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Thread: Sailing With No Engine?

  1. #1
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    Default Sailing With No Engine?

    Sailing with no engine?
    Don raised a question in the restoring Carlotta thread regarding the recent presentation by Stephen and family here in Silva Bay. Stephen has built two 18’ sweeps for Carlotta and they plan (at least for now) on having no propulsion engine or internal combustion generator. Carlotta is a 50’ heavy displacement pilot cutter, no small thing to row! But she has been sailing for many years with no engine, also with no through hull fittings. The concept of cruising and full time living aboard a fairly large vessel with minimal systems causing minimal impact has continued to generate much discussion here.

    As a designer I thoroughly enjoy re-examining the givens, throwing out our foregone assumptions. Most folks contemplating larger vessels assume inboard diesel power, perhaps a generator for battery charging, and numerous through hulls to service various systems. What happens when you decide to sail without all that?

    The obvious immediate positives to leaving out the propulsion engine……
    1)More interior space…..elimination of the awkward engine box and fuel tanks, often positioned in the best (central) part of the boat.
    2)Less weight up high in the boat, possibly more weight in the ballast keel.
    3)Less drag…..no prop or strut hanging under the boat.
    4)No nasty hole in the rudder (for the full keels in the crowd).
    5)No drips from the stuffing box…perhaps even a dry bilge.
    6)No concerns about where to route the exhaust pipe and worries about cooling system through-hull fittings.
    7)Far less expense in first cost and in long term maintenance.
    8)Elimination of reliance on a system that may quit at an awkward moment.
    9)Elimination of visits to the fuel dock….more money for other things.
    10)Elimination of noise, vibration, smoke, and stink, etc. created when running the engine.
    11)Lowering of concern over your use of irreplaceable fossil fuels and your addition to global warming (smaller footprint?).
    12)Elimination of expectations about meeting a schedule….you now have a good excuse for being a month late!

    The obvious immediate negatives to having no main engine…….
    1)Safety…..if I get into trouble how do I get out?
    2)Fewer battery charging options.
    3)Less ability to meet any schedule.
    4)Limited mobility….there may be places that become hard or impossible to get to.



    I'll look at some of these in more detail in my next posting.....
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    The advantage of a dry bilge is one that really appeals to me. Taliesin and Seraffyn each had dry bilges and it was an eye-opener for me.
    “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Spirit, Sistership to our Black Spirit, sailed the west coast, San Francisco Bay, Multiple Transpacs, thru the Panama Canal, accross to the UK, Fastnet, and much more without any motor or mechanical systems to speak of. All this in a 33' 14K pound sloop.
    "The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place." -Arthur Ransome

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Thanks TR - I'm all ears...

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I've never had an engine of any sort, but then I've never owned a boat longer than 15 ft. Paddles or oars have been my auxiliary power, but about 90% of my sailing is daysailing, with a trailer as home port.

    As the size/displacement of the boat increases, and the time/space involved in your cruising ambitions, so does the need for an engine. There's more chance of having to fight a foul wind or current, or push on through bad sailing weather. Yacht harbours are no longer set up for pure sailing. If you're going to be using short-term slips and other congested facilities, you'd better have an engine.

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this TR. I'd like to hear your opinion on yawl boat set-ups as a viable alternative.


    - Norm

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    All over the Indian ocean one can still see sailing dhows, some quite large, 60ft or so, with no engines, just one huge lateen sail.
    However I've also seen some of these large dhows with outboard engines that are lowered and raised amidships and held in place with a variety of lines fore and aft. I wish I had some photos, quite ingenious and seemed to work quite well.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Quote Originally Posted by TR View Post
    also with no through hull fittings. The concept of cruising and full time living aboard a fairly large vessel with minimal systems causing minimal impact has continued to generate much discussion here.
    No through-hulls implies a lot more than no engine. Large sump/ holding tanks for head, sinks, shower, icebox, bilge pumps, etc? Or hoses hanging over rail? Salt water pumped aboard into day tank?

    No depth sounder, log...

    Interested to hear how those systems work.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    One of the things that spooks me about no engine is that it also means no brakes. When the traffic gets dense in close quarters, I'll leave the engine on idle just in case. Once in awhile, it's more than handy.

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    We sailed Waione for 7 years without a motor.. using her regularly every weekend and holiday. 41 ft about 8.5 tons.
    It suits a boat kept on a mooring more than a marina berth .. we'd periodically go into marinas but that was on special occasions for work or hauling etc and we'd gear up a bit more that. An anchor is your brake and handbrake turn.
    Mooring fields are are lot tighter now than they were in the good ole days.
    Negatives.. getting there? not so bad , the breeze would always fill in at some stage during the day or evening.

    Lee shore. You plan for that but even having said that my most frightening time was rounding cape Brett in 15knots with some big Northerly swells .. as we rounded the breeze dropped away to nothing and the swells began to wash us in.

    storm anchoring... you have to get that right because you don't have many options for moving in 50 knots.

    Best addition , best thing I ever did when sailing no motor was fit a depth sounder because you could keep good way on as you sussed out an anchorage .
    Last edited by John B; 12-21-2009 at 10:08 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Depending on where you're going and what you're doing. Donald Street certainly had a lovely pian to no engine which I found true when Goblin's engine died. I really suck as a mechanic so I took it out and removed the prop. Added a knot to her speed. Granuaile also eventually had no engine. So I couldn't legally go through the Cape Cod Canal?

    It's true that seamanlike use of power, often with sail, can make a difference in certain storm and survival situations and - most here know that I routinely brought Goblin (12 ton 43' Alden schooner), Granuaile (20 ton 55' Marco Polo) on and off docks, moorings and anchors when their engines had died, and of course it's easy with Marmalade though her engine works and I do it under sail to stay sharp. I am convinced that on average power gets more people deeper into trouble than if they learned - perhaps with some minor contratemps along the way - to do it under sail.

    Nonetheless, I at this time think I'll keep Marmalade powered becasue I'd like to sail around New England Plus - Down East, up the St Lawrence, the canal to Champlain and on to the Hudson, up the Sound and home. A good deal of that absolutely means a motor and any chance of doing it in a season with a slow catboat pretty much means motor sailing whenever the wind's light or against.

    What it comes down to - living without the motor has many huge advantages financial, lifestyle, and at one with the sea. Having the motor may or may not be the right thing, depending.

    G'luck

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Here is a link to a website called www.furledsails.com , with an interesting discussion (audio) on enginless sailing http://www.furledsails.com/article.php3?article=773

    Barry

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Some of the issues could be compensated for with a tender and motor. I do think the idea of independence is a little false. In this day if you leave for long term cruising with no power you will be doing so depending on the motorised help of others at some point. maybe no more than those with power but independent no. This is fine but the idea of skipping across the water on little "green" slippers is sort of false, especially when the 50hp 2 stoke belching panga is pulling you off the unmarked channel to the lagoon. We have some notable and one "notorious" engine-less cruisers and it all seems to work. As to the no thru hulls, ice box bottled water the big ones, and comp head.

    So Tad, If the criteria was
    long term cruising for a small fam
    2 staterooms
    head
    main cabin
    what rig?
    How big would it have to be to be comfortable?
    What type of construction?
    How much?

    It would be a amazing feat to come up with a design that could meet the determined criteria and be safely home built for a reasonable cost. Maybe spur a new generation like the late 70's.
    "Go cruising for under $$ ?????? !!!"

    Jake
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Peter Tangvald was one of the more famous anti engine sailors. His books are excellent. Unfortunately he is not with us. He didnt have an engine when he needed it.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    The Pardeys are and seem to have been quite succesful in their venture .
    Try to work out what the marketing guy wants you to do then do precisely the opposite.

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    its a boat they been around with no engine far longer than engines been around.

    no amount of power in the worlds gonna make up for bad seamenship; and you are not gonna get real good if you dont have to IMO.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    What kind of sailing does Stephen intend to do with Carlotta?

    For long distance stuff an engine is nice. I remember reading something by the wife of the builder of the Spray replica Scud, about how painful it was to sail past beautiful Pacific atolls because they would have needed an engine to get in or out.

    I've witnessed "Screechy" Donn Street many times warp IOlare into the docks, always an imposition on those around him.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I did 2 circumnavigations with NO engine...the dink had a 2-4 hp that was never used with the big boat...(boats were 31 and 38 feet).....and many times I have sailed the 44 footer down the channel ( Herrington Harbor, Md.) and parked her in her slip by throwing the helm over and backwinding the sails.....and never a bump on the hull (although it did get some attention and folks waiting for the crash..)
    Last edited by paladin; 12-30-2009 at 04:42 PM.
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    The former owner of Carlotta used a skiff alongside regularly with a decent sized OB. The Pardys have accepted tows. That not being engineless, it's using someone elses engine.

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I sail a boat with no through-hulls (not a cruising boat though) and feel much safer. Tacktick has come out with wireless solar powered instruments that monitor the usual things a sailor can use. There's alot of simplicity and flexibility inherent in that approach. They are becoming more widely spec'd now that they are proving out: http://www.tacktick.com/page.home
    “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    As I recall his son's account, Tangvald's death was not due to having no engine. He may have had a stroke or seizure. Whatever, the wind was fine and the big boat with Tangvald and his daughter was towing the son's boat.

    Having more sail is certainly a good idea. I've been playing with the notion that if I ever break Marmalade's mast I'll make the new one enough larger that I can pick up about 100 square feet and sail 95% of the time at new first reef (the current 550 sq ft) or less. But then, is it worth it. Marmalade is not so under-rigged.

    The main problem with light air sailing, at least for us, is not sail area but other boat wakes. A couple of weeks ago Marmalade and I went out in a genuine drifter. As in so slow that on a broad reach the sheet was in the water and the clear still water showed no wake. But we were moving as a good 1/10th knot. It was really fun. After a while we got up some real speed and managed a half mile across behind the Hyannis Port breakwall in about 3/4th of an hour. Can't do anything like that in the summer when boat traffic leaves constant motion that shakes the air out of the sails.

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    A boat of the general size under discussion would be very hard to row. I can see the scene: USCG doing a routine inspection asks, "What is your alternate means of propulsion?" Skipper of engineless sailboat holds up a paddle. USCG folks glance at the rather humongous multi-ton sailboat and double over in laughter.

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    The former owner of Carlotta used a skiff alongside regularly with a decent sized OB. The Pardys have accepted tows. That not being engineless, it's using someone elses engine.
    It is being engineless when you aren't being towed .That would seem reasonably obvious .Perhaps 99.99% of the time ?
    Try to work out what the marketing guy wants you to do then do precisely the opposite.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    .
    ..and many times I have sailed the 44 footer down the channel ( Herrington Harbor at Deal, Md.) and parked her in her slip by throwing the helm over and backwinding the sails.....and never a bump on the hull (although it did get some attention and folks waiting for the crash..)
    Chuck -- that's getting home. But how did you get back out into the bay if the wind was coming straight down the channel? Among other things, sailing without an engine requires time and patience. Sometimes, lots of time.

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I sailed and cruised a 26' yawl rigged Friendship for several years in LI Sound. I enjoyed the challenge and the romance. But many of the "harbors" on the Connecticut side are small rivers, lined with moorings. Not a place to sail into for the first time. It does restrict your sailing destinations, also your days. Light breezes tend to fail completely. I occasionally had to row that four ton boat, maybe up to a mile. I wouldn't want to row it seven miles, or drift all night in mid-sound, or try to anchor in 200' depths. On light air days I stayed ashore or close to shore. I didn't mind the few times I was becalmed for hours. I also didn't go out much on weekends, due to boat traffic in a narrow inlet. Coastal cruising is more demanding of an engine than offshore. Inlets, canals, tight mooring fields are where you need power. Had my current boat (a sixteen ton ketch) been engineless, she'd still be in the south.
    Still, I miss the other boat too, and smile when I read the log.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Are you thinking of going engineless with the Cogge?



    Steven

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I love my engine, almost as much as my sails. Of course, my professional career is 99% power craft which may be one reason why I enjoy being one of them when conditions don't favor sailing. I never was much good at sitting around as you can tell from my cruise tracks.
    Roger Long

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    This is something I want to learn. At this point not planing on doing any long distance cruising. Maybe someday a spin around the Delmarva Peninsula. Here in Delaware sail and oar boats don't require registration.

    How does that work if you sail to a place that requires boats like yours to be registered?

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    As I recall his son's account, Tangvald's death was not due to having no engine. He may have had a stroke or seizure. Whatever, the wind was fine and the big boat with Tangvald and his daughter was towing the son's boat.
    I read that also. Whatever happened we will never know. His son said he saw Peter standing in the companionway as the boat went on the reef.
    We dont know for sure an engine would have save them, but its possible that if Peter was too disabled to handle the sails an engine might have helped.
    He was definately quite a character.

    To me an engine gives more in the way of peace of mind than it takes away with all of its faults.

    And some marinas have a no sailing in the marina rule.
    On a daysailer where you can pick and choose your conditions Id be fine without an engine. For a world cruise I think I want all the options I can get.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    At one time there was a way to move these big boats around in a handy way. they did have sculls you could drive the boat and it didnt take three men and a boy to do so.

    I dont like an inboard engine; i loved my thrust masters and will stick to something i can get out of the water when not in use and when in use i have 360 deg rotation. if i must have fixed then i dont want it in the boat either. seen and fought too many engine room fires to ever want one in my house again. only time for the motor is in the tight quarters we have now, but dont kid yourselves that you cant sail rivers those ports way up the creeks are not new and they had ship traffic in there day. we had sail boats sailing to myrtle point to pick up logs and they had to fight a heavy fast current. the coquille river is not exactly wide.

    so my question would be what did our great great grand fathers know about sailing that we dont? they sailed up the rivers what did we loose when the engine became king?

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Our Great Grandfathers sailed in a world with far far fewer vessels in it. They took the time to wait for favorable conditions because they had to.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Perhaps I missed it, but is an electric motor (lowered like outboard, not through-hull) and option if a boat carries a generator anyway? But perhaps you are talking about a heavy reliance on the 19th century? (and that's fine with me, I am not questioning anyone's philosophy of life).

    Perhaps it is a problem, that you only need a small generator to charge a few things, and that would not be large enough to power an electric motor of any use to a boat larger than 20 feet or so? And a large generator for only occasionally elevtric motor use would be a big annoyance? I do not know much about electricity issues.

    I was told once than even a 2 horse-power motor is more powerful than even a couple of human rowers. A 4-stroke Honda 2 hp with integral fuel tank seems small enough to be hardly an annoyance, and could be broken out when approaching marinas?

    (I confess I own a 2 hp Honda bought to power my outrigger up rivers, but I bought it out of ignorance that the laws changed since I first used an outboard when I was young, and now you need all this crap such as a license and a hull-number and title (my boat is home-built), all complications that have kept the motor in my basement so far! :-( -- Wade

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Quote Originally Posted by johngsandusky View Post
    Our Great Grandfathers sailed in a world with far far fewer vessels in it. They took the time to wait for favorable conditions because they had to.
    no insult mate but that waiting may be something we might want to learn again.

    days of the butter fly fleet there where a whole lot more boats then these days. Empire, winchester, newport, cushmen. etc. where packed with boats far more than i have seen in my life and the fleet was not exactly small when i was a kid.

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Quote Originally Posted by wtarzia View Post
    I was told once than even a 2 horse-power motor is more powerful than even a couple of human rowers. A 4-stroke Honda 2 hp with integral fuel tank seems small enough to be hardly an annoyance, and could be broken out when approaching marinas?

    (I confess I own a 2 hp Honda bought to power my outrigger up rivers, but I bought it out of ignorance that the laws changed since I first used an outboard when I was young, and now you need all this crap such as a license and a hull-number and title (my boat is home-built), all complications that have kept the motor in my basement so far! :-( -- Wade
    I have a 2 hp Honda on a removable bracket like this



    The only problem with this setup is once the waves get about 4' the outboard has a tendency to be out of the water as much as in.
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I sailed a no engine 26ft. sloop into the fuel dock here in Ft. Myers fl. one summer to get fuel for the dink outboard.
    The frantic waving, yelling, and screaming from the Dock Master as I dropped the sail and ghosted into the dock right behind a powerboat was a sight to behold.
    He came unglued about sailing into " his" dock, and " just what the hell did I think I was doing". blah blah blah.
    The fact that it was a perfect landing as I backed the sail .didn't impress him any.....
    " He who works with his hands is a laborer.
    He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist".
    St. Francis of Assis (1181-1226)

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Whew.....30+ replies over night....I'll never reply to all but thank you for your thoughts and experiences.

    Personally I'm on the fence....I'm going to be sailing about in a fairly large vessel, a 50' heavy displacement gaff ketch (the exact rig is also up for some discussion). There is currently no engine installed, but there are engine beds, a shaft with bearings and stuffing box, and propeller in aperture. I also own an antique 4-53 Detroit diesel engine.........but I dither about installing it. Do I really need this thing? Could we manage without it? How? And what happens when we do get into a bad spot?

    I'm not afraid of the engine.....I probably have more hours running powerboats than under sail. Thus I do know something of the effort required to install and maintain the beast. But for how long will I even be able to afford to buy diesel fuel anyway?

    The options seem more viable for smaller boats, there is a 35' gaff cutter which sails out of Silva Bay with no engine. He singlehands with just a single large sweep and great knowledge of wind and tide. Plus he often appears or disappears in the night. Cresset (41' by 10') is also in the bay, she was launched in 1929 with no engine and sailed for a number of years without. Her current engine is rather tired and may come out soon with no replacement in sight.

    I also have a (sometimes) tug in the form of Ratty, our longboat with her 5HP outboard. I grew up on tugs and love to tow stuff anyway.....Ratty can move the cogge in a flat calm at a reasonable rate...add tide and we're moving. Obviously the 5HP is not going to tow the big boat out of a real jamb, but with Ratty one can lay out more anchors quickly.
    ___________________________________
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  37. #37
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Chuck -- that's getting home. But how did you get back out into the bay if the wind was coming straight down the channel? Among other things, sailing without an engine requires time and patience. Sometimes, lots of time.
    ...and lotsa practice....
    Got out the same way......Went down some "one way fiords" in Iceland under sail...and out the same way....with lotsa tacking......at Herrington Harbor there's not much tacking room.....but the wind is generally off the bay and the channel is parallel to the shore....they did ask me to cease and desist before someone else tried it and they had a crash...
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Robmill0605 View Post
    I sailed a no engine 26ft. sloop into the fuel dock here in Ft. Myers fl. one summer to get fuel for the dink outboard.
    The frantic waving, yelling, and screaming from the Dock Master as I dropped the sail and ghosted into the dock right behind a powerboat was a sight to behold.
    He came unglued about sailing into " his" dock, and " just what the hell did I think I was doing". blah blah blah.
    The fact that it was a perfect landing as I backed the sail .didn't impress him any.....
    Ha! I love it.

  39. #39

    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    One thing that may not be obvious to those who usually sail with an engine is the sense of connection to the watery world that develops after a few days out cruising without one. You feel much more a part of your environment. An analogy might be sleeping under the stars instead of under a roof. No doubt there are disadvantages to both, but these are worthwhile things to try. I don't think promising yourself not to use your engine is comparable to not having one, because when you don't have one, you look at everything in a very different light.

    There is definitely a great sense of accomplishment, too. You're doing something that few sailors even attempt, any more. Where I live along the Florida Gulf, I see a lot of cruising sailboats passing through, transiting the Gulf Intracoastal, and it's remarkable how many are under power, even with good favorable winds and 30 miles of open bay to sail. On a weekend afternoon, if the wind falls light, I can look around the bay and see a dozen sailboats powering along; Slider will be the only sailboat trying to ghost.

    Nice discussion!

  40. #40
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Quote Originally Posted by slidercat View Post
    ...I don't think promising yourself not to use your engine is comparable to not having one, because when you don't have one, you look at everything in a very different light.

    There is definitely a great sense of accomplishment, too....
    Yes, different perspective and sense of accomplishment, and through time (with enough success) a marked increase in confidence and understanding. We shouldn't equate an engine with security. They fail and by definition, right when we 'need' them. And we need one, usually, if we've been using one.

    My sailing environs now are characterized by channels with strong tidal currents and light winds. The Pardeys didn't cruise areas like this by choice. But, I choose to live and sail here and a dependable engine seems essential now. The only alternative I can imagine is a very light sailboat with lots of easily reduced sail area (a giant dingy). Unfortunately, I'm not that athletic any more. I'm making friends with my engine.

  41. #41
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I very much like the idea of going engineless ,however I have developed a dread of our local highspeed ferries .They seem to assume that all and sundry have an engine to switch on ....the concept of wind alone is foreign to them .....and they move very fast .
    Try to work out what the marketing guy wants you to do then do precisely the opposite.

  42. #42
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Troll, I don't know where you grew up. I grew up on Long Island NY. In my childhood there were a few dozen moorings in the harbor, half of them commercial boats. The "ramp" was at a bend in the road, just a crumbly driveway going into shallow water. Now there are four lanes at the ramp, hundreds of moorings, dozens of float docks. There must be twenty times more boats in this small harbor than there were only forty years ago.
    I'm not saying no one can or should sail without an engine. I did it for more than ten years in two keelboats. In and out of inlets, through NY harbor, even into a marina. But it's somewhat idealistic to pretend it doesn't limit your sailing. It limited mine. I was late for a sail parade I was supposed to be part of. Cruises were cut short at either end by lack of wind.
    If the commercial sailors two hundred years ago had engines available, they would have used them. They all do now.

  43. #43

    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I think that if you are sailing inside the Georgia Strait you'll eventually want power. Once I spent three hours trying to get close to Silva Bay by sail. Eventually I just used the small O/B (five hp on a locally made Contessa 26 copy).

    The winds inside are just too variable -dead calms are usual occurrences often lasting 24 to 48 hours.

    Outside, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, engineless sailing would likley be easier due to the off shore winds.

    I would still like, myself, to sail engineless, but it means having a lot of time and no pressure to get back to a day job. Also huge light weather sails. Sweeps and sculling oar for sure.

  44. #44
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    Dec 2001
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    Northern NSW Australia
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    What has been interesting in all the replies is that in almost every case an absolutely minimal engine ....the smallest available would have provided .Are there any 5 hp marine diesels out there ?

    I have 20hp Buhk ready to go into my boat but have wonderd if the smallest possible would suffice ,less clutter ,easier to start by hand ?
    Try to work out what the marketing guy wants you to do then do precisely the opposite.

  45. #45
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Toronto, Canada
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    2,367

    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Interesting discussion. I've sailed with and without over the years. 2 years daysailing in a 5.5 metre with only a canoe paddle, 4 years in a Folkboat with a Seagull - (which is IMO the same as or worse than having no engine) and 1 year with no working engine in my current 5 ton gaffer. I always had 3 factors in mind when in came to cruising. First was that the engine was, for many years, so unreliable that it was almost like not having one. Second was that the engine would starve of oil if it ran at any angle of heel for very long, so motor-sailing was impossible. And third, I only had a five gallon fuel tank, which meant 5-6 hours of powering max (I don't like to carry gas in loose cans). All of that meant I had to learn to sail the boat well.

    What I learned is that having lot's of sail area, especially up high, is important. Keeping the bottom clean is important. Having 2 anchors that can be streamed in a heartbeat is important. Having everything well sorted and properly led so you can set sails in minutes and strike sail in seconds is very, very important.

    If I was building a larger boat and was facing this, I think I would opt for a big rig, easily reefed and struck, with a well-sorted anchoring setup and derricks for a good sized inflatable with 20 or 25 HP outboard, maybe more. I would look at the fact that there would be extra space, no oil in the bilge, and I saved perhaps $20 K on a full engine installation to be enough payback for what I gave up.

    - Norm
    Last edited by outofthenorm; 12-22-2009 at 05:43 PM.

  46. #46
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    Feb 2000
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I think you have to ask yourself, do I want to face an engine-less challenge when an emergency arises? If so, are you aware that you are quite possibly putting your fate in the hands of others, ie. Coast Guard. And could be putting others at risk. An engine is like an insurance policy and a good anchor. Nice not to have to use them, but even nicer to have when you do need them.
    "If a man speaks at sea where no woman can hear, is he still wrong?"

  47. #47
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Stu ,it's not quite as cut and dried as that .I've seen so called "sailors" get into horrible trouble just because they thought their engine would get them out of a situation .
    Try to work out what the marketing guy wants you to do then do precisely the opposite.

  48. #48
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    Apr 1999
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    Hyannis, MA, USA
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    33,792

    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I agree with Stu in principle but not in actuality because:

    The time, money and energy that are devoted to having an engine that will respond to an emergency and the practiced skill to use it can be better invested in sailing skills and equipment; and

    In practice people with engines allegedly for emergency manage, if it starts, to ram it in gear unthinking and wind up lines in the prop, osterize the overboard crew, and all the other horrors that go with being lazy rather than sailing.

    The capeable and prudent mariner is at no greater and no lesser risk for having an engine. For that person, having the engine or not is all about the sort of sailing s/he has in mind.

    The novice not having the engine is a great thing because they will be too timid to take such big risks and when they do get in trouble beond their competance it's more likely to be in generally less dangerous circumstances.

    All of which is a general and perhaps snobbish impression of the jerkwater things too many sailors do when they fire up the mill, but it's surely less in plain error than those who lecture that an engine should be had and used.

  49. #49
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    I have been a purist and sailed a boat too big to row, which had no engine. It was challenging and fun, but I found it very limiting. I once spent most of three days to cover 40 miles. I remember reading in an old Coast Pilot that sailing ships could sometimes take a week to go from Port Townsend to Cape Flattery.

    If you work for a living and need to get back, you probably could use an engine.

  50. #50

    Default Re: Sailing With No Engine?

    Quote Originally Posted by johngsandusky View Post
    If the commercial sailors two hundred years ago had engines available, they would have used them. They all do now.
    That's true, but it's also true that commercial sailors no longer sail in wooden boats, for the most part. Most of us are probably not commercial sailors; we're looking for something other than profitable cargo or lots of fish.

    Everyone's personal situation has a lot to do with the practicality of going engineless. The size of the boat is a big factor-- a 16 foot open boat can be readily paddled or rowed out of the path of a barge string, while a bigger boat may be stuck (or worse, struck.) However, when I'm sailing through a narrow dogleg on the Intracoastal in fluky winds, I stay at the downwind edge of the channel, ready to dodge onto the flat if a barge string comes around the corner suddenly-- a tactic that wouldn't work so well for a long-legged boat. Shooting bridges against the wind is always a tricky maneuver-- more than once I've had to jump on to the fender timbers to haul an engineless boat through.

    I'm lucky in where I live and where I'm able to keep my boat, too, close to a big but still protected estuary. Slider is usually docked up a narrow canal that runs north and south, which leads to a bayou whose very narrow entrance runs east and west. If the winds are strong from the north, it takes two people to paddle her out against that wind. Once returning from a week-long cruise, I reached the canal entrance only to find the wind whistling out of the south so strong I couldn't paddle against it. I had to anchor in the bayou until evening before I could get home to a cold beer and a hot shower.

    There are definite drawbacks to going engineless, and sailing without an engine doesn't confer any special virtue on the sailor who does it, but there are rewards. More than once I've vowed to put a little outboard on Slider, but so far the pleasures of sailing engineless have outweighed the convenience of an engine.

    Here's a little video I made last winter. My wife and I went out on the Gulf to do a little fishing and the winds were good on the way out, but by the time we got back into the bay, the winds were hardly enough to fishscale the surface. That was at sunset, when we still had about seven miles to go to get home. The video ends with sunset, but the sail home across the bay, at no more than a knot or two at the fastest, was like a dream. Stars, feeding porpoises, dark water-- an unforgettable experience that we would never have had if we'd been carrying an engine. (Yes, I know you don't have to use an engine if you don't want to, but let's be realistic. I'd have fired that sucker right up, just as soon as the sun had gone down.)

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