Solar Boat Makes Waves

The two best days in a boat owner’s life are the day they buy it, and the day they sell it. At least, that’s the common saying among people who actually spend money to buy a boat. [saveitforparts], on the other hand, looks like he’s going to have many more great days on this boat than that since he cobbled it together nearly for free, and he won’t even need to purchase any fuel for it since it runs on solar power.

The build starts with [saveitforparts] heading out to a literal pile of boats in his yard, unearthing an old single-person sailboat, and then fixing the major problems with its hull. With a new coat of red paint, the focus turns to the drivetrain. Propulsion is handled by an electric trolling motor found at an auction for $8 and is powered by an off-the-shelf battery bank provided by a sponsor of his channel. A pair of solar panels (which were traded for) fitted to outriggers keep the battery bank topped off, and there’s plenty of energy left over with this setup to charge drone batteries and other electronics while out on the lake.

[saveitforparts] reports that the single-passenger solar boat is remarkably stable on the water and fairly quick at full speed thanks to its light weight. He even hypothesizes that it could be fished from. The only thing not particularly stable was towing it to the lake, as the rough roads and permanently-attached solar panel outriggers weren’t particularly congruent with each other. If you’re looking for something similar to carry a few passengers, though, have a look at this much larger version.

11 thoughts on “Solar Boat Makes Waves

  1. Brilliant, I’ve had exactly this on my drawing board for years but I don’t think I’d actually use it much, so I’ve not pursued it. Fantastic to see it done by someone who actually makes use of it!

    My sketch involves folding panels though :D

  2. “A boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money.”

    BOAT – Break Out Another Thousand.

    There’s a lot of those jokes out there. Makes me think that boating might be kind of expensive?

    1. Digression…It’s not inexpensive, but it can be quite affordable. For 16 years now, we have kept a small trailerable cruising sailboat (which we bought used and fixed up) at a nearby not-fancy yacht club, and I estimate that all in (everything: purchase, maintenance, upgrades, insurance, gas, club fees), our annual cost is comparable to having two Starbucks lattes every day, or always buying lunch at work. Club is the biggest bite; ownership gets way cheaper if you keep the boat on a trailer in your yard, and launch from free or inexpensive ramps.

      Boats present GREAT opportunities for hacking. Just about everyone who does their own boat maintenance ends up hacking up something clever.

  3. I think detachable is the way to go for those outriggers. You would want to have a stud on the one end and a sliding latch on the other for a “hinge”. You might get by with just a hole in the frame of the panel, or reinforce tje area with a bit of thicker flat stock. Then you can get the panels strapped flat for towing. Also an option: get some half size panels if you can, then you could have one at bow, one at stern and much smaller outriggers.

    Curious to see his in and out amp numbers; with a trolling motor like that they may be pretty good, might be able to get by with a smaller battery if you really can count on the Sun providing.

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