Ultralight sea trials

Malcolm installed Hobie hatch for battery stowage below decks

A few days ago I got back to Malcolm’s shed and we finished installing the Ultralight kayak motor. While I’d been skiving off on a hiking trip to Wild Dog Mountains Malcolm had sourced a suitable hatch and installed that. The hatch is a Hobie accessory and is just the right size to take the battery and it has a waterproof seal and a good locking mechanism. It means the battery can be stowed below decks and its weight is as low as possible.

For waterproofing where the cable goes through the hull we used a rubber door stop from Clark Rubber – it is tapered just like you need a bung to be and it plugs a hole of the right diameter to take the Torqeedo plug.

All that’s needed now is to glue on some velcro strips to hold the throttle and were ready for sea trials.  We loaded the kayak onto Malcolm’s 4×4 and took it to Clareville beach. There didn’t seem much point in attaching the steering ropes to the motor, thinking it’d be easy to steer with the paddle.

Mal gluing the velcro strip for throttle attachment

Its not! So we spent a few minutes more to attach the steering lines. For now we just ran a line in a loop from the steering ear on one side, crossed over, along through some eyes, across the cockpit and back down the other side, and back at the stern crossed over again. Its steered now just by pulling the line one way or the other.  It might be nice to improve this so there is an indication of when the steering is dead ahead.

It sure scoots along nicely.  At 5 knots  (flat out) it feels like its going fast when close to the moored boats.  And 5 knots is faster than you’d paddle this kayak (or else you’re in a real big hurry) and it seems around 2 knots is probably a nice relaxing speed, and about the speed of gentle paddling.  At low speeds the read-out shows range of 20 to 30 miles, and at full speed its back to around 3 miles.

The water was cold and the kayak is a design that allows the water to fill into the seat so you get a wet bum pretty quick.  I was out of there quick smart and passed it on to Malcolm for a turn.  He was surprised how powerful it is – expecting it to be a very modest thrust that would be equivalent to slow paddling.  It would work well when used in combination with paddling – so it makes only a small drain on the battery, and the padding is easy.

Next time I’ll wear my wetsuit or figure out how to keep the water out of the seat…

Trying to steer using the paddle

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