2,410-Mile Trailer-Towing Trip - Virginia to Palm Beach & Back, Added Pictures

2,410-Mile Trailer-Towing Trip - Virginia to Palm Beach & Back, Added Pictures

We recently completed a 2,410-mile trip to/from Palm Beach towing a trailer. We range charged every night and installed the 5.8 software upgrade on day two. We towed a boat/trailer that weighed a total of 450 lbs. The rig: 11-foot Walker Bay RIB boat (120 lbs), 9.8 HP Tohatsu outboard motor (80 lbs), aluminum utility trailer (250 lbs). The trailer/boat rig cost about 5wh/mile in range, immaterial. Purpose of trip was to drop off the boat at St. Augustine Marine to join it with our offshore sailboat, then attend a board meeting at Amelia Island, a few days of vacation in Palm Beach, and visit our daughter for Thanksgiving in Chattanooga. Itinerary/charging & pictures follow.

Day 1 11/15 - Eastern Shore of Virginia (Pungoteague)to Newport News, stayed overnight & charged on 110v outlet. 92 miles total (attended 1.5-day oyster aquaculture trade show).

Day 2 11/16 - Newport News to Rodanthe, NC KOA, stayed overnight in beachfront cabin, charged on 50A overnight, breaker blew twice, moved to different outlet, finished charge (lesson - set an alarm to check charging status overnight several times). 138 miles total.

Day 3 11/17 - Rodanthe KOA to Wilmington, NC. Took two ferries south to Cedar Island. First from Rodanthe to Okrakoke Island, then 2.5 hour ferry to Cedar Island. 1:00 ferry could not go due to fog, so waited for 4:00 ferry, then 2.5 hours plus drive to Wilmington, arrived around 9PM. Charged overnight at J1772 in Mayfaire Shopping Center, walked a mile to/from the closest hotel - Homewood Suites. 204 miles total.

Day 4 11/18 - Wilmington, NC to Pointe South KOA via Charleston, SC. Drove 177 miles to Charleston Visotor Center, parked at free Level 2 charger in city parking garage. Spent four hours touring Ft. Sumter. Drove 63 miles to Pointe South KOA, arrived with 9 miles range. Stayed overnight at KOA in nice cabin for $175. Uneventful except 50A breaker blew 3 times. Entire pedestal went dark each time, got up three times in the night to check and move car. Finally found one that held, dialed back draw to 30 amps. 240 miles total.

Day 5 11/19 - Point South KOA to St. Augustine and Jacksonville, FL. Drove 216 miles from Point South KOA to St. Augustine Marine Center. Arrived with 10 miles range. Dropped off boat & motor, met with boat riggers. Sat in car while charging for two hours at the marina's welder 30A 240v electrical outlet, as we didn't have adapters for their marine shore power outlets. Then drove 32 miles to St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville, hooked up to paid Blink outside Panera Bread, walked a mile to overnight at Extended Stay Hotel. 248 miles total.

Day 6&7 11/20-11/21 - Jacksonville to Amelia Island, drove 40 miles to Ritz Carlton Amelia, attended board meeting for two days, plugged into 110v outlet - very accommodating staff, but only added 120 miles in 40 hours of charging. From here we joined the FL supercharger route! 40 miles total.

Day 8 11/22 - Amelia Island to Palm Beach. Drove coastal roads until joining I-95 at Port Orange, where we range charged over lunch, range charged again at Port St. Lucie. 322 miles total. FAST, FAST , FAST Supercharging!

Day 8-10 11/23 - 11/25 Visited Palm Beach, drove 100 miles around town.

Day 11 11/26 - Palm Beach to Macon GA, toughest day by far. Left at 5:30AM and used both Florida I-95 Superchargers, range charged at Port Orange over breakfast. Sat at Valdosta, GA KOA for five hours in pouring rain, arrived at Georgia State Univ. in Macon at midnight, plugged into their Blink, walked 1 mile to terrible Best Western. Blink charger was weak, so had to wait until 10AM next day for enough charge to proceed. This day highlighted the most difficult issue - with two superchargers and a 50A KOA charge for 5 hours, it took 19 hours to go 528 miles in one grueling day. We had to drive 55 despite 70 mph limits, so traffic flew by us. An ICE could easily do the same trip in half the time. 528 miles total.

Day 12 11/27 - Macon to Chattanooga, TN. Arrived at Tesla's Marietta, GA Service Center around noon with ZERO miles showing. Very cold (32). Great staff. Plugged into HPWC and walked half mile to local diner. Charged for 4 hours, left at 5:00 PM. Arrived Chattanooga around 7PM. Range killed by cold, despite driving 55 against much faster traffic. 220 miles total.

Day 13 11/28 - Thanksgiving. Shuttled car to/from Chattanooga Whole Foods - Blink charged $48 for 24 hours - full range charge. 16 miles total.

Day 14 11/29 - Chattanooga to Asheville, NC. Arrived with 20 miles range despite stopping in Newport, TN to charge for three hours at a Blink (Newport Shell station off I-40). Plugged into the Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park. Cost $375 for a room to be able to charge overnight! 231 miles total.

Day 15 11/30 - Asheville to Pungoteague, VA. Drove 197 miles from Asheville to Burlington Supercharger, going slow (55), had coffee at nearby restaurant. Amazing to watch the miles fly in. Then drove 114 miles to Rocky Mount Supercharger, full range charge over lunch at the onsite restaurant. Then drove 210 miles to home, arrived with 8 miles remaining. Because of using only superchargers a long day was reasonable. 521 miles total.

Bottom line: J1772 30Amp and Blink charging requires too many compromises. The trip should be two days each way, tops. Without Superchargers, a Model S requires the owner to be the servant, rather than the car serving the owner. This will be moot when supercharges go the whole route. For now, it was fun for a lazy trip and made us slow down. Instead of eating on the run, we sat at a table during charging and caught up on email and reading, had a great time. I would do it again, my wife would not.

Charging at the Rodanthe, NC KOA:

Riding the Okracoke Ferry:

Port St. Lucie Supercharger:

Port Orange Supercharger:

Bighorn | 4 december 2013

Very few.

SamO | 4 december 2013



Blvr888 | 4 december 2013

@Pungoteague_Dave: does your Model S have towing capability? :)

tes-s | 4 december 2013

Is that your supplementary power pack? Make it in one charge? :)

Kidding asige, I'm very envious - I'll bet it was an awesome trip.

Bighorn | 4 december 2013

I can see the pic now and the explanation--sounds like quite an adventure. I bet a Tesla towing a boat gets even more attention than a plain vanilla Model S.

stuberman | 4 december 2013


I loved your report. Whenever I expect to have to charge at a remote site I throw my Brompton folding bike into the frunk. That greatly extends the usable distance of a charger from the hotel. I suggest that you look into it.

Of course, none of us can wait until an extensive Supercharger network is in place...especially our wives and children.

Pungoteague_Dave | 4 december 2013

@stuberman - a folding bike is a great idea - I have a Dahon Marine, did not think to bring it. Inside the aluminum trailer is a 4-stroke gasoline outboard engine, boat seats, and a plastic gas tank for the dinghy, so we were not completely gas-free on this trip!

I don't mean to sound critical at all, just noting that the point of a Model S road trip is as much the car as the destination, as it does take a LOT longer to get there in the S, as you have to keep speeds down, and charge time is as long or longer than road time without Superchargers. We typically saw Level 2 charge speeds of 12 to 17 miles per hour, 23 tops. Do the math for 260 miles of range, that really is more like 200-210 real world at 55 mph speeds in cold weather, assuming you are willing to go very deep into the battery.

At least four times on this trip we ended at below 10 miles remaining, once went five miles past zero. This was very carefully controlled, and we could modulate speed to make our destination by watching projected and immediate usage to ensure arrival. However, all the time we drove under the speed limit, and to make it we had to go way below the limit a couple times - not a compromise that many could or would make. Superchargers will solve all of this, but my expectation is that it will be another two years before we can rely on them for a lot of weekend and week-long trips. Some places we like to go, like the Canadian Maritimes (Cape Breton) and the Adirondacks (Lake George), will never get Superchargers - which gives us an excuse to go by motorcycle on "fun" trips. The only reason we didn't do that this time was the need to take the boat to St. Augustine.

Sudre_ | 4 december 2013

Great information Dave.

I am planning a trip to Florida this January and I have the trip broken up into three 300 mile days.

I am planing on stopping to charge at almost any campground near the road along the route. You are right about the more time charging than driving. Right now my plan looks like, drive for an hour, charge for an hour and a half at a campground with a 14-50.

The public chargers look like a complete waste of time. The Blinks network is mainly 208 volt at 25 amp or 5kWh. I only plan on using one when we stop for lunch.

The trip is going to be fun since we are doing it as a lazy stroll south. Can't wait for the superchargers! Altho... if you are in the midwest getting to Florida will be a three day drive by supercharger too because according to the map there will be none along the way without going East first.

nickjhowe | 4 december 2013

Thanks for the write up Dave. Quite an adventure.

shop | 4 december 2013

Great write up Dave - thanks. BTW, Marine adapters are covered in this document below - frankly, I wouldn't want to do a trip like yours without a lot of these adapters in my trunk. Interesting that you could have plugged into a marine outlet. What kind was it? A 50A marine ship to shore?

Also interesting that so many campground 50A connections tripped the breaker...

tes-s | 5 december 2013

I would do it again, my wife would not.

Exactly!! My wife would do a trip like that...once. After that, wait for the superchargers or take the ICE.

vouteb | 5 december 2013

Great porst but I am afraid it does show the limitations (at this stage)

Mathew98 | 5 december 2013

@vouteb - Road trips in an MS is limited by one's imagination.

Did you read about the owner of an S60 who trek across the country and racked up 15k miles in 6 weeks? He stopped at most of the superchargers and some TM showrooms to top off for his trips. He also stayed overnight at KOA's as well.

There should be SC coverage for most of the US (98%) in two years for those who would like to travel the country with free electrons.

J.T. | 5 december 2013

@Mathew98 Prepaid electrons

Mathew98 | 5 december 2013

@jtodtman - You got me there. It's baked in the price of the S/P85. I would have to pay for the privilege for my S60 (when I feel more adventurous outside my daily commuting needs.)

MandL | 5 december 2013

We were the Sig charging at Burlington on your trip home. Drove from Baltimore to Charlotte for Thanksgiving, so Supercharged all the way. I will say that we only charged up to about 90% in Richmond on the way down and after watching the range burn away we ended up spending the last hour and a half to Burlington going 55 in a 70 and got to the Burlington SC with about 18 miles of range. Climate control was off the whole time and even before we dropped to 55 we were only going 65. I don't know if there is a huge rise in elevation between Richmond and Burlington or what, but I doubt a 60 could make it. It was much better on the way back North.

Doug H | 5 december 2013

I really enjoyed your report. I brought back memories from this summer.

I took a trip in July from Atlanta to Chicago, Chicago to Detroit, then Detroit back to Atlanta.

After the first day (which was my disaster day) I discovered that using 30 amp chargers were a BIG waste of time. I only charged at 50 amps or greater unless I was charging overnight. At the end of the first day, I had 20 rated miles left when we stopped in Eddyville, Ky after 17 hours of travel and charging. I charged the next day at a farmer's barn at his welding 50-amp outlet.

The other observation, having a specific route with specific chargers was important to keep from wasting time and miles.

Finally, I had my wife and 2 of my daughters with me (18 year old twins). They got so tired on the first day of waiting, they became my best researchers for 50 amp charging.

The towing hitch is really cool. I've got to get one.

Roamer@AZ USA | 5 december 2013

P-D I always enjoy your posts and the detail provided. This one was no exception.

Thanks and keep pioneering new ways to get things done with a Tesla. Your hitch install report was also top notch.

RBats | 5 december 2013

@Pungoteague_Dave - What towing hitch did you install on your MS? Have you used bike racks with it? Thanks.

Roamer@AZ USA | 5 december 2013
Brian H | 5 december 2013

At this point, true - prepaid for most locations. As Solar City takes over and upgrades the sites with arrays and FIT offsets, the drain on Tesla will vanish, except for routine and emergency maintenance perhaps.

Pungoteague_Dave | 6 december 2013

@roamer, actually, that's my report on loose bolts. Here's my report on the hitch installation and bike rack. Note that the bile rack impacts range loss way more than the trailer/boat combo.

Pungoteague_Dave | 6 december 2013

@brian - There's no evidence that Solar City will be adding panels to the east coast Superchargers. There is no provision for them, and in at least two of the existing locations, no space. It actually makes little sense to place solar panels at the actual Superchargers. The only reason for that would be marketing. If the agreement is still operative, which I doubt, it would make much more sense to place a large array of panels at a single location that is optimized for sun orientation and annual weather cycles. Oh wait, Solar City is already doing that.

alcassfast | 22 februari 2014

I love the colour of your Model S.