Skip Novac And Fossil Fuels

Last week’s Blog on Jimmy Cornell stimulated a lot of conversation. This week we thought we would highlight how CMG’s approach differs from Skip’s vision of a safe and reliable exploration vessel.

We want to highlight that this boat is built for a very specific purpose which differs from our vision.  As a charter vessel fully crewed with exclusive cruising areas envisioned, Skip often says that “everything on this boat is functional”.  Except it is not really, as is clear from this uncomfortable steering position when near ice, which it will be very often, with the head exposed to the boom when doing an emergency maneuver.

Curtesy: Yachting World

Or by this head height for the cockpit seating, the yellow black safety tape clearly identifies this hazard.

The clear advantage of electric systems on a yacht is obvious in the following picture. This engine room is full beam and takes up a huge amount of space. Triple Racor filters, massive water strainers, two engines and a generator, not seen is the 8125l diesel tank, and the 945l waste oil tank.  All of this can be eliminated and replaced with battery packs which need no access, as they’re maintenance free, and two electric motors with no gearbox.  Now, from a maintenance and reliability point of view; fewer components means more reliability without question.

Curtesy: Yachting World

On an electric boat, there’s only one moving part; that is the shaft, and the reliability of an electric motor is unquestioned by any industry, except the marine industry.

The total weight of all this (940 kg engines, 360 kg Genset, and 9000 kg fuel/oil) is then compounded by the weight of all the spares (300kg) which is fine on a monohull but would harm performance on a catamaran.  People often comment on the weight of batteries for what we plan, and in our current design, with high heating load, we have about 1600 kg for the batteries, less than 520 kg for motors, controllers and inverters, which comes to an overall weight saving of 70%! Our weight issues arise from the luxury items we have on board like a wine-fridge, large tender, and sauna, for example.

Safety on board Whio II is predicated on moving in a weather window and moving fast enough to avoid dangerous weather so we could not, or perhaps would not, follow Skip to Patagonia, but be forced to our own timetable which does not suit his need for charter work.

As for crew, Whio II is designed to be operated solo and has a powerful rig and sail plan. We choose electric winches and furlers to ensure we can optimise sails in any weather.  Skip explains his avoidance of electric is because the amateur crew “push buttons willy-nilly” but this means the whole deck area is optimised for operation in the worst conditions and as a consequence it is not a very comfortable place to live.

One of the key ideas behind Whio II’s design is to increase reliability by freshwater washing of all sails and sheets after every passage. This reduces the damage done by salt. Furthermore, our winches are in the interior so we will in effect never have salt water on them. This will massively improve their reliability over the lifetime of the boat. Moving winches inside eliminates any risk of harm by going outside in harsh conditions and when safety is truly paramount; eliminated risk is much better than reduced risk.

By implementing the CMG system we think Skip could offer another cabin for guests, offer similar passage times and never fear energy poverty as to recharge batteries you could make 50kW in winds over 20kn. His trips to the most protected parts of the planet, (where even green-waste cannot go over the side) could reduce emissions to the environment of poisonous residue of diesel additives, and fine particulates, noxious NO2 and other chemicals directly to the water via wet exhaust, poisons from ablative paints, and around 63,000 kg of carbon emissions per year if making 3 tours and most of the fuel.

Whio II would glide in silently, leave no imprint on the environment at all, even from ablative paint, and return safely. Diesel and our precious remote environments just don’t mix. It should be our leaders in exploration, leading the way in diesel’s removal. Hopefully the next generation of exploration vessels will leave the environment the same way they entered it. Unspoiled, untouched, and unadulterated.