September / October 2022

An Electric Pod Drive for a Haven 12½

Clean and quiet auxiliary power
Haven 12½

This Haven 12½ is moored one mile up a creek that empties into Chesapeake Bay. When tide and headwinds make it a challenge to return home under paddle power, a recently installed electric pod drive eases the effort.

The Haven 121⁄2 is the designer Joel White’s centerboard adaptation of the classic Herreshoff 12½, a lead-keel ballasted daysailer. Both boats measure about 16' overall and are named for the length of their waterlines. Both were designed without auxiliary power; a paddle, in most situations, was all that was needed to get a boat back to the mooring if the wind died. But when your mooring is a mile up a creek that empties into the Pawtuxet River on Chesapeake Bay, it can be handy sometimes to have auxiliary power—especially when the wind and tide are against you. Electric propulsion is a quiet and environmentally friendly alternative to internal combustion. Fortunately, there are several electric-drive options available, many that incorporate the newest in battery and motor technology.

Eric Dow and his crew in Brooklin, Maine, have built and restored many Haven 121⁄2s and Herreshoff 121⁄2s and over the past 45 years. Often, Eric’s customers have asked for some sort of auxiliary power, and the shop has supplied several electric-drive solutions ranging from simple outboard motors hung on the transom, to inboard motors with a conventional shaft and propeller, to pod drives incorporated in the rudder. The project featured here, however, is their first fixed pod-drive installation.

Any electric-drive option has its own particular set of advantages and challenges. Depending on the owner’s expectations, each can provide a viable solution.

An outboard motor is the simplest alternative, in that it simply clamps onto the transom; with a couple of leads to the battery, you’re in business. Typically, the motor is stowed when the boat is sailing, or it is permanently mounted but tilts to raise the propeller out of the water. So, it may not be instantly available. Also, the aesthetics of the motor hanging off the stern are not great.

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