E-Soul LIfe all started with a boat.
I was looking for something I could live-aboard. And something big enough to go safely and comfortably around Vancouver Island, and to Alaska, Mexico, and maybe risking the open ocean for Hawaii. There were several candidates, I even went to see a few in person just to disappoint a hopeful yacht broker. One in particular I turned down because the owner had done so much with it that I felt it would never be my own. In the end, that’s what I wanted. Something to be my own.
Then, I came upon “Soulstice” for sale in Anacortes, WA on Craigslist. I took the kids to take a look at it in person. I was initially very disappointed that it was a sit-down cabin, which for me was going to be uncomfortable. It was a weird design to see in person as a yawl, with its short-draft, long, shoal-fin keel and swing keel built in to the middle of the rudder. And trailerable. It was designed to get in shallow than the other boats and I trusted the extremely reputable designer (Ted Brewer) on the account that it would float and sail. At the end of the day though, I wanted something bigger. I walked away.
I slept on it. I started thinking about its lightweight/displacement and that lifting keel. Didn’t seem to me to need much power to motor. It seemed it might need some low-end torque for maneuvering. I hoped to be doing more sailing than motoring. Seemed to me to be ideal for an e-motor.
Would I really give up the bigger boat dream and the 5ft-itis that came along with it? I loosely figured that the e-motor and battery costs were worth the same as another 10ft of a diesel boat. 10 ft or standing room in the cabin. Then, the research began. I like doing research online. But there wasn’t enough data for my specific needs and purposes. I’d have to take the chance.
I offered 33% below the asking price. The seller accepted. We were all a little shocked. I finished the paperwork and took it away on a trailer. The trailer failed on a country road. It had to be towed back and repaired. I towed it again to a friends yard and went to work on my wild idea.
After a lot of evaluation and pricing I landed on a suite of Torqeedo products that offered a redundancy motor solution (Cruise and Travel units) and the battery, cables, display, etc. I’d use an iPad with Navionics. The House battery would be a solar-electric generator (by Yeti) and I’d plug in the control panel for all the lights, vhf, auto-pilot etc. to it. It was a slick set up.
Test runs of the motor were great! I’d go out of the harbor in Port Townsend and motor around a bit, then come back in and do calculations. I quickly figured out how to flow with the currents. And I figured I’d be doing more sails-up/motor off. I took off for the San Juans. I crossed the Juan de Fuca straits in a high sea state and vowed never to cross back. I landed in Fisherman’s Bay on the west side of Lopez Island and have made that my home port.
I had to sort out the re-power solution. A giant, heavy, wind vane was in place at the top of the mizzen mast. It seems like a good idea at the time. The problem was that I feared leaving it on when I wasn’t at the boat. I had fuses and anodes and management systems built-in that prevented any number of things going wrong (even a mechanical brake). But it did have moving parts and I couldn’t leave my now expensive boat alone. Side note: I found out later that this boat design needs a mizzen sail to help with the steering and especially tacking performance. So, off went the wind vane. It’s in my garage.
I could always plug in to shore power after every trip. But, I thought I’d try solar because it was easily powering my generator. Alas, as any sailboat owner trying to put solar on a sailboat knows, it ain’t easy to find the real estate for direct sunlight. Especially for a smaller boat with a large battery capacity need.
I had my requirements. My son, heading off the CalPoly, would architect it. We mounted panels off the stern pulpit, wired them to a controller and watched it work. But my son wanted the panels to work independently and point to either the house, or the motor battery or both (after implementation, I’d say this is one of the better ideas).
Testing this was fun. We went out for six days through and around the San Juans it was after the summer solstice, but we had more than enough regenerated power that we felt we could have gone indefinitely. We ate well on the induction cooktop and toaster oven. We used the e-space heater. We had portable fans. Used all our electronics at will, and motored through some nasty currents. We also went with the currents when we could and we really like to sail.
Then, it became a really unique boat. A pioneering sailboat. I can’t get enough of it. It’s cute. It’s quiet. There is no exhaust smell. She sails best downwind and nearly skips and skims over the water with the current pushing her forward. The e-motor can be especially advantageous for sailing performance, navigation, and tight maneuvering over a diesel motor. With some thinking ahead I can go where I want to go. And I can anchor in the shallows.
I had to and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of creating my e-powered, clean, green, eco-friendly, naturally regenerative vessel. And I very much want to share it with anyone who want to know more, or who needs a little help.
And so it started with the boat, and now we have E-Soul Life.