Finally, I’m remembering to let you know how happy I’ve been with the solar panel installation on Grebe, my Valiant 40. Based on two recent one-week trips to Santa Cruz and Catalina Islands, on sunny days at anchor or on a mooring, the five 65-watt Kyocera panels are producing around 100 amps per day which is more than enough to keep up with daily energy loads (including refrigeration). The panels start producing at first light, get up to 14-15 amps from around 10:00 am through 2:00 pm, then taper off until sunset. This requires me to move the boom to the opposite side of the boat from the sun twice a day and adjust the two stern panels two times a day or so to face the sun. I did not have to run the engine at all to keep the batteries topped up. And, with the Blue Sky MPPT controller, I don’t have to worry about overcharging the batteries.

Thanks for a job well done!

Regards, Richard

8 / 30 / 08
I have been sailing for 15 years, and knew enough to recognize I needed expert help with installation of a fully networked chartplotter-gps-sonar-radar marine electronics system.  I asked around for recommendations from other boaters and marine shops in town; everyone recommended James Lambden at Above the Waterline. James offered to visit my boat to look over the project. In addition to sharing ideas on the installation project, James immediately recognized wiring deficiencies–some that were safety hazards– requiring remedial work. As with most boaters, I am on a budget. James and I discussed which aspects of the marine electronics installation he would complete and what work I would do on my own to keep costs down. James installed the network system in a professional manner any boater would be proud to show friends. James’ installation also allows me to continue sailing while I finish migrating the existing boat wiring to an improved, safer system. I have no reservations in recommending Above the Waterline to friends and other boaters.

Rich Tobin

NOAA's Shearwater Reference

































NOAA Reference Page 2































Sailing Greener: A New Alternative to Diesel

You see the new alternative to gasoline everywhere these days: from solar electric homes to hybrid vehicles, the future is a much “greener”. Americans are looking for alternatives and switching to more fuel-efficient technology.

But with all these “green” alternatives, many in the boating industry have been waiting patiently for an alternative, fuel-efficient resource to come online.

Enter James Lambden, owner of Above the Waterline; a marine propulsion company dedicated to rebuilding and remodeling diesel engine boats into high performance, electric powered “green” machines. By utilizing solar and hydro energy, Lambden has rebuilt several solar-powered sailboats.

His first alternative powered sailboat is Vesper 1, a Serendipity 43’, owned by Patrick Muran, located in picturesque Port San Luis. The area provides plenty of wind and sun, providing the perfect conditions for electric motor sailing.

Vesper 1 utilizes both solar and hydro power through a 5:1 gearbox on a 18 inch, 2 bladed propeller with 17 inches of pitch, and solar panels that produce up to 2 KWH per day. There is enough energy to run the boat to and from the dock and go sailing on and off the mooring. Vesper 1 is one of very few completely energy-independent vessels in the world.

“There are many advantages an electric boat has to offer,” says Lambden, who has been reconstructing boat engines for the last 5 years. “This new technology provides a cleaner, more efficient way to sail. It’s quiet, pollution free, and you have power on demand for tacking and getting out of irons, along with complete control of the propeller down to 20 rpm.” Diesels often start at 300-rpm minimum.

Vesper 1 offers many conveniences due to alternative energy including easier docking and motoring, which provides a more enjoyable sailing excursion.

Patrick Muran described the last trip he took with the new electric engine setup in Vesper 1: “The motor sailing turns almost no wind into apparent wind without much electric power at all. The sails filled out easily while other boats are luffing.” Muran says it’s great when entertaining guests. “You don’t have the smell of diesel fuel or fumes, which can be a nuisance when you’re in the cabin.” An optional diesel generator can be mounted outside of the living spaces of a boat, which can be selectively run on upwind legs only, to eliminate being back drafted by diesel fumes.

The technology behind electric motors relies on power regenerated through a propeller that spins while sailing, creating enough energy to fill battery banks. These large, electric banks can be used for decadent house loads without the need to ration on smaller trips.

Even the long-term upkeep is a breeze: no checking the oil or the through hulls in order to start the engine. Plus, you don’t have to
worry if the engine will start–just flick a switch and the engine power is there.

Electric sailing takes advantage of the many sources of renewable energy that a sailboat is naturally in. Electric sailboats do not need to stop or go out of their way to find diesel fuel because they are self-sufficient. Even a hybrid diesel-electric boat is far more fuel-efficient than a diesel boat. “The benefit to owning an electric boat is that you can never completely run out of energy.” This makes the Vesper 1 a highly efficient, world-traveling vessel.

Patrick and Heather Muran