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It's All Gone Hybrid! - Brinks Rhapsody, The Blog


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Watch the feature length Captains Blog below - then read the story behind trip...

 

 

Day One:

This trip would be the last to Norfolk for the 2014 season, and as things turned out my Mum would be accompanying me for a couple of nights - after which I'd be left to handle 44ft of brand new boat alone.  No pressure then.

The journey to the boatyard was familiar and a well trodden route - but began with massive problems on the London Underground.  I have two ways to get to Liverpool Street and I had gambled wrongly in the morning rush hour which to take - at Kings Cross they were 5 deep waiting for the next train on the sub-surface route so quickly turn around (as fast as one can with a large suitcase and my bag of cameras and various other non essential but often required boat bits) to the Piccadilly Line and on to Holborn where we can get the Central Line to Liverpool Street.   Then queue for a free ticket machine to collect the pre-bought tickets and just under 10 minutes before the train to Norwich was leaving.

Once we left London though the stress ebbed away and before London we were changing trains at Norwich bound to Hoveton & Wroxham.  One of the reasons I have enjoyed Barnes Brinkcraft is their location - walking distance from the station.  When one factors in a return taxi fare to the likes of Stalham, and in the season a late booking discount of 20% their hire charges fall down more in keeping with other boatyards - still a little more but not a great deal for what you get.   Despite this fact, I still like some of the more classic boats and designs and out of season their prices are not beatable in comparison to more modern designs.

A warm welcome was had - we left our luggage in reception and headed off to Roys for the shopping.  It was nice to have an extra pair of hands on the trip back to the boatyard, and despite us trying our best to not get too much the bill still crept up.  Another reason why private ownership is beneficial being able to leave certain staples onboard and not need to buy new or more than you may use in a single visit - like dry pasta, sauces, tins of beans and kitchen towel etc. 

Back at the yard it was time to see the boat - it looked huge from the outside, and despite having a relatively low freeboard, my mum clearly was not going to be able to give me too much help needing to be helped on and off.  It was straight away we noted the provision of an extra handrail may be helpful and before long Philip the Engineering Manager came along - I pointed out the point about the handrails, but I was not thinking in the terms of a boat operator.  You see, he said - if we put one here or raised the height of this one there it would not be long before a hirer hit or was hit by something or another boat and they got bent and the forces damaged the gel coat - they try to keep the hand rails away from the sides or rear of the boats now for this reason.

It turned out Philip was responsible for much of the build - being allowed to experiment within reason and had managed to source parts globally and keep their build costs as low as possible despite the added complexity of the systems.  Much of the logic boards and firmware had been programmed by him and as we walked from cabin to cabin showing me this feature or that, I knew I liked the guy - he not only was thinking outside the box, he had destroyed the box so not to be restricted by anything that had been done previously.

Next up he wanted me to take her for a run down the river - not so much a trial run, literally 'right I've untied her off we go' and so I was now heading down towards Wroxham Broad chatting away with the chap who helped build her half of me enjoying discovering about how it was built and some of the technical points along the way, the other half of me trying to figure out how she handled, avoid the day boats and then execute a 180 degree turn.  My Mum stepped in reminding us 'boys with their toys' that there was not much daylight left and we wanted to get to Horning.  We duly went back to the boatyard, moored up did the usual paperwork and were then off down the river Horning bound.

I was struck by the sheer quietness of the boat and her torque and control.  I'd not long been on a boat only 2 feet longer during 'Lads Week' - Jewel of Light - and twice made very amateurish mistakes causing me to get 'egg on my face'.  Despite this boat being almost as long everything from the steering to the precise control of speed was so much easier and she had bags of immediate torque and power despite being electronically limited to 6.5 MPH. 

Under the water the way the angle of the prop is, its pitch and the rudder are not what one usually have on an Alpha 44 - in this build that makes itself known with some noise and vibration at higher speed, something I was told they hope to put right over the winter but from my point of view even the most novice hirer should be able to keep this boat in the right direction.

What began to bother me though was the fact the sun was getting lower in the sky but there were simply so many boats on the water - as we arrived in Horning, turning in front of the Swan, all the moorings at the staithe were taken - and just along the way so too were all the moorings at the New Inn.  We pressed on and arrived at the Ferry Inn, and once more were met with no space - even the Island was busy without enough room for 44 foot of boat to fit in.  Thankfully, Horning Ferry Marina had two spaces on their riverfront moorings.  A chap on another Barnes Brinkcraft boat seemed helpful but on edge all at the same time - I thought to begin he was worried about how I was going to moor stern on apparently alone on such a large boat, but as it turned out minutes later was waiting for another boat with more of his party on and he clearly did not want them to arrive without being able to moor.  As it happened they arrived minutes later and once moored there was literally no space at the inn.

We decided to eat out in the Ferry tonight and I was still bemused as to the point of having to stand waiting to be shown to a table, only to then have to make a note of the table number and order at the Bar just like most pubs so one may as well just walk in, find a nice table and then order giving the number as usual. 

Still I had the Brie Wedges to start, my mum the Japanese King Prawns - both were lovely and well priced.  I warned my mum that the portions were big, she opted for the Chicken Burger, myself for a cheese burger with a side of onion rings.  Lovely proper 'chip shop' style chips, fresh salad in the bun with the meat- it went down a treat and the onion rings (like those at the Bridge Inn, Acle) were proper fresh battered not mashed up onion in a crisp coated ring from a  frozen catering pack of them.  We both really enjoyed the food, and the drinks went down well too.

Back on the boat time to put the heating on for a little time - only it got so warm so evenly I just had one heater going in the back cabin and left the door open - each matrix providing 1kw equivalent of heat with a 2kw equivalent in the saloon area.  This boat sure would be good on a cold night.  The only issue is the 'wet system' a sort of diesel fired boiler is so powerful it consumes a lot of fuel (about 2 litres and hour) so it would cost you around £2.80 an hour to keep toasty.

It was about 10:30pm and time to go to bed, I wanted to be up with the sun tomorrow morning - suffice to say I slept like a baby - although not up all night screaming lol.

 

Day Two:

It was a beautiful still morning, and I moved about quietly getting ready - lovely to have piping hot water still thanks to the super well insulated immersion tank - also fed by the heating system - then on deck it was time to squeegee the water of the seats and screen and before long time to set off.  Our neighbours still deep in slumber, a few  anglers setting up along the way at the holiday homes - I turned the power on, green light lit and then we were off - without sound - destination Ranworth.

My plan was we would moor on Malthouse Broad and cook breakfast.  As it happened there was a space at the Staithe - I manoeuvred far further away from the quay than I otherwise would so as to keep the noise of the prop wash down to a minimum - and use of Thrusters was banned due ot their terrible noise.  It was still very early and people clearly were in their berths. 

As Boycee a member of this Forum will attest, I managed this since he had no idea we had arrived next to him and had not disturbed his crew.

Once moored we headed of to the Wildlife Trail if you want to call it that, the boardwalk that goes to Ranworth Broad.  Lovely to see the changes in colour of the leaves and a real moist woody scent to the air - Ranworth Broad so much larger than Malthouse looking very much at peace.   It was back to the boat and breakfast was cooked and enjoyed - time to depart our destination Potter Heigham.

My mum took over the wheel for a time on the Bure, she can hold an even course but ask her to turn left or right and there is a delay followed by a 50/50 chance the wheel will be turned in the right direction, sometimes you strike lucky other times I have to tell her 'no the other left' - so after a while it was decided she would go down and have a coffee and stay in the warm and I'd take over the wheel.  

When we arrived in Potter Heigham, the moorings were all full - into Herbert Woods it was, and right before us a space so a quick spin around (now able to use the Thrusters) and were moored in a jiffy.  One of the chaps at Herbert Woods working on Sovereign Light next to us questioned how it was all he could hear was the sound of the thrusters no engine, all electric I said - his look was priceless - this sort of look and quizzical expression followed us from place to place as many a passerby commented 'oh look new Electric Hybrid' which usually followed the question 'how does that work then'.   It is easy to compare it to a Toyota Prius as people seem to know what that is and how works.

Into Lathams it was - bloody hell their selection of Christmas lights was huge and twice I tried to buy some nice red LED lights only to be overruled by my mum.  Sometimes being alone would make life easier - then she was looking at some of the homewares and I got my own back - we both agreed it would be lovely to have such a shop near us in London.

We left to come to Waterside Marine Sales -  we looked, I wished and we talked about all the things one could do to a boat, or what a state this one was in and how much that would cost to put right and so on, my mum being far more able to talk boat than my dad.  Then back to our boat and time to leave - this time Ludham Bridge and the moorings would be our destination, but would we get under the bridge?

The height of the water was playing on my mind a lot - the boat having an air draft of 8ft 3" - upon arrival just passing Ludham Bridge Boatyard, Jason spotted me and called out - pleasantries exchanged I edged at a snail's pace to the bridge - then Jason called out 'your not make that' into reverse I went being lead by the locals knowledge, only to hear 'no your be fine' and so once more align the boat and go through (there was under 8ft showing) which begged the question where the hell would I go - well it turned out quashed on the floor between the seat with my eyes peeking up and right hand on the wheel.  Phew, we were under. 

We moored up and after a short time I met up with Simon and Sonia (formerly of the Corsican now of River Song) and was able to show Simon on board, Dylan the dog, Sonia and my mum doing what women do best - chat.  And so it was that Simon was wowed by the interior, features and work that had gone into the boat.  Funny how then later I popped over to Jason and company at Ludham Bridge Boatyard for a coffee and chat - the general 'Engineering stance' being lovely, but what about us in a 10 to 15 years time trying to trouble shoot an electrical connection problem with all that tech.  This is why sometimes being a user rather than a fixer is better.

Back on board we settled down for the evening, I was cooking Spaghetti Bolognese  - I was actually laughing as I had the hob on, the oven and the microwave as if I was at home, and here I was on a boat - lovely food and nice bottle of wine was had, and throughout the evening, despite cooking electric and using the heating the generator did not need to kick in.  Goodness knows the capacities of the batteries on this boat, but they are placed jut about anywhere there is space. So time for bed once again, tomorrow my mum would be off to London.

 

Day Three:

Simon and Sonia had very kindly offered to take my mum to the station today, so we had a lay in and in so doing missed some rain - the day was cooler, more grey today too and I took a trip to the shop by the bridge and bought the latest Jack Fellows series of Murder Mysteries set on the Norfolk Broads - Murky Waters written by Chris Crowther for my mum along with a paper for me and some munchies.  We took the morning nice and easy, watched an increasingly popular new way of mooring spreading amongst hirers - aim bow of boat at quay, hit quay have crew member leap off - boat bounces away from quay, turn wheel hard to the right or left full throttle forward, allow quay to take impact of bow again and power the stern around whereby crew member takes stern rope.

We witnessed how a hire boat filled up with water, used hose to wash decks and then mess  bout with hose for 45 minutes before departing - we then headed on over - I say we, I did, my mum walked over the bridge to join me on the other bank and help take my ropes.  Nice thought as this was of her, I said but when you're not here or there is not a bridge to cross so your already waiting for my arrival, I'll need to do it alone.  I managed to moor she helped with the hose and so between us filled the boat with water before heading back over to the opposite bank and mooring again.  I might add this was done backwards which must have surprised the boat who came through Ludham Bridge to see a boat go from one side of the river to the next and moor all in reverse - yes sometimes bow and stern thrusters come into their own.

Simon and Sonia duly arrived and it felt odd and quiet now being alone, however it also meant I felt more able and free to settle into my routine - the boat now getting various cameras mounted about the surfaces and within half hour of leaving the mooring I felt very much more myself - the Rascal was alone and in control without any assistance, I feel I thrive on that feeling I have to cope and get it right first time or I'll be in trouble.  When one has others about to help  - as proved on Lads Week, I loose my concentration and things can quickly end up in a pickle - like concentrating on a dog, placing a book under a table leg to steady the table and look up to find your almost in the bank.

I headed up the River Ant, on to Barton Broad where I put the mud weight down and spent a few minutes filming.  Then I headed initially to moor at Paddy's Lane, but realising I could make it back to How Hill before dusk, decided to carry on - filming as I went.  I even managed to set up three cameras on the way back over Barton Broad to capture my mooring at How Hill, which as far as I was concerned went like clockwork and goes to show I can handle 44 foot of boat as easy as 29 foot.  I was content but hungry - so got about chopping my chicken breasts ready to cook a nice curry complete with beer, poppadom's and onion bargees.  It does not get much better - nice curry, good beer and be on the water! I watched a DVD and then it was time to go to bed - the days were just racing by made all the more short because of the clocks only recently going back to GMT.

 

Day Four:

And so the last full day had arrived - I knew I was meeting River Song, Simon and Sonia's new beautiful boat that afternoon and be spending the evening with them at Salhouse - today was going to be a 'working day' for the morning was spent preparing the boat for the Boat Review.  This means packing all my stuff away, making sure there is no water splashes on taps, or bread crumbs on work tops then deciding what order I will go and a bullet list of points to cover - then hit record and off I go.

I have no script, and I am usually a rather mellow, quiet chap - but when the camera is on and because I don't want to mess about editing too much I sharpen up and the on screen presenter comes out.  The review frankly is a chore because it takes a lot of time, and the preparation before hand is often great needing to pack your clothes and things away far earlier than you might otherwise want to or need but now it was done I had the rest of the afternoon to enjoy.  The sun was out, hell it was positively warm on November 1st!

Down the River Ant, under Ludham now showing 8ft 3" and left on to the Bure - slow, stop, turn and moor at St. Benetts - get some toast and jam and relax.  Knock Knock on the window... I look up, and see a young woman 'yes' she shouts along the moorings excitedly -  'it is him' - toast will have to wait, who is this I wonder and come out of the boat by now the whole family maybe 6 people have come along all avid followers of the Captain's Blog.  Shake hands, have a chat - is this fame?  I am not sure but increasingly thismakes up much of my trips meeting people who for some reason seem to see me as somehow 'cool'.  I can't complain but it makes for interesting times afterwards as I sit wondering 'who were they then'.

I depart the moorings with flare - leaving sideways, well you if you can why not eh? And off to Ranworth Dam, where I want to do some filming from Ranworth Island of the boat.  I duly arrive moor stern on and put the camera on the grass - now I think, whatever happens I must get that back - and promptly depart.  It was at this stage I originally wanted to do some 360 degree turns and show how easily you can control the boat, but now I felt foolish with people moored not too far away they would think I was being a right pain doing silly thing and making noise with thrusters so limited it to a  very short segment, now back to collect the camera - thankfully not stolen by a Goose - and back on the boat it was time to slowly cruise to Salhouse.

And so that ended the last break of the year, that felt like it went oh so quickly onboard a very nice boat.  So much has happened this year some happy, some sad, adventures alone and with Shiela on the water - parties and BBQ's new people to meet, faces to names you name it.  Now the long winter awaits, cold days, long nights oh I can't wait for the Spring and 2015 to see what new things await and what boats I'll be blogging the day from then.

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Had to laugh at the "but ask her to turn left or right and there is a `delay` followed by a 50/50 chance the wheel will be turned in the right direction" I fully understand comment having the same issue. I say Kaz gets commands via Satellite, think back to the 7 sec delay when you switch from normal tv to your sat tv.

Downloaded the video and will watch over the weekend.

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It is not related to the GPS speed readout of the boat but here is where things get a bit complicated and I may well be talking twaddle but I’ll try and explain.

 

On a ‘normal’ hire boat you’ve got an engine and a gear box and I think most would be a 2:1 ratio so if you’re doing 2,000RPM the prop is spinning at about 1,000RPM.  Because Rhapsody does not have an engine or a gearbox whatever RPM the motor spins at is the speed the prop is turning at so because she will spin at about 1,500 RPM that is about 2,500 RPM from a congenital engine set up.

 

I don’t know what horsepower the electric motor is but because of the torque it develops and power to move the boat I’d say pretty beefy – I think what you may and others could think is something along the lines of “well that is all well and good but half of one mile an hour above the maximum speed limit is not that good when i may need power in reserve”.

 

At the end of the day many broads boats can’t make way at 6 MPH, then there are others that can depending on hull size, engine size (or how worn that engine may be) and so on. Let’s face it they are not build for power and speed. 

 

Concluding therefore, I would not be worried about this boat going against the tide not because of the speed it can obtain but the ‘feel’ you’ve got giving confidence.  I’ve been on boats such as Royale that was lighter, shorter and had 40HP of engine but you could not do much with it because so much power was lost through the Hydraulic drive – your revs would rise to almost 2,500RPM, your fuel burn goes through the roof and there you are plodding along still at under 6 MPH.

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Are you sure you aren't a professional? Very captivating and interesting.. I get the point now :) .. I'll miss my parents boat as the top steering position is quieter than our boat would be! I'll also missing that peace and quiet which we had with our sailing boat (but compromise).. Lets hope the cost comes down and more yards manage to do this as you say it's nice to have the piece and quiet and any environmental benefit is all good. Have a good time off and hopefully see you on the rivers next year cheers

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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought I had actually recorded the figures, but look as I might I can’t now find it – it was over £120.00 but under £150.00 the deposit being £200.00 .  Of zero help because I don’t know the fuel tank size on the boat, but it used two thirds of a tank according to the gauge .

 

I don’t think you would really end up using much less fuel (so it might not be any ‘greener’ if you did the maths) the reason is, when your on a normal diesel driven boat your RPM vary – with the generator (a 50HP Beta) it starts up and then runs at a fast RPM and then will shut down when the computers figure enough charge has been put into the batteries.

 

What it does mean is like leaving Horning Ferry in the morning, totally silent and over the course of the trip I really got used to this and just how noisy other boats are as they come, pass and go off into the distance in short, you got to hear how it would if one was on a sailing boat but unlike a sailing boat, you had all your modern amenities down below the best luxury being the electric hob and oven – so much less condensation produced not burning gas, again possible in part by the generator and large battery bank.

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Sorry but how is it a better way to use fuel?

If you use 100 litres for propulsion in a direct Diesel engine or 100 litres for generating electricity then it's the same net effect.

I agree on the other points, less noise (which must be great) and less condensation. But it's still the same amount of fuel.

Ok so you will save on gas for cooking but unless they can get most of the recharge from solar or wind power on the boat it's a bit of a duff shout.

When you then consider the destruction caused in mining the raw materials then disposal of the batteries. The shipping of them as well I am not sold on its green credentials.

Still a darn good posting though robin.

And a very nice boat.

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I thought I had actually recorded the figures, but look as I might I can’t now find it – it was over £120.00 but under £150.00 the deposit being £200.00 .  Of zero help because I don’t know the fuel tank size on the boat, but it used two thirds of a tank according to the gauge .

 

I don’t think you would really end up using much less fuel (so it might not be any ‘greener’ if you did the maths) the reason is, when your on a normal diesel driven boat your RPM vary – with the generator (a 50HP Beta) it starts up and then runs at a fast RPM and then will shut down when the computers figure enough charge has been put into the batteries.

 

What it does mean is like leaving Horning Ferry in the morning, totally silent and over the course of the trip I really got used to this and just how noisy other boats are as they come, pass and go off into the distance in short, you got to hear how it would if one was on a sailing boat but unlike a sailing boat, you had all your modern amenities down below the best luxury being the electric hob and oven – so much less condensation produced not burning gas, again possible in part by the generator and large battery bank.

 

Is it just me or does that sound an awful lot of diesel and money for four days not going far on an electric sort of boat???

 

Dan

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Dan, I have not hired a 44ft boat myself before so I really have no idea how the conventional diesel engine for propulsion set up would compare as to fuel use.

 

Rhapsody is not really trying to be a 'green' boat e.g. that it better for the environment, or your pocket's - it after all has a 50hp engine which is attached to a generator  (let's just call it a damn big Alternator) and produces almost 20kVa (or in Laymen's terms that is the same as sixteen 1000w electric heaters going at the same time).

 

Furthermore it has a 5KW diesel fired boiler (an Eberspacher  D5W S) for the heating and hot water system - this alone gets through 620ml of diesel  per hour on high - and said heating was run from sunset to perhaps 11pm or midnight each evening, so that would be about 7 hours @ 620ml per hour = 4.3 litres (or £6.02 at the common £1.40 a litre pump price on the rivers). I would just regulate heat through the thermostat but the actual diesel heater would run and burn fuel constantly.

 

Because the engine runs pretty much at a constant high RPM when it is called for, it is burning a lot more fuel - even though its actual run time is less than a normal (perhaps lower horse power) diesel engine propelling a boat.

 

The engine/generator has  to power three 5KW battery chargers so there is not a great deal of reserve left over for the other power systems, hence the large solar panels to give things a helping hand throughout the day and (hopefully) help keep the generator needing to cut in down.

 

As I said in my review, this is a boat without compromises - so if you go down that route you can't have constant hot water, heating on demand a proper electric hob and oven etc and an electric drive system with frugal use of fuel.  You can't even hop from riverside electric points because the majority run at 16 Amps and the boat needs 32 Amps when plugged in for the bank of chargers because when running there is only 1 meagre Amp left over for anything else so you could not run the hob for example) .

 

I recon if you hired the boat for 10 days you would need to fill the fuel tank up - it is under the rear double berth and sits horizontally about two this the size of the double berth (so it is not small) .

 

So what is the real point of all this power hungry kit? A lot of silent running when on the go which I found really amazing and being able to live like you do at home with a central heating system, plug in what you wishwhen you want and not give second though to it.  If you want all of thisthen likely your the type of customer who would be willing to pay for the privilege - after all in high season this boat is far from reasonably priced for many, but for those who want it it's available.

 

To a large degree a big leap has been made - they could have gone for the solar panels and generator and left things there, but going for the electric drive in some ways reflects other parts of engineering we are seeing coming to the fore - Hybrid buses in London, Hybrid race cars in Formula One - the general public 'get' the word Hybird - do something with a boat that features this magic word and it just sounds modern and cool even if you're not really sure how it works underneath.

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Sorry but how is it a better way to use fuel?

If you use 100 litres for propulsion in a direct Diesel engine or 100 litres for generating electricity then it's the same net effect.

I agree on the other points, less noise (which must be great) and less condensation. But it's still the same amount of fuel.

Ok so you will save on gas for cooking but unless they can get most of the recharge from solar or wind power on the boat it's a bit of a duff shout.

When you then consider the destruction caused in mining the raw materials then disposal of the batteries. The shipping of them as well I am not sold on its green credentials.

Still a darn good posting though robin.

And a very nice boat.

 

exactly better way to use the fuel, in terms of quite cruzing  no noise etc, yes the net effect is the same if you look at it in terms of cost, or volume but what price on the magic of silent curuzing, im thinking hard about hireing it next year

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It is swings and roundabouts really - I don't think it is just Barnes Brinkcraft who must feel a little frustrated with knowing they have to build new, but being limited on molds they can use which now look 'much the same'.

 

That is where the likes of Richardson's shine through being able to sit down and design everything from the top down.

 

Of course it is a small thing being able to plonk the kettle on without thought, but see it makes me think what is possible in the private arena - nice little espresso machine, you could have a washer dryer and dishwasher while you're at it should you have the benefit of such a powerful means of generating electricity - lets see what the next build looks like, although will be the same mold I know they want to refine a lot and include a lot more automation to systems using 'Raspberry Pie' based computers and open source software.

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So in effect you have a 50hp engine that uses more diesel than a standard engine, requires all the regular maintenance of a std engine alongside a massive bank of batteries that would be impossible to replace without the assistance of a yard and lifting gear, an electric and charging system beyond the DIY capabilities of your average owner on top of large build costs.

Bet private owners are queuing up to buy one.....

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Matt:

 

The engine is nothing fancy – it’s a 50HP Beta Marine which is connected to a big Generator – If I am correct, that is the same horse power as what goes into the likes of Broadsman from Richardson’s. The only reason it may burn more fuel is when it is called to run it comes on at a set, high RPM.  Of course usually engines chug along at a lower RPM or vary depending on what speed you are doing so your fuel use goes up and down in relation to that.

 

Jonzo:

 

The layout has not been compromised for the batteries.  It was (and the plan on their website may still support this) going to be an 8 berth boat with 4 double berths in 4 cabins – then they got rid of one of these cabins, and put the galley where that would have been – this opens up that area – it then means where the galley would have gone (along the port side) is now storage space and narrower worktops have been sued making a wider passage. They then got rid of the internal steps which is lovely and opens up the saloon and makes the seating truly capable of 6 adults round the table.

 

The batteries are everywhere – they are under the saloon flooring, under the seating and under the forward double – then the entire mid double berth has all the chargers and cooling fan systems under it, the rear double the fuel tank the engine/generator is on the starboard side right at the rear.  So it is the most spacious of these types of mold.

 

When I got onboard I liked the space, the fit out and colours used but what really made me smile was the way so much had been put into a boat – even the way the heating system did not mean hirers having to learn a 4 day programmable timer, just a single switch in auto and leave the rest to pre-programmed heating system. 

 

Maxwellian:

 

I think most people suffer from 'shiny syndrome' it is what keeps companies making new shiny products and people feeling they must have these be it a new phone, TV even cars are not kept as long as once were these days.  It is becoming the norm.

 

I’ll take this thread to express another opinion I have.

I am someone who has an idea and then goes to see if that is possible and if it is not possible want to know why – I remember ages and ages ago someone asked about replacing their fridge on the boat (it may not have been on this forum) and many came along and were talking about doing a ‘power audit’ and one may need extra batteries and perhaps even the Alternator – is it up to the job of charging everything in good time?

 

I thought to myself well, why can’t you just bung in a normal fridge and run it off an inverter – that would not be possible because it would drain the batteries far too quickly and just would not be practical to use on boat was the view.

 

Months later I was hired Omega (also from Barnes Brinkcraft) and noticed it had a domestic fridge plugged into a 240v socket. Hmm how did they do that then? Well a large bank of batteries wired as to make 24v and then anything that needed 12v had a 24v to 12v step down device. The 240v side was on a  Victron combi charger/inverter running at 2000w with 50Amp charger built in.

 

I made a note of this and decided if I get a boat it shall run on 24v – you don’t need as thick gauge of wire, you use less Amps to run anything from the waterpump to the lights and pretty much all things such as LED lighting, bilge and water pumps and electric marine toilets now can run on 24v.  Then I looked at solar panels and generators and AGM batteries, monitoring and condition systems and heat pump air-conditioning units that would heat in the winter and cool in the summer and realise just what you can do – pretty much anything is possible.

 

So you can imagine my smile as were shown around Rhapsody – a hire boat for goodness sake – that had a great deal of systems put into it ‘because they can’. The problem is it makes their other boats look a bit old hat now.

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I fully agree with Robin on this one.  There is a place for this sort of technology because some people will enjoy it.  In an analogy with cars:  Some people want “all the gadgets” whilst others prefer something air-cooled and low-powered with no radio.  There is nothing intrinsically good or bad about either choice.  The idea of cruising in silence is really appealing (to me anyway!), and we all know that there are already a number of electric craft on the broads, so this seems like a logical “next step”.  From Robin’s description, it seems like this boat has been built with a sense of premium luxury (possibly to justify the cost?) and hence the interior layout choices.

It is not surprising that quite a lot of fuel us used.  There is always a loss, usually in the form of waste heat, when one form of energy is converted to another.  It is inefficient to turn diesel into 24V DC and then from 24V to propeller rotation, or 240V AC.  I would guess that the reason the engine runs at a higher RPM is because that is the most efficient speed for that engine to run at, or perhaps it is the best speed for the generator to run at; but either way the engine can be tuned to best fuel economy at the designed speed.  It will also be inefficient to carry around all of the extra weight of those batteries.  The solar panels will help a little, but another guess would be that they can only ever contribute a very small percentage of the total power used each day.  Similarly the LED lighting will use less power than other lights but that saving is almost nothing compared with the use of an electric kettle or cooker, so its main attraction must have been the ability to incorporate all of the various lighting combinations available.

Yes it is “shiny syndrome” but a lot of people go on holiday to relax and be spoilt; consider the big cruise ships in this respect, or five star beach resorts.  Rhapsody is just another expression of that, so full marks to Barnes Brinkcraft for giving it a try.

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I get the impression that where other builders like Faircraft Loynes or Herbert Woods spent time and money figuring out what to do with the upper deck area, Barnes Brinkcraft just wanted something pretty simple and easy that removed the ‘garden furniture’ they had previously used. So the outside space is not utilised quite as well as other boats out there of the same design.

 

You can always find small faults here or there, but when I was talking to the chaps at the yard with ideas they reminded me politely, this is a hire boat – its purpose is to make money and not everybody who hires it will be that careful so you need to draw a line somewhere and I guess they have placed the line pretty well. 

 

At the end of the day in 5 years we could be saying ‘remember those hybrid boats before they got rid of all the batteries and put in normal engines’ it may take off and be the next ‘big thing’ it might not.

 

Anyway next year I am looking to hire something really simply and low down to begin so quite a shift fromt he posh stuff.

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MM:

 

what is your take though on fuel duty?

 

Fuel is used to run an engine that makes power to cook with and light the boat etc, it also happens to provide power for batteries that are in turn used to propel the boat - but these batteries are also charged from shore and solar.

 

It seems a nightmare for the Revenue to be able to work out what proportion would be taxable for diesel for the propulsion part, or could you get away with not paying duty saying it is used to simply run a generator not for any propulsion?

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I thought that the tax was only cheaper on fuel used for heating, if so a generator would not count surely, as I am sure my company pay full whack for diesel we use in generators (though you do get a discount when filling a 10,000 litre tank)

Grendel

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