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Old 08-27-2006
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Anyway as things turned out, I caught and passed Bruce and family under spinnaker just as they were still motoring and just about to turn the corner at Eastern Bay Green light 1. It was a beat up Eastern Bay. They motored the rhumb line and I had a couple tacks and so we rounded Tilghman Point a few hundred yards apart. It was a wild reach up the Miles and into the Wye River for me, showing speeds in the gusts into the high 9-knot range. A while later I saw Bruce and company come in and we had a nice chat on the VHF. We talked about how well the boat was working out for the family amongst other things.

As the chat continued, I asked Bruce why he was motoring on such a beautiful sailing weekend. He replied, that they got a late start and wanted to get on the anchor before it got too late. Which lead to an interesting chat on the phrase ďIím not in a rush when I sail and so speed is not really important.Ē But here he was, motoring on a good sailing day to get to where he wanted in a reasonable time. I would not have picked up on it except that the last few times that I had been out, I had run into acquaintances who were motoring on good sailing days because they needed to be somewhere.

I donít mean this to be critical in any way; weíve all probably done this when we perceived the winds to be too light and our speed to slow to get us some place we need to be when we need to be there. But I began to think about that threshold speed at which we crank the engine, and the relationship of performance to that threshold. In other words, if two people each have a threshold of say 3 knots before the crank the engine but one boat needs 5 knots of wind to do 3 knots reaching and the other needs 10 knots, the boat owner whose boat needs 10 knots of wind would spend more time motoring.

In helping people search for boats, I find that there are people who look at owning a slow boat as a kind of mark of pride. They can tell you the advantages of going slow. They have a basis that they can explain. Its not just a trade off for achieving some other goals. And, there seemingly is a whole spectrum of people between those who value slow and those who value speed.

Again, whether any of this is a good or bad really depends on what you value in life, and for some the ratio of sailing to motoring is just not a concern. But for others like myself, who really value the ability to voyage under sail, without using the engine, a boat that was not good at either end of the wind range would be a real deal killer. (No, I donít think that my preference is somehow better than the other option. It is simply a preference, and I pay the price for that preference with boats that are a little more Spartan than similar length boats. When I was a kid there seemed to be a lot more of a focus on the sailors art, and getting there Ďby the windí than there seems to be today, but we seem to lead more complex lives in all other areas as well. But all that too is beside the point.)


Which I guess comes to the point, I guess what I am asking is for your ideas about the importance of voyaging under sail (by which I mean sailing almost exclusively from point to point, which perhaps includes working your way in and out of an anchorage or dock under sail) vs some kind of composite, where you have a fixed speed at which the iron genny gets fired up, vs some rule that you have regarding delivers and schedules.

And then any thoughts that you may have on why you think performance is or isnít relevant to that.

There is no correct answer here; there is no moral imperative. This is about personal preferences. And I am simply trying understand more about this from a wider viewpoint than I have encountered.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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