Buster is a twenty foot electric auxiliary Hampton Boat.

Buster is a new kind of motorsailer with an electric motor and six used Cell-tower-lead-acid-batteries. He’s intended to act as a tender to a fleet of small boats – more on that in a while….

The first idea was for Buster to be a Yawl Boat. There won’t be a boat in the fleet large enough to carry him in stern davits. Buster will need to fend for himself. It would also be better if Buster didn’t have to run the engine all the time. These concerns led to the motorsailer concept.

An electric auxiliary worked out well in BitterSweet.

Photo: Antonio Dias

The challenge with an electric powered boat is placing the batteries. Lead-acid batteries are heavy, Buster‘s weigh 132 pounds each. But compared with lead bars, they aren’t that compact. The hull needs to be able to get along with the mass-equivalent of internal stone ballast.

BitterSweet has a large, deep lead/steel centerboard. Half her ballast is below the hull while under sail. Buster needs to be simpler. No centerboard – the motor can provide a boost to point higher going to windward. The large prop does add drag so we need to accept that Buster won’t have ideal windward capabilities.

Compared to a traditional Hampton Boat Buster is heavier and more robust – on the larger size too. A motorsailer with other boats under his care – as well as the need to be a stable filming platform: Buster could be thought of as part Tugboat.

Buster‘s interior layout is constrained by the needs of his propulsion system. The batteries lie amidships and right above the floor-timbers in two banks of three. Enclosed in a glassed, plywood box insulated from the hull by rubber washers. Acid and stray electrical current are not welcome bunk-mates! The motor is attached to a belt drive.

This allows us to reduce the RPMs and use a prop that can throw a lot of water. It will also help to electrically isolate the motor from the shaft. This position keeps the motor higher in the boat than if it were in-line with the shaft. Above the battery compartment is what looks like the engine box on a launch or yawl boat. This will be secure dry storage. The battery compartment will ventilate fumes over the side and be isolated from this storage space.


These arrangements, along with the sprit-ketch rig, create a steering station aft of the thwart. There’s a deeper standing well forward. We stand two feet down inside the boat aft. Forward we’re three feet down. Secure and ready to work over the side or do whatever needs to be done. Under the foredeck is anther storage area. It can also be a shelter for two or three people in a pinch. Buster‘s normal crew will be two or three. But acting as a tender, Buster can hold six to eight.


LBP:      20′ – 0″

LWL:     19′ – 4″

Beam:   7″ – 3″

Draft:    2′ – 6″


Sail Area:

Main:        136 sq. ft.

Mizzen:     59.5 sq. ft.

Total:        195.5 sq. ft.

Buster Post






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