SSCA Discussion Board: Cruising Discussions: AIR X WINDGENERATOR
By Humphreys on Tuesday, December 2, 2003 - 04:06 pm:

going cruising in the not to distant future....hopefully sooner rather than later...35 ft hallberg rassy...anyone with experience of this wind looks good but does it work...and does it hold up..cheers geoff humphreys sv gladys

By Anonymous on Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - 05:41 am:

At the Miami boat show last year, all the major wind generators were set up and on display on pilings at the marina. The wind was generally light, so few conclusions on output could be made. However, one conclusion was clear. The Aix X was the noisest generator by far. This was supposed to be the "improved" model, but it was much louder than the others. You can get used to anything, and noisy is a very subjective measurement. So it might be good to spend some time near one in 10-15 kts of wind before making your decision. Output is directly a result of blade length. Among the small ones, the Aerogen 6 looked good. Among the large ones, Kiss and Four Winds seem to get good press. Service after the sale is also an issue. Most of the manufacturers are very small companies. There are older posts on this board about the same topic, also.

By George on Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - 09:23 am:

THe AirMarine X is an interesting mix of good and bad. The noise is the bad. THe good part is the decent output, the cost the internal regulator that works, and the ability to have an "ON/OFF" switch to put in an idle mode so there isn't any noise.

I have one.

By Jack Tyler on Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - 09:50 pm:


I would like to 'second' Anon's point about 'service after sale' as purchases of marine gear either ignore that issue or there's an assumption made that anyone selling what seems like 'good gear' is prepared to support it equally well. I think the Aerogen unit would be easy to live with but wonder, in practice, how much of a service system lies behind it outside of its home country of manufacture. Limping into Puerto Rico after some storm damage, which overrode the shut-off switch funciton on our AirMarine, we found AM's repair service to be well organized, efficient, and they also offered an upgrade path to get better performance out of the repaired unit. And it only took a week, from removal to reinstallation.

Also, don't overlook the form factor (weight, blade swing, mounting method) when choosing a wind generator, as you might find lighter/smaller units more suitable for some mounting applications. Once we decided to mount ours at the top of our mizzen, there were few choices we felt good about.


By W. Potter on Wednesday, December 3, 2003 - 10:27 pm:

Have had AirMarine on Lilinoe (32' Fuji Ketch) since '98. Many short trips and one Hawaii-to-Japan trip. In all, no problems -- works as advertised. In past two years, the generator has been through several typhoons (some in the auto mode and some in the off/gounded mode), one large bird strike and a lost nose cone. Slight damage to blade tips and loosening of blades at the hub.

Noisey, yea, a little. Lilinoe is the only boat with a wind generator, so I catch a little from the other boat owners. But, without exception, they all wish they had one.

Right now the mizzen is down for work and re-wiring. Have ordered new, re-designed blades and updated electronic package. This is being sent to me to install. Hopefully back up and running within a month or so.

I'm very satisfied. When it's blowin', I get all the juice I need!

BTW, the bird lost!

W. and C. Potter
SV Lilinoe
Yokosuka, Japan

By Jack Tyler on Thursday, December 4, 2003 - 12:16 pm:


I notice you didn't offer an email link but was hoping in some fashion you could offer comments about what it's like to cruise in Japan these days. I'd welcome any personal observations; you can find my email address by clicking on my name above this text.


By W. Potter on Thursday, December 4, 2003 - 03:24 pm:

Jack, funny you should mention cruising in Japan...I'm now working with Cruising World magazine folks next week here in Japan. Hopefully in a few issues they'll get some text and pictures out for all to see.

I'll email separately to you my email/web site that has some info.

Bottom with any foreign country, it is a different world! Following is a quick mental dump of things to remember while in Japan:

* Sailing (and I mean any type of sailing) is a sport or activity reserved for the elite.
* Almost all sailboats are group or business owned.
* Japanese fishing boats rule -- they follow no rules
* In a 24-hour period, between 350-425 ocean-going monsters leave or enter Tokyo Bay (my local sailing area)
* Expensive a heck for slip fee and yard maintenance
* Japanese do not work on their boats -- the yard does all the work

I'm lucky. I work for US Gov't here, so keep my boat at Yokosuka Navy Base -- small marina with about dozen privately owned boats. But, we’ve got our own private McDonald’s attached to the Marina building!

That's a quick swipe at life here. We've been here since '93, brought boat from Hawaii in '98, and will probably head out next year. My next long-haul sailing trip will be next summer Japan->Hawaii or Japan->Puget Sound -- depends on job location.

SV Lilinoe

By Bob Horn on Friday, December 5, 2003 - 05:25 am:

In response to W.Potter, if your AirMarine is only 'a little noisy' then that must have a one off. We're in a marina right now and there are two boats in here with Air Marine units and you can hear them scream all over the marina. We had the same experience cruising the Caribbean, you can hear those things screaming all over the anchorages. I don't see how people live with them.

s/v Escapdes

By Jack Tyler on Friday, December 5, 2003 - 12:57 pm:

Bob, our AirMarine is also one of the quiet ones. Based on Wes' description offline to me about when he was cruising, I'm guessing he has one of the 402 units, which came with a less agressive blade. We have the same unit and, when a storm took it out and we had it upgraded at the factory, we accepted the new blades (intended for their Mk II 403), stuck them in the spares locker and have continued to use the original ones. My guess is that Wes' description is a fair one.

Another reason we don't incite too many neighbors is that I carefully sanded all the edges and especially the tips smooth with 400, then waxed the blades. This needs to be redone every so often, depending on how much crud builds up on them. I've had AM owners sitting in my cockpit, right under our AM unit on our mizzen mast, and noticing it was their AM unit they were hearing.

I remember when people would complain about engines running in an anchorage, then generators. These days it appears to be wind gens and cell phones...


By W. Potter on Sunday, December 7, 2003 - 03:32 pm:

Jack, thanks for the tips reg. blade care.

Checking the paperwork and with SW Windpower, I had a 303 model. Dealer put upgrade package in the mail this last weekend.

For couple hundred dollars, getting new body, cirucit, rectifier, blades, hardware and nosecone...sounds like a fun weekday evening for assembly, and a day getting it back up the mizzen.

SV Lilinoe
Yokosuka, Japan

By Osiris on Sunday, December 7, 2003 - 05:27 pm:

Air Marine noise is a by product of the production method used on the blades which is easily corrected by taking the time to carefully sand off the mold lines, reshape the leading and trailing edges to be smooth like a real airplane's propeller. Then wax or varnish the surfaces of the blades to fill in all the minute holes caused from air bubbles in the mold process. If you look at the surface of the blades with a magnifier you will see all the "craters" each of which will "tear air" and make noise. Filling them with wax or varnish - I like varnish, it lasts longer, will reduce the noise level to a mild hiss which when factored into the amount of amp-hours it is producing is quite acceptable.

By Jack Tyler on Thursday, December 11, 2003 - 10:58 pm:

Osiris, thanks for the varnish suggestion - that's a great idea. I've used wax but you're quite right; it doesn't last.

Smooth-sanding with 400/600 grit makes an amazing difference in blade noise, folks. Give it a try and see what you find.


By W. Potter on Wednesday, December 17, 2003 - 03:30 pm:

Just received my airmarine upgrade package...for couple hundred dollars, included: new body with internal electronics, completely re-designed blades and all nuts, bolts, wire terminal ends and a couple hex wrenches.

The only thing I needed from my old 303 was the hub and generator assembly. About 20 minutes to take the old parts off and and hour or so to assemble the new unit (not including time to get it back up the mizzen).

Depending on the age of the unit you have, you might have to snip a few wires and do some soldering.

Personal observations:
* Excellent quality parts
* Excellent service from SW Windpower -- they offered to do the work if I was not comfortable doing it myself
* The new blades have larger surface area and as mentioned above, will be sanded and varnished
* New unit has built-up pivot hub -- looks to be about 50 - 75% longer than original
* new wire leads come with the upgrade -- so no reason to change/modify wired from the unit to the batteries (I have intermediate on/off/ground switch)

Hopefully have back on the boat soon...once done, I'll post another note with my observations (ease, sound, power generation, etc.)

SV Lilinoe
Yokosuka, Japan

By Jack Tyler on Thursday, December 18, 2003 - 12:53 am:

We did essentially the same thing as Wes & Cindy, had the same excellent service (from outside the U.S.), and have been pleased with the performance since the unit was reinstalled (now 2 years ago).

We chose not to install the newer blades because we believe our older blades are less noisy. It will be interesting to see what W&C think after they've got the new ones running...


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