Thursday, 28 May 2009

3 Years in the Making

About three years ago, I met a man on the Internet called Paul.

Paul lived in Germany and had a dream.

He wanted to build an eco-boat.

We corresponded by e-mail and he was quite clearly insane.

He didn't know anything about inland waterways craft, he wanted a boat that didn't use diesel at all and he planned to live off solar power and rain water.

The man was obviously barking mad.

However, there was a single minded, dogged clarity about his vision.

The details slowly unfolded.

Paul was retired, he wanted to come back to the UK to live and had drawn up a blueprint of his dream boat.

He wanted the boat to be propelled by an electric motor, have its batteries charged by the sun and an LPG generator and be steered by a flap rudder that worked like the ailerons of an aeroplane.

My area of speciality happens to be marine electrics and electronics.

For fun, I designed the 230VAC mains, 48VDC and 24VDC electrical systems for him.

It was all done at distance - he in Germany and myself on Willawaw in the UK.

In about 2006, he went to Crick and placed the order for a 58 foot hull with Mel Davis Boatbuilders.

Paul placed orders for all the vessels' equipment including the drive motor, motor controller, battery chargers, an inverter, some very expensive traction batteries, a bow thruster and so on, in accordance with my designs.

Slowly, the boat began to take shape.

Paul kept me up to speed with the build by sending me regular e-mails and photographs.

He moved across to the UK to oversee the construction of his beloved boat, which became known as "Harvest".

The "go faster" stick shown left was a complete indulgence - taken from a big ship supplier, it cost more than the Lynch motor.

As the project began to progress, I met Paul for the first time.

Harvest became reality - not a beautiful baby - in fact, quite an ugly duckling to any boat lover, used to curved lines and form.

However, Harvest is functional.

Inside, she is a veritable tardis.

She has underfloor heating, beautiful woodwork and has been virtually handbuilt by Paul, within the Mel Davis expertly-constructed shell.

A month or two ago, Harvest was lifted on to a truck and taken to Mercia Marina, where she kissed the murky, brown water for the first time.

The running up of propulsion, steering and other systems revealed various small teething problems that had to be resolved.

The motor was overheating due to incorrect gearing, the Honda genset was overheating as its water cooling had been modified to work on a keel cooler and some boaty things still needed to be installed, but Harvest finally got there.

A lot is being written about hybrid drives at the moment. Several hybrid boats have just been shown at the Crick Show.

Harvest is an all-electric boat. In line with Paul's original brief, she is diesel free.

Today, Paul set off from Mercia Marina to start his electric voyage of the U.K.

She has taken over 3 years to build.

Bon Voyage Paul.   

1 comment:

  1. There will be no mistaking this craft when I pass it somewhere on the cut!


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