Clean, Green Blue Water Sailing
About the time you read this, Green Motion will be crossing the Equator on a 30-day sail from Cape Town to Amsterdam, a voyage of some 7,000 miles. Since originally leaving Durban, South Africa where it was built, with a stopover in Cape Town, the 45-foot luxury catamaran hasn't used a drop of fossil fuels: not to cook, heat water, run lights, or provide motive power. All its energy has come from the sun, wind, wave, and yes, twin 10kW electric motor/generators powered by a 40kWh lithium ion battery pack.
Gideon Goudsmit decided when he retired a decade ago to buy a catamaran, but he couldn't find one to meet his needs, so he commissioned a naval architect to design one and had it built in South Africa, which happens to be on the same time zone as his home in Amsterdam. That 45-footer became the prototype for another dozen similar boats, five in the water, and seven under construction.
But the diesel engines continued to trouble Goudsmit, so he continued searching for a cleaner alternative. What evolved from that effort is his Green Motion electric drive system that can be fit to both catamarans and mono hull sailboats. The catamaran now nearing the equator is the first to install the system, and all seven other boats being built in Durban will also be equipped with it at the request of Goudsmit's customers, even though it is an option. Some 145 other boat builders have expressed serious interest in equipping their vessels with Green Motion, as well.
The boat can achieve up to 8 knots per hour with both drive systems down in the water, but for cruising, Goudsmit recommends using only one drive at a time, reducing cruising speed to around 6 knots. At this rate, the boat can cruise all day. When running under sail, the units can be lowered into the water and the motors switch to generators which produce electric power to recharge the battery pack. Additionally, solar panels mounted on the top of the cabin and a wind turbine at the top of the mast can provide additional electrical energy. There's enough electric power available to propel the boat, run lights, radios, radar, even heat water and provide radiant heating for cooking in the galley. The boat is also air conditioned. There is a small back-up diesel generator, but so far it hasn't been fire up one time.
Goudsmit estimates the Green Motion drive adds some 8% to the cost of the boat, but saves an estimated €3,000 annually in fuel and maintenance costs. The drive system is warranted for five years and the batteries are expected to last 10-12 years. The life of the boat itself could be 40 years.
Green Motion should be arriving in Amsterdam late in April, where it and two other FastCat 45's can be viewed. Progress of the Cape Town-to-Amsterdam voyage can be viewed on the AfricanCats.com web site.
You can listen to the complete interview using either of the two MP3 players to the right. Or you may download the file to your hard drive for playback on your favorite MP3 device.