Sparks - An Electric Fantail Launch
We built ‘SPARKS’ as our family cruiser. She is a 30’ hybrid electric half-cabin fantail launch. Visually reminiscent of the fantail steam launches used in our area a hundred years ago, it brings to mind an era when taking a journey was as enjoyable as arriving at the destination.
This low impact, eco friendly cruiser will accommodate a couple in simple yet luxurious comfort and safety during an inland voyage of several weeks. Up to six passengers can comfortably enjoy day trips with seating in the open aft cockpit.
To meet our objective of consuming the least possible amount of fossil fuel, Canadian yacht designer Steve Killing has created a hull shape that is optimized for low speed cruising. Although the boat has a 6,000 lb. displacement, hull speed is reached on less than two horsepower.
Jonathan Killing designed and installed the hybrid electric/diesel/solar propulsion system. It provides an efficient, integrated system to drive the boat with an electric motor directly connected to the drive shaft.
A series of 12V batteries are charged by solar modules built into the cabin top. The solar modules will top up the batteries from a day of cruising in about two days at the dock, with shore power or a diesel generator available as alternative charging options.
A series of 12V batteries are charged by three options that work together equally - solar modules, shore power and a diesel generator. When underway, a touchscreen monitor shows the operator the current status of all of the components including power flows and state-of-charge. Simple, intuitive software allows the operator to see which sources are supplying power and adjust speed to suit the desired balance. For example, for purely solar boating, the operator can match the motor power to the solar input and maintain the battery state-of-charge. Conversely, when the level of the batteries goes down to 70%, the computer can instruct the generator to power the boat and put a charge back into the batteries.
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