An electric outboard is on my wishlist for quiet dinghy expeditions
When we were anchored in Loch Moidart on our cruise last month, three of us took the dinghy to explore the inner reaches of the estuary.
It was a beautifully still, calm evening. The islands of Shona and Riska were reflected perfectly in the water, as you can see above. The only thing that should have been punctuating the tranquillity was the plaintive piping of Oystercatchers.
But here we were rattling by with our noisy four-stroke outboard. Our voices echoed across most of the inner lough – you know how it is when you’re motoring in the dinghy: be careful what you say because it’s carrying over the whole anchorage.
For a while we stopped and paddled. It seemed so wrong to be disturbing the peace. But rubber dinghies aren’t made for rowing far and after a while we had to start the engine up and get back.
So at the top of my wishlist for the autumn is an electric outboard. Ah, to be able to motor silently and hear the birds without disturbing them.
I’ve been looking closely at the Torqueedo range. I’ve no idea how practical these outboards are, but I very much like the idea and I’m hoping to put one to the test.
According to the blurb, they are the same weight or marginally lighter than a conventional petrol outboard, have the same range and I’ve heard they are surprisingly pokey, even with a two-bladed propeller.
The Travel 503 engine, below, which would be equivalent to a 2hp petrol engine, uses a lithium battery which gives around two hours’ continuous use. It can be recharged with a solar panel (hmmm, just how many days would that take in Scotland, I wonder?) and is said to be completely waterproof.
It is more expensive than a four-stroke, which would cost around £600 compared to £1,100 for the Travel 503, but an advantage of the Torqueedo, according to the manufacturers, is that it is ‘corrosion free’ so there shouldn’t be any regular servicing costs.
I’d like to find out how practical it is in use, how easy and fast to recharge and the battery storage drop rate is when it’s left unused. I also want to know how quiet it really is, because for me that would be the clincher. I really do hate the drone of the dinghy motor.
If we can persuade Torqueedo to let us try one out, I’ll report back. In the meantime, have you tried an electric outboard and, if you have, what’s your experience of it?