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  #91  
Old 05-19-2012
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Re: engine-less

One of my most used techniques for sailing without an engine is using apparent wind to my best advantage. For our boat we probably need 5 kts of wind to even set the drifter and mainsail dead down wind in any kind of chop but closed hauled with the same sails and we are sailing at over 3 kts maybe closer to 4 kts. Knowing this, I try to keep the ability to head up in my back pocket for times when I think the wind might lighten. So I will often sail low of my destination. Falling off during the puffs and heading up as needed to maintain boat speed. This is especially helpful if my destination is shielded by land, which it often is.

I often try to figure out the wind direction and strength way ahead of my current position so I can avoid being in a situation where I need to sail off the wind, especially dead down wind.

Apparent wind is also my ally when dealing with traffic. I like to have the ability to head up to avoid traffic and I try to be at least on a close reach if I need to make evasive maneuvers in a tight situation. I like the fact that I can tack instantly with maximum boat speed and back wind the jib should I need a quick tack in light wind. I find that off wind maneuvers are much more sluggish and don't convey my intentions nearly as well.

My very least favorite sailing situation is sailing in light air dead down wind against the current. Unfortunately this is the situation I face almost every time I leave Fishman Bay on Lopez Island. This adds a great deal more challenge and requires a bit of effort to safely navigate the channel without causing a hazard to incoming boats, and this conditions is more likely in late summer when the traffic is the busiest.

Here is an example of one of these trips a few years ago.



On this particular day the wind was actually quite nice, it was just in a direction that was partially shielded at the mouth of the channel. The tide was coming in pretty strong with about a 2 kt flood with a height of about 3 1/2 ft.

In order to take advantage of a small back eddy and to ovoid incoming traffic I stayed out of the main channel on the west side of the 1 fathom line. The wind was mostly from astern and the current built as I approached the mouth of the channel. Seeing that the channel was clear, and this was my third attempt for the day as it was a busy traffic day, I sailed into the channel. It took only a couple of minutes to overcome the current and sail clear.

The whole time I had steerage with the 2 kts of current over the keel so if I needed to bail out or allow an incoming boat space it would have been quite easy. As it was it was I was in the mouth of the channel for just a few minutes until I was able head up a bit to overcome the current. A few minutes later I was at 2/3 of hull speed about to round the outer marker.

An afternoon return to our bay is quite typical, short tacking upwind with a fairly strong current. Here is a series of photos I shot of a sailboat motoring in one day that shows our typical current.


The challenge on the return trip is that the current would like to send you into the east shore and the docks that line them. In addition the mouth of the channel is maybe 150 ft wide between the 1 fathom lines. But there is another upwind trick that I like to use for this. A lazy tack. I start my approach to the entrance laying a line from the outer marker to the marker on the west side of the channel. Invariably I get headed near the mouth of the channel and need to fall off. Long before I start to feel nervous of the east shore I tack back to the center of the channel back winding the job if I need to. Typically I am right in the mouth of the channel at this point so the next tack happens fast. But this is my lazy tack. Since the current is taking me out of danger I am in no hurry to head east again so I come around slowly. Think almost in irons except moving at 2 kts from the current. Finally I tack back to the east but now I have drifted past the docks and dangerous current pushing ashore. Now it is just a pleasant sail through the moored and anchored boats to our mooring.

The is the part of sailing that brings me the most joy, finding a way to safely work with what you have to get where you want to go.
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  #92  
Old 05-20-2012
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Re: engine-less

On a real junk maybe 5 men push the yuloh, one man on the foot rope. there is more to it than first look. I wrote a bit called 'first voyage' its on my profile. Only to Desolation enginless but went on to Skagway twice after the capitulation of purity.So easy now with GPS.
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  #93  
Old 05-20-2012
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Re: engine-less

To the OP,

I'm not sure how you feel about electronics, but if they do not go against the purity of what you're doing, you might consider adding a few of them to assist in your endevor. I've had the procession of 3 summer cruise ships come around a corner in desolation in a very narrow channel before and it was quite disconcerting!

A passive AIS reveiver might be a useful tool because you could see them, and the BC ferries, as they were coming around the corner and before they were coming into sight. An AIS receiver would also calculate for you if you're likely to get within a preset distance of your targets and would show you the names of the big boats in your area. It might be nice to be able to call the Alaskan trawler that might be coming your way by name on the VHF and ask their intentions and inform them of your course.

Radar, or at least a REALLY good radar reflector(s) would also be worthwhile. When the fog sets in in our area it's usually also when the wind dies. That leaves you floating about. Radar can help you pick out the contacts and sail or row away from them or call them on the radio. At the very least it would tell you when your sound signals were even more necessary than ever.

MedSailor
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  #94  
Old 05-20-2012
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Re: engine-less

MedSailor is right. I work on a tug boat and live and die by AIS and radar. The problem on my little engineless boat is I don't think I have the charging capabilities to run that kind of equip. Actually I'm sure I don't. It's those cloudy, light wind, foggy day's you will need it and that's when your solar and wind gen. won't be up to the task. A little honda suit case gen. is handy but won't work if the boat is rolling because of the oil sensor thing. Working on the commercial side I know the mentallity of the wheelhouse, they hate us. " right of way is a myth" It's the law of tonnage out there. You got to be patient and wait to pass through sketchy channels in ideal conditions, I've waited week's in anchorages for the wind to be just right. (Crossing the straits of Fla. from Key Largo to Bimini) for instance. And I alway's, alway's stay up wind of all my targets. Get up that wind with every puff. You can alway's fall off. Stay on the up wind side of channels, entrances etc. "Hug the high markers". The key to engineless sailing is patients and not having a sched. Going when you can not when you have to.
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Last edited by Capt.aaron; 05-20-2012 at 10:22 AM.
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  #95  
Old 05-20-2012
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Re: engine-less

A good trick would be to sail (motorless) through Active, Porlier Pass, or some passage of that ilk on a long weekend. The chances of being just another bit of news is high.
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  #96  
Old 05-20-2012
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Re: engine-less

My first three sailboats where engine-less, starting with a Hobie 16 then a Snipe. When I discovered I could get a 19 foot cruiser for $1,000 less without the engine I went for it. We are lucky here in Charleston SC, most days we have wind. In over a year of sailing sans engine we only had to throw out the anchor once in the harbor until the wind built enough for us to beat against the current.

Most importantly is to be in a slip that is relatively easy to get into and out of. We have strong tides here and it was important to be able to sail out or in during either tide. If it were flat and still we could paddle. Sailing up to and off the dock and anchor were the most favorite aspects of sailing without an engine for me. You have to learn to warp the boat around if you need to be facing the opposite direction in order to get out of the slip. Learn to back the jib if you are starting head to wind in order to get the bow out. It also helps if you can learn to sail your boat backwards. It can be usful if your slip is downwind and the current is running with the wind. You can pull up head to wind and back in, very tricky, but doable. Many times you just have learn to use the tide and wind to your advantage. I would say most if the time it's pretty easy to sail up to a dock unless it's tucked deep in a marina. You need to be able to anchor if needed. You also need a wide array of sails to keep your boat moving when it gets light, or heavy. The Starwind 19 sailed really well so we were able to get by with a 135% and 90% with a double reefable main. I have a 22 footer now and don't have an engine. I don't buy the "have an engine for safety" factor at all. We have very busy shipping lanes here. Once we had to paddle clear of the lane but when you don't have an engine to rely on you are a more prudent sailor. We could have just as easily been in the shipping lane when the wind died then wasted precious time trying to get an engine to start, it could decide to fail right at that point. Even on such a small boat people were surprised when we sailed up to marinas. They always asked, why don't you use the motor?

I had a Beneteau First 235 before our current 22 foot engineless boat. It came with an outboard. our philosophy was to continue as we didn't have an engine. I quickly learned that the only way to sail without an engine is to leave the engine at home. It's to tempting and easy to rely on the engine and start it up.

90% of my fondest memories are without an engine. The only downside in my area is a narrow long deep section of the ICU with a swingbridge. It leads to some pretty nice anchorage spots. The current runs upwards of 4 knots, I would never sail through there. We can get around it if we sail offshore and we don't go there much, so we decided to just adjust our cruising instead of drop $1,600 on an outboard. I'd rather have a new suite of sails.

Also you never have to buy fuel, never have to pay for a tune up, never have to change the oil. It makes the boat so much simpler and for us, more enjoyable
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  #97  
Old 05-22-2012
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Re: engine-less

Thank you all for so much good info. I'm fortunate that my boat was designed to excel in very light winds and I have no schedule so I can pick and choose when and where I go. The truth is if I had the money I would buy a 74' Morris with a crew of naked girls to sail it. I don't have that option so I will sail with what I have and love it rather than be tied to the dock living in perpetual fear thinking I can buy safety, you cant.
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Last edited by barefootnavigator; 05-22-2012 at 05:18 PM.
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  #98  
Old 05-23-2012
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Re: engine-less

Just be thankful. I've done the naked girl crew thing and getting the anchor up at 3 am is really hard. Time and tide waits.
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  #99  
Old 05-31-2012
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  #100  
Old 04-05-2013
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Re: engine-less

Well, some Oar Club folks are still very much around Puget Sound. Matt Nelson, mentioned in Jay's book, is in the area, and cruised engineless for a bit. One can also search for sailtransportcompany dot com in the Internet Archive for engineless passage making in Puget Sound. It was fun sailing with them, most of the time.

Last edited by limpyweta; 04-05-2013 at 11:07 PM.
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