Amping Up The Story Of The Wicked FPB


We are somewhat surprised by the amount of comment induced by the post on the solar array, so we thought we’d update you to the present (things are moving quickly).

Earlier in the week it became obvious that the roof over the upper deck would benefit from enhancement. The negative was shading at some angles on a portion of the solar array.

So, why not add a couple of compensating panels to the upper roof? Indeed.

If two, then how about 12? Sure, these are significantly less efficient due to shading from the masts, radar, and whips. But they’d be at least 50% as good as below, and possibly better than that in some conditions. That’s a 50% increase in usable power. We are still working out the shading factors, but we expect to be in the 25,000 and 30,000 watt range before converting to DC for charging the batteries.

Now we have enough for the air conditioning on a modest basis and to take care of domestic loads in less favorable seasons.

For more information on the FPB Series, e-mail Sue Grant: Sue.Grant@Berthon.Co.UK.

Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 29, 2012)

27 Responses to “Amping Up The Story Of The Wicked FPB”

  1. Bob N Says:

    Weight of 24 panels up that high? Sunpower E20’s weigh 41 lbs each. Does that mean the boat is the 115?

  2. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Bob:
    You also have to add brackets, wiring, and fasteners. Obviously this detracts from stability, so you either need it from the hull or in the form of ballast – liquid or maybe lead.

  3. Norm Moore Says:

    Steve, Some companies in the solar industry are making CIGS thin film solar panels to improve the cost/watt of PV arrays. Here is a link to a company producing 300W flexible panels to be glued onto metal roofing material. The weight is a lot less (3.5 kg./sq. m.) It has the potential of being used on flexible, but well supported, awnings which can then be folded up and stored on passages or attachment directly to the cabin roof. Obviously the strength of the adhesives needs to be investigated, and their ability to stick to different substrates, but it might provide some alternatives.

  4. Alain Chevrot Says:

    Hello Steve and Linda,
    Always interesting to see improvement and innovation in your FPB boats. Each time closer to perfection and it keep the dream afloat.
    Some years ago I have found an article in a french revue about propellers (I know you already have done a lot of research and tests on them). I don’t know if you have heard about Jacques Juan (a french guy) and his discovery. It seems very interesting and the FPBs could take advantage of that.
    I give you the link of a short video on the subject and the email of that guy:
    The video is in french but subtitle in english.
    It may worth to investigate further!
    I can’t wait to see the “improved” FPB

  5. Steve Dashew Says:

    Thanks Alain:
    We’ll check this out.

  6. Frank Goelo Says:

    The video doesn’t say much about the design modification and the claimed fuel savings are inconsistent, from 42% for one vessel, to a reduction in fuel consumption of 2/3 for another and 20% for the last…

    However, tipping the blades with small winglets at 90 degrees angle to the blade – similar to the wing tips seen on modern planes – would achieve the desired result with minimum added drag…

    I have seen that prop design once on a Spanish trawler, instead of the more ususal Kort nozzle and was impressed with the concept…

  7. David Sutton Says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for the tantalizing taste of what is to come.
    It’s nice to start getting regular “fixes” for my setsail habit again.
    Can you share which make/model of solar modules you’re using?
    Is there not a concern for navigating from the flybridge with such a large reflective surface directly in front?


  8. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi David:
    The panels are by SunPower – 320 watts each rated output.

  9. Alain M Says:

    Hi Steve,
    I don’t like lead in a motorboat. In my eyes lead belong to sailboat, as a need for balance the sail power…
    On a motorboat, adding lead is to me pointing a design weakness…
    I am really sure that on the FPB 115 you can found a much better way to solve this additional weight on top;
    By increasing the bottom main stringer, means making the keel (no matter it is a flat plate keel or a bar keel) more stronger in way to make the ‘back’ of the boat more resistant in a case of grounding, like you have do it for the stem bar…. I know your scantling is already strong, but if the need is to add some weight… Let the adding weight have another useful function… Not just Lead…
    Or/ and add some ultimate back up reserve of fuel…

  10. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Alain:
    This is a complex question, one beyond normal society rules, since we have so much more ultimate stability than anyone calls for. The are so many variables, sea state, operator skill, is the boat maneuverable or not, that you can never predict what is going to happen. And obviously, you cannot engineer for every heavy weather contingency. In the end, the decision will be made at the gut level, after thinking about the scale of the boat, the stability curve, and finding something that makes us feel warm and fuzzy. For the record, WInd Horse the the FPB 64s carry some lead ballast.

  11. Vincent Cate Says:

    Batteries are heavy and make useful ballast. I would rather have more batteries than just plain lead.

  12. Vincent Cate Says:

    There are these electric motor / propeller units that with 6 Hp can get like 750 lbs static thrust. They have 1.4 to 2.5 meter props, so huge. They turn slowly, so you would only get a few Mph. With 30 Kw of solar and one or two of these you could have a way to move around without using any fuel. This could be a backup propulsion or for solar enthusiasts.

    These things are usually used for mixing sewage but are supposed to be reliable (run for years at 100% duty) and rated for salt water. Below is a video of 2 of these pushing a huge floating fish farm around. These are not the ideal diameter and speed for a FPB but it shows that 30 Kw could power electric thrusters. Seems a fun idea.

  13. Nico Kappen Says:

    It is may be a radical way but you can use also the “Voith Inline Propulsor”. This is a 200kw Electric propulsion system. With this system you can remove the Prop the rudder and the shaft. You can safe also the throughhole for the shaft. For the power you can use two generators with 150 and 100kw this will increase the efficiency because you need both generators only whenyou need full power. and you can empty your batterys when you would drive noiseless in harbors or wildlife parks.
    Whit this two generators you have the hole time enough energie for all other application on bord. I for details see web adress.
    I am very excitedly when you open the curtain and present us the specification of the Wicked. I open every day your web side to see if it somthing new.
    Kind regards Nico
    PS sorry for my poor english

  14. Steve Dashew Says:

    An interesting product, Nico:
    We have talked to Voith in the past. These are much heavier and more costly than our systems and the advantage, in our application, does not justify the cost or weight.

  15. Alain M Says:

    Hi Steve
    Yes, I agree, and Wind Horse as also a sailboat keel………. 😉
    I like clean hulls with as less as possible drag … I remember very well what you said about one hole for a bow thrusters in Wind Horse………. 😉
    And I know about the FPB 64s that they carry lead melted below the central diesel tank…
    But like Vincent said, what about a central coffer dam, just what need for the battery bank to be on one lower and central position, instead of just lead… Technically and talking about Stability I think it’s one way to consider…
    In my eyes, everything on board should have at least two ways to be useful…
    Batteries for energy storage and Ballast…
    Motor for move the boat, produce some electric energy and heating… and, and, and to the winch, to the gaff… For the guy who make the BBQ be also the machine room air intake, I think your way to think is close to mine… The way you place the winches tells me a lot… 😉

  16. Steve Dashew Says:

    We have used batteries for ballast in our sailboats since 1987. But there are maintenance penalties. You end up with a sump that is some times wet, which means odors, etc. On a sailboat where VCG = Power and speed, this is worthwhile. But the FPBs carry lead for extreme conditions and angles, so their vertical location as not as critical, and, in our opinion, does not warrant the hassle of a keel storage system. But, we are looking a t this again for the WIcked FPB, just in case.

  17. LBDBoater Says:

    What are your impressions of using the new SeaKeeper Gyro stabilization system that is popping up in more in more boats? Of commercial duty quality? Looks like it would mean less hull penetrations while also decreasing underwater drag. Plus, even though all of the FPBs are incredibly stable on their own, the ability to use it at slow speeds and at anchor or the dock make it seem even more of benefit.

  18. Steve Dashew Says:

    Please see various comments on this subject using the SetSail search function.

  19. Brian Mullaney Says:

    Thought I had posted this yesterday, but now I cannot find it. I went to the setsail home page, and typed gyro into the search box. I got 2 hits, one of them from 2001.

    Seakeeper comes up with no hits at all.

    Thank you for the reply below, so at least I have some info, without having to go through 5 years of messages 1 at a time.

  20. Steve Dashew Says:

    Sorry Brian:
    It may be we have answered these questions in e-mails, or the search function doesn’t look in post comments.

  21. Steve Dashew Says:

    > We looked long and hard at the Seakeeper Gyro systems when developing the FPB’s. It is a great idea that affords several advantages over conventional stabilizers.
    > However, it also has some distinct disadvantages:
    > • Likely to require running a generator full time when stabilization is desired (might be feasible to run off inverters in certain circumstances).
    > • To meet our specifications would require their largest unit – MSRP of US$190,000.00.
    > • Weighs in at nearly 3,000 lbs. and needs a sound shield for noise generated.
    > • Would require a mounting location and access to allow for easy removal/replacement.
    > • Core exchange needed in 5,000-8,000 hours at a probable cost of half MSRP (US$80,000.00).
    > So compared to traditional stabilizers it is difficult to warrant the expense. If you were to spend the majority of your time in high latitudes, it might be worth considering – but it would be very expensive. For the average client who would see high latitudes only on occasion it really doesn’t pencil out.

  22. John Says:

    Any data on how the cells and connections will stand up to the ocean? Weather, sun, atmosphere, waves etc.

  23. Steve Dashew Says:

    We are told they last for 20+ years with minimum reduction in output in the tropics, and would expect similar on the boat.. This is for high quality product – there are some cheap panels about which it is harder to know.

  24. Vincent Cate Says:

    You said “25,000 and 30,000 watt range” which at 320 watts per panel sounds like 94 panels (getting us solar enthusiast all excited!!!). Looks like you have about 24 panels which would be 7,680 watts (good but realistic). With an effective sun equal to 3.9 hours per day you would get 30,000 watt-hours/day. So “25,000 to 30,000 watt-hours/day” is what you mean, right?

  25. Steve Dashew Says:

    That’s it, Vincent:
    More details on the calculations in a few days.

  26. Chris Howard Says:

    Hi Steve,

    We owned Sundeer 56 No 14, originally called Ming. We bought her in 1995 and sold her in 1999 after having her in Newport, Hongkong and then through SE Asia, indian Ocean and the Med ending up in Antigua just before the Millenium.

    She was later renamed Mantra. I hear rumours that she is again in SE Asia (Langkawi?).

    I’d like to catch up with her. Do you have any news of her whereabouts.

    I just loved that boat!.


  27. Steve Dashew Says:

    Hi Chris:
    Sarah ( is organizing a section on SetSail for owners to keep track of what is going on. Drop her a note and she will add y ou to the list.