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Electric Power Adds a New Element to Kilrush-Built Traditional Galway Bay Gleoiteog

12th November 2020
Local products….the 25ft Shannon Hooker Sally O'Keeffe (left) was community-built in 2015 in Querrin on the Loop Head Peninsula near Kilrush under the guidance of Steve Morris, while the new 24ft Galway Bay Gleoiteog Naomh Fanchea has been built in Steve's busy boatyard in Kilrush itself. Local products….the 25ft Shannon Hooker Sally O'Keeffe (left) was community-built in 2015 in Querrin on the Loop Head Peninsula near Kilrush under the guidance of Steve Morris, while the new 24ft Galway Bay Gleoiteog Naomh Fanchea has been built in Steve's busy boatyard in Kilrush itself. Credit: Steve Morris

Steve Morris of Kilrush Boatyard and his lead boat-builder Dan Mill are busy these days, as their team have two further Dublin Bay 21s under construction for the Hal Sisk/Fionan de Barra project, and this week they launched the new "Gleoiteog with a difference" for a local couple who sought a traditional sailing boat with impeccable ecological credentials. Thus while they realised auxiliary power was a requirement, the clients insisted on an electric auxiliary unit, and this has been achieved with a Torqueedo turbine incorporated in the rudder, which suggests there's quite a bit of Antipodean savvy and ingenuity being applied to the boat-building scene down in West Clare.

Steve Morris and Dan Mill are bringing Antipodean skill and ingenuity to the boat-building scene in West ClareSteve Morris and Dan Mill are bringing Antipodean skill and ingenuity to the boat-building scene in West Clare. Photo: W M Nixon

From ahead, the new boat looks like an interesting refinement to the traditional concept for a 23ft gleoiteog, in which the length is 23ft from the aft side of the stem to the transom, meaning that under other jurisdictions she'd be regarded as a 24-footer.

Thus as they have their own way of doing things in Galway Bay, we don't quite know what they'll make of What Steve Did Next. For although he took the lines off a classic gleoiteog belonging to a friend in The Claddagh in Galway City, he subsequently raised the topsides a bit and increased the beam before beginning construction for the Kilrush customers.

Be that as it may, when seen from ahead first while under construction, and then after she'd emerged newly-finished from the shed in recent days, there's no doubt that the true spirit of a curvaceous gleiteog had been achieved, made all the more impressive by gleaming topsides which have been painted in a glorious luminous colour for which "deep yellow" is scarcely appropriate.

Gleiteog_under_buildAlthough some modifications had been made to lines taken off a traditional gleoiteog, as the new boat took shape there was no doubting her true credentials. Photo: Steve Morris

The Naomh Fanchea achieves an elegant balance between traditional precepts and classic boat standardsThe Naomh Fanchea achieves an elegant balance between traditional precepts and classic boat standards, but the view from ahead hides her surprise power-unit feature. Photo: Steve Morris

The Torqueedo power pod may be mounted in and on the lower trailing edge of the rudder, but it is located in such a way that the propeller is working in clear water for maximum thrustThe Torqueedo power pod may be mounted in and on the lower trailing edge of the rudder, but it is located in such a way that the propeller is working in clear water for maximum thrust. Photo: Steve Morris

It's when you go round to the transom that the secret weapon is found, a 4kw Torqueedo pod mounted partially within the foot of the rudder with controls - and power from two Torqueedo lithium batteries in the boat – transmitted by a substantial cable from the transom into the rudderhead and then led down within the rudder itself to the power pod.

The propeller installed, with the transmission cable socketed into the transom and the lower edge of the cheek of the rudder-headThe propeller installed, with the transmission cable socketed into the transom and the lower edge of the cheek of the rudder-head. Photo: Steve Morris

The view from astern reveals the increased beam and the way in which the rudder-mounted propellor is kept in clear waterThe view from astern reveals the increased beam and the way in which the rudder-mounted propellor is kept in clear water, while getting some protection from the fact that the foot of the rudder is fitted a few inches above the bottom of the keel.

In due course, there'll be time to test Naomh Fanchea's performance with the first traditional sunrise sail round Scattery Island under the sails which have been made for her by Yannick Lemonnier of Quantum Sails in Galway, but with such a novel auxiliary motive unit, the immediate curiosity was about performance and range under power.

Torqueedo provides a sophisticated monitoring system which enables you to evaluate speed against range in real-time, which is very much a primary concern at the present developmental stage of battery power longevity. The news is that while Naomh Fanchea could clock 6.5 knots at full power, the available reserves were almost visibly depleting, but at 4.5 knots the unit was confident of 7.5 hours usage, suggesting a range of 33 miles.

Smooth and silent – Naomh Fanchea under way in Kilrush Creek.  Photo: Steve MorrisSmooth and silent – Naomh Fanchea under way in Kilrush Creek. Photo: Steve Morris

For those who think in terms of a range under engine of hundreds of miles, this may seem scarcely worthy of consideration. But for environmentally-conscious owners who live locally and will be using the boat for day sailing with the power unit only essential for accessing or exiting the lock at Kilrush and perhaps getting over the last few miles home on a calm evening, this is all that is required.

As for general handling and manoeuvring under power, this is described as excellent. And as Naomh Fanchea will be based in Kilrush Marina, access to shore power is immediate for connection to each lithium battery's own unit, which enables recharging from totally flat - something only rarely achieved - within 11 hours. In other words, you simply leave the boat plugged in overnight.

In addition, a separate 12-volt battery which is kept up to power by its own solar panel is used to service lights and instruments, the final addition to a very eco-friendly setup which sits well within the ambience of this particularly elegant example of the classic gleioteog.

A sacred place – the Round Tower on Scattery Island off Kilrush in the Shannon EstuaryA sacred place – the Round Tower on Scattery Island off Kilrush in the Shannon Estuary. In keeping with local tradition, the new Naomh Fanchea will be christened by having her first sail at sunrise round Scattery.

WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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About Electric outboard engines

The direct-drive component in electric outboard engines means that the electric motors are incredibly efficient compared to conventional marine combustion motors, operating with considerably higher torque whilst using less power.

Without any need for gears, cooling systems and moving parts the motors are maintenance free, highly efficient and economic to run.

As a result, electric boat engines are becoming more popular on Irish waters as the world transitions from fossil fuels to green energy.

To date, popular electric engine sizes have been trolling engines typically used by fishermen on lakes.

These marine engines are available in models that can be used in fresh water and sea water, for your boat or kayak.

Electric motors are Ideal for fishermen because they are quiet and create little in the way of disturbance 

Popular electric trolling models range from 30lb thrust to 55lb thrust in a range of shaft lengths.

But use is becoming broader now in 2021 and electric outboard engines are being used on small runabouts and RIBS where electric outboard engine sizes are getting bigger.

Outboard electric engines are economical and environmentally friendly. Battery technology is also improving at a rapid rate meaning they are becoming smaller and lighter and run for longer.

Built in hydro-generation provides alternative recharging options whilst under sail are also options meaning the electric outboard now has a home on the stern on small yachts and dayboats too.

As far back as 2014, Torqeedo owner Jack O'Keefe from Cork Harbour told Afloat readers of his sailing adventures in a Drascombe Coaster dinghy and how after swapping from a petrol version the rewards from his new electric outboard engine are less noise, no smells, more stowage, better sailing performance and a motor that can be started by a small child. But it's still not silent, there's a whine he says here 

Popular brands in Ireland are Torqeedo, ePropulsion, Pulsar and Minn Kota but there are more arriving all the time as the technology advances

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