After several years of motoring out to the sailing area of Newport Beach I have desired an electric conversion to allow smoother and quieter operation, provide a substitute power source for relaxed cruising with friends, and allow access to the canal homes in our area. An electric conversion would allow us to significantly expand my local area of exploration. My gas 4.0 motor was not particularly happy at super slow cruising speeds and liked to run at quarter throttle which for the Alice Gale was approaching hull speed. I desired an electric motor that would have zero to max power available with the twist of a knob or throttle.
I have researched multiple sources for electric propulsion and found a direct solution for my use without significant modification to Alice Gale. Elco Motor Yachts started distributing 9.9 hp motors that have the exact footprint of my existing 4.0 hp Mercury motor.
As a reminder to my followers, my number one usage of Alice Gale is harbor cruising under sail with friends while enjoying the views and a glass of wine with snacks. Boat speed was never an issue, so a fast responding quick moving sailboat is the opposite of my desires. Under perfect conditions I wanted a responsive boat that would move comfortable under a range of wind conditions and be stable enough not to concern the captain or passengers of ‘dangerous capsize conditions’. Alice Gale has always been a responsive and easily driven boat under light to moderate wind conditions. Under erratic and higher wind conditions greater then 10 knots required more sailing focus from me or reefing to de-power the boat for comfort sailing.
With this in mind I have been comfortable trading boat acceleration for more stability.
The following photo’s explain my changes to Alice Gale in making her a truly multipurpose boat. She is rigged for both sail and as an electric launch.
My design updates included adding 550 lbs of lead acid AGM batteries to the center line of the boat.
This modification has done an excellent job in lowering the waterline on the bow of the boat and raising slightly the stern to match the designed waterline originally intended for the Ebihen 15. Alice Gale was alway a bit tail heavy and looks better with several passengers sitting up front. With the added battery weight clearly centered on the boats center the boat sits very comfortable in the water, though it now may be an inch or two overall lower then design. It has made the boat several inches longer at the waterline, so in reality I have a slight increase in maximum hull speed. As the owner of the boat I am extremely happy with the changes.
Alice Gale sitting nicely at the dock with electric propulsion
llSo starting from the beginning of my modification. After determining by measurement and balance I selected an installation of the batteries directly below my forward seats on the center balance point of Alice Gale. I designed and made brackets and a battery shelf to both secure and hide the batteries from normal view. All of my parts where first constructed with thin ply patterns. I experimented a number of times to come up with the final shape, shelf height and overall look.
Brackets cut and notched for cross members
Removing finish for Epoxy attachment
Bracket and cross members installed
With the weight of each battery at 61 lbs I made sure I had sufficient cross bracing to support the weight of four batteries. Each support member is epoxy attached to the adjoining frame.
Adding a door rail
Door rail detail
Door rail detail
Door rail installed
Prep and paint the shelf brackets
Painted to match hull color
Dry fitted door panel
Identified Left/Right side for perfect fit
First battery install
Cutouts for Gauges
Filled old master Switch location
Master Switch, Amp Meter, and Charger outlet
The tight areas under the seat shelf has the added benefit of allowing stowage of fenders and life jackets without the clutter of being underfoot or hidden away in cabinets.
I installed NOCO Genius dual 10 amp chargers for each 12v bank. I hooked up across each 6 volt pair to individually charge two batteries independently from the other batteries in the bank. Each side of Alice Gale has a similar row of batteries (4 – 210 amp AGM) and a 2 bank 12 volt charger as shown.
Shunt and bilge pump wiring
I used my previously wired bilge pump and required to a 12V bank. The lower shunt provides details to the running amp meter from Victron Energy.
Ready for our first cruise