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Thread: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

  1. #1
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    Default Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...With-No-Engine

    I have read through much of the above thread about sailing without an engine. A great read.

    For those who are sailing without an engine, what are you using/doing to maneuver in tight/shallow areas? Marinas? Anchorages?

    I am interested in what larger sailboat owners do. By larger, I mean 25 foot+.

    What are the alternatives? I've read of sculling oars, the "Sculmatix," and installing oars & locks onto one's production fiberglass boat... and the Yuloh.

    What else works as an alternative to having some kind of engine? I'd really like to read what some of you have done to go "engine-less."

    Thanks for sharing your solutions.

    Hal Nash
    Waldport, Oregon

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    A damn good skipper and crew.. And oars. I've sailed a 12 tonne 40' lug ketch around the SW UK, France, Spain etc and used oars to get in and out of harbour. Judicious use of the jib/mizzen when docking/ setting off helps. Handy throw lines with weighted monkeys fists to throw to a helpful bystander on the wall helps too. Be prepared to stand off in bad weather, perhaps for days if need be. Schedules go out of the nearest porthole.

    No engine makes a better sailor. Johno and his family sailed Guide Me to Brasil, Caribbean and S.Africa with no engine, no radio... Was almost disqualified from winning 1st place in Carribean races because of it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    What i remember of cruising without an engine is being more alert to what the wind is doing, and on many occasions getting up in the middle of the night to up anchor because of a wind shift that might make getting out of a small anchorage a dicy proposition.....slave to the wind. I had a couple of extensions for the dinghy oars, and a lash on blade for a boat hook that acted something like a sweep. I would go out my way to make a decent yoloh if i was in the same position today. Playing the weather waiting game is not so much a hassle when out cruising when your schedule should by wide open to non-existent, but its a bit different for weekend sailors, or those that do not have a young crew to man oars. I have seen a 60ton Baltic Trader towed across an anchorage by a dinghy with a 3hp outboard. I would not want to go back to engineless sailing in boats over 25ft, but i am glad of having the experience, it does open the mind to looking at situations in every possible light, something that stays with you even if you later have an engine. Instant ground tackle deployment from either end is important if engineless, and seems a topic much less discussed.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Lets not neglect sculling with a single oar over the stern, or a yulou (sp?).

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    I have cruised without an engine. You can't keep any kind of schedule, which is fine if you have no constraints on your time and don't have to be anywhere at any given time. I remember days when I did not cover more than a few miles. No wind, fairly steady rain. Pull up the anchor when the tide was going the right way. Drift on the tide for a few hours and then anchor again. Repeat as necessary.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Many of my times with Goblin (Alden 43' schooner), Granuaile (55' LFH Marco Polo 3 mast schooner), and Marmalade (25' 6 ton catboat) were with the engine in small parts. Turns out I'm better at taking things apart than putting them back together. Anyway, lots of engineless sailing.

    First is planning. Knowing the abilities of the boat, I'd avoid fighting tides. Anchoring or going on or off a mooring are basically easy but there are times when you really need to have thought it through, depending on what's to leeward and how close. Handling on and off a dock takes more care as the consequences of missing may be flying splinters. It helps to be handy with a spring line and able to drop sail in a nanosecond. And it's absolutely necessary to have your anchor at the dangle, sometimes to drop as part of the maneuver and sometimes to drop to prevent catastrophe.

    Second is acceptance. With no engine, the only lawful way through the Cape Cod Canal is under tow. Other places may be closed by simple practicality. The Mitchel River Bridge is even now too narrow to get Marmalade through on a following wind and of three attempts to get under with a wind allowing for a beat right at the bridge, two were aborted and we took a tow later. Many times I thought it would be nice to go to Vineyard Haven and ended up in Nantucket because I lacked to determination to fight wind and tide.

    More later.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Good points. There will be places that are just out of reach without an engine. You're on the Oregon Coast. I would not want to run a bar under sail alone. Here in Puget Sound, there are bays and inlets that have very narrow and twisting openings. Such places may be out of a reach without some form of auxiliary power.

    My own personal records for an engineless passage was 2 1/2 days to cover about 30 miles.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    We have two boats that are 28 ft in length. Our Commen Sense sloop "Red Witch" displaces ten thousand pounds and has no engine. We also have an H28 ketch, "Brigh Star". She displaces nine thousand pounds and has diesel auxiliary power. Having sailed "Red Witch" since 1949 without an engine gives me great pleasure to be free of the land and needing nothing more than a single sweep to power her through calms and for docking. Mind you this is a boat that is extremely maneuverable under sail and can turn nearly within her own length. I know every nuance needed in handeling her. The "Witch" is the best boat I have ever had the pleasure of owning and sailing, she needs no engine!

    Our H28 is another matter. "Bright Star" is beautiful and comfortable as an old shoe but requires a different approach when being handled under sail. The mizzen is an aid in maneuvering her. But with her long shallow keel and ample beam length ratio she is great boat once at sea but, the H28 is a handfull in light airs taking against a foul tide in tight quarters. The boat is then a dog to weather and is sluggish in responding to the helm. This is a boat that does need an auxiliary to make her safe when manuvering in tight quarters! So, wheather or not you need to have an engine depends on how good the boat you have can be manuvered in light airs in tight quarters and or in a foul tide. The later vessel may need extra good ground tackle that can be let go extra super fast as well!
    Jay aka JBird

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Thanks for the replies so far... and for sharing your experiences without using an engine.

    However, I am interested in details regarding your sweep, Yuloh, oars, and whatever else you actually use in place of using an engine. Pics of what you use would be great.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Greer View Post
    We have two boats that are 28 ft in length. Our Commen Sense sloop "Red Witch" displaces ten thousand pounds and has no engine. We also have an H28 ketch, "Brigh Star". She displaces nine thousand pounds and has diesel auxiliary power. Having sailed "Red Witch" since 1949 without an engine gives me great pleasure to be free of the land and needing nothing more than a single sweep to power her through calms and for docking. Mind you this is a boat that is extremely maneuverable under sail and can turn nearly within her own length. I know every nuance needed in handeling her. The "Witch" is the best boat I have ever had the pleasure of owning and sailing, she needs no engine!

    Our H28 is another matter. "Bright Star" is beautiful and comfortable as an old shoe but requires a different approach when being handled under sail. The mizzen is an aid in maneuvering her. But with her long shallow keel and ample beam length ratio she is great boat once at sea but, the H28 is a handfull in light airs taking against a foul tide in tight quarters. The boat is then a dog to weather and is sluggish in responding to the helm. This is a boat that does need an auxiliary to make her safe when manuvering in tight quarters! So, wheather or not you need to have an engine depends on how good the boat you have can be manuvered in light airs in tight quarters and or in a foul tide. The later vessel may need extra good ground tackle that can be let go extra super fast as well!
    Jay aka JBird
    Excellent points. I would add that an engineless boat, at least in my home waters, needs to be a great light air boat. I had a cold molded Highlander with a cuddy and lots of sail area. She would move when the wind was so light that a yarn telltale did not move. I also had a 23 foot double ended surfboat with a schooner rig (I know it made no sense.) She needed a bit of breeze to move at all. I used the outboard a lot more with the schooner than the Highlander.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Quote Originally Posted by hnash53 View Post
    What else works as an alternative to having some kind of engine?
    a yawl boat
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Pless View Post
    a yawl boat
    Smiley face aside, there is a lot of truth in that statement
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    My sloop Bucephalus is smaller than your question includes (19'), but at 3000#, she's a pretty big 19', so you might get some use from my experience. And larger Friendship sloops have had similar arrangements as Bucephalus. Both Salatia and Endeavor, 26' sloops, went many years without engines, and I suspect they weren't the smallest of the type to go without.

    I carry a pair of oars, 9-1/2' long. For long-ish distances, I row her standing up, facing forward. It's an easy motion, and so long as the sea is calm and I'm not on a tight schedule, it's not unpleasant. Once she gets moving, it's pretty easy to keep her moving. That only works well in a calm --but if there's wind, you'd be sailing anyway.

    For maneuvering in a marina, I use one of those oars over the stern, in a dedicated oarlock, to scull her. Rowing in a marina is impractical --she has an 18' beam, with her oars out!-- but sculling gives excellent maneuverability and a pretty decent speed.

    If it's blowing hard into your teeth, or there's any sort of wave action, neither rowing nor sculling is much use. If that happens getting into or out of a marina, warping or kedging out, and managing your sail plan carefully --working under a headsail, or (for gaff rig) scandalized-- as others have already described, is the way to go. It takes practice, but it's not impossible, and isn't even that problematic once you're used to it.

    Blurring the line of engine/no engine, the smaller Friendship sloop William M. Rand, when I knew her, used a small pram with an outboard as a yawlboat, "hipping" with the pram for making distance. A friend of mine here with a 32'(?) sloop he once owned had figured out a system with a towing bridle so his outboard-powered dinghy could be sent out ahead, unmanned, with the engine running, to tow their boat while he steered from the cockpit with the sloop's rudder. (That seemed to me a system ripe for comedic disaster, but he says it worked like a charm.)

    As others have said, you get used to staying put when there's a calm, dirty weather, or a wind or tide too foul to make headway against. Sometimes you need to lay off until your destination is made safe to enter either by a wind shift, tide change, or friendly tow. And some destinations simply become impossible to reach.

    Alex

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Quote Originally Posted by hnash53 View Post
    http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...With-No-Engine

    I have read through much of the above thread about sailing without an engine. A great read.

    For those who are sailing without an engine, what are you using/doing to maneuver in tight/shallow areas? Marinas? Anchorages?

    I am interested in what larger sailboat owners do. By larger, I mean 25 foot+.

    What are the alternatives? I've read of sculling oars, the "Sculmatix," and installing oars & locks onto one's production fiberglass boat... and the Yuloh.

    What else works as an alternative to having some kind of engine? I'd really like to read what some of you have done to go "engine-less."

    Thanks for sharing your solutions.

    Hal Nash
    Waldport, Oregon
    I carry a long oar, dont bother with a "yuloh" or any of the other odd bits, just scull or row with a sweep oar. My little ship is 18 ft and about 2500 lbs, it moves along fine with that.
    I've watched Lin Pardey move Taleisin around the same way.

    John Welsford
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    My boats have been too large for human propulsion but I carry a dink and once or twice I have put that over the side, got out the oars, and rowed along in a flat calm. But mostly in a dead calm I am content to drift or anchor.

    I was always good (and after my time on tugs got better) at warping so when I am working to a dock of slip under sail, there may come a time when I get the sail down and get a line ashore. From there it's practice. Learn to love spring lines.

    On warping, if you have a constant crew you can evolve as a team. If you tend to have different people, evolve methods you can do gracefully alone. And be wary of any help offered by the "dock committee" (those guys hanging about the docks who are certain they know everything) or even most paid dock attendants. They usually have not the faintest clue.

    That said, there can be surprises. I was bringing Goblin home one afternoon and my spot at the dock was dead down wind. So a little before the dock I did a three sixty, dropping all sail except the roller jib while into the wind. I used the jib to accelerate my turn back to down wind and gather just a little way before rolling it up. As I slipped to my spot I was read with a spring from just abaft the foremast's shrouds and coiled at hand for me in the cockpit. Normally I give the helm a quick turn away from the dock while stepping onto the dock, take a turn on the dock cleat, and surge her gently to a stop. On this day a fourteen year old lad was on the dock and asked if he could take my line. I asked if he knew how to take one turn and surge the boat to a gentle stop. He said he did. Figuring I could fix things if the lad was wrong, I handed him the line and with one hand he smoothly took a turn and slid us in gently.

    Now and then you meet someone who does know.

    The lad's father was a cook at the Dockside that summer and was most happy for his son to become a junior deckhand for the summer.

    Practice. Planning. Acceptance.

    G'luck

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    I sail mostly without an engine. Sometimes like Ian I take things apart better than putting them back together. But it is mostly circumstantial, I don't need an engine much. I am a passionate sailor and resent having to resort to starting the engine. I sail off and onto a mooring, and anchor when I am not at home. I have plenty of room for maneuvering in the harbor, and within a pretty short distance I am outside and in clear air. I do not need to tie up in a marina, nor cross a bar, or wiggle up a river. I have reliable winds most of the time, and have the patience to keep sailing if I have steerage-way, and even wait if necessary. You learn to play the tides, and to use eddies.

    I once cruised for about 100nm in almost 2 weeks, averaging about 10nm per 12 to 18 hour day (sheet to tiller steering). very light winds throughout. It was great. A was accompanied by a very agreeable young woman, who seemed to seldom remain clothed for long.

    I have sailed both north and south through the inside passage between Vancouver Island and the mainland twice, hardly using the engine ( once only for about 8 minutes). The plan was to sail as long as wind and tide allowed control and 2 knots made good. As the tide turned against me I'd start looking along the shore for a spot to anchor, very often very close in, (often with line to shore as well as an anchor). 5 hours or so of rest, then on the go again, for another 5 or 6 hours unless it was so dark I could not see at all. If there is no wind you can generally anchor just about anywhere it is not too deep, (of course a strong current may pose problems).

    I have used a yulah/sculling oar on a couple of boats. I guess I can get about a knot, which is easily enough for getting out of a bind, or getting across the harbor to the marina. I have also used a single sweep on a Herreshoff Rozinante, with the tiller stopped against the mizzen mast to counter the offset thrust. this worked really well on this particular boat.

    Whimbrel is not the best boat for this I have sailed, she is not at her best in really light airs, particularly to windward, and she slide sideways way too easily when there is little forward way on......really hard to maneuver at very slow speeds, even with the leeboards down and using the engine. I have towed several boats including Whimbrel with a dinghy...rowing

    I have got myself into difficulties far more often in light airs than when it is windy. A current setting me towards a shoal.....wind fails at the wrong moment....a safe haven 100 feet away through a short channel, and I cannot get that last 100 odd feet.

    berthing under sail... I like to keep the boat moving a knot or so, whether with sail up or bare poles, and use a short spring beside the cockpit thrown under a dock cleat to stop her. As boats get bigger this becomes more ....aaahhh.....challenging. I have come alongside in this way with a boat displacing almost 20 tonnes. You really have to trust the hard points, on the boat and on the dock.

    I have also used the anchor for berthing, kedging as it were but for slowing and stopping the boat rather than working across the harbor. The idea is to lower just enough the hook will drag across the bottom without taking real hold. One time the hook did take hold much to my dismay, and some serious clenching in the lower regions. Anyway the boat simply pirouetted and ended up alongside perfectly. I got a lot of compliments from that one and did my best to keep council, not letting anyone know it was a mistake, a happy one for all that, but not my plan. It is possible that my pale face shaking hands and somewhat subdued demeanor betrayed me to the more perceptive on the dock.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    I use a 14 ft. sweep off of the starboard quarter of "Red Witch". It fits into an oar lock that is raised on a short section of bronze prop shaft that drops through a tank filler cap that has a pipe attached to support the lateral force against the pipe flange it screws into. Those are what is as close to having an engine I have come to with this boat. The first few strokes are made with the oar blade as far aft as is comfortable without hitting the topsides to get her moving. The oar is featherd on its return and once under way, the stokes are feathered at the end and drawn back for the next stroke. This is done standing in the cockpit facing forward with the tiller between my knees. Once a rhythm is set, it is not physically taxing to scull for more than several hours. I once sculled her home over ten miles on a lovely moon lit night that had not a whisper of wind. Even so, the smell of the land was in the air and fire works were being shot off on the beach up and down the coast as it was the fourth of July and a full moon painted the water with silver flecks. It was one of the most memorable trips home from Catalina Island I have ever experienced. As my wife and I reached the Newport Beach Jetty a warm off shore breeze sprang up and we had a Jamboree broad reach home! Best damn boat I have ever owned!
    Jay
    Last edited by Jay Greer; 04-20-2017 at 06:57 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    That's so sweet!! Glad you got to experience that. I'm liking the "long oar" idea which others have also mentioned. The Sculmatix (see Duckworks) could be used with your long oar, too, I think. Thanks for sharing your solution.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Here's a new thingy that could be useful for docking . Not sure about it being an auxiliary power though .. Free Wheeling https://youtu.be/PqaFG0uRqvs.
    Last edited by WAGrunter; 04-21-2017 at 04:31 AM.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    "Free Wheeling" is a hoot. A nifty machine in search of a reason to be.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    If you extended the Free Wheeling crank handle to include a second 180 degree opposed handle on the same axis, then (1) you wouldn't have to lock the steering pivot in order to crank, and (2) you could employ muscles in both arms (and maybe shoulders if you faced sideways).

    But that would seem to be limited to use on a dinghy. For larger you could use a pedaling kayak (prop or fin, maybe tandem fin boat) as a towing dinghy, and there have been a few who attached pedal platforms to the stern of large boats.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    That'll clear those clogged toilets in a hurry.
    Quote Originally Posted by WAGrunter View Post
    Here's a new thingy that could be useful for docking . Not sure about it being an auxiliary power though .. Free Wheeling https://youtu.be/PqaFG0uRqvs.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Just think how much easier it would be and how much faster the boat would go if that free wheeling thing was attached to a small motor!

    Jeff

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    It only seems difficult if you have no experience.

    Go sailing, take a good sized float attached to a weight with a line long enough to work in some convenient spot in your sailing area.

    Drop your float and try approaching it from all wind angles.

    Attempt to bring the boat to a stop up to the float directly at the bow, alongside the port rail and also the stbd rail ... do this from each wind direction

    Practice each task repeatedly, until you can accomplish it with confidence - then try from another wind dirtection until you get that one worked out.

    You'll probably need an oar/scull/yuloh for very light air.

    No one can tell you how to sail engineless, you need to do it in your boat - preferably single-handed.

    Then do it all over again in windy conditions

    Have fun.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Do start of with a craft that can be easily rowed, then possibly progress to something larger. Or do the desperate thing and have a go on any sailboat that you manage to command. But, don’t then fool yourself that success is any great achievement, because at some or other time mistakes can be made (eg when arriving at a foreign port where local knowledge needs to miraculously be instantly aquired) and then you will be castigated for being ‘unseamanlike’ when you learn the hard way.

    So it is probably best to get the best motor you can afford and use it to avoid any mishap. Then you can apparently pat yourself on the back and consider yourself a ‘good seaman’.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    For inspiration try reading LF Herreshoff's "The Compleat Cruiser" for story and philosophy of Weldon on his Rozinante.
    I built and sailed a Rozinante as designed and can attest she is a show stopper. Handles and can sail most anywhere, very nimble in a tight anchorage. When in a tight spot or no wind out comes the single 10 ft sweep. Oarlocks are on the coamings and a few pushes on the sweep gets her going. A joy in all regards. Best wishes/ JC aka BW

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Looking for alternatives to sailing with an engine...

    Besides Jay's wonderful solution... i saw this when in Vietnam - works for this chap and seems to get him to the fish too.

    There is nothing you can do with an ape/human hybrid. They'll rip your arm off.

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