is a much “greener”. Americans are looking for alternatives and switching to more fuel-efficient technology.

But with all these “green” alternatives, many in the boating industry have been waiting patiently for an alternative, fuel-efficient resource to come online.

Enter James Lambden, owner of Above the Waterline,  a marine propulsion company dedicated to rebuilding and remodeling diesel engine boats into high performance, electric powered “green” machines. By utilizing solar and hydro energy, Lambden has rebuilt several solar-powered sailboats.

His first alternative powered sailboat is Vesper 1, a Serendipity 43’, owned by Patrick Muran, located in picturesque Port San Luis. The area provides plenty of wind and sun, providing the perfect conditions for electric motor sailing.

vesper solar panel

Vesper 1 utilizes both solar and hydro power through a 5:1 gearbox on a 18 inch, 2 bladed propeller with 17 inches of pitch, and solar panels that produce up to 2 KWH per day. There is enough energy to run the boat to and from the dock and go sailing on and off the mooring. Vesper 1 is one of very few completely energy-independent vessels in the world.

There are many advantages an electric boat has to offer,” says Lambden, who has been reconstructing boat engines for the last 5 years. “This new technology provides a cleaner, more efficient way to sail. It’s quiet, pollution free, and you have power on demand for tacking and getting out of irons, along with complete control of the propeller down to 20 rpm.” Diesels often start at 300-rpm minimum.

Vesper 1 offers many conveniences due to alternative energy including easier docking and motoring, which provides a more enjoyable sailing excursion.

Patrick Muran described the last trip he took with the new electric engine setup in Vesper 1: “The motor sailing turns almost no wind into apparent wind without much electric power at all. The sails filled out easily while other boats are luffing.” Muran says it’s great when entertaining guests. “You don’t have the smell of diesel fuel or fumes, which can be a nuisance when you’re in the cabin.” An optional diesel generator can be mounted outside of the living spaces of a boat, which can be selectively run on upwind legs only, to eliminate being back drafted by diesel fumes.

The technology behind electric motors relies on power regenerated through a propeller that spins while sailing, creating enough energy to fill battery banks. These large, electric banks can be used for decadent house loads without the need to ration on smaller trips.

Even the long-term upkeep is a breeze: no checking the oil or the through hulls in order to start the engine. Plus, you don’t have tworry if the engine will start–just flick a switch and the engine power is there.

Electric sailing takes advantage of the many sources of renewable energy that a sailboat is naturally in. Electric sailboats do not need to stop or go out of their way to find diesel fuel because they are self-sufficient. Even a hybrid diesel-electric boat is far more fuel-efficient than a diesel boat. “The benefit to owning an electric boat is that you can never completely run out of energy.” This makes the Vesper 1 a highly efficient, world-traveling vessel.