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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
To start, let me clarify the title of this posting. Our boat is a Seafarer 34 that will be completed and ready for a few years of cruising come spring time. We made the decision a while ago to forfeit a questionable diesel engine in favor of a hybrid electric system. I will spare everyone the details of the system but it will allow us a full six hours of run time at 4-5 knots before we need to kick on a 5KW generator with our range dependent on how much fuel we can carry. We are committed to this system and I feel it will be totally reliable and safe. The battery bank is charged with three very large solar panels and the generator when necessary. Here is my question, even though we have inboard propulsion I am still curious as to what folks who have cruised our planned locale feel about relying predominately on sails for passage making? I spent six weeks about ten years ago sailing from Key West around the Caribbean and from my recollection it was rare for us to use the engine other than around the Silver Banks (coral and whale avoidance) and in and out of ports. We have obviously invested in a full sail suit to meet the needs of any situation from light wind to storm force and would like to make this experience as much about sailing and going with the "flow" of the wind and weather as possible. We have no schedule. For you cruisers out there, other than when you are trying to sail directly into the wind, how often do you really NEED or use your engines.

Thanks for the replies-apologies for the rambling post!
Cheers
 

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Corsair 24
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I will give you 2 scenarios:

we cruised(coastal) and we used the engine a lot more
we cruised offshore and crossed oceans and used to anchor and leave the anchorage...everything else power wise was based off solar or wind. we used the engine less.

when coastal cruising you deal with shifting wind patterns mostly from cooling and warming of the land and coastal waters...you also deal with currents, lee shores and the like that require at times the use of the inboard to skirt these areas or anchor and stop or set out off shore...

I will tell you this that no matter system you have for auxiliary...if you have patience and dont need to be somehwere at 5pm for happy hour you can sit and wait for wind a good 90 percent of the time. I would often throw an anchor out...sit wait and sail off after either the tide or wind changed and was to my favor.

now as you know people will tell yo otherwise and that you are foolish for even having something thats not a stinky reliable and honest diesel...however you can always ADAPT to what you have

be that an outboard on a bracket, an oar a diesel and electric inboard or nothing

good luck

christian
 

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I'm with Christian on this one, its a sailboat, sail it. Your situation is a good one and will make you a better and more relaxed sailor. It will also save you a ton of money. Hope you have a good Asym. Now that you have a sailboat spend some good on good sails, way cheaper and more fun then a diesel.
 

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Seems like it should work, just may have to watch your weather window a bit closer so you don't end up arriving near a reef during a storm. I do wonder how well a 5 KW would push the boat after the batteries go down as that is about 6.7 horse power? And are you figuring the range as to the full power in the bank, or to a safe 50% power of the battery bank? Many of the sites tend to give very very optimistic rage figures. While they may be attainable, it will do your battery bank no good, and you don't want to be replacing that in the islands. It just does not seem most generators are going to be happy pumping out full maximum capacity for very long, and 5KW may not be enough to really push your boat very fast. So my question is have you tested the range and propulsion in real ocean conditions? Yes if you can run 6 hours (even not factoring in the generator's use) you should be fine, as long as you are not trying to keep a schedule, cause that gives you about 24 nautical mile range (4 knots X 6 hours) in relatively calm weather so that should get you around reefs and in and out of anchorages. After all some do it without any engine, and it sounds like you have some sailing experience. Just plan your jumps to be during daylight hours or at least keeping reef areas during the daylight.

By the way real blue water you can get away easier, as you will be far from land, just use normal bad weather tactics to sit out minor storms, and use weather windows to try to avoid the really bad stuff.

Seafarer 34 is a nice looking boat by the way. I looked at one on the Hudson several years ago, a restoration that was never finished. Nice boat but the entire foredeck was like a trampoline, that kind of freaked me out. I thought I might go right through it!
 

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71,

GO FOR IT!! No schedule, no hurry, no problem.

We do not enter an anchorage at night, soooooo.

We used the engine more to make it to an anchorage before dark, rather than stand off and wait for daylight.
 

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Beneteau 393
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There was a very recent thread that some could confuse contrary advice.

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/cruising-liveaboard-forum/181753-bluewater-no-engine.html#post2483969
In that thread I said the person should not sail as desired.
The differences:
You can sail, he couldn't
Geographic area, Bahamas and Carib Vs south pacific reefs, Great Barrier Reef etc
You have some engine capability, he had none.

The Caribbean is very easily sailed... Very few reefs, many headlands there no obstructions more than 1/2 nm off the coast... Most rocks are clearly visable, anchorages easy to find, mainly good holding, wind as steady as you can get it.

The Bahamas is more tricky due to shallows, tidal current, all "cuts" (entrances from the ocean) need to be done with an engine, but it doesnt need to be on. Some channels are only safe with engine. But a competant sailor with your engine would be fine.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Good points from all, and such quick responses, this is like a hotline! We have been tooling around the west coast of Florida for the last three months on a Pearson 28 and it is very shallow and the currents here can be quite strong. This has been a god experience as its the "worst case" for a boat that draws 4.5'. We have an 8hp Yanmar on this boat and its a love hate relationship for sure. Basically, we push ourselves to really try and sail even if it is uncomfortable or tedious, the engine stinks and the thrump thrump can really ruin a calm afternoon. Miatapaul you bring up some good safety points on the range and power of this system: all calculations are to 50% battery depletion, we would kick on the generator at 65%. All figures aside, we do need to test it out but I would rather set off next summer prepared to NOT rely on our propulsion system as it stands, I would take the same approach with a diesel as we all know they are not invincible either. It will be there for tight spaces and emergency maneuvers but I do not want to rely on it in any way. I know that there have been a great many outstanding sailors who had no safety net but I wouldn't dare assume I am near their level of skill, that will hopefully come in time. I romanticize over being a true adventurer and sailor out there and really planning each leg with respect to the weather but I know that having the backup for safety sake will be important. I know what to expect from coastal cruising, thats where the system might be a chore. Christian, you make excellent points as to making the open water jumps and being patient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I did see the related post on having no engine, I would be uncomfortable with that scenario as well as sometimes you really need the maneuverability. If I may, I am going off my own topic slightly but while I have your attention let me inquire as to sail selection for this cruising destination with respect to relying on them in all conditions we may encounter. We have two mains (one brand new) with three reef points each, a 150 Genny (brand new), and 100 jib. I plan on a storm jib that will be hank on for our solent stay, and obviously a spinnaker. I think another jib to bridge the gap between our roller reefed 100% and the storm jib might be a god idea as well. Suggestions?

Have I told everyone how much I love this community recently? You all rock!
 

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I did see the related post on having no engine, I would be uncomfortable with that scenario as well as sometimes you really need the maneuverability. If I may, I am going off my own topic slightly but while I have your attention let me inquire as to sail selection for this cruising destination with respect to relying on them in all conditions we may encounter. We have two mains (one brand new) with three reef points each, a 150 Genny (brand new), and 100 jib. I plan on a storm jib that will be hank on for our solent stay, and obviously a spinnaker. I think another jib to bridge the gap between our roller reefed 100% and the storm jib might be a god idea as well. Suggestions?

Have I told everyone how much I love this community recently? You all rock!
Sail choice can be a pretty controversial topic. On your boat if it was me and obviously its not. I would have a 110 and a asym. that will cover quite a bit of ground. Big jennys for crusing are pretty lame and usually too heavily built for light air. The 110 will reef to 70 and still offer decent windward performance. Sounds like you have a atom sail in the making already. The asym is an easy sail to use and will keep you sailing when all the guys with the 150 gennys are motoring.

ETID: I really should have asked the weight of your 150 before I made such a stupid statement. I was assuming it was heavily built as an all in one headsail for your roller.
 

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Well Don Street sailed around the Caribbean for 37 years and made a few transatlantics all with no engine at all.

You should be fine. But you will be beating A LOT if you try to get to the Eastern Carib.
 
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