Epods Removed


E-Pods and Docking
Less Noise & Vibration
Less Maintenance
Perfect Solution
Keep the Diesel?
Outdrive Leg?
E-Pod Range
E-Pod Weight
e-Pods Installation
e-Pods in Use
Epods Removed


E-Pod 3000 Removal on Pacific Dragon II

 Bye Bye Electric Drives; Hello Electro Steer….

On our way back from the delta this summer we had the shaft seal fail on the port Epod.  After careful consideration and seeing the extensive corrosion on the pods, I opted to remove the Epods completely rather than deal with a less than responsive manufacturer any further.  Also my confidence with the Honda 15 High Thrust Outboard being more than sufficient to power a Gem has grown over the last three years. 

My biggest concern was that the lighter Gem (without the +1000lbs of batteries/Epods) would be more likely to have cavitation issues with the Honda 15 High Thrust Outboard.  In practice, I discovered that the lighter Gem is less likely to pitch fore and aft or be stalled by waves and so far has not had any cavitation issues even with over 14 guests up on the bow.  In fact the cavitation problems were much greater with a heavier boat with the epods then after their removal.  My explanation for this wonderful change is that the energy needed to drive the hull (drag) increases greatly as you add weight; especially in a lightweight boat such as a catamaran and especially when the weight is at the stern (all the epod battery weight was under the aft bunks which is fairly far aft.) This problem is further compounded when encountering waves as the bow being light would bob up and down easily and the wave would encounter the far too low bottom of the bridge deck easily bringing her to a stop. The stopped boat and pitching bow cause the motor to lose its grip and basically “sit and spin.”  The lighter boat sits much higher in the water and moves faster tending to go over the waves rather than through them, and when it does get slowed down by a large wave takes less time and power to get moving again.

Another issue with going back to a single engine was maneuverability.  I was not excited about connecting the motor to the rudders as typical done on Gems; turning the helm lock to lock to make tight maneuvers was never fun.   So looking for a friendlier alternative I opted for a Panther Electro Steer unit (model 101 for saltwater see picture) that mounts on the transom and turns the outboard motor with a touch of a button at the helm in about 4 seconds.  The guys at the boatyard said they had good luck with the Electro Steer units they had installed. 

The performance with my now superlight Gem is much more lively, fast and fun to sail.   Sitting in her berth, I now have over 4 inches of bottom paint showing above the water all around the boat which probably makes her one of the lightest 105MCs.  At her berth, she now sits slightly bow down based on the bottom paint (see below picture.) Considering I have removed the original head/holding tank and replaced them with a Natures Head; switched to composite propane tanks; removed the fuel tanks and only carry two 3.5 gallon portable tanks for the outboard and added two 20 gallon water tanks in the aft storage lockers replacing the 30 gallon tanks under the bunks making the boat considerable lighter.  I only use one (starboard) 20 gallon water tank for day sailing and keep the port one empty.  The original water heater was removed and replaced by a stainless steel insolated unit that sits in the old engine compartment and is kept drained and disconnected and not used unless I plan to stay an extended time aboard.  Hot water is not needed for daysailing anyway and we use the Sunshower for hot water when cruising the delta.

I still have the 30 gallon tanks which I have reinstalled under the bunks after removing the large Epod battery banks and use them for buoyancy tanks now; if I were going long distance cruising I could always press then back into use giving me 100 gallons of water storage capacity.  But for typical day sailing and weekend trips the 20 gallon tanks are more than enough now that the head is waterless (it was the biggest consumer of water.)

Now that I have seen how much nicer it is to have a light boat, I will continue to remove equipment that is rarely used when it fails.  The inverter and microwave are the next candidates to go as I now feel everything on the boat should be run on 12 volt DC, propane gas or straight from the Honda 2000 generator.  The large batteries, extra weight and complication required for a inverter are simply not worth having. Also, I don't think we have used the microwave in over two years so it is just dead weight that would not be missed.  The extra storage space gained by removing it would be a big hit as well with my wife; next years projects....


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