Avril est déjà là!

Cet hiver passé en Europe a été très actif. Planifications d'expéditions, nouveau programme pour le bateau, etc. "Living with the bears", l'idée d'une grande expédition sur  une année a été reportée. Crise internationale oblige, les financements a long terme sont délicats à mettre en place en cette periode.

Le bateau sort de la glace et les températures de Nuuk se font clémentes. Dans trois semaines, les moteurs seront en marche et les premières sorties possibles. Je vous poste très bientôt les premieres images de Nuuk au soleil!

Posted on Sunday, 2009-April-12- 10:47 by Registered CommenterPierre | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Living with the bears

En Français plus bas

copyright www.bang.glThis blog hasn't been very active lately. Aurora Magnetica is safely moored in Nuuk harbour and I am now working on a new expedition for 2009-2010.

Sometimes ago, I lauched the idea to use Aurora Magnetica, our "sailing igloo", to spend an entire year at a remote place not affected by human, to propose a year round polar bears and other species detailled observation. This one of a kind program is difficult to set up. I first have to evaluate who is going to be concern and interest in, who will support it, then how to organize such an expedition. The description can be found here >>

Fell free to leave your feedback!

www.bang.glJe n'ai pas été très actif sur ce blog les derniers temps. Aurora Magnetica est confortablement mouillé dans le port de Nuuk, bien a l'abri  et je travail a la mise en place d'une nouvelle expedition pour 2009-10.

Il y déjà quelque temps, je lancais l'idée d'utiliser notre "navire Igloo" pour une experience jamais tentée: vivre une année au mileu des ours polaires. Bien sûr, un tel programme est difficile a mettre en place. La première partie est l'évaluation de qui va être interéssé par cette oportunité, qui va participer a son financement et aussi quel type de logistique a mettre en place. Baucoup de travail, donc. Un description du projet se trouve à www.igloolike.org

N'hésitez pas a laisser vos commentaires!


Posted on Tuesday, 2009-February-3- 12:05 by Registered CommenterPierre | CommentsPost a Comment | References2 References | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

My experience with Whispergen and Futurenergy generators

As I received many inquiries about both of these critical elements, I deceided to post the reply I did to the last emai I received.

Subject - Sujet: wind generator
Message: Hi
We moored at the other side in Nuuk next to the Kisavik of Jess (very nice and helpfull guy and his family), with our 49 ft sloop.
We are also sailing in the actic area for the last two years and will go next summer to Labrador again.
I found your website this week, while we are looking for a wind generator You have the 1kW of futurenergy. On their website is stated that you are very pleased. Ik like to have that confirmed if possible and specially the noise levels. We like to run it especially in low wind situations, which are more common then strong winds, but also it should not have any problems with the strong winds upon till 50 kn when we sail, on a sailboat you cannot take it away then.
Futurenergy states they have a kind of furl system but do not make clear how it works. How does it works.
I am suprised you are using the Sterling engine generator, because I found out that it gives a lot of problems and will not give much electrical power.
Seeing your lovely pictures of snow in Nuuk gave us a little homesick feeling, they are beautifull.
Please do our sincerely greetings to Jess and his lovely family from Herman and Rian.
Regards Herman



thank you for your email. I didn't met Jess yet, but will track him to pass your regards.

Yes, every world they printed is true, the Futurenergy is a great wind generator. Having used some other brand you usually find on sail boat, I can say there is a world of difference. The quality of engineering, the careful construction, the power. But here, we are hitting the main problem of this type of generator for a small boat: it's too powerful.

You have to understand that it is a permanent magnet turbine, which mean it start to produce electricity at very low rpm. It also mean that it produce a lot of power quickly as soon as the wind pick up. This wind turbine will power your boat much more than you was ever dreaming of.

Regular wind turbine need to be hook up to a battery to be excited and start to produce. Just like an engine alternator. BUT Futurenergy is a permanent magnet, which, unless other wind turbine, doesn't need to be connect to a battery to start to be excited. It is always excited. Then you have a problem : as soon as it begin to rotate, you have power. If it is not connected to a battery bank, it will soon loop then burn out the wind turbine itself. In a land based installation, that's not a problem, you add a dump load in your circuit and you are done.

On a boat, that's an other story. In a moderate windy day, you will fill and top up the batteries in a few hours. So what to do with all these extra amps??? You have to burn them whatever. That is why Futurenergy strongly recommend to add a dump load in your circuit and you have to follow this advice.

Be extremely careful with this critical point. A dump load is a resistor which can get very hot (burning red). This is dangerous in a confined space especially when you are not monitoring it.

Onboard Aurora, I bring it down for summer months as the engines are on use. Far way too much energy for what we burn.

It's also true that is is the less noisy wind generator I ever had, with the less vibration, if you take care of a good rubber mount. There is a cost for that: the blades are sharp and don't try to catch them when it rotate. They are truly very dangerous past 10 knts. I believe they could literally cut your hand.

Self furling
This is also true, it work pretty well. I got up to 77 knt while spinning and no problem. The system is quite simple and can't jam. A very clever idea, this is why I said is a extremely well engineered generator The cost of that is minimal: the tail doesn't always fully come back by itself, or only after a long period when the wind direction change, so you may have to help it yourself when the wind calm down.

I insist, it's a wonderful wind generator, the best I ever seen. The power is there.
But it's not yet ready for boat, unless you take great care of the install and customise it. Too big, too powerful, too dangerous. In anyway it should be mounted in a location where no one can be able to put hands in the blades. You have also to find your own way/system to stop it when you want it to stop. I used it as a source of power when the boat was frozen in ice, I don't want to use it when sailing.

I dream this company making a smaller size, let says 500 W model, more adapted for small boat use. When I say 300, I mean real power, not advertising power like some brands which claim 400W and only produce 30W when the wind reach 25 knts. Maybe if they receive many solicitation...

Usual disclaimer apply here: I have no link at all to this company, I ordered the generator through internet and paid full price. I am just very happy to have found a true wind generator, not a toy as we were use to see around the past 20 years.


For my use -cold climate, in need for heat and electricity-, it's a dream machine. I am not a mechanic, I literally hate oil changes, etc.

I loved the fact that it worked 500 hours without any type of maintenance. Not a single one. I never opened the hood for repair since I have it... Just regular checks and pleasure of the eyes, it's a very high tech good looking machine.

It seems that Whispergen problem is more of a commercial problem than any other. The company, Victron Energy from the Netherlands, which was the first importer in Europe, advertised it as a generator. This is false and induced a misconception of the machine which still last. This is a HEATER which produce electricity at the same time. Simple as that. We also have to blame the Whispergen company from New Zealand which doesn't make it that much clear as well.

You have up to 7 kW of heat and 1 constant kW of electricity. On most of the boats they have been install, people dump the 7 kW of heat out of the boat and keep the 1 kW of electricity. But going this way, you end up with a very non-efficient generator. If you want electricity ONLY, you better buy a regular DC generator.

Part of the bad reputation come from installation as well. As people was thinking "generator", they installed it as a generator, taking care of the DC circuit, not of the water circuit. But as any heater, if you don't respect hoses diameters and lengh, curbs, pumps volume, etc. you run into problems, the machine get hot, the alarms start, etc. Electrician are not plumbers and having a heater install by a electrician doesn't do always the trick.

But if you need hot water and heat at the same time, that become a very interesting, high efficiency, close to NO noise, strictly minimal maintenance machine. An expensive toy from and for the 21 century. And don't make any mistake, 1kW constant is the equivalence of a 60A alternator running at full load. That is not negligible.


To conclude, onboard, if everything should fail, solar, wind, diesel stoves, engines, I will want the whispergen and my large bank of batteries to be the last to go. It's an high tech and totally reliable machine. And highly programmable. You can set it up to run a pre-set number of hours per day, leave the boat for a week and come back with a warm boat, hot shower ready and batteries full.

Well, let me touch some wood, there.

I maybe be seen as too enthusiastic. It took me months of hesitations, research, questions, to end up with these machines. I am just very happy not to have made a mistake in choosing them. They are perfectly adapted... to my boat/use, which doesn't mean they are to yours. To resume:



Futurenergy wind generator



Extremely powerful


bulletproof construction and engineering


Not adapted for boat use yet

dangerous if not mounted high enough





A true 21th century engine, minimal maintenance

Silence, feeling of modern confort

program and full detail diagnostic available
High security



The price

Adapted for temperate to cold climate only

Not energy efficient in hot climate


Well Herman, I hope it help.
All the best, Pierre


Posted on Saturday, 2008-December-6- 3:29 by Registered CommenterPierre | Comments2 Comments | References122 References | EmailEmail | PrintPrint

Toujours la!

Pas bavard? Oui, c'est vrai. Me voila de retour a bord apres quelques temps en Europe et au Canada. Toujours a Nuuk ou le bateau et moi passeront l'hiver. Pourquoi Nuuk? Pour son chantier, seul capable de tirer Aurora Magnetica au Sec et surtout souder de l'aluminium facilement, hiver y compris. Je dois en effet ajouter une protection supplementaire pour le gouvernail  a la suite des tests de cet ete. Photos du port de Nuuk prises debut Septembre.

La cote Canadienne arctique n'offre aucune possibilite pour faire les modification que j'envisage. Seul, le Groenland possede des ports dignes de ce nom. Et certaines facilites pour reparer les navires: la flotte de peche est tres importante ici et l'industrie de la peche fonctionne a plein. J'aurais pu redescendre sur Terre-Neuve, mais j'ai eu peur de la chaleur excessive du sud...


Debut Novembre, le jour decroit rapidement. J'ai profite en Octobre d'un petit avion qui passait par Iqaluit, ou j'etais l'hiver dernier, pour aller visiter mes amis. Le jours de l'arrivee, tout etait encore vert, comme sur la photo de la piste d'atterissage. Le lendemain, en me reveillant, tout etait blanc. La premiere neige etait la, et elle ne fondra pas avant Mai de l'annee prochaine. Retrouvailles avec Kimma qui est reste de ce cote de la mer de Baffin, le Groenland etant tres reticent a toute importation de chien -quarantaine, etc.-. En pleine forme, elle a maintenant 11 mois et est prete a commencer sa vie de chien de trainneau.


Posted on Saturday, 2008-November-1- 11:59 by Registered CommenterPierre | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint


Jeudi 7 aout 2008.

Plusieurs galleries d'images ajoutees a >>Greenland - summer 2008

Pas mal de temps sans donner de nouvelles, pas d'internet en mer. La sortie de la baie Frobisher fut longue et douloureuse due a une année de glaces particulièrement denses. Il a fallut trois essais en essayant de se faufiler dans des passages ou la compression était très forte. Le vent de sud-est ayant souffle plus d'un mois de suite, l'accumulation était particulièrement importante, spécialement dans les iles du milieu de cette baie qui fait presque 150 miles nautiques de long.

Un bon test pour les qualités du bateau qui a été bien secoué et compressé. Ça m'a permis de comprendre ou rajouter des renforts, principalement pour le safran qui n'a pas été touche mais pourrait l'être. Un point très rassurant: les hélices sont très bien protégées et la glace ne les touchent que très rarement. Le bateau est capable d'avancer en poussant des blocs de plusieurs tonnes a environ 1 nœud dans de la glace de pas loin de 2 mètres d'épaisseur et de couverture de 7/10eme (10/10eme étant la banquise fermée et 0/10 l'eau libre). Après, c'est la glace qui décide.

Navigation de deux jours et arrivée au Groenland dans la légendaire brume qui ne c'est dissipée qu' a l'intérieur des iles  qui protègent Nuuk. Nombreux icebergs... au radar.  Je ne regrette toujours pas de ne pas avoir de voiles: on est passe de 60 nds de vent au calme plat. La belle brise régulière du sud n'existe pas ici. Les quelques voiliers rencontres naviguent eux aussi au moteur.

Un grand plaisir d'etre ici, au pays des icebergs ou l'on fait les pleins d'eau en se mettant a couple des paroies rocheuses, juste sous les cascades.  Prochaine etape? Reparations et modifications pour l'hiver prochain! Comme ici les helices en carbone/kevlar qui ont tournees plus d'une heure dans les cailloux a l'automne. Malgre ca, elle ont continuees a etre fonctionnelles en perdant simplement de leur rendement. Pas de vibration, aucun domage a l'arbre. Une belle trouvaille due au Dr Buckler de Hamburg. Et comme il y a a bord un lot de pales de rechange, en 10 mn les helices peuvent etre de nouveau operationnelles.

Posted on Thursday, 2008-August-7- 12:51 by Registered CommenterPierre | Comments Off | EmailEmail | PrintPrint