Monday 26 May 2014

Cruising Sailboat Sailors Power Generation with Watt and Sea Hydrogenerators

A while back ( February 2013) we did a post on the Watt and Sea cruising hydrogenerators as a viable option for power generation on cruising sailboats whilst on passage. Sufficient power is always a problem for cruisers and especially today with all the electronic equipment that seems to finish up in the on board mix.

The four types used in the past, and still currently installed on many boats, have been partially successful to a point, but not one of them has been able to generate sufficient available and constant power on their own.

Cruising 300 power output
I list them here with their shortcomings:

Diesel generator: Heavy, noisy, fuel burning, running for hours at a time and space consuming.

Wind generators: Ok when sailing into the wind but ineffective downwind. Noisy until recently.

Solar panels: Improving, but still inefficient. Massive space consumers.

Towed Generators: Very efficient but problems with deploying and retrieving.
Cruising 600 power output
Now we have the Watt and Sea hydrogenerators which have proven themselves already in long distance ocean racing and the earlier cruiser versions. The improved versions in the 300 and 600 variants for cruisers are now available. 

The improvements are: 

Lighter weight by about 2kgs.

Better corrosion resistance

Improved hydrodynamics

Advanced convertor

Viewing this video you will see about thirty seconds in that the unit is producing 16+ amps (24V) at 7.5 knots. That is music to any skippers eyes, ears and sense of comfort and security! 

The power produced is quite stunning and with a start up input of as low as three knots, any vessel averaging over five knots for a 24 hour period is going to supply enough electricity for the boats requirements.

Here are the specifications for various boat speeds:

Power : 5 knots produces 120watts (10A - 12V; 5A -24V) 

              8 knots produces 500watts (40A - 12V; 20A - 24V)

Start-up speed: 3 knots

Is this the future of power generation at sea? This system certainly has many benefits and using a towed generator myself on my voyage I can vouch for the bliss experienced knowing that there was sufficient power and more flowing into the boat through the units 'power line'. 

With these units being fixed to the transom, that can only alleviate and cancel the deployment and retrieval problems experienced with towed units.

The price of the Watt and Sea units starts from $3600 which is similar to a low end diesel generator. The Watt and Sea of course is far easier and cheaper to install, gives constant input whilst your vessel is moving, uses no diesel and you will never hear it.

Additionally, from the environmental aspect they come with impeccable characteristics. Even the dolphins resonate with the song of the propeller as you can see in this video:

Images and videos courtesy Watt and Sea

You can read much more about the cruising lifestyle and 'dollar saving tips' whilst on passage in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise', downloadable from my website


Monday 5 May 2014

Sailors CaseMate vhf App Holder Device for Smartphones

With smartphone apps for sailors coming thick and fast nowadays, here is a different slant on things. It is refreshing to see how one young man has thought beyond just the application itself, and extended it into the area of combining the app with a piece of equipment to facilitate a potentially very valuable device for sailors when they are at sea and need to communicate by radio.

Seán Toomey, a 23-year-old student at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), came up with the idea for his waterproof VHF invention, called Casemate, last year as a thesis project for his product design degree.

Sean Toomey with his vhf CaseMate
He is now searching a partner firm will be found to put it into production. 

Seán's personal experience led him to do some research. 'More people are now relying on phones in case they have an emergency,' he told the Irish Examiner, 'but I spoke to a few people at the Royal National Lifesaving Institution (RNLI) in Dún Laoghaire. They said it was a problem in some cases they responded to, where people had tried unsuccessfully to raise the alarm using mobile phones.'

While there are many waterproof phone cases on the market, Seán’s design also includes the electronics that enable VHF radio communication, which are not found in even the smartest of smartphones. By sliding the phone into the case and connecting it to an in-built connector — which also doubles as a charger — the user has a VHF radio that can be activated very simply through a phone app. 

The buoyant prototype was successfully trialled last year, but Seán is still finalising design and software in his spare time, having started work this year for Dyson near Bristol in England. 

The firm is recruiting in Irish colleges for bright young minds with inventive ideas in a drive to recruit 400 engineers for its expanding technology range. 

For DIT Hothouse, the college’s innovation and technology transfer centre, the aim is to find a commercial partner to take on Seán’s patent-pending technology and sell it to consumers. Ideally, it should retail for less than €100, with VHF handheld radios currently available to buy for between €50 and €200. 

'I would love to think if it was taken up and made available, that it could get into as many hands as possible,' Seán said. 

Here is the link for further information, to the DIT information sheet in pdf format:

Sean's invention could be a real break-through for coastal sailors. If YOU want more information about the invention or know of an avenue for the commercialisation of it, here are the details: 

Contact Dermot Tierney, DIT Hothouse Senior Licensing Executive email

Image courtesy DIT, video courtesy DIT and YouTube

You can read much more about the cruising lifestyle in my  book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise', downloadable from my website