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Old 30-01-2015, 12:19   #1
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Question Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

Hello,
I am brand new to this board and just starting my journey. Brief history on us, we are an adventurous family of 4 (Kids are 13 &11). We have traveled all 50 states in a motorhome and are now living in San Diego. I must confess that I (the mom) am the only one in my family that has a total obsession with the ocean and cruising and boats and jet skis, etc.
Anyway... I would like to set sail per se, on my search of the first boat for our family. I have very mixed felling about power boats and sail boats. Sailing sounds more economical and romantic to me but since I don't know how to sail, (class coming soon) it is a bit scary to me. Power fells more safe but also more expensive for longer trips (I would love to sail from SD to Ensenada for example). And it is worth mentioning that one day, no idea when, we would like to live aboard.
So please help me with the basics. The pros and cons of a power versus a sail. I did some search for other posts before asking this question but they were mostly related to cost of one versus the other.

I sincerely appreciate your input!

Marina
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Old 30-01-2015, 13:23   #2
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

There are quite a few good posts on this subject. I tend to agree the cost savings of sail over power is questionable unless you plan on long passages (like multi day) is very questionable. I know I motor quite a bit more than I sail.

In terms of safety, generally speaking sailboats are much better at handling bad weather, foot for foot, much much safer really. Sailboat has to be designed to withstand a knock down so all mono hulls are. Plus the extra strength required to be built into them to withstand the stress of wind on the rig means the hulls tend to be much stronger. The other safety feature of a sailboat is there are two methods of propulsion. Motor and sail. If one fails- you have the other.

There are many advantages to motor. They tend to have more living space foot for foot. They generally have shallower drafts- meaning they can visit more shallow places. They tend to be easier to maneuver there are fewer skills required to operate them (mostly- you don't have to know how to sail).

I'm sure there are many pros and cons I have missed. So many so that I think it really comes down to a matter of personal preference. One thing where a sailboat has a huge advantage is it is very difficult to find a small power boat (less than 50ish feet maybe) with large enough fuel tanks to cross any oceans. Which may not even be in your plans.

My last boat was a sailboat through and through, I found that didn't work very well for my usage. So my current boat is a sailboat with good motoring characteristics. The hull shape actually closely resembles a trawler, and more closely (power) fishing boats of the middle east and Asia then a true sailboat hull and carries half a ton of deisel fuel. The boat also has very large accommodations for its length- like a trawler. The downside is it does not have good sailing characteristics. In fact it has rather poor sailing characteristics. Ifmy destination is up wind- I'm motoring.



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Old 30-01-2015, 13:30   #3
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

Read the archives. Sailing can be more economical than slow power boating by trawler, but not always, and over a certain size, definitely not. My boat needs sails which cost $50,000 and only last 5 or 6 thousand miles; you can do the math

The only way to make this decision is to go sailing and see if you fall in love with the process of sailing. If not, buy a trawler.
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Old 30-01-2015, 13:43   #4
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

$50k! Holy smokes! That's more than double what I paid for my 35' complete with 9 sails, dinghy out board and charts of East Coast and Caribean.

People aren't kidding when they say the cost of maintenance goes up exponentially with size.



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Old 30-01-2015, 14:08   #5
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

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Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
$50k! Holy smokes! That's more than double what I paid for my 35' complete with 9 sails, dinghy out board and charts of East Coast and Caribean.

People aren't kidding when they say the cost of maintenance goes up exponentially with size.

I don't know about maintenance, but sails for sure . . . And the first bids were much higher even than that

Which is why over a certain size, power is definitely cheaper than sail. It's a decision which should not be made on solely economic grounds.
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Old 30-01-2015, 14:22   #6
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

When we started out we did our first cruise and learn on a 32' Bayliner. The logic being that we could learn the basics of seamanship, docking, anchoring etc without having to overload our brains with sailing as well. Then we took a cruise and learn on a 38' Dufour. An expensive way to do it, but the direct comparison was helpful. We've done one more week-long cruise on a 38' Bayliner and have now landed solidly in the sailing camp.

Depending on what you intend to do there can be a whole different ethos between sailing and powerboating. We found sailing was about the journey and having a great sail and playing and adjusting the sails; powerboating was more about the destination, getting there and discovering new places. Think backpacking vs motorhoming...

The only other point I will make is that finding a 3 cabin, 2 head powerboat is a lot harder than find a sailboat with the same configuration. It made sharing the costs a bit more difficult

Still and all, until I buy my own boat, I will probably charter a powerboat now and again. It was a hell of a lot of fun...
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Old 30-01-2015, 14:34   #7
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

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Originally Posted by Mbrwr View Post
So please help me with the basics. The pros and cons of a power versus a sail. I did some search for other posts before asking this question but they were mostly related to cost of one versus the other.

Search more. See here for example, if you didn't find it originally: Power or sail?

Here's another with decent comments about pros/cons for each: Who Has Gone From Sailboat to Motor Yacht?

-Chris
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Old 31-01-2015, 10:02   #8
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

This should not be an economic decision. The economics aren't actually that easy to work out, anyways since you can by wildly different boats and you can motor a sailboat or sail it with trashed sails.

This is about your experience on the water and what you want to achieve.

I have a sailboat in the PNW. That means I need to motor a fair amount. Sailing isn't that hard, but motoring is mind-numbingly boring and I feel guilty for puking so much carbon into the atmosphere.

The quiet gurgle of water past the hull under sail while we sail to our destination working with nature instead of against her is magical. Watching the changes in the wind and deciding what sails to have up and when we need to tack makes the hours of travel go by more quickly. When I arrive, I feel like I earned the anchorage.

By contrast, when we need to motor somewhere due to a lack of wind it's boring and loud. I arrive grumpy if it goes on for too long.
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Old 31-01-2015, 14:05   #9
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

Some good posts here,for my 10c worth I say maybe you could try a charter in each type & see what the family prefers. I was once a sailing master on a 65ft steel schooner & the owner said he wouldnt bother with sails again if he built another boat ( it crossed the Pacific ) His reasoning for that was one blown sail buys a lot of diesel but in fact he was happiest in the engine room. He even had a lathe on the boat. To me there is no joy in motoring as described in an earlier post. A lot to learn in sailing but nothing to be afraid of. I recommend lessons for a quick start & there are some good books but there is no substitute for experience. Dinghy sailing is the way to learn as you can feel whats happening much easier than a keelboat.
You can have a compromise as a say 38ft well designed glass sailboat with a light modern 80hp turbo charged diesel will both motor & sail well. It all depends on how much you have to spend I guess
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Old 31-01-2015, 15:23   #10
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

Macblaze hit it right on.


Power boating is abut the destination, while sail boating is about the sail.


What I refuse to argue is the silence to sailing and the constant, I mean CONSTANT sound . . . the drone of the engine on the motor boat in the middle of the ocean is one big headache that doesn't go away. While the silence, the golden silence of the sailboat is priceless -- TO ME!

Some people go nuts in silence. Withhold stories here.


Meanwhile, Dockhead's price for sales is nuts -- TO ME! I'm basically a California boy, about to move to New England and maybe that's nuts; but a complete set of Hood sails, out of Sausalito, California for a 60 foot schooner needing 2,100 sq ft of sails, numbering 8 is $21,000.00 and that's no where near $50K.

And I've heard of Hood sails lasting more than ten years -- and, the safety equipment for a newly acquired sailboat can book $30,000 easily. I'm sure for a power boat you'd need more than four inner-tubes and a whistle, also. Simply put, the difference is not about the money.


So, what I get from HIS post is . . . don't buy sails in England.
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Old 31-01-2015, 15:35   #11
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

When the father-daughter duo sets off on this New York to New Zealand trip, they’ll head south and through the Panama Canal. When they exit the Canal, their next leg is Balboa (at the Pacific End of the Panama Canal) to the Marquesas’, which is about 4,200 miles, so roughly as long as a transatlantic from New York to Marseilles and the track is a LOT less populated. A week out of Balboa, the boat is truly in its own little world and the equipment had damn well better work, especially the sails. A 38-foot sail boat cannot possible carry the fuel to motor anywhere a thousand miles out into this part of the world, regardless of how many yellow jugs are lashed on the life lines. Much better to put the money up front into understanding what is required to have sails that will get you where you want to go with many miles left over.


Hood sails. I've known 'em a long time. When you're in your own little world, do you want that sound of the engine to drone in your head?
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Old 31-01-2015, 17:57   #12
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

Traveling by motorboat with a family will be like being stuck in a cabin on a rainy day (or motor home on along run). Kids below on conputer games etc. Someone at a helm station monitoring systems an keeping lookout but nobody else involved in the boat. Saling will have people up on deck for sail changes and lots of other stuff to be involved with. Whether this is an advantage or a pain depends on if the boat is a means of transport or part of the journey. So Charter both and see what people find fun. Also look at courses, people who don;t understand sailing are more likely to find it intimidating and frightening or get board because there is nother they feel they can do so they get left out.
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Old 31-01-2015, 18:58   #13
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

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Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
Traveling by motorboat with a family will be like being stuck in a cabin on a rainy day (or motor home on along run). Kids below on conputer games etc. Someone at a helm station monitoring systems an keeping lookout but nobody else involved in the boat. Saling will have people up on deck for sail changes and lots of other stuff to be involved with.
You know, looking back on my trips, this is spot on.
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Old 01-02-2015, 02:17   #14
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

Interesting thread. I have a Prout 34 Event catamaran which was built in 1993 in Essex. It operated in the Mediterranean for a couple of years as a training yacht and then another couple of years in the Caribbean before sailing across the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia. It then did two circumnavigations of Australia. All this and it still has the original sails!! The only "new" sail is an asymmetric spinnaker which was purchased second hand for $300!
I find the best time is when I can actually shut down the motor and glide through the water. I find that on a power boat the water seems hard - a yacht turns the water soft!
I agree with the statement mentioned that sailing is about the journey - powerboats are all about destination.
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Old 01-02-2015, 03:34   #15
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Re: Power x Sail ... where do I even start?

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Read the archives. Sailing can be more economical than slow power boating by trawler, but not always, and over a certain size, definitely not. My boat needs sails which cost $50,000 and only last 5 or 6 thousand miles; you can do the math
ontong java 2 is over 70 ft long and the 80 square meter sail cost $180. Cruises at 12-15 knots.


My boat is much smaller sloop, I got a like new dacron mainsail with 3 reefs and cover for $150, and I spend a combined total of $120 for 5 headsails, all in good shape. I have covered 18,000 miles, and have enough sails for another 18,000. Standing rigging cost me $400 to replace all the stays turnbuckels and chainplates. I am free of engine so no cost there.

Sailing is always a lot more economical, or else you are doing it wrong.
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