On most boats, the engine alternator is the primary source of power. Wind or water driven alternators
are an excellent supplementary power source. These systems are based on the Ampair wind turbines and the Aquair wind and water
generator. Ampair wind and water driven alternators are state-of-the-art products designed to supply the most power for the
least trouble and expense. They are durable, lightweight, simple to install and completely quiet and free of vibration. Best
of all they quietly go about their business of charging your batteries. Your choice of wind and water turbines should be determined
by the way you plan to cruise and your itinerary. Unless you plan to be at sea for long periods, you'll probably be happier
with a permanently mounted wind driven Ampair 100 or 300. If your planning long passages, you may prefer the Aquair 100 Hybrid
Water and Wind generator.
Ampair 100 (50-100 amp hours per day) is by far the most durable, reliable, quiet and vibration-free marine wind
turbine ever produced. I've had customers go through hurricanes with the Ampair 100 remaining in tact and without being tied
down. It never needs to be battened or shut down. The Ampair will not throw a blade in even the most extreme wind. This is
truly a worry-free, troube-free power generation device.
Historically ocean going
yachts making ocean transits have found that there is insufficient wind over deck for a wind turbine to provide a useful
amount of power when making a trade wind transit. It is for this reason that the Aquair hybrid wind and water powered generator
was developed by Ampair. The generator section can either be mounted at the stern in “water mode” and a water
turbine towed behind the yacht, or the generator can be converted into “wind mode” and hoisted in the rigging
or fitted on a pole mount. The water mode is good for those deep water passages where wind over deck is low and the sails
of the yacht are already acting as a very efficient machine for capturing wind energy. In water mode the turbine is towed
behind the vessel on about 30 metres of tow rope which twists up just enough to turn the stern mounted generator section.
Generating approximately one amp per knot of boat speed this simple solution has been adopted by thousands of ocean sailing
enthusiasts and copied by a number of other manufacturers ! The drag on the boat is small, typically no more than a quarter
of a knot. The generator section is supplied in a circular gimbal ring which is best mounted between stern rails using rope
or tape lashings. The reason that this apparently crude mounting solution is preferred is that the stern of a small boat
moves around on the water more than is apparent to the crew (primarily in heave and sway) whilst the turbine is a relatively
fixed point in the water. Therefore if the mounting is too rigid the turbine will exert quite abrupt and undesirable load
changes on the mounting and alternator. For those vessels with no convenient stern rail or equivalent stern structure a
fully gimballed deck mount is available: this is especially useful for multihull vessels with no structures on the sponson
It is not recommended that the Aquair is used in water mode for shallow
water coastal sailing. Even if the water depth is greater than 30 metres there is the ever present risk of fishing for lobster
pots (no need to worry, the tow rope is secured to the generator by a weak link) and it is simply too great a hassle to
stream and recover the towed turbine for day cruising. The lower the speed through the water the deeper the turbine will
sink in the water. In a man overboard situation the turbine speed drops to zero as the boat goes about to recover the crew,
and the turbine will sink to 30 metres. In water depths of 30 metres or less there is a risk that the turbine will snag
on the bottom, and whilst the weak link would break, this is an extra and avoidable excitement at a dangerous moment and
so it should not be used in water mode in these locations.
To convert an Aquair into wind mode all that is necessary is to unpin it from the stern mount;
fit the turbine blades and tail; and then either hoist it into the rigging or place it on a stern pole. Most yachts do not
have a spare slot in the rigging unless the sails are down (although some ketches, especially junk rigged ketches do) and
so hoisting into the rigging is normally reserved for when moored or anchored. In contrast a stern pole is more frequently
accessible. However easy the conversion to wind mode is (it takes about 15 minutes) it should be borne in mind that it typically
needs to be done at the end of a long days sailing at a time when most folk are concentrating pretty hard on food and drink.
For this reason we suggest that unless you are unusually self-disciplined the use of the Aquair in wind mode is best thought
of as something that is most suited to yachts that will be moored in a single location for several days – such as
is common for many round the world sailors who do tend to spend several months in the classic cruising grounds between transits.
The Aquair pole conversion kit is an under used option that deserves wider use than it gets.
UW (underwater) is a microhydro generator that is designed for operation in zero head “run of the river” circumstances.
It is not intended for use on yachts as the submerged generator presents a far greater drag than would be acceptable to most
sailors. However we do have clients who regularly moor in fast tidal streams, and who choose to lower an Aquair UW on a
pole to generate power in these circumstances. This is very similar to its intended use and it is a very reliable power
source when such favourable conditions exist.