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Old 21-07-2011, 09:52   #1
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Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible ?

Is an under 50 foot powerboat circumnavigation possible? Yes. Cost ~$300k cash, good credit. Time 2 years.

A route going around via Suez and Panama canals is about 29,000nm. At 6 knots average speed a 2 year trip is about 25% time underway. There is opportunity to stop in over 40 countries.

The boat is full displacement, single main engine, dry exhaust, keel cooled. The 6 knots comes from the waterline length of ~38 feet, and ~100hp is a big enough engine to achieve efficient hull speed. It has average economy of 2.7nm/usgal. That is between 2 to 2.5 usgal per hour. Fuel capacity is 1200 usgal for safe range of 3000nm at the average speed of 6 knots. Total fuel consumed is about 12,000 usgal which also assumes about 1000 gallons for a generator.

The boat is comfortable and relatively low-stress to operate. It has radar, autopilot, anti-roll system (fins and/or paravane fish), air-conditioning, generator, wing engine (off-center extra engine with folding prop), fully enclosed pilothouse, 5-6 cubic feet of non-cold plate freezer space, washer/dryer, inverter, water maker, and dive compressor. Electricity is plentiful to run everything. Underway electricity comes from an alternator, at anchor it is from batteries charged by a generator that uses a relatively small percentage of the fuel that is used for propulsion. Toss in some solar cells, and power is even more abundant. Assume relative newness of components, some backups, and a certain willingness to live without certain luxuries if needed.

The price of boat needs to be in the 700k range, and paid for with a mortgage. After 20% down payment on a 20 year loan they payment is in the 3k range. Insurance will be about 10k per year. Mortgage, fuel, and insurance are the 3 largest components of the budget. A usual cruising budget for food, activities, and misc. can be relatively, or even a very small part of the big 3.

An important trick of all this is the 2 year timeframe. The powerboat allows passages in adverse or minimal winds. The average speed means you have enough time to enjoy ports of call. Assume ship-shape components before you leave, reasonable amount of spares, few breakdowns expected and minimal long-term maintenance to worry about. You need to sell the boat when you get back, and you even might get a little bit of the 20% down payment back.

So I did this, and it mostly worked. The only deviation is the wife and I loved the boat so much we decided to make it our permanent home and we are making payments try to keep her and cruise again. The quality of our cruising experience was great. We enjoyed the luxury and comfort. You can say we burned the candle brightly. It was worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I cannot tell you how many sailors and other folk tell me this plan is crazy, incredulous, or even impossible. Usually because they assume boats like this do not exist. They assume all powerboats consume 45 gallons an hour and have engine reliability of a sailboat. Or that the only way to cruise is for the rest of your life to be happy. It is definitely not bargain basement cruising, but it is also well within the budget of many people who buy cruising boats and dream of traveling the world. It is an alternative that is not for everyone, but I do feel like I need to evangelize a bit that it is possible. My wife and I even started with essentially zero blue water boating experience, but it did take us 4 years to prepare. From my perspective sailing is for short fun day trips, for real passage comfort and safety on the high seas get the motor going.

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m/y Kosmos Nordhavn 43-18 http://kosmos.liveflux.net/blog
San Diego, CA
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Old 21-07-2011, 10:23   #2
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible?

Way to go, Eric! If you're going to go around the world in a motor yacht, you can't do much better than the Nordhavn. I just checked out your blog for more details. Interesting!
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Old 21-07-2011, 11:53   #3
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible?

Panama to the Marquesas is about 4000Nm. Last time I was in the Galapagos fue was limited, may be different now.

Nice boat though...
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Old 21-07-2011, 12:08   #4
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible?

$50,000.00 for fuel, that is about what I figured. I was full on pursuing this approach until the price of fuel went up. About $4.00 in the US. I like powerboating, but doing the same trip without the fuel cost is very attractive.
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Old 21-07-2011, 12:43   #5
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible?

Capn Bill: You don't think sailors have to buy fuel? We'd argue the fuel is cheaper than the sails + fuel. And by having big tanks, we could be choosy about where we filled up. We never had to get fuel from unsavory sources and thus didn't have the dirty fuel issues sailors often face.

Unicorn Dreams: Eric's point in posting this is to make people aware that the right kind of boat can cross oceans safely. Why were you so quick to write off Panama to Marquesas as impossible? A boat identical to ours also did it in May 2007 and we met up with them in Nuka Hiva.
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Old 21-07-2011, 13:41   #6
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible?

I am nearing completion (haha I hope) on a vessel for similar purposes. However, I make several assumptions:
1. Mechanical things will let me down and murphy's law says it will not be when it is most convenient.
2. In some countries I will have to put up with poor quality fuel.
3. If I spend long enough on the open ocean, despite my best attempts at weather forecasting, I am going to get caught out occasionally in some really serious sea conditions.

Given the above, my choice is a medium to heavy dispacement sailboat which has significant self righting capacity and whose primary source of propulsion is not mechanical nor reliant on the quality of fuel available. However, the charm of boating is that we all make the same computations and come out with a totally different answer.

Greg
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Old 21-07-2011, 14:00   #7
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible?

Who said it was impossible Many power boats do it every year. All I said and I do believe it was in English was the miles from PC to FP so he could figure out what fuel he would need and to be able to check and see if fuel was readily available in the Galapagos Islands in case he needed fuel. Didn't think I would have to spell it out step by step..

Unless there is a short cut to FP 3,000 mile range won't be enough to make it without carrying additional fuel or stopping in the Galapagos..
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Old 21-07-2011, 14:11   #8
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible ?

Sorry, I Unicorn Dreams, I thought you were saying it wasn't possible because the fuel was too limited in the Galapagos.
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Old 21-07-2011, 14:17   #9
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible ?

Look forward to reading the blog, can't see it here at work...
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Old 21-07-2011, 14:21   #10
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible ?

I was saying it used to be limited the last time I was there.
Maybe I need to go back and read my post again, might not have worded it correctly.Nothing to be sorry about.
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Old 21-07-2011, 14:22   #11
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible ?

All I think is that if I could afford a Nordhaven and the fuel I would just spend the money on an extra nice sailboat and let nature do the work. Truth is, for the money involved you could have electric everything and not have to work too hard.
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Old 21-07-2011, 15:00   #12
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PamlicoTraveler View Post
All I think is that if I could afford a Nordhaven and the fuel I would just spend the money on an extra nice sailboat and let nature do the work. Truth is, for the money involved you could have electric everything and not have to work too hard.
We did some number crunching and looked at timing. We wanted to get a new boat. It had a specific delivery time, minimal surprises/uncertainties, and factory support. A new Nordhavn vs. a new comparably built sailboat was about the same. As an example, just as we took delivery of our boat another couple did with a 46 foot Hylas. The boats were both built in Taiwan, almost right next to each other. They were comparable in build and luxuries. Price was about the same, and actually the sailboat was a bit more.

What it really came down to was % at sea during our 2 year window. Sailboat ~40%, powerboat ~25%. Miles at sea are much more than "let nature do the work". Harnessing wind power for over 30,000 miles is considerable work, worry, and cost for the sailor.

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Old 21-07-2011, 18:31   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eleebana
I am nearing completion (haha I hope) on a vessel for similar purposes. However, I make several assumptions:
1. Mechanical things will let me down and murphy's law says it will not be when it is most convenient.
2. In some countries I will have to put up with poor quality fuel.
3. If I spend long enough on the open ocean, despite my best attempts at weather forecasting, I am going to get caught out occasionally in some really serious sea conditions.

Given the above, my choice is a medium to heavy dispacement sailboat which has significant self righting capacity and whose primary source of propulsion is not mechanical nor reliant on the quality of fuel available. However, the charm of boating is that we all make the same computations and come out with a totally different answer.

Greg
A few comments on assumptions 1-3 above.

1. Sailing rigging is mechanical. We encountered many sailboats with some degree of broken sailing rigs during passages. Sails and rigging have a hard and somewhat inconsistent life. Our engine never failed through 5000 hours, chugging away in a dry engine room completely isolated from seawater. One time we went out in rough conditions due to an expired immigration visa and the sailboat that was out there for the same reason dismasted.
2. We never had a problem with dirty fuel, but we were careful were we got it from. We had the range to be choosy. The world's fishing fleets depend on decent diesel and we went to established ports. We polished carefully, have water drain sump, and used biocide. Before we got anywhere we were sure we had clean fuel.
3. Indeed. Out boat is a heavy displacement boat with significant self righting capacity (weighted full keel, two inches of fiberglass), and with minimal windage.

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Old 21-07-2011, 18:52   #14
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricGrab View Post
and with minimal windage.

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Eric
Compared to what?



She's a nice vessel, but there is no way that I would ever say a nordhaven has minimal windage
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Old 21-07-2011, 19:05   #15
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Re: Powerboat Circumnavigation Possible ?

We attended your workshop at Trawlerfest in San Diego a year ago Eric. Glad to hear you are keeping the boat. In my frugal opinion if you are going to buy a new depreciable asset then its best to keep it for a long time. Not to mention a lot more fun.
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