S/V SN-E Cetacea

The 48v electric motor wind generator is aloft

S/V SN-E Cetacea is a 1984 Baba 30 cutter-rigged electric sailboat. She’s a double-ender with a Nordic stern, a modified full keel, and a cut-away forefoot. Designed by Robert Perry specifically for blue water cruising, she’s a comfortable home for the likes of us. Cetacea is only 30′ on deck but she has a 10′ 6″ beam, 6’4″ of headroom below decks, and an efficiently sized cockpit, making her accommodations large and comfortable enough for two humans and a rather all-encompassing cat. (Our last boat was 32′ on deck but only 8′ on the beam with 6′ headroom down below. Quite cramped in comparison.)

BABA 30 drawing

Cetacea’s under-body shape creates a great deal of stability in following seas with the more rounded belly and stern.

we live here!
Hauled out in New London ’22

Who knew that the double-reefed main would form a perfect triangle with the staysail flying and the yankee furled? It’s a perfectly balanced reef! This boat under reduced sail is better than any other boat we’ve sailed together offshore. She loves a reach in a strong blow, and she coddles us in minor wave action. The big stuff? Well, she’s going to move around some, but she provides a sense of safety and strength that S/V S.N. Nomad just couldn’t.

In April 2023, we passed the 5000 nautical mile mark aboard Cetacea and we have many thousands more miles of travel planned.


Sailing Rig and Gear

When we bought Cetacea, she was wearing her original clothing and that mainsail was a stretched out mess. We replaced it with a Bacon sail and deemed the yankee and staysail good enough to simply recover in black to match our new color scheme. We also have an asymmetrical spinnaker that we use with an ATN.

...the same tack back to Marathon
On a close port reach sailing off the hook from Lois Key, Florida

We worked on the mast in 2022 because whoever added roller furling for the yankee did it wrong. The top two foils came apart, a problem we dealt with for months before finding someone willing to pull the mast for us and let us work on it. We fixed the furler foils, added a turning block to give the halyard the proper angle, ran the electricty for an OGM masthead tri-color light w/auto-anchor light, and ran the yankee halyard inside the mast as it was meant to be so that we could use the poor neglected (aforementioned) asym.

We completely rebuilt this rig in three glorious days!

Auxiliary Propulsion

Dena Hankins with her Electric Propulsion System
That’s right, 48 volts of raw power!

In May of 2023, we installed a 48-volt electric propulsion system with a LiFePO4 battery bank, then sailed across the Atlantic Ocean with it. Let me tell you, no regrets there!

Bright and early!
The Free Ride!

We also built and installed the world’s smallest 1.8kw wind and solar farm and it totally rocks!

Electrical and Electronics

Going the right way!
Simrad NSS-9 Evo 3

All of our house loads are are 12 volt with the exception of our head shaving gear…

Mohawk Day
Mohawk Day (yay!!!) 500 nm southwest of Bermuda

We have a tiny 500w inverter for that and charging camera batteries.

Plumbing and Watermaker

We bought S/VSN-E Cetacea with a beautifully installed Katadyn E-80 watermaker and it was a major selling point for us. The Dreaded PO (previous owner) assured us that it had been properly pickled prior to his purchase but admitted to never having used it.

We took it apart and rewired it to be direct to the switch, cleaned all the hoses we could, replaced the ones we had to and…wow…it totally worked! From Lynn, Massachusetts to Old Saybrook, Connecticut…Old Saybrook to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and Yarmouth all the way back to Oncet, Massachusetts we made all the water and ice we could ever use and we made it from wind and solar power alone. It was fucking awesome until it died. In Oncet it started tripping it’s breaker and we had to go to work.

Clean'r up real nice
We went asshole-deep in that rebuild and discovered it needed it

Oncet is a bus ride to New Bedford, Mass where you can get almost anything done that is marine related including a master rebuild on a 12 volt watermaker motor. We tore it down and eliminated every single option down to the motor itself and then had it rebuilt. The motor-master-guy called us back before we made it back to the boat the same day to tell us our motor was cleaned and in perfect working order. The next day Dena went back to retrieve the motor while I convalesced with kitty on the boat. It was the peak of flue season and I’m an old dude with some American sensitivities…I got sick as a god and Dena brought home the motor.

Damn good looking teeth…made in India!

We also installed an hour meter and at the time of this telling we’re still making water 523 hours/2,693 gallons of water later.


We have the tools and the chemistry to rebuild the boat on the boat right now.

Gato is ready to go
That’s how cool we are


Photo by Kris Ashby: American Author Dena Hankins and James Lane sail away on S/V S.N. Cetacea.
Our first sail, Photo by Kris Ashby

She’s come a long way since we bought her in 2018! Check out the video below for some contrast.

…First video

Sailing in the protected waters of the Casco Bay that first couple of months was great, but we got to know her more as a liveaboard and as a collection of internal systems that first winter. Portland, Maine, isn’t really the best place for sailing all winter, and we only went out a handful of times once the temps dropped and ice and snow became common. We let ourselves adapt to Cetacea’s systems rather than jump right in and try to Nomad-ify them right out of the gate. It was frustrating, but now I’m (Dena is) glad we took a more measured approach to making changes.

Through the mainsheet block lower
Lynn, Lynn the City of Sin you never go out the same way you came in

The sailing we managed to do didn’t hint at how dramatically improved our sailing experience would be. It wasn’t until we got her in the Atlantic Ocean that following spring that we found out how truly incredible this sailing vessel is.

S/V S.N...finally, she's got her hailing port!
Finally installed that Monitor and called it LoveBot

We sailed a couple of thousand miles on her from where we bought her in Robinhood, Maine all the way down to Solomons, Maryland and back up to the Casco Bay doing both the inside and the outside passages during the pandemic and it was a totally amazing adventure. The boat proved herself sea worthy inside and out, but we had a lot more customizing to do.

Over the years, we installed some great new electronics and added a 4G radar. We rebuilt the electrical systems, replaced the mainsail, recovered the main and both roller-furling headsails, rebuilt the caprails forward to aft, repainted the deck, rebuilt the forward hatch, and completely re-envisioned and re-painted the entire color scheme from stem-to-stern.

Stern to...
Ew, out with the old

We got rid of that horrible cockpit enclosure (above) in 2022 and had a Primary Energies Tower built over the winter of ’21/22.

We like 'em wrapped up tight for the gales
…in with the new

Of course Dena had to rebuild the life-lines with 3/8″ dyneema!

Salem Harbor welcoming us back
…and always underway

We added a wood burning stove and a cat, Beluga Greyfinger.

Beluga Greyfinger

We rebuilt the plumbing in the galley and then tore out the old head, replacing it with a brand new one…one that actually accommodates a human ass. We’ll spare you the pictures.

Making more power
…and a naked human leg
Che' Gato
What’s a kitty in the galley without the mayo and blue cheese?
American Author Dena Hankins...
Earthling Author Dena Hankins in her wide open cockpit
Anchored off the Eastern Promenade of Portland, Maine... Home for the winter!
Captain TFG on a new (to him) boat in 2018

Welcome aboard!