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Electric Motor for Spindrift 10s . .

Pete McCrary

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Fellow Spindrift builders:  Any recommendations for electric motor auxiliary power?


Because of the current and tides and fickle wind patterns, sailing on the Potomac River (Leesylvania State Park) without auxiliary power is a safety issue.  I've had the unfortunate experience of sailing (from the ramp) UPWIND so that I'd have an easy return, only to have the wind shift 180 just when I wanted to return to the ramp!  If I had only oars, I would have been in real trouble.


I recently installed hardwood pads on the centerline of Seabiscuit's transom so that my 2.5 Suzuki OBM (29 lbs, 1.5 liter gas tank empty) could be used for non-sailing excursions.  The pads do not interfere with full range of motion (ROM) for the rudder.  However, after that test, I dry-fitted the pads and OBM off-center to see if I could use the motor for auxiliary power while sailing.


Sorry to say, even with the motor mounted right next to either quarter knee (port and/or starboard), the tiller's ROM was significantly limited by the bulk of OBM when the prop-shaft is rotated out of the water.  The ROM is only slightly limited when prop-shaft is in the water.


Perhaps a much lighter and less bulky electric auxiliary power would work.  I'd appreciate recommendations from Spindrift skippers or others that have had experience with electric power for dinghy-sized sailboats.




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My son gifted me a spare 40lb thrust electric motor (similar to a Minolta).  I tried it on my Core Sound 17 for giggles.  Pleased to report 2.5 it’s at WOT for a couple of hours.  So that would be moving about 600lbs of boat, skipper, and gear.  Fun for a bit.  But, would opt larger for more critical use.


will stick with my Honda 2.5.  FYI I put it up, then tilt all so that the correct side if the motor for storage is facing up.  Starts first pull.  




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I’ve ordered a Spindrift 10 kit that I will help the high school kid across the street build. She lives on a channel to a decent sized pond and could use an electric motor to navigate the channel. Two questions to add here, if anyone would offer a thought:

1. Where in the Spindrift is a good place for a battery to power a Minnkota type motor,


2. How big should a battery BE to propel a Spindrift 10 in and out of this channel?  (More specifically, what might a minimum size RV battery be for this purpose?)


A “bonus” question just came to mind...

3. This pond can be weedy in spots.  I’m hoping that the Spindrift’s daggerboard can easily be lifted to release caught weeds... yes?  (I’m assuming that the rudder of the Spindrift pivots up like my CS15’s... I had raised it a couple times to release caught weeds when I motored my grandkids around the pond during “Gramma-Camp.”)



re: FYI I put it up, then tilt all so that the correct side if the motor for storage is facing up.  Starts first pull.  

Hey, thanks for the tip.  I have a new Honda 2.3 on my CS15. I didn’t think to tilt it toward the intended side while under sail. I always store it on the correct side but just didn’t think of this when it’s on the back of the boat. 

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I used a 55# Minn Kota with a 27 Deep Cycle AGM on your CS15  and it worked well in windless calm lake water for a few hours messing around, and very little battery use.  Couldn't drag a swamped 14 and skipper very well to the beach that day though.  I'd try to borrow some 35-45# MKs/MGs to try on one of your similar small craft and see how they do.  The 27 AGM is very heavy though, and I'm thinking a much lighter 50ah (17#) -100ah Lithiums with the 55# MK for my upcoming Amanda 12 this spring.  Or, maybe 2 55ah for our paddlecraft (with their small MKs), that I can wire in parallel for the Amanda.  Just thoughts.  I have read good reviews on the EP,but not much data on actual duration/performance in wind and waves, and I think its battery is only about 10ah. Ok for short trips between dock and moorings, etc. I plan to experiment a lot more in FL this winter.  Enjoy your notes on family sailing the CS15. Great of you to help the young builder/sailer.  Just thoughts, Be Safe. R    

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I’ve got a 40# thrust Minnkota (fishing-type) trolling motor. It pushes (or pulls) my Two Paw 8 nicely.  The big issue is where to safely install the battery.  They’re heavy!  Right now, it goes by the transom.  I would not want to sail with the battery in the boat— in the event if a capsize, things get complicated.  And environmentally nasty.  If I were closer, I’d loan you my trolling motor to play with.


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Good timing with this topic. Last week I picked up a Bison 68lb motor. I've only had a chance to use it once so far, on a 3.1m RIB. It pushed me along at about the same speed as my 2.5hp 2-stroke, except it was almost silent, and I had instant power (and reverse!) whenever I wanted it  (no more "will it start" moments).


I grabbed an old car battery I had, which was fine, but in the long run I would like to go lithium (specifically, LiFePO4). These batteries can discharge at a rate of '1C' which means if you want to draw 10A of current, you need a 10Ah battery. I'm reliably informed that the Bison 68, whilst theoretically drawing 64A max, only draws 53A max in practise. So I need a 53Ah battery or larger, regardless of how much range I want. 


There are ready-made portable 60Ah LiFePO4 battery units available on AliExpress, which come in a waterproof case with inbuilt BMS, and a charger. I will probably get one of these, but will treat it with care as the included BMS will probably not monitor each cell individually, and the pre-set cutoff voltage of 10v is far too low to ensure happy cells. I fancy building a pack from scratch but haven't found a good deal on 60Ah cells yet.


A 60Ah lithium battery will weigh around 8kg so it's a massive saving on a car battery- less than half the weight for more than double the running time.

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I decided to get an electric outboard for my Spindrift 9. Did a bunch of research and ordered an EPropulsion Spirit 1.0 plus a few months ago. They are in high demand and things were delayed due to covid. The good news is I am going to pick it up tomorrow and expect to try it out later this week. Love the idea of a silent motor. It is light weight and easy to cary since the battery can be carried separately. The battery floats if you have one of those “wish I could unring that bell” moments.  One of the reasons I enjoy rowing this dinghy so much is that it is quiet and I don’t feel like I am disturbing the peace in an anchorage. I am adding a solar panel to Rosie so I will be able to charge the outboard with the sun. How cool is that? The downside is it ain’t cheap.



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The Spirit 1.0 looks like an excellent choice.  I’m glad to learn about it. 
It costs about double what I spent for my Honda 2.3 hp (for my CS15) but there is a lot of appeal to spend more for what it provides and for its unique appropriateness to a Spindrift. 
I’ll keep this in mind as I help my neighbor build her Spindrift 10.  Thanks.  ?

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 If I had only oars, I would have been in real trouble.

There has been and there will always be a debate  among sailors about whether a motor is a necessary piece of equipment or an abomination, but on a Spindrift 10 set up for sailing, Really?


When I was building my EC22 I was gifted a small two stroke  by my neighbor who was upgrading to a 4 stroke Honda after the banger had balked at starting a couple of times.  Part way through the build for a variety of reasons but in part Graham's example I abandoned the idea of hanging a motor on the transom.  Ironically by the time I launched SKORPA Graham and a good bit of the BandB community (not without justification) were enthralled with the mk3s and there was a small Suzuki hanging on Carlita's transom. 


Nevertheless my course had been set and for eight years and thousands of miles I have sailed my EC22 in all manor of conditions.  I have never been in what I would call real trouble because of my reliance on wind and oars and wit. I have been inconvenienced on occasion. There was the time off the coast of Florida I had to rise before dawn and weigh anchor off Pavillion Key surrounded by thousands of stars in order to reach the mouth of Lostman's River in time to ride the Flood tide up to the bays of the Wilderness Waterway. Another time I was forced to sail under the predawn stars out of Cape Poge Bay as I made my crossing from Chappaquiddick Island to Nantucket. There have been times when I have had to take a nap while I waited for the tide to turn or the wind to shift.  One time I even had to jump out of the boat and push off a lee shore and claw away under oars until I could get under sail. Perhaps a motor with its prop buried in the mud could have gotten me off that shore but I don't think so.


A Spindrift rows so well. Learning to sail is a gift and an art. I think learning to row is just as much of an art and gift.  I would say sail if you can,  row if you cannot and motor if you must, but on a Spindrift, Really?





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3 hours ago, Joe Anderson said:


A Spindrift rows so well. Learning to sail is a gift and an art. I think learning to row is just as much of an art and gift.  I would say sail if you can,  row if you cannot and motor if you must, but on a Spindrift, Really?





I agree to a point. For some, a small motor makes the Spindrift a dinghy to go longer distances. I have fished with mine and crossed the St Lawrence to go for dinner in Clayton from Grindstone Island when wind and currents made sailing or rowing not possible.


As for the bigger boats, I look at auxiliary power as a crutch for the non-retired who have to work in finite windows of time. Sometimes I can't wait for the weather and a motor has got me back when otherwise I would have waited days for favorable wind. When I retire, and my weather windows get bigger, I expect to not use it much.


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Just to be clear I am talking about the situation where you have a small boat rigged and intended primarily for sailing and you want to choose an auxiliary. My opinion is that oars do not necessarily take a back seat to a motor either electric or IC.  And that the smaller the sailboat the more the advantage goes to the oars. 

By the way I am glad that Mr Finnegan is holding the line because I have begun to do some serious research.





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Hard to tell from the picture Joe, but is that a removavble side mount for the Torqueedo?  That is what I have envisioned for if I ever decide I want one. This way everything can be stowed away for most of the time. And in no wind, one can mount it anywhere.

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For some reason the comments in this thread brought up a lot of introspection. If your not in the mood for my rambling on this subject please ignore and accept my apologies. But here goes.

When I was a young guy I had the mindset that if I couldn’t build it or fix it I shouldn’t own it. I became a shop teacher and tried to instill this mindset in my students.  

I spent years doing extended motorcycle travel. Early on I had to be on a vintage bike that I restored. Windshield not allowed, just goggles and an open faced helmet. No money but lots of time. Working here and there for gas money and food. Got soaked to the bone, froze my buns off and had some of the best times of my life. Being broke but who cared?

Decided I wanted to go sailboat cruising. No money, lots of time. Built a steel hull in a pasture with mostly borrowed tools. Old refrigerators for tool boxes and an electric fence around me to keep the owners horses out. Built or fabricated anything I could. Scrimped for what I couldn’t. I remember buying a 65lb 3 piece Hereshoff storm anchor from a man who never got it wet and his cruising dream turned into a fancy house and a new Mercedes. I felt sorry for him. I got it wet and wished I didn’t have to ( another long story). Spent 7 years on Cats Cradle having left for a 3 year cruise with very little money. Dive for my food, live on the cheap. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Time and no money.

Started racing kayaks and surfskis. Had to build my own boats and paddles for most of my races. Got laughed at lining up for more than one race in the early days with my home built boats and Greenland paddles. That was until I managed to get out in front. Everything I did had to be the bare minimum and have the soul that only a lovingly built object could have. All or nothing.  A couple of articles that might be interesting if you have time to kill.




I won’t get started on Rosie my OB26. Originally the idea of a skiff came from my wife Luanne. Her idea was to buy one. Well, you know the rest of the story. Wouldn’t trade her for the world (Luanne or Rosie).


I love to do physical things. I built a Spindrift 9 (AKA Kendrift) that is optimized for rowing. An inflatable made a lot of sense for the tender on Rosie but they are an abomination to row and I couldn’t build one. This summer aboard Rosie we rowed a lot. There were times, however, when we wanted to go further afield and rowing the distance or against the strong currents up here would be more than we were in the mood for. Or maybe just not feeling like it. The idea of taking a silent ride without always working hard started to have appeal. Imagine a sunset ride with a beer in my hand, ahhh! How far I have fallen from the the youthful kid with a pure heart. Now, enough money to buy a few things I couldn’t afford way back when but a lot less time left in this life. So off I go with an electric outboard. Maybe feeling a bit sheepish that I have given in to the easy way but I can live with that. I will still be rowing Rosebud, paddling the 2 SUPS that will be onboard (surfski’s just don’t fit) and maybe laying back with a cold one silently enjoying my dotage:)

By the way, went to pick up my electric outboard today and only one of the two boxes arrived at the depot, darn. I have the motor and no battery ####! (In order for me to get a box from the US I have to drive a few minutes to the ferry terminal, wait for 45 minutes for the ferry to arrive if I want to get on an overcrowded boat, 35 minute ferry ride, drive 15 minutes to the airport, go to the shipping depot, walk across the airport to the customs office, pay taxes, walk back, repeat in the opposite direction. In other words a PITA and half of a day to get  a box that would easily arrive at my doorstep if I lived on the mainland. I guess I never seem to take the easy path. I will try again in the next week and report back on the Spirit 1.0 Plus on my Spindrift.


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I was interested to hear your story Ken. How our goals and ideals change.


I do not want to push too hard but I am thinking that if you are advising someone who is new to sailing that it would be reasonable to present rowing as an option for an auxiliary in a small boat rigged for sailing such as a Spindrift. I think many people would be happy to row a kilometer or so. Some people like my wife Sally, bless her heart,  seem to enjoy rowing. Here is a clip of her dragging us up Rabbit Key Pass against the tide.


Rowing Rabbit Key Pass


The Spirit Plus and the Torqeedo 1103 are similar. I decided to go with the Torqeedo even though it is more expensive because I could purchase it from someone I know, Alan at  BandB Yacht Designs. Arrived four days after I ordered. 


Torqeedo makes an ultra light series that is designed to attach to the rear of a kayak that I think would be large enough to power a Spindrift.


My goal is to carry the motor stored away while sailing and deploy the motor only if wanted.  I believe the Torqeedo disassembles to a smaller package and thus is slightly easier to store. I don't think this approach is workable on a boat as small as a Spindrift. The battery weighs about 13 lbs The motor about 25 lbs. I want to mount the motor with minimum modifications to the boat. Plan A was to mount the motor on the transom but when I picked up the motor it seemed much heavier than I anticipated and the thought of leaning over my wide rear deck while underway seemed unworkable. So I decided to go for a side mount. I don't have Pete's engineering and design skills so I have no idea if this is going to work. I just now noticed that the 1103 can produce 70 lbs of thrust on the 2 1/2 foot shaft resulting in 175 foot pounds of thrust on my motor mount. We have to throw in a safety margin so my mount and side deck have to withstand 250 foot pounds. I have no idea if that number is correct or how to design to meet it. I just felt my way along and worked things out as I built it and am hoping for the best. It survived its first test in calm conditions.


I do not think I have the motor mounted deep enough as I have some cavitation above 3.5 knots. This disappears if the boat is healed about 10 degrees. The cavitation seems to form on the trailing edge of the shaft and flows back to the prop. Maximum speed was 5.4 knots and our range was about 10 nm.  There were three of us onboard for about 500lbs.





The motor mount is attached over and bolted through the oarlock.

























































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