To motor sail or not in heavy weather conditions?
Originally Posted by Kenomac
How do you folks feel about motorsailing during the heavy winds and blowing swell? We've heard from the motor
and not sail group, and the sail and not motor
crowd. We spend so much time successfully motorsailing around the Med. due to lack of wind
. Would motorsailing under storm sails
be the answer? Seems like it might help with steering
. Your opinions?
'Just a shot in the dark to get the thread back on topic.
There is no simple all inclusive answer, just an ever changing set of determining factors and priorities based on your situational awareness.
Firstly, the prop-cavitation argument is a red herring
which ignores the reality of every well maintained power vessel successfully transiting heavy weather
with due attention to hull speed
and a conservative rpm
. ((If your power train is that lightly made, you should cross your fingers every time you go in reverse and I suggest you do a conservative crash stop as a test)
Also fluctuations in your Oil/Temp gauges will tell you if you are stressing your marine
engine. They are normally fitted with deep sumps and deep cooling
intakes in a heavy displacement
blue water craft. In the dynamics of a seaway, they can take a lot more than what warranty engineers will admit to and in any case if you see fluctuations, reducing Speed, RPM
. or Heel by changing aspect, will normally address the problem.
Having skippered a number of motor sailors (from 15 to 60m) in and around named storms this is how I would normally manage a heavy weather (HW) situation:
1…. Prepare boat and crew early for HW by setting up storm sails
and provisions, explaining what the next 36 hrs. are going to be like and what our plan is?
2…. Supplement reduced sails with Main Engine, initially high rpm testing for over temp or any chafe issue and a test of all alarms. Then you motor sail at conservative speed which is balanced for comfort and your preferred destination
, while you rest the crew.
3…. As wind/sea state increase, sails are the first to be reduced in time without stressing the crew. Using your diesel propulsion
to optimize heading and comfort for deck
4… Assuming conditions have not become a survival scenario and you can still safely be on deck
to make way in a controlled fashion, I would already be reduced to minimum storm sail and testing for optimum speed for steering
and handling sea conditions…. with and without the use of engine in gear
5… If lots of sea room and no traffic, I would prefer to use sail only, so that I have a better sense of the True Wind
conditions and the sounds the yacht is making. But optimum collision
avoidance control is my priority, so if in a busy traffic area, I am motor sailing.
6…. If safe to approach a protected anchorage, the main engine would be on and tested long before needed, then engaged and the sail(s) set more for steadying function rather than propulsion
7… I am then motor sailing with optimum control and ready to sail or motor out of trouble as I plot the anticipated wind- bullets or current
changes of harbor entry conditions