This year we are offering electric propulsion on the Alerion Express 28’s as a “no charge” option In lieu of the 14hp diesel engine. This technology has come a long way in the past few years; not to mention the price has come down, too.
As most of you know, a typical day sail with a diesel motor consists of checking oil, opening sea cocks and starting the old “iron”. These trusty motors sputter and come to “life” with a gurgle and spray of raw water from the exhaust thruhull. We shove off from the marina or mooring, hoist the sails and enjoy a fulfilling day of Alerion sailing. The Alerion Experience is different with electric propulsion. With this technology, a turn of the battery switch and a nudge of the throttle trigger instant, silent thrust. The boat moves eerily along while onlookers pause and wonder how an Alerion can move so silently without sails. The transition from power to sail is graceful and smooth. With sails filled, the DC current changes direction; the spinning propeller steadily regenerates current and slowly charges the batteries.
The benefits of electric propulsion are numerous: completely sealed systems, low maintenance, silent operation, increased maneuverability and simplicity. The benefits easily outweigh the costs for most sailors’ lifestyles. However, with great breakthroughs there are always other considerations. Currently, the system designed for the Alerion Express 28 is optimized for boats that are stored in marinas. Although there are solar and prop regenerating options, a good old shore power cable ensures a fully charged system every time you step aboard. The basic system specified for the Alerion Express 28 has a range of approximately 5-7 NM depending on speed and weather conditons. For most this is sufficient for a typical day sail. There is room and capacity for more batteries/range on the Alerion Express 28 but there are obviously cost and weight compromises to consider.
One of our existing electric propulsion owners loves the system for many reasons. The biggest reason is that he finds himself sailing more and not defaulting to auxiliary power as much. During the testing phase our design team was startled by the simplicity and silent transition from power to sail and back to power.
Maybe sailors will use this technology on those glorious sunset evenings when there’s no wind in the same spirit of a classic Elco launch. No wind, no noise, just the sound of a pretty boat moving through the water. Pure and Simple.