Auxillary Sailboat vs Motorsailer - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 03-08-2007
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Auxillary Sailboat vs Motorsailer

I'm remembering back 40 years or so, bear with me. I seem to remember that the typical motorsailer was designed mainly to motor with a small *steadying sail* to smooth the ride. Generally speaking, they were dogs on wind power alone.

Auxillary Sailboats were sailboats that had a small engine to propel her when the sails were not in use. (still true today--but it seems the engines are more powerful).

Now, however, it seems that the line is much less distinct. For instance, the Island Trader 46 is called as a motorsailer, but it carries a ketch rig and looks like what I want to call a *sailboat* except for the big cabin windows. Then I look at a Hudson 50 and it looks much the same (cabin windows a little smaller) but I have never heard it refered to as a *motorsailer*

Is it just me or have the manufacturers attempted to get more market share by broadening the definitions? I'd love to hear opinions from more experienced sailors.
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Old 03-08-2007
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I think you are right on. Take a look at Ted Hoods Portsmouth line of motor sailors. They're beautiful and apparently sail as well as they motor - of course, they're very expensive!

Good looking, functional motor sailors are an attempt to capture a part of a very large motor yacht market. This is a trend that I think will continue to grow.
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Old 03-08-2007
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Ted Brewer has written on the concept of a "50/50" motorsailer that has decent sailing characteristics, but can become a "trawler in being" if desired. We own a motorsailer, but it has a relatively small engine (52 HP pushing 25,000 lbs. light load) and can make 4.4 knots reaching in 9 knots of wind.

However, I will allow that it's got very generous stowage below and has a pretty stumpy sail plan for a modern boat. The sail plan is conservative, rather than stumpy, however, in the sense of heavy air or steady trades. In 20 knots, she'll go as fast as most boats, but with a kinder motion. Close-hauled in light airs? Not so much, but not as hopeless as I had thought, either.

We intend on sailing her as much as we can. We also intend on expanding our fuel capacity from 100 to 140 gallons. The idea is the option of having a greater range, plus the option to actually motor-*sail* (to go six knots when really the wind would only produce 4.5 to push the boat) for extended periods. This, of course, keeps the engine under load and the batteries charged, but means the diesel is in "sip" mode as we might just be running at 1500-1600 RPM or so instead of the 2,200-2,400 needed to do six knots with no sail assist.

We are also investing in a feathering sail and likely a light air genoa or Code Zero to change as needed with the existing Yankee-cut jib. So while we are leaning toward the "sail" part of the equation for the reasons that a) it's cheaper, b) it's quieter, c) we aren't going to be in such a hurry that 4 knots under sail will often fail to trump 6 knots under motor, we are under no illusions that we'll match J-Boat performance. But we will go, and we will get home, and a "lightish" motorsailer seemed to meet our requirements, which include the ability to circumnavigate and to be handled by an Ellen MacArthur-sized co-captain when it's her watch.

Not to mention that having a pilothouse plus a second deck steering station seems like we're getting an extra 50% of a boat.

But our pilothouse windows (1/2" thick through-bolted Lexan) will require storm shutters, and that will require some thought!

Fair winds...
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Old 03-08-2007
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Nauticat makes a nice line of very sailable motor sailors, some of which are represented on this very forum.

I always thought of motorsailors as boats that didn't really sail well...but used the sails to help improve their performance under power.
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Old 03-08-2007
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I think it's generally an archaic term, and they were "stumpy" looking with 1/2 the sail needed and 150% more motor. I guess my Hardin can be considered a motorsailer, but with a small (65 hp) diesel pushing 25 tons, with 200 gals of fuel, it seems to be the combination for long distance voyaging. Motor produces 5 kts at 65% power at 1/3 gal per hour, but I get 8+ under sail. In reality, I think it's underpowered in the motor department. In light winds where I'm averaging only 2 1/2 - 3 kts under sail, with the motor in idle, it easily moves up to 4-5kts. At the end of the day I guess you call it what you do with it. Then, I'm a sailer motor.
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"Sailer-motor": New to me, but accurately describes what we've got. 65 HP is small for 25 tons, but that sort of ratio was quite common in the '50s and '60s, when cruising boats were heavier, fuller keeled, "stumpier" and had more massive engines with less output (slow turning Grays, for example).

I have plenty of sail area, but it's not in the vertical plane. The general point is to ease the task of reefing early and often. I suspect that my staysail area is rather generous (but reefable, too), and so the boat has a wider range of keeping at least *some* sail on than a lighter fin keeler.

It certainly has a different, almost languid motion compared to the whippiness of racers in the squarish waves of the Great Lakes.
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Old 03-08-2007
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There were a lot of different motor-sailers built in Europe in the 1970's but the slump killed off a lot of them. The Dutch generally prefered the motor boat with sails, the French the 50/50 formula and the Scandinavians the sailing boat with a wheel house (lots of exceptions). But today, there is very little of the breed. They are not popular with the charter companies, they are not popular with the racer/cruisers (lots of open cockpit needed to race). There is a little booklet that describes about 150 types of European "motor-sailer". See www.goodyachtguide.co.uk I used it to short list my shopping list.
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I guess mine is vaguely Scandinavian. I certainly look like a demented Viking trying to pick up a mooring I can't see from the comfy pilothouse.
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Old 03-08-2007
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Since it has an enclosed pilothouse and built in Finland, mine is definitely Scandinavian. Try picking up a morring from the poop deck helm, 5'-8" above the waterline. My horned helmet keeps getting caught up in the mizzen.
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Old 03-08-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog
Nauticat makes a nice line of very sailable motor sailors, some of which are represented on this very forum.

I always thought of motorsailors as boats that didn't really sail well...but used the sails to help improve their performance under power.
SD - You woke me up with that one and I'm sure TB will be commenting as our NC's are very similar. Since I traded in a Catalina 320 that I considered fairly fast, and has the same waterline as my NC 331 I think I have a fairly good perspective on the NC's sailing. I'm not going to try and quote degrees and kts but as long as I don't try to pinch it too tightly the NC would do OK.... keeping up with the c320 on a close (but not too close) reach. I bought it for cruising comfort and motor sailing speed and that is where it really excels. The spread out rig really does well off the wind also.
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