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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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Old 08-10-2009
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Why are there so few motor-saling craft?

I was finally able to take a trip of more than 60 miles in my H-20...a good bit of which involved cruising 1-2 miles off the beaches in SW Florida. I motor sailed about a quarter to a third of the time. I like taking some of the load off my 5hp Tohatsu when I need to motor...as well as any gains in speed when the winds are light.

If you don't mind sacrificing some upwind performance it seems like there are some great benefits to motor/sailing for the coastal cruiser or long-distance cruiser.

In especially tough lee-shore situations...isn't it safer to bag the idea of fighting into the wind and simply fire the motor in neutral...and (if it starts) then furl the sails and head into the pilot-house out of the elements.. and proceed under power off the lee shore without spending excess mental and physical energy that cruising might demand later ? Go with the flow makes more sense to me.
One is able to add more cabin/stowage room to your boat while reducing only the sail area that otherwise might be getting out of hand in a blow...or would only help in light air or for speed thrills.
In a 20-foot sloop that is cruising 8-20 miles between the safety of inlets/passes of the Gulf , if I am in light air and not moving very fast then I am putting myself and craft in jeopardy of T-storms or mis-forecast weather. I am going to turn on the motor...and with sea-breezes filling the sails...get to my hull speed plus a little instead of waiting for the afternoon winds to get me to hull speed.

The only real downside to me is aesthetic... waves/ spray may force one to go inside the pilot-house when a pilot of an aft open cockpit boat would just be feeling his oats and enjoying the scenery....I like being outside as much as possible and I don't like seeing the world thru a window-frame so to speak.

So what are YOUR rants and raves about motor-sailing.I'd love to get a discussion going....

Last edited by souljour2000; 08-10-2009 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 08-10-2009
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Motor sailers are really a compromise between a Sailing vessel and a motor vessel. You end up with either a poor sailing motorboat or a fuel burning Sailboat. Neither is what you really wanted.
There are some good designs out there... but you will need to ferret them out.
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Old 08-10-2009
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There are more "motorsailers" in production now than at any time in the past. Back in the sixties and earlier, most sailboats had very small engines just for manuvering to and from the dock. Most sailboats produced now have propulsion engines that are rated to move these vessels at or near hull speed and usually with an enclosed bimini. They're pretty much all motorsailers,- they just don't look like it! 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 08-10-2009
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Sailboats are much more stable when their sails are full and drawing; dropping canvas to motor in rough conditions can make for nasty boat motion. And if you always do what's easiest, will you be able to get off that lee shore on sail alone when -- not IF, WHEN -- your motor croaks? Learn to claw. A motor is no substitute for seamanship.

As for motorsailing ... please. In very light air, motoring ensures the apparent wind is straight on your nose, no matter what your heading. Fall off and the 'wind' falls off with you. The sails are just added resistance, helping not at all. If you decide to motor, fine -- motor. There are times when that is the best, safest, and perhaps only choice. If you want to sail, sail. I have seldom seen a boat motorsailing intelligently, tho at Catalina Island I saw a lot of sailboats motorsailing in perfect 10kt winds, with no regard to sail trim or heading. Most obnoxious was a (reasonably expensive) sloop heading DDW from Two Harbors to Avalon -- in 10 kts, remember -- with the motor running, headsail furled, mainsail up -- and boom close hauled. The boat was plunging and lurching violently as it performed a series of mini-jibes, and we were honestly waiting for it to knock itself down. In ten knots, with mild seas. Odd you say you aren't sure why more people don't motorsail; four-fifths of the sailboats at Catalina were motoring, sails up or not.

I also have philosophical issues with the convenience argument. I'm neither a Luddite nor a purist; I do, however, wonder about people who own sailboats but motor them most of the time because it's easier or more convenient. Sailing is about doing things the hard way, isn't it? There's no rational argument for sailing these days -- we must choose this anachronism because it's tricky, and esoteric, and requires us to learn things about the sea, the boat, and ourselves. ANY idiot can drive a powerboat. It takes a SPECIAL KIND OF IDIOT to make a sailboat go.

And as Boasun says, sailboats make lousy powerboats -- underpowered, non-planing, bad-steering, prop-walking cows. If you prize the benefits of motoring a sailboat, you'd probably be even happier on a purpose-built motorcraft. It's like putting a gasoline motor on a bicycle: it's not as good as a motorcycle or scooter, yet you've just nixed the primary purposes of riding a bicycle: environmentalism, fitness, and a feeling of accomplishment. Oh yeah -- sailboat motors have pretty short lives, so using them casually will lead to rebuilds or replacement every five years or so, which may cost far more than the boat is worth. Sails cost money and wear out too, so motorsailing (which strains the motor AND flogs your sails to kleenex) is doubly expensive.
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Old 08-10-2009
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Well...Boasun..I guess what I was going on about was more the benefits of motor-sailing and not necessarily the merits of an actual motor-sailer. Apologies...I think my thread was kinda ambiguous in a way Boasun.
It just seems to me after doing a little reading and a little motorsailing that almost anyone can benefit from what motor-sailing has to offer. You don't have to have a motor-sailer to motor-sail afterall. Anyway, it seems that smaller boats that live under say 7 knots under sail during even the most ideal conditions are the ones that stand to benefit most because bigger boats can pile on the sail ,have the waterline speeds, and can withstand bigger seas generally. The speed that a smaller boat can get from motor-sailing at say, 9-12 mph can increase safety windows greatly for a light coastal cruiser. Also, when you can motorsail with a motor under 25 hp, the cost of the gas is much less and that makes motor-sailing more appealing. I guess it just lets us small guys cover ground and get places with more safety that bigger,much more expensive boats go without a second thought .

Last edited by souljour2000; 08-10-2009 at 11:15 PM.
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Old 08-10-2009
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Good point Captain Force...if you define a motor/sailor as the ability to motor at hull speed... and many people do...then you're absolutely right...there ARE more motor/sailors being built now than ever before....
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Old 08-10-2009
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Actually my opinion in what YOU want in a boat is not what matters.
When you see the boat that you feel will fill your dream is what matters.
So asking a lot of questions is a good start. Looking at a few hundred boats is good...
Chartering a motor sailer or two will help you decide on what you desire and can afford. So the decision are up to you...

I rented a couple of cars and drove them for a week before I decided on the model I wanted.
You may want to do the same with the boats also, or catch rides with various people on their boats and get a good feel for your Ideal vessel.
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Last edited by Boasun; 08-10-2009 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 08-10-2009
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Count the number of MacGregor PowerSailer sail boats that are out there then ask again why there are so few motor-sailers and you will realize there are many.
Actually we need a lot more of the true motor-sailer breed of boats up here in the PNW, we are short of them. Those that are here hold their value and are in demand. A motor-sailer (the kind with a pilot house) would really help extend the short sailing season we get here. They may not be the prettiest sailboat but I would sure like one. Maybe when I am retired.
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Old 08-10-2009
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Motor/sailers thread cont.

Hope you find yourself in a nice one someday soon Capt Kermie.. I just read a story about a couple that took one from Bellingham,WA to Juneau...can't recall where that article was...hmm...oh ok... it's in the Mac 26 website pages. Not bad for a retired trailersailer couple from Albuquerque... I guess the 50 hp outboard REALLY came in handy for them dealing with currents and having little local knowledge to go on...
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Old 08-10-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobmcgov View Post
ANY idiot can drive a powerboat. It takes a SPECIAL KIND OF IDIOT to make a sailboat go.
Nice.....Should be in your signiture line..
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