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VEGA – An Electrified Classic Wooden Launch

Vega is a classic launch with a twist; she is powered by solar panels and an electric motor.


The electrical system was designed by Don Eley - deley2[at]msn[dot]com


LOA:          33’
Beam:          9’
Draft:        2’6”
Current Power:  Electric Yacht 20 KW motor
Previous Power:  Chevrolet 292 gas engine, 1986
Builder: Seth & Les Rice, Great Cranberry Island, ME, 1936

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18 Responses So Far to “VEGA – An Electrified Classic Wooden Launch

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    Ted Lameyer says:

    This is very exciting to see on a refurbished “Classic”. If the boat were a “Spirit of Tradition” launch, made with modern technology and (wood and carbon) the weight would be greatly reduced and the performance or range might increase. What would you say would be the cruising limits of a boat of similar length and function if given this same power? I know they have a couple of catamaran boats out on the west coast for cruising. Can they cruise continuously without the 5-6 day recharging issue that we see here?

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    Matthew O'Toole says:

    I grew up with Duffy electric boats in Newport Beach – almost a required accessory for a waterfront home there..

    Duffy has a neat rudder/motor combo, for really easy maneuvering. No whine either.

    They’re expensive – all boats are these days – but hold their value well. An older one could be close to “free” after a few years’ use.

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    Dale Niemann says:

    Very nice article. Please give us retired not rich folks something smaller and more affordable. Under 20 feet using an electric outboard with motor direct drive underwater. Ideally with solar capabilities in addition to the battery.
    I seems to me that a small catamaran would give more solar roof space.
    I would love to build a totally off the grid 100 % solar powered electric boat.
    Thank you,

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    Peter Hendrickson says:

    Electric drive’s future gets more interesting with each build or conversion. More, please.

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    Eric Takakjian says:

    What a great boat and such a nice installation job on the electrical systems!

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    Vagn Worm says:

    I saw VEGA when I got to my place overlooking the Benjamin River.Then I saw the solar panels
    and realized that it had been converted to electric power. Sorry I missed seeing her under power! From what I learned from the video she has a pretty good range, but does she have an
    efficient charging system at her home dock, and how long does it need to fully charge using shore power?
    Thanks for the video, Vagn

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    Ben Fuller says:

    Probably not too far from the speeds achieved when Vega was built. Lines are available through the HAEBS/HAER survey that we (PMM) set up back aroiund 2009. Love to see a hull optimized for an electric outboard. Biggest hassle in Maine is that to do serious charging you need access to shore side power, or carry along a little gas gen set.

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      David Cockey says:

      HABS/HAER appears to have two photos but not lines. I can provide the lines of Vega if anyone is interested.

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    Ian Hendrie says:

    Amazing day boat. Personally I found the motor hum difficult to listen to. I wonder what can be done to reduce the noise. Are higher frequency noises easier or harder to attenuate?

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      Steve Zimmermann says:

      My son and I visited Bellingham last year and took a short cruise on Solar Sal; we had a similarly negative response to the high pitched motor whine. I like everything else about electric propulsion, and note that while my first electric car, an early Tesla Model S exhibited a similar whine under load, my 2020 Model Y’s drivetrain is completely silent. I trust Torqeedo and Electric Yacht are working on drivetrain noise. I imagine the installation details can also affect noise in a big way.

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        Ian Hendrie says:

        You’re right, now that you mention it. Our Bolt is completely silent so it’s possible to mute the whine.

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      Larry Cheek says:

      I briefly owned a Torqeedo outboard and have been aboard a boat equipped with a more recent Torqeedo pod drive. In both cases the whine was surprisingly prominent and, after some time, seriously aggravating. Honestly, I find my current outboard, the ubiquitous 8 hp 4-stroke Yamaha, more relaxing. And last year when I briefly considered converting to electric power, I learned that a new electric outboard plus enough lithium battery capacity for a day’s 5-kt cruising would cost three times what I paid for this perfectly nice Yamaha. Marine electric propulsion needs to become more refined, more reliable, and a whole lot less expensive before most of us will be seriously tempted.

  • David and Margaret Tew

    David and Margaret Tew says:

    What a spectacular job and layout. The replacement of the canvas ‘navy top’ with the fixed top and array is especially well done. I’ve wondered how sea and wind conditions affect electric propulsion. If for example the owner left Sorrento for a trip to Winter Harbor on a calm morning but a strong wind with heavy chop and whitecaps on the nose arose on the way home in the mid-afternoon, what considerations might come into play.

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    Philip Myer says:

    I don’t know who was having more fun ? Maynard or the engineer- a slippery and gorgeous classic dayboat.