Diesel Electric

We were supposed to be living on the boat this summer, however, because the boat has been “stuck” in Costa Rica, we’ve been wondering from hotel to hotel.

At the current time, we are in San Francisco, just “doing the tourist thing.” Today, while at Fisherman’s Wharf I noticed they had an old WWII Submarine. For $9 you can wander around it.

It was actually money well spent and very impressive. The sub was in great condition, even though it was constructed in 1943.

There was an “old guy” aboard who had been on a sister sub during the war, and had some good information. To my surprise the sub was diesel electric! It was over 300′ long, and could move on the surface at 21 knots and under water at 9 knots. It had five generators to provide the power, and two very large electric motors to run the props.


Nordhavn experimented recently with offering diesel electric on their Nordhavn 76. Briefly, my boat was slated to be diesel electric. Fortunately Nordhavn decided to back me off to normal propulsion. The owner of the 76 that was diesel electric has recently decided to back off to conventional propulsion. I spoke, only briefly, to the owner about his reasons for the refit, and the bottom line seemed to be stability and maintainability for long-distance passages. 

Given that the sub was built 60 years ago, one would think that diesel electric would have been perfected by now.

-Ken W

3 Responses

  1. Greetings George!

    Let me know if you do charter a power cat in the Bahamas. I just mentioned to someone in an email that Roberta’s and my favorite trip ever was running around the Bahamas in our little 27′ power cat. We came very close to buying a 47′ power cat at last year’s Miami boat show, just to have in Mexico. It’s a good size and they are amazingly fun boats. The specs on the one you linked to feel “ambitious” (3,000 mile range at 8 knots on only 400 gallons), but if they were even able to get half that, it would be a great boat.

    My problem with the larger power cats, when we were looking, is that we really couldn’t find a manufacturer that had sold a lot of boats, and had a good reputation. There seemed to be a hodge-podge of smaller builders, each of whom had sold 1 to 5 boats. The nice thing about Nordhavns is that they support their boats, and have created enough demand that the boats are semi-liquid (their resale values are proven, and very often above the purchase price).

    -Ken W

  2. Hi Ken,
    I have been looking at a power catamaran being built by Maine Cat. They installed a diesel electric system in their prototype and had dissapointing data. May not be ready for prime time. They are going with conventional diesel propulsion and should splash hull 1 this Fall. I am looking forward to chartering their powercat in the Bahamas. Rare opportunity to try before you buy.
    http://www.mecat.com/indexp (http://www.mecat.com/indexpower.html)

  3. Ken, this may be a little of the subject but thought you and your readers may enjoy the latest update of Egret on Nordhahavn’s website. Along with New Paige (N55) they ageed to ferry a sick person, his nurse and family from a small island to a larger island. You know its not going to be easy when the weather prevented aircraft from taking off. What they encountered and how the two Nordhavn’s faired says alot about the boats and crew. 40 degree rolls are reportedly taken in stride by Egret. Sounds like this south pacific weather is more like the weather one would expect off Alsaka.

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