Manta Drive – DIY Electric Sailboat System

Converting to Electric Drive and Never Looking Back

In this blog series, Pajo shares his experience converting our sailboat to Electric Drive. We are sharing Pajo’s plans for the electric drive conversion and are committed to staying open source. Because of this, we have inspired many others to take the same path! Sustainability in the marine industry is happening now and we are at the forefront of the fleet. Read on below and prepare to nerd out…

Why Electric?

After all of the frustration brought on by the Yanmar 2gm20f, I decided I was going to hop on this new band wagon and outfit Cinderella with modern electric propulsion.

Electric propulsion boils down to a very simple concept. An electric motor is connected to propeller, power is supplied to the motor, the motor spins, and the boat moves. How hard can it be?

Um… Hard if you don’t know anything about electric motors!

I started by looking into systems that were currently on the market. OceanVolt, Elco Motor Yachts, MasterVolt, and Torqueedo all have systems out there right now that you can purchase to replace your engine. Why not start there?

I requested a quote from OceanVolt. I liked the look of their system, it seemed to have the best fit and finish of all of the options on the market. A quote came within a couple days after filing out some specs of Cinderella. The cost was nearly the purchase price of Cinderella, batteries not included! I was on a budget, and that would not do.

I decided to dig a little bit deeper and see what electric propulsion was all about. Forums were the next outlet, I ran some numbers, and decided that I could piece together my own system. The goal was to build a system for around $1600, batteries included!

A large portion of my motivation came from Dan and Kika over at Sailing Uma. They are a great inspiration for budget cruisers, and their home-grown electric propulsion system has inspired many.

Let me be clear, before this project, I had no background in electric motor systems, let alone electric motors. This project was going to require some education.

After scouring electric car and golf cart forums, the project began to take shape, and I started to understand what would be required to design my own system.

I started by picking a motor. I chose to us a permanent magnet DC motor. It seemed more efficient for my application and could be had inexpensively from Ebay.

The Manta Drive project was born.

Follow the blog below for the details of my electric conversion and install. Prepare to get nerdy…