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Old 30-08-2010, 05:04   #1
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Fuel Expense

I decided to fuel the other daybecause it had been over 30 hours engiune run time. This is always a pain but it only gets done every few months (we motor a fair amount). So I paid my $67 to fill up and watched the semi small med size power boat next to us fill up and spend $600, and he said that is a weekend trip. Now I always wondered how much it costs some of these people to power out to try to catch that little fish, but wow.

I should of told him thanks for reminding why I decided to get into sailing. It was because I couldn't afford the fuel other wise. Now that I think of it; I don't remember any joining in any of the costs of cruising threads.
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Old 30-08-2010, 05:41   #2
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I should of told him thanks for reminding why I decided to get into sailing. It was because I couldn't afford the fuel other wise
When you talk to people that cruise with power boats like those doing the Great Circle they will all pretty much tell you that cost of fuel really is not the biggest cost item. With high performance boats it's not hard to drop $500 in an afternoon. Reaching speeds close 90 mph takes a very high volume engine. While I can't say I enjoy that type of thing there are those that do. When you look at sailing it isn't just fuel. How much would a new set of sails with covers and replaced rigging set you back? Consider it part of the fuel you have to pay for sooner or later. It suddenly makes your $67 fuel bill look a lot different. With sail boats you have to prepay a lot of money. With larger twin engine power boats you have to pay a lot just to keep them going.

It's all the same game but you don't keep score the same way. Owning a boat is financial foolishness if you want to track how much money you save. If you track your boat in terms of "days on the water" the numbers might make better sense.
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Old 30-08-2010, 05:54   #3
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Well put Pblais...fuel is an individual expense, different for each individual. Consider my clan of 7, and a friend or two going to St Wherever. Sailboat goes with 2, 5 fly and stay in a hotel for two weeks [apples to apples] as opposed to all going on the boat...do the math.

...or, I guess we could get four sailboats.
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Old 30-08-2010, 06:07   #4
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...or, I guess we could get four sailboats.
I think you can get treated for that disease.
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Old 30-08-2010, 06:18   #5
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As an owner of a long range motor cruiser, I can definitely say that fuel is less than 10% of the ownership cost. That figure stays true even when you take into account the high cost of fuel in the EU.

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Old 30-08-2010, 08:02   #6
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Interesting comparsion between power boats and sail boats Paul. I think foot for foot I'd rather have the sail boats expenses. I was just over in Bimini a few weeks ago waiting in line to check in. There were four other power boaters doing the same. Seems there was a power boat rally going on. The conversation in line turned to fuel costs. They were all but gloating on how their boats used more fuel than the others. Big ol muliple 300 Mercs and all. I took a bit of an evil pride when asked about my costs. 12 gallons, only because I had to motor all the way. They boasted "But it only takes us two hours to get here" True I said, but I'm still in line in front of you.
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Old 30-08-2010, 08:51   #7
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Big snip.... They boasted "But it only takes us two hours to get here" True I said, but I'm still in line in front of you.
That's big boys with little you know whats talking
A sensible motor cruiser uses 4 gallons an hour and I can get it down to 2 gallons at 6.5 knots, or 0.75 gallons an hour at around 4 knots if I use the wing engine. I'm much more likely to boast about how little fuel I've used
I never saw any use for a fuel guzzler that has to visit the fuel dock every evening.

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Old 30-08-2010, 14:50   #8
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The cost of fuel verse cost of sails got me to wondering again about whether sailing is "cheaper". So I did a spreadsheet, which I'm not smart enough to know how to attach. I figured $30k for sails and rigging and $4/gal for diesel. I used fuel usage as 1 gph (because I think this way and not mph) at 6 knots because that's about what I expect now on my sailboat. So for the $30k cost of sails and rigging I could motor 45,000 miles on my sailboat. Sailing I figure I can avg out at 4 knots currently (because I have to come back and the wind never agrees), so it would take 11,250 hours of sailing, or 468.75 days (full 24 hrs days), to travel the same distance as that fuel. If I say I will sail on avg 3 days/week when cruising (and this is probably a high amount of time underway) , then I can plan trip of 1093.75 days. Or 3 years of sail cruising. So if I believe that the sails and rigging will last more than this it is better to sail.

I could easily be wrong. Most of the threads I read on power boat forum talk about burning 3 gph, but it sometimes isn't clear how far this gets you (those $600 fuel weekend guys aren't cruising".

I have noticed more and more sailboats that have removed their masts and rigging and they are now a power boat.
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Old 30-08-2010, 15:08   #9
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My casual, unscientific observation is that sailboats with auxiliary engines are motoring or motorsailing about half the time. Of course, they're generally displacement-hull types which have decent fuel mileage unless cranked way up.
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Old 30-08-2010, 15:10   #10
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I just worked on a 47' Intrepid with four 300 Mercs. They sip fuel for their size but I could buy a set of sails for a dozen members boats for what those four Mercs cost alone. How can you compare that to 47' sailboat? One power head failure out of warranty and I could cruise, fuel and all, for months for what it will cost to fix. But then I'm a cheap old fart that doesn't get to look cool drivin an overpowered Intrepid or, as Fishwife says, have any phallic issues.
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Old 30-08-2010, 16:20   #11
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I'm not sure the concept of being cheaper is the point. A Newport 27 is a pretty cheap boat and could cross the Pacific Ocean. I really don't think the argument is about cheaper. If you go back above you see the fuel component was only 10% of the total cost of power boat ownership. My numbers would agree with that based on ocean going power boat owners I personally know. I think it is fair to say an 85 ft sailboat fully rigged might top well over four million US dollars. A decent Bristol 30 would be far less.

Fuel efficiency is but a small part of BOTH power boats and sailboats if you add up the rest of the money. It would be unfair to just use that one insignificant cost item as a basis of comparison. The idea that the cheapest solution is "better" isn't even the topic.

The best information I can find seems to indicate that trailerable power boats are hurting the most in the high fuel price economy. Higher priced boats are about as good as they ever were and they never were huge. Small pleasure boats account for nearly all the boat market so those with larger sailboats (cruising capable) and larger power boats are not really part of the fuel price problem nor are they an economic factor in the market as a whole.

If you find a boat that suits your purpose it seems clear that either you know it or you don't. There is no being better than someone else. There is a comfort zone with initial cost and ongoing expenses. When the on going expenses become an issue it's time to head toward shore. Boating is clearly a waste of money if you can't enjoy it.
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Old 30-08-2010, 16:47   #12
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It is all relative. If you can afford a big power yacht you can afford the fuel. If you can't you buy a sailboat.
- - A decade ago I sailed from Miami to Nassau in 40 hours and while docking at the Nassau Harbor Club I heard a 200 ft megayacht call up to the fuel dock and ask if they were still open. They were and he asked if they had 4000 gal of diesel available. The fuel dock asked where he came from and the reply was "We left Miami 4 hours ago."
- - Modern power yachts - full displacement - like the Nordic Tug 42 have 350 hp Cummins and burn some serious fuel - and - also run their gensets continuously stopping them only for maintenance and oil changes.
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Old 30-08-2010, 18:21   #13
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there was a pretty good thread running on the comparison costs of fuel vs. wind:

Hello! . . . Sail vs Power ?
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Old 30-08-2010, 19:30   #14
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Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
When you talk to people that cruise with power boats like those doing the Great Circle they will all pretty much tell you that cost of fuel really is not the biggest cost item. With high performance boats it's not hard to drop $500 in an afternoon. Reaching speeds close 90 mph takes a very high volume engine. While I can't say I enjoy that type of thing there are those that do. When you look at sailing it isn't just fuel. How much would a new set of sails with covers and replaced rigging set you back? Consider it part of the fuel you have to pay for sooner or later. It suddenly makes your $67 fuel bill look a lot different. With sail boats you have to prepay a lot of money. With larger twin engine power boats you have to pay a lot just to keep them going.

It's all the same game but you don't keep score the same way. Owning a boat is financial foolishness if you want to track how much money you save. If you track your boat in terms of "days on the water" the numbers might make better sense.
A used mainsail for my 31 footer in excellent condition costs me about $350 as does a jenny . I just got rid of my last mainsail, which I bought used in 1980 for $100. It has taken me to Mexico and back, as well as two trips to Tonga and 9 trips to Haida Gwai and back and 11 months a year cruising the BC coast since 1985. Try do that with that much fuel.
Re rigging my boat costs about $25 for wire and $22 each for turnbuckles.
There is absolutely no comparison.
How to cut your fuel costs in half? Spend twice as long in each anchorage.
I have worked about month a year, since 1976, for all the money I need, something which would be impossible living on land . In living costs, my boat has paid for itself many times over, drastically reducing my environmental impact in the process.
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Old 30-08-2010, 19:56   #15
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Fuel costs

I find it interesting the way some people will vehemently defend their personal choices when it comes to their vessel. For most of us, at some point it comes down to economics. And braaging about being either rich or poor is just sad. On average sailboats are much cheaper to run and maintain than similar sized power boats. I have been on both sides of this argument. My last boat, a 59' Baia Italian express had twin 1300hp Mann diesels and burned 250 gallons an hour at a 45 knot cruise. My current boat a 44' Choey Lee sailboat burns next to nothing at a 7 knot cruise. I get a great deal of enjoyment from both of these boats and would never even think to compare one against the other, nor would I gloat about the miserly fuel consumption of the sailboat and brag about the massive fuel burn on the Baia. The thing I will crow about is the fact that I am boating all the time, and for me that is something most people only dream about. If you can afford to pour fuel into any boat regardless of the cost you are very lucky in my book. It doesn't require either an arguement or an ego to understand that.
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