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Old 27-09-2012, 06:04   #1
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Cruising time under sail

Hi everyone,

I'm currently planning a relaxed circumnavigation around Australia (well, most of it. Tasmania misses out this time).

I've always owned power boats, although also thoroughly enjoy sailing. Both have their own particular appeal, and the obvious pros and cons. My current boat (a 43' flybridge cruiser) isn't really my preferred method of getting around the continent, so I'm exploring alternatives. The front runners are likely alternatives are a 40-50 foot sailing cat, or a 50-70 foot trawler. A sailing mono is a remote possibility, but the significant other is still a bit uncomfortable heeling.

We are able to make the trip at a reasonably leisurely pace so won't often need to get anywhere on a specific schedule. We also plan to make the run counter-clockwise to maximise the likelihood of running downwind. I suspect we will be content travelling at anything in excess of about 4-5 knots.

While I have a preference for sail, not least because it feels a bit more environmentally conscious, I'm interested in opinions on the likely amount of time we could expect to be able to travel under sail at our desired speeds (as opposed to having to fire up the engines to maintain reasonable speed). If likely time under power is comparable to time under sail the trawler becomes a more palatable alternative for us.

Love to hear your thoughts.

Cheers
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Old 27-09-2012, 06:32   #2
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Re: Cruising time under sail

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Andy.
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Old 27-09-2012, 06:33   #3
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Re: Cruising time under sail

The fact that you are wondering about how fast you will go, and how long it will take, tells me that you would be happier taking a trawler.
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Old 27-09-2012, 07:02   #4
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Re: Cruising time under sail

This has the potential to be an interesting thread i.e.. time spent with motor on vs sail only. Assuming this is a coastal cruise as indicated by OP ,my rough guess would be motoring more than 70% of the time the boat is moving esp. with the OP coming from a power boat background .When you figure in and out of harbors, light air, motor sailing,and just ease of turning a key,not to mention the various imperatives of making the next harbor ( impending weather, grumpy crew ,gear failure,low stores,fatigue,etc.)
it will be likely he will return with pristine sails.
What say you sailors and motor sailors as to you experiences in this regard ?
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Old 27-09-2012, 07:32   #5
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Re: Cruising time under sail

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
The fact that you are wondering about how fast you will go, and how long it will take, tells me that you would be happier taking a trawler.
Hi denverd0n,

Thanks for your thoughts. I wasn't wondering how fast I can expect to travel, nor how long it will take. I'm comfortable with the sailing characteristics of the boats I'm looking at, and have sailed several in the range in various conditions.

I'm more interested in the likely amount of time we should expect to spend sailing as opposed to under power over an extended period of cruising.

If it is similar to mrohr's guesstimates above (engines on 70% of time under way) the sail option loses some of its appeal, particularly on the environmental front. There will obviously still be days where we can revel in the joy of a fantastic sail, but perhaps more days under power than we originally expected.
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Old 27-09-2012, 08:25   #6
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Re: Cruising time under sail

When Maggie & I first started sailing/cruising (1970s), we had a 2-3 knot rule/policy. If we couldn’t make 2-3 knots minimum under sail alone; we’d motor-sail, or motor.
By the time we retired from cruising (2000), it had become a 4-5 knot rule.
It turned out (for us); that it had become as much about the destination, as the trip. Not necessarily so, for many others; so your mileage/results may vary.
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Old 27-09-2012, 09:13   #7
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Re: Cruising time under sail

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
The fact that you are wondering about how fast you will go, and how long it will take, tells me that you would be happier taking a trawler.
-1

I completely disagree.

Making miles under sail is a magical experience -- you will probably love it. You're not just grinding them out as with a motor vessel, you're, well, sailing, skimming along with hardly a sound, pushed (or pulled) by the wind, no machinery rumbling away, no fuel consumed, etc., etc.

How fast you will go and what percentage of the time you will be able to sail depends on the wind (how much and from what direction), the weather, your boat, and your skills.

As long as you have 12+ knots of wind from somewhere abeam or abaft the beam, almost any sailboat sailed by anyone at almost any level of skill will make at least 5 or 6 knots. On those points of sail, your sails are acting mostly (or entirely) in drag mode and it is pretty simple to trim them. Even a tubby long keel heavy boat which doesn't go to windward will be ok in such conditions.

It gets much trickier for both sailor and boat if you have to use your sails in aerodynamic lift mode -- that is, upwind. To do this well, you need decent sails and a lot depends on the underbody shape of the boat as well. Trimming to sail efficienctly upwind is much more complicated.

But many, perhaps most cruisers are perfectly happy motoring whenever the wind is much ahead of the beam, avoiding the challenging (or impossible, depending on their boats) points of sail. Like that you might motor half the time and sail half the time -- it's still vastly more fun than motoring 100% of the time.

Different boats have much different speeds. My boat, a big high-ish performance cruiser, will usually make 8 to 9 knots on passage, less motoring because if I have to motor, I like to do it at a leisurely pace.

An average white boat, say a 43-46 foot Beneteau, will happily make 7 or 8 knots under sail or motor, and unless you have a nasty headwind and headsea you could probably use 7 knots as a conservative planning speed.

It will be somewhat faster in a trawler, but you will have SOOOO much more fun sailing. You will save a ton of fuel, too. I think you have the right idea
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Old 27-09-2012, 09:20   #8
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Re: Cruising time under sail

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Originally Posted by andyk654 View Post
I'm more interested in the likely amount of time we should expect to spend sailing as opposed to under power over an extended period of cruising.

If it is similar to mrohr's guesstimates above (engines on 70% of time under way) the sail option loses some of its appeal, particularly on the environmental front. There will obviously still be days where we can revel in the joy of a fantastic sail, but perhaps more days under power than we originally expected.
Unless you're sailing in a period of extreme high barometric pressure and dead calm, or in a direction which is continually dead upwind, you should definitely be sailing more than 30% of the time even in a boat which doesn't sail very well and/or doesn't go upwind.

On my one month long summer cruise during July of this year, I made more than 90% of my miles under sail, despite the fact that one long leg of the trip was upwind. Other than two short hops, every passage was made at least partially, if not entirely under sail.

If you want to sail, you should be able to do 50% or better. If you have a decent sailing boat -- and it should be said, that inexpensive modern production boats like Benes usually sail very, very well if they have reasonably fresh sails and are not worn out ex-charter boats -- then this can be much higher.
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Old 04-10-2012, 00:50   #9
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Re: Cruising time under sail

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If you want to sail, you should be able to do 50% or better. If you have a decent sailing boat -- and it should be said, that inexpensive modern production boats like Benes usually sail very, very well if they have reasonably fresh sails and are not worn out ex-charter boats -- then this can be much higher.
So true. I've only been sailing for 4 months with 2 days of lessons and other daysail practice days before my first coastal cruise - and the motor is usually off just after we leave the harbour and not back on until we are on our way back in. One exception where we had to go 60nm and the forecast was wrong (called for 10-15 inflow and turned out to be zero all day) the motor is thought of for docking or as a last resort.

I did see a lot of sailors who almost always motored at the docks and marinas, always puzzled me why they would motor a sailboat most of the time, a powerboat would be faster.
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Old 04-10-2012, 00:58   #10
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Re: Cruising time under sail

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I did see a lot of sailors who almost always motored at the docks and marinas, always puzzled me why they would motor a sailboat most of the time, a powerboat would be faster.
You don't necessarily know how far they are going.

I will sometimes motor all the way out the Solent, starting out on an 85 mile passage to Cherbourg, for example, and put up the sails at the Needles. To get the batteries charged up, to make breakfast and feed the crew, finish a load of laundry, get the boat ready for a long sail, etc. I'm sure a lot of people -- who never even get out of the Solent -- wonder why the hell we aren't sailing. But they are mostly sailing around the Solent -- different frame of reference.
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:01   #11
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Re: Cruising time under sail

Makes sense. Those I saw were mostly sailing the PNW though, sometimes less than 30nm in a day
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