Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Sailboat lucky break

Two things conspired against me last fall. The first was a badly infected leg that slowed me down and made everything I did extremely painful. That certainly limited what I did. The second thing that went against me was the early October snow that is only now melting.

Normally the electric trolling motor on the Oday 19 is stored safe and dry in the boat’s cabin. Then I would stretch a huge tarp over the whole boat and secure it well. Neither of those things happened. Instead the motor spent the winter in an uncovered cockpit. It eventually became completely encased in ice.

The ice in the boat finally melted and the motor was free. To my surprise when connected to a battery all the charge status lights came on. To my delight it worked perfectly in forward and reverse. That is one well built motor to have survived.

There was some water in the bilge but it doesn’t look like it did any harm. Since the boat is on a trailer I was able to use a siphon hose to empty the water instead of the bilge pump. Easy does it.

The trolling motor is the only motor I use on the boat. Even with a good load in the boat, it moves at about 3 knots. That doesn’t seem really fast, but the hull speed is only 5.5 knots. It’s not worth the hassle and expense of a gas motor to get an extra 1. 5 knots. The electric is quiet, safe, and doesn’t stink.

It also gets powered by the sun. In normal use the solar panel has no difficulty keeping the boat’s deep discharge battery charged up. Some days the motor never gets used at all. It is a sailboat. Sometimes it’s used for maybe a quarter mile to get on and off anchor. The most I’ve had to motor is about 5 miles. The wind had totally died and the day was getting on. It barely made a dent in the battery charge. My guess it could go 20 or 30 miles, depending on wind and current.

I’ve got about half the equipment I need to add a second small solar electric system to the boat. The boat’s electrical systems are set up to quickly and easily switch from one battery to another. For my canceled ICW trip I had planned for three completely independent small solar electric systems. Redundancy is good.

In spite of my inability to property winterize the boat, it survived in pretty good shape. Now I can concentrate on upgrades instead of repairs.



  1. The great thing about electric trolling motors is they always run when you flip the switch.
    Gas engines, most times are not your friend!

    1. I love the reliability and simplicity. My motor is salt water rated so that's a good thing. While I can strip a gas engine down and put it back together -I'd really rather not.

  2. Glad you boat survived the winter. I guess it is now a winter hardy boat..

  3. What waters do you normally sail in?

    1. Waters around Florida. Fresh water lakes in New England, mostly semi-wilderness lakes and Lake Champlain. Hope to sail the coast of Maine this summer.