Motoring to sailing ratio vs performance.......
I am putting this thread out looking for discussion on something that I personally find interesting. I don't mean this to start a food fight, or to suggest that one way of cruising has more validity than another. There is a tendency to turn these discussions into an 'us vs. them' kind of discourse. That is not my goal. Neither do I mean to suggest that there is any kind of moral imperative to any of this.
What I hope to explore is how various members of this forum view the value of voyaging under predominantly under sail, and the relationship between performance and being able to do so.
What triggered this, in a somewhat of a round about way, was a couple events and discussions this weekend. Here on the Chesapeake, depending on where and when you were under way, this weekend was the kind of bodacious sailing weekend that could only make one glad to have taken up sailing rather than watching golf on TV (not that I mean to insult any of you who might otherwise prefer golf on TV). Both days resulted in some wonderful opportunities for breezy sailing. (If I were to believe my wind instruments I saw gusts in the mid-20 knot range both days and after mid-afternoon on Saturday had solid winds in the high teens for most of my time under way. Great sailing for the Chesapeake in August; the kind of breezes that assure short passage times in almost any kind of boat.)
In any event, coming out of Annapolis Harbor, running along under spinnaker before the wind filled in completely, an acquaintance came motoring by. Some of you who have been around for a while may remember Bruce. Bruce came to this forum, looking for advice for a 35-40 foot boat for the Chesapeake. He eventually emailed me and we looked at a wreck of an Alberg 35 together. The boat in question was ill suited to his goals, and so I rode shut gun with him in his search for something more suitable. (Bruce, I don't know if you are still lurking here but feel free to jump in any time if you see anything amiss in my description.) He ended up buying a very nice early 1970’s era Pearson 39 K/cb’er. Which is somewhat beside the point.
When the deal fell through on the Alberg 35, Bruce asked me to submit a list of boats that might meet his needs. On that list were a number of boats that were at the higher performance end of the spectrum. Bruce responded with additional information about his goals, including a statement that I see often in people’s cruising boat searches “I’m not in a rush when I sail and so speed is not really important.” It almost became a joke between us, so that, any time I would point out the relative speed of one model vs. another he would wide crack about it.
That phrase, “I’m not in a rush when I sail and so speed is not really important.” comes up a lot in posts by people who are looking for cruisers of all kinds. So much so that it is almost a standard inclusion. As someone who advocates performance as a virtue in a coastal cruiser (if not in an offshore boat as well) the phrase has always struck me as a statement of preference and little more, but one that seems to be surprisingly ubiquitous.
Continued due to the word count limit.......