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Towed Generators

daveg45

Member
Joined
28 Oct 2007
Messages
220
Location
UK
I am considering a tower generator such as the Aquagen for Atlantic crossing and wondered if anyone had first hand experience or recommendations. Maybe even selling one.
 

srm

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2004
Messages
1,240
Location
Azores, Terceira.
I used one of the early Aquagens a lot in the 80's. As a charger it produced around 2 to 5 amps and backed up the engine alternator as I did as much as possible under sail. The only problem was recovering the line and impeller. Even with the boat stopped in the water pulling the line in developed twists as the impeller turned. The easiest way was to recover it like the old towed logs, disconnect the inboard end and let it pay out around a stanchion as the impeller was recovered then recover the line. It still had twists but not so many.
I still have it, but have only used it a few short times after a factory rebuild around ten years ago. Now get enough power from wind turbine plus solar panels.
 

Sandyman

Well-known member
Joined
2 Jun 2007
Messages
7,201
My experience & general thoughts are that they are more trouble than they are worth. As srm says.........wind & solar
 

capnsensible

Well-known member
Joined
15 Mar 2007
Messages
26,731
Location
Atlantic
As already said, recovery is hard yakka. I used one on a delivery from the Canaries to uk, so offshore. As the wind got up it became very hard to get it back onboard just when you need to.

I reckon they are a bit old hat now anyway when you can get watt@sea type water generation. Fab. Pricey but for long term cruising, in my opinion, as good as it gets. Used one from Antigua to Tahiti...well apart from that canally bit in the middle. 😀
 

AndrewB

Well-known member
Joined
7 Jun 2001
Messages
5,512
Location
Corfu
I used an AquAir 100 towed generator for many years while ocean cruising. First rate piece of kit, once the boat was moving at 4 knots it gave us all the power we ever needed (10 Amps +). If I was still out there, it would be an absolute must-have. It's generally best off the wind. If sailing hard on the wind,(something to be avoided as much as possible when ocean cruising) then I tended to prefer wind mode. Don't forget you don't get much power from a wind generator when sailing downwind.

The difficulty of recovery is rather exaggerated. I never needed more than a stout pair of gloves to stop it and haul it in, but the rope tends to get kinky and does need sorting afterwards. The most important thing to remember is to retrieve it before entering harbour.

An unexpected bonus is that as it acts like a drogue, it helps to hold the stern to the wind when sailing downwind. This aids the self-steering to hold course in big seas.

Cons: 1. It knocked 5 -10% off our boat speed. 2. Occasionally sharks bite through the rope and you lose the spinner - and they are ridiculously expensive. I ended up making my own replacements.
 
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srm

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2004
Messages
1,240
Location
Azores, Terceira.
Recovery, in as much as that means getting the rope and impeller on deck was not difficult. Getting the resulting heap of tangled and twisted rope untwisted and in a suitable state to be redeployed was fiddly and took time. Hence my recovery technique of disconnecting and paying the inboard end out. Any torque left in the rope when deploying is likely to result in a tight twisted clump part way along the line that does not release itself.
 

geem

Well-known member
Joined
27 Apr 2006
Messages
2,826
Location
Anywhere without Covid19
The amount of sargasso weed on the West to East Atlantic crossing now is so extreme that it virtually renders a towed generator useless due to fouling of the impeller. If you are planning to be reliant on a towed generator for the crossing then consider some alternative means of generating power. We used a Duogen that is super easy to lift to clear weed but if you need to lift it every 5 mins it becomes super tedious.
 

capnsensible

Well-known member
Joined
15 Mar 2007
Messages
26,731
Location
Atlantic
Good point. The weed fields also stretch from the Cape Verdes to the Panamma Canal. Horrible stuff.
 

Neeves

Well-known member
Joined
20 Nov 2011
Messages
6,177
Location
Sydney, Australia.
We have a aero4aqua gen and use the aqua gen on passages that will bee over 12 hours. Normally we have the Aerogen assembled and running. Our units have given excellent service for almost 20 years, which is more than can be said of solar panels.

The Aquagen is brilliant but we can sail off wind consistently at 7-10 knots and it produces about 7-10 amps. Weed can be an issue, you just need to watch - you soon know if you have caught weed. Retrieval is not the nightmare suggested. We use welding gloves and it is an excellent workout, what else are you doing on a long passage? Once retrieved we simply reverse the 'rode' to untwist the hockles.

I have wondered if a toque rope (stayed headsail luff) would ensure there were no hockles

It is a bit of a faff converting from wind to water mode and vice versa.

Knowing what we know now - hindsight is so, so marvellous - I wish we had bought the bigger unit (the '6') and had a separate water and wind versions. Sadly no longer in production - blame ITT.

I'd buy the WattnSea unit in a flash - except (for what they are) - so expensive.

Now why cannot Torquedo make a reversible unit?

Jonathan
 
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