“When we visited the Amel yard, we sparked a lot of speculation that we were looking for a new boat. We were considering it, but it certainly wouldn’t be a quick decision. It forced us to think long and hard about what our plans were,” explains Brady Trautman, Brian’s brother, long-time Delos crew member (and current skipper while Brian takes some parental leave).
They still aren’t ruling out a ‘Delos 2.0,’ but rapidly realised that one of the most valuable assets of the 18-year-old Amel was just how well they knew her. They decided to stick with what they know and instead begin a series of experiments to optimise and modernise the boat instead.
OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS
Knowing the boat so well is at the crux of the technology choices the Trautmans have installed and battle-tested over the past two seasons.
“We weren’t aiming to prove that this is right for every boat, we just wanted to make practical improvements that made sense for us and we’re in the fortunate position of being able to share the experiment widely so others can learn [from us],” explains Brady.
This meant trying new technology that works for an older cruising boat. Each modification has also made for interesting YouTube episodes for viewers keen to see how they went about it. Owner Brian Trautman studied electrical engineering before casting off from Seattle and is hands-on when it comes to fitting new systems.
“We looked for practical steps we could take towards a better Delos. First and foremost, we wanted to ditch propane for cooking. We were on board almost all year round and it was an on-going headache to find cylinders and a safety concern.
“We also wanted a serious power upgrade to make us more efficient, ideally one that would allow us to run the high drain appliances on battery power alone; even a cooker. That meant lithium batteries of some sort.
“Thirdly, we wanted to go some way towards making her eco-friendly. Everyone knows that with traditional antifoul, the answer is basically to go for something toxic that works in the environment you are going to be in. We no longer wanted that and were searching for something less damaging. Having spent years in warm water, we weren’t betting it would work, it was very much an experiment,” explains Brady.
Key to all the changes was a new power system. “We knew that our existing solar set up could provide a lot of power in ideal conditions, but we also knew that our output varies hugely and that solar doesn’t always deliver. We edit videos on board, sometimes powering four laptops at once, so this had to be factored in.
“The second factor was the high-draw appliances that suddenly demand a lot of grunt in one go: this can kill some battery systems. An electric kettle, oven and stove all had to be considered,” explains Brian.
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