Iron Genny – Sailors slang for the diesel engine – i.e. “The wind has died, so time to hoist the iron genny”.
My love of sailing is only slightly tarnished by my dislike of my noisy, smelly, and temperamental gas outboard auxiliary motor.
Since buying Madsu, a Catalina 22 built in 1979, I’ve extensively updated hardware and running rigging to make her a safe and dependable pocket cruiser for the coastal waters of British Columbia.
I’ve had the boat since 2007. We’re now old friends, who know and put up with each other’s idiosyncrasies. Madsu may not be the fastest boat around, but she gets me to where I’m going safely in all kinds of weather. She’s often the smallest boat in the anchorage.
I rely on auxiliary power to get in and out of the marina, and to motor home when the wind dies. I like nothing better than the moment I can turn the motor off, and I find the noise, smell and maintenance to be a nuisance.
We’ve owned a full electric car for a few years now and everything about the switch from internal combustion to electricity has been positive. So I decide to make the switch to an electric outboard for the boat as well. Based on my motor usage, I could probably have settled for a small electric motor, but because I do like to venture our for days or weeks at a time, I wanted a fair bit of range. So I settled for a Torqeedo Cruise 4 with a Torqeedo 48v battery, with both AC and solar charging. In May of 2021 I did a custom installation on Madsu – and with delight – sold my Evinrude 9.8 outboard.
In sailor’s parlance, hoisting the iron genny (iron genoa) means “turning on the motor” – usually a big old diesel engine. So that’s where the name of the website and podcast come from – Electric G.