Dreams and the Future of Cruising

By Bill Moore

Posted: 01 Nov 2010

Gideon Goudsmit and I share a common passion. The Netherlander loves sailing and I love the idea of sailing. He has the resources to pursue his dream and I have the time to dream about it.

Goudsmit is a long-time reader of EV World and the driving force behind AfricanCats, a line of luxury-class yachts built in Durban, South Africa. The above image is a screen capture from a PDF version of an article about him and his creation appearing in the November 2010 issue of Yachting Monthly. Knowing we share this obsession for sailing -- I have the entire series of the late Patrick O'Brien's "Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin" novels -- and sustainable mobility, he sent me the magazine article. Entitled "Perpetual Motion Machine," sailing journalist Chris Beeson recounts his experiences and impressions aboard one of Goudsmit's "Green Motion" equipped yachts, noting that he's sailing with a "genius, aboard a boat packed with radical technology."

He writes, "She generates all her own power and fresh water, never needs refueling -- and she will change the way we sail."

How, you ask? "The heart of the set-up is Green Motion; two electric motogens (motor-generators), built into lifting saildrives. When there's no wind, " Beeson writes, "these can power her at 6 knots for three hours, or five knots for seven hours. When the wind returns, they generate electricity or life clear of the water to reduce drag."

Unlike other electric boats that use either shore power, fossil fuel generators, or fuel cells running on compressed hydrogen, Green Motion uses the hydrokinetic power of the boat moving through the water to generate electricity to keep the batteries charged. It also has a mast-mounted wind turbine and Sunpower solar panels mounted on the cabin roof and bimini, the rigid canopy over the open rear deck.

All these power a bank of nine lithium battery packs, each costing €4,000. Six of the packs power the drive system; two provide electric power to the boat's domestic systems, including an electric oven, freezer and frig; and one provides power to the 22kW generator that is used as the final backup in the event both the wind and the sun are no longer available to keep the system charged. On a recent 8,000 mile voyage from Durban to the Azores and then to Amsterdam, the crew ended up using just 274 liters (72 U.S. gal.) of diesel fuel, mostly in the Doldrums around the Equator. That works out to be equivalent to 112 mpg.

The interesting thing about Gideon is that he's always striving to improve the design; making it lighter, stronger, faster, more efficient. That's the true sign of a craftsman. If you'd like to learn more, you can see my interview with Gideon that we conducted while the first Green Motion was cruising towards the Equator last Spring. Or you can pick up a copy of this month's Yachting Monthly.

Interestingly, the 10th Green Motion boat is being built for a surgeion who works with Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). It's a 61-foot hospital yacht that will be fully equipped with an operating theatre. She will cruise the remote South Pacific bringing much needed medical care to remote islands. Doctors Without Borders happens to be one of the charities to which I contribute, so in an indirect way I am helping build what can be considered the world's greenest sailing yacht. That's something I would never have dreamed of in a million years.

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