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jasper 11-09-2009 05:55 PM

No Engine Sailing .. thoughts ..
I've got my eye on a nice 30' boat. She is in very good condition, hull/deck..
rig/sails/ground tackle .. but :: she has an old, original Atomic 4 gasoline engine. Been there, done that, not going back . NEVER. Since she is a 4 hour drive from home base, kinda puts me at a big disadvantage. For fun, and some knowledge, I called a local re-power marina. $10,000 .. That was for a small diesel, and to get it in place, and maybe the price would be a little more..
I mulled and sculled .. Then I thought :: $12,000 sure would buy a pretty good zodiac/with outboard .. In fact, a second hand sure dingy with second hand outboard !! Heck, for a couple of thousand I'd find something very sweet. So, I got thinking .. no inboard. Use just the push dingy. A no inboard motor sailor. At least until boat is back at home port. Anyone do anything like this?
Is there some work around, besides the AT4? Is there a little engine that could be placed where the AT4 is now? Something simple? I love the boat, but I am not living with another Atomic 4 engine, no way. Those aren't engines, they are diseases. I hate the ... things. Had three cruising boats with the AT4, big pain in the ass..

No engine? Any thoughts ? Work around s ?

wind_magic 11-09-2009 06:03 PM


Check out "Wind and Tide: An Introduction to Cruising in Pure Sailing Craft" by Jermone FitzGerald ISBN 0-595-21733-8. That entire book is about sailing without an engine, it is definitely done, I don't know by how many. The author doesn't even talk about using a dinghy with a motor, he talks about having oars and/or a sculling oar to move the boat when it must move without sail power. Check it out, it is worth reading, lots of interesting information. Chapter 1 - "Why Choose to Cruise in an Engineless Sailboat ?"

One especially interesting thing in the book is the argument that sailing without an engine actually makes the boat sail better because it doesn't have all that weight in the back of the boat.

MorganPaul 11-09-2009 06:14 PM


Those aren't engines, they are diseases. I hate the ... things. Had three cruising boats with the AT4, big pain in the ass..
Those old Atomic fours get it done.

deniseO30 11-09-2009 06:35 PM

But you keep looking at boats with A4s in them. there are thousands of boats out there that can't be given away. keep looking!

Leither 11-09-2009 07:07 PM

I'm with Denise on this one - keep looking.

The idea of a motorless existence may have some superficial attraction, but it sure wouldn't be for me. On the basis that, no matter how careful and well prepared you are, there is always that outside chance of ending up in a situation where the motor is going to save you from death or, even worse, a wrecked boat. The rest of the time, a motor just makes simple things like docking that much easier.

With a bit of patience, you should be able to find something you can fall in love with which also has a nice Yanmar, Volvo or Universal diesel to aid propulsion.


paulk 11-09-2009 07:15 PM

When you can call the shots, using a tender as a "pusher" can work. When was the last time you called all the shots? I can just imagine you wanting to get into a harbor over a bar in a building 4' sea, trying to jump into the dinghy and tow yourself in before it gets too rough or dark or dangerous to make it that day. We had friends who had to heave to for three days outside a port once, because it was too rough to run the channel -- and they had a 50' schooner with an inboard. Sailing is about reducing the chances of drowning when you can. This is one of those chances.

imagine2frolic 11-09-2009 07:24 PM

I have to agree with MP. The Atomic is the bomb, and a great motor. To have the skills to sail without a motor is great, but there will come a time when you wishede you had one. Even Lynn & Larry have taken a tow........i2f

TQA 11-09-2009 07:27 PM

Don Street has sailed Iolaire a 46 footer for 50 odd years all over the Caribbean and around the Alantic circuit without an engine.

I believe he has finally relented and installed an electric jobbie though.

klem 11-09-2009 07:28 PM

If the question is just to do the delivery, then do a repower, I would say go for it in most instances. If there is an area that you will definitely need an engine because of something like current, then think twice but if it is a relatively easy sail, do the delivery.

There are a few options for getting limited propulsion. One is using an inflatable as a yawl boat. I think that a lot of people would be shocked that all but 3 of the Maine windjammers have no inboard engines and use yawl boats and they are operating commercially. The other option would be to mount an outboard bracket on the stern and use that for the delivery.

For a permanent fix, neither of those two options are ideal unless you are a purist and don't want an engine. I suspect that you would really miss the inboard quickly if you went engineless. There is also the cost of the repower to consider.

wind_magic 11-09-2009 07:31 PM

I just can't let all of this go by without poking a stick at it. :D


Originally Posted by Jerome FitzGerald
The degree to which engines make power-assist sailing trivial is disguised. Sailing, in good conditions, takes nearly no ability at all. One can log off a thousand miles under the keel with hardly touching a sheet. One could be asleep, or dead even, and the boat would have continued along its way. While this sort of sailing is pleasant, it is certainly not challenging, nor does it teach or demand much of the sailor aboard. No, sailing, and "seamanship" does not so much involve the thousand mile passage in ideal conditions, although it is involved in producing it - "seamanship" involves much more that hundred feet of contrary current off the point that one cannot make way against. It involves getting under sail in good manner and entering a harbor with proficiency after a passage. People like to think of themselves as 80% sailor and 20% motor-sailor - although such a ratio is dangerously close to a "yachtman's gale." They like to think in terms of hours underway, or miles underway, for this ratio. This disguises or belittles the fact that without the engine, had they encountered that hundred feet of contrary current and not been able to deal with it - even after a thousand miles, they would still have failed to make port. Properly, then, their ratio should be expressed as 100% power-assisted sail, as they would have been helpless without the engine. It is important to note that in any activity that is judged by its completion, a 1% failure means 100% failure... Let us be 100% sailors..."

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