EP Carry - Electric Paddle Review

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EP Carry - Electric Paddle Review

Postby tomodda » Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:04 pm

Hi Folks:

So, I went ahead and sprang for the EP Carrry electric outboard. Figured I'd give my own review, for what it's worth. If you're not familiar with the little engine, here it is:

https://www.electricpaddle.com/ep-carry-boat-motor.html

Basically, it is EXACTLY what it says on the tin: about as powerful (not very but just enough), convenient (very!), and maneuverable (quite) as using a paddle... without the annoying kneeling on the bow and paddling bit. For the Daysailer, I think it's ideal. I have a brand new-to-me ancient DS1, see thread entitled #37 in the DS1 section. Yesterday, I took her to my local lake for a mast-less test run - just put her in and putt-putt around for a while and see how everything works. And to see if the great big drain plug behind the centerboard holds...

Everything went smoothly, the EP motor was dead simple and effortless to screw onto the stern at the ramp dock. I bought a long-shaft EP, so the cavitation plate was about 8 inches underwater, perfect! It's ridiculously easy to start - pop the magnetic "key" into the hole into the throttle and then turn the big knob. It doesn't turn much, but has some notches so that you can judge the throttle - two notches is full throttle, 1 notch is half, use your eye for 1/4 and 3/4 throttle and you really don't need to be more exact than that. Clockwise is forward, counter-clockwise is reverse. Easy. FWIW, the magnetic "key" is actually an ingeniously designed emergency cut-off switch. I tested it, works a treat and easy to pop back in (wait 3 seconds) and go again. As advertised, it's easy to cock up out of the water, and equally easy to just unclamp and store under the seat. No leaning over the stern required, you can do it all while sitting. So many bad memories of hanging off the sterns of various boats in a steep chop, trying to unstick a stuck outboard... no more!

When we set out, the wind was blowing about 8-10 knots with maybe a 1-foot chop coming across the lake. Turned the motor and use it to push away from the dock, went dead upwind at full throttle.... chugging along at 3-ish knots, no problem (remember, no mast, hardly any windage). Went to half-throttle upwind and it was quite evident that the boat was not moving over ground, although barely gurgling over the water. Turned crosswise to the wind, put the boat at half throttle and pushed along for 1/2 mile for testing. Had to cock the motor over a bit to avoid leeward drift... I was sighting over to some trees on shoreline, forgot to bring the compass!. Also forgot to drop the CB, hence the drift. No matter. At half throttle, sideways on to the wind, she went along at about a brisk walking speed (again judging by shoreline); at 1/4 throttle, she went at a slow walking speed judging by the eddies curling off the stern. Full throttle was running speed, again 3-ish knots with a small wake. I then went upwind again, same deal, full-throttle or we didn't move, as expected. We went back to the dock crosswind and then 1/2 throttle downwind. Was happy that full-reverse was effective, both for stopping the boat by the dock and for a bit of last-minute alignment of my stern up against the dock. I've sailed up to the dock many, many times, this was certainly more convenient and easier on the marital harmony!

All in all, the EP was exactly like paddling. At full throttle it was a knot or so faster than what two adults could do furiously paddling, except it does it for an hour straight with no work for me. At half throttle, it goes about as fast as I'd be able to get the boat to go while paddling hard, and 1/4 knot is "normal" paddling. Yes, sounds crazy to spend $1600 for a glorified paddle, but the advantage is that it doesn't get tired, I do. Absolutely fine for what I need - if there is wind it's just for dock maneuvering or moving thru places where I'd normally paddle - under bridges or thru the windless little straights separating the larger arms of our local lakes. I've done all that "the hard way," paddling anything from a Hobie Cat to a 20-foot sloop, and this is MUCH better. It's a lot of money, but I'm paying for the convenience and peace of mind - and the aforementioned marital harmony! 8) The "off-boarding" procedure was equally painless. I disconnected the battery and put it on the dock, then unclamped the motor and handed it to my wife. About a cup of water drained out from the propeller gear, it's water-lubricated. She handled the EP with no problem and carried it up to our car (didn't have to, but I appreciate it!). One thing to watch for is that the motor is, of course, top heavy - so hold it by the shaft about 2/3 down.

I'm curious to see what I can do with the EP in dead-calm conditions. We certainly get enough of that in the summer and it would be nice to hum along to some cove a mile away from the ramp and go swim. We shall see. What the EP WON'T do is push you along all day if you are out in a dead calm. In other words, it's useless for extended motor-assisted cruising, at least as set up. It's NOT an "iron jib." A 100W solar panel maybe changes things, but anything like that is well down the road for me, no worries.

Anyway, happy to answer any questions and next time I'm out I'll take some photos.

Cheers,

Tom
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Re: EP Carry - Electric Paddle Review

Postby Shagbark » Wed Oct 31, 2018 8:26 pm

Tom,

I'd like to hear how it goes when you need to go upwind in 20 knots with the sail laying on the boom. Found myself in this situation with my trolling motor and it didn't do so well. I have about 150 yards through a marina to get to my ramp and the boat wasn't moving over the ground at all. Maybe the EP will work?
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Re: EP Carry - Electric Paddle Review

Postby tomodda » Fri Nov 09, 2018 1:16 am

Shagbark:

Honestly, I think that upwind in 20 knot wind with some windage on you rig is not going to happen. The EP performs like tireless paddle, for better and for worse.

I've been out with it a few more times since my original review and it still does what I need of it. Effectively but slowly :) Again, the big advantage is super-convenience. I was out with a friend and his wife, on a dying, puffy wind and used it "cheat" - scooting from one puff to the next. I was out with MY wife, 12-knot wind on the nose while coming off the boatramp - I used it to chug upwind for 100yds and raise sail with no drama, on the way back I used it (in reverse) to hold us off the dock after I dropped sail and drifted down to the dock. Both times I coulda / shoulda just used the sails, but with respective wives aboard it was so much easier on the collective nerves just to pop the EP in the water and motor for a minute.

Some flies in the ointment - going from full ahead to full astern (ahem, emergency maneuver) popped the engine off it's tilt pin, it flipped up out of the water. On the other hand running aground on the ramp (next idiot move after the flip-up) just caused the motor to stop and push gently up in it's mount. I would have expected it to tilt up, but whatever, no harm done. And I was solo, so no wives were harmed - or harmed me!

Haven't had a 20-knot wind to play around in yet. I'm expecting up to 15 this weekend, if I get the chance I'll try and EP paddle upwind with the sails luffing. I doubt I'll get anywhere, but seems like a good test.
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Re: EP Carry - Electric Paddle Review

Postby GreenLake » Fri Nov 09, 2018 1:55 pm

I'd like to second a few things Tom mentioned here.

First, the way the EP is designed, a simple tug on the control lever will raise it out of the water; unlike a typical trolling motor, there's no catch to release. This makes it super convenient for intermittent use. One push, the motor is in the water, ready to scoot to the next puff, one pull, you are sailing again without anything dragging. The design of the motor is such that the power delivered in reverse is deliberately throttled so that it's not enough to push the motor out of its deployed position. However, if you go into reverse from full speed, you defeat that and the motor pops out. You'll soon lean to take a firm grip on the control lever and use it to push the motor down in those circumstances. (Alternatively, use a real paddle held over the side and pointed down as your brake - it delivers much more braking power when you happen to come in fast). Once you've slowed down, you can alternate between forward and reverse without issue, for example to hold station while waiting for a busy ramp to clear.

Second, the beauty of a design like the EP is that it comfortably and conveniently covers most typical needs with a minimalist package. Minimalist in weight and therefore minimalist in impact on the sailing capabilities of a small boat like a DS. That said, there are some scenarios that it won't cover. Long distance motoring is one of those scenarios. If you are counting on a motor to get you home after a rig failure during a long-distance excursion, perhaps a bit away from civilization, that's not what the EP is designed for. However, in any situation that you could extricate yourself from with a set of paddles or perhaps oars, the EP should work well, probably going a bit faster and farther than those forms of manual propulsion.

Third, there's a limit to the power and speed you can expect. On the positive side, having limited propulsion encourages you to treat the DS as a sailboat: in many lighter wind scenarios, the DS will sail as fast or faster than the EP will push it. In that sense, it works again like the manual propulsion it substitutes: you'd use it to motor to a patch of wind, and not through areas of wind that aren't "perfect" or even against the wind. The obvious downside of this limit is that there are certain scenarios where the EP will be ineffective: tidal or other currents moving faster than about half the max speed would mean that the best you could hope for is to stay in place. (Although, sometimes you can "ferry glide" sideways to get out of a fast flowing channel into slower water). In a busy narrow channel, the water can be so disturbed that you can't reach max speed; just the place that you might have wanted to go through as quickly as possible. (If this is your primary scenario for using a motor, and something you need to do each time, an EP may not be for you). And then there are the various scenarios of motoring against strong winds. In some of those scenarios, an acceptable solution may be to put in a proper reef, so you can continue to sail. The DS does quite well tacking in relatively narrow channels if not overpowered. But if you marina entrance is directly upwind, only 50' wide and it typically blows 20, then again, that's a situation the EP was not designed for.

If you determine that your needs for power regularly and significantly exceed what a dedicated and well-trained crew could deliver with paddles or oars, then they exceed what a minimalist system can deliver; you will have to bite the bullet and mount something much heavier on your transom. My own experience is that for the way I sail my DS and for the sailing areas where I sail, the effective needs for motor power can be covered with a standard trolling motor. A few times my patience may be tested a bit, for example under bridges, where a burst of power might be "nice to have". Compared to a trolling motor, the EP delivers measurably higher output for about a third in electric power consumed. That makes a small, lightweight battery possible, which makes all the difference in convenience (in addition to a better design for deploying the motor intermittently, as is typical for sailing in patchy wind). When I tested a demo version of the EP, it felt like a pleasure to use, where the trolling motor had felt like an awkward and annoying necessity. Worth the upgrade in my book.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: EP Carry - Electric Paddle Review

Postby GreenLake » Fri Nov 09, 2018 1:58 pm

@tomodda: Any chance you can obtain a GPS speed reading on a calm day? Or use a stopwatch to time progress between fixed points? Curious to know whether your unit delivers a bit more power than the demo unit I tested (some of the small features you mentioned make me think that your model has had a few tweaks).
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: EP Carry - Electric Paddle Review

Postby tomodda » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:00 pm

Hi GreenLake:

Excellent points made! Yeah, I went from full ahead to full reverse in a burst of stupidity. Next time be prepared and have a braking paddle at hand.

I was going to write to Shagbark about the virtues of sailing up to the dock.. even with 20 knots, you should be able to handily sail in the marina channel on a double-reefed and well-flattened main alone. But then I saw that he said his boat ramp is in close quarters within the marina, and who knows if it has a dock next to it. So sailing maybe out of the question, and anyway some marinas forbid sailing inside (boo!).

Bottom line - like you wrote - one has to consider the usual sailing conditions before buying the EP. For lakes and inland waters (aka Chesapeake, Puget Sound), I think you should be fine. Long hours spent paddling my old Hobie against wind, tide, and current make me really appreciate the EP. But if there is any possibility of sailing, I'd rather sail than use the EP. Again, as you wrote, sailing is what we are out there for!

Yes, I'll figure out how to do a timed run for speed testing purposes. Don't have a GPS yet, but there has to be a measured mile around here somewhere on my local lakes. Should be an interesting test.

What tweaks did I write about that are different from your demo unit?
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Re: EP Carry - Electric Paddle Review

Postby GreenLake » Fri Nov 09, 2018 7:31 pm

Looks like they changed the control knob a bit. Joe had told me about his plans, so what you describe seems to be the planned update.

You don't need a measured mile. With Google maps you can easily determine the distance between any two prominent points in Satellite view. Just don't use floating buoys for that, as they will shift position.
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