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Old 09-06-2015, 09:59   #76
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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Originally Posted by lifeofreilly57 View Post
Having a boat that will go to wind? Priceless.
I know it's frowned upon but sometimes you just have to sail upwind to get to where you want to be. If your boat is not good at this your either going to have to motor more or choose another destination.
Sure I prefer to be on a permanent beam reach, unfortunately the wind gods rarely cooperate when you want them to, but to each their own.
There is no "one way" to cruise, only your own way.
Figure out which way that is and it will help answer the question of how much fuel do YOU need.
I respect the Pardey's purist approach but am not totally there myself, I'm not a motoring guy either but somewhere in between, sail as much as possible and motor when you really have to. I'm sure the rest of the community is spread totally across the spectrum on this one and their boats pretty much reflect that.
+1

One problem which comes up in these threads is you get folks whose sailing is mostly around the bay or in short coastal hops discussing things with people who sail long distances, each trying to impose their own vision on people who sail in a totally different way.

People who sail long distances know that however much you love to sail, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, to get somewhere, for dozens of different reasons. People who say "schedules are the whole problem! Just never have a schedule!" Or "just go where the wind blows you" are not people who have every tried to get from one place to another separated by a 1000 or more miles. The only person who is free from any schedule whatsoever is a person who is immortal, and besides that never deals with seasons or tides or weather fronts or parts deliveries or any of the other thousands of schedule-constrained things in life. Time is as inherently limited as money is. Of course more of it is always better (money, too), but each of us has some limitation or another.

Very few cruising boats are actually capable of making miles directly to windward at an acceptable rate, which is one of the main reasons why cruising sailboats in this modern age are more motor boats with auxiliary sails, than the other way around. There's nothing really inherently wrong with that, either. Once you've decided your boat needs to be capable of being a good motor boat, you might as well give up upwind capability altogether, have a ketch rig, and be a motor sailer -- a perfectly valid, maybe excellent paradigm for a cruising boat.

The only problem with relying on your motor to get upwind is that it takes a huge amount of power to get upwind against strong weather. To produce that power by internal combustion requires a bigger engine than is optimum for most cruising boats, and a very large expenditure of fuel. Producing the required huge amount of power is much more efficient by sail. It was sailing, motor-sailing, and motoring 3000 miles upwind last year, often in strong conditions, which made me swear to improve my boat's upwind ability, which is what led to the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars over the winter on carbon sails, including a blade jib especially designed for sailing upwind in wind up to 30 knots. My goal was to be able to make 5 knots to windward made good in 20 to 30 knots of wind, which would require some combination of good speed and a good tacking angle, like maybe 7 knots of boat speed and a tacking angle over ground of 95 degrees. This is damned hard to achieve in a cruising boat loaded down with cruising carp, and since this year's long trek into the Eastern Baltic has been all downwind so far (perversely), I'm not quite sure yet whether I've achieved it. I've knocked 5 degrees off my optimum AWA with the new blade, so I hope I've gotten to something like that. We shall see in July, I'm sure, when I start going West and South again, against the prevailing winds.


I love to sail, and I love to sail fast, but when I have time and the weather is calm, I love to sail slow, too, ghosting along at whatever speed. But when I don't have time, I don't mind motoring or, more often, motor sailing. My ideal cruising boat would have excellent sailing characteristics, especially upwind, but would also have a powerful engine and large fuel capacity. I rather like the Hallberg Rassy 64, with its rather narrow beam for its size (about the same as my present boat), and very powerful engine (300 horsepower), and bunkers for a couple of tons of fuel. That would just give you the option to sail or motor under most circumstances -- depending on what you need to accomplish. A very good thing in my book.

As LifeofReilly said -- to each his own style of cruising, and needed fuel capacity will follow from that, not from what someone else tells you on an internet forum.
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Old 09-06-2015, 10:50   #77
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

Sailing upwind in 10-20 kts( or 30) is one thing. Sailing in 5-10 or less is another. If you have patience and time, great; if you font, I hope you have lots of diesel on board.

I enjoy sailing as much as anyone, but when I'm delivering the boat from one location to another, time is a consideration (as opposed to sailing on a schedule).





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Old 09-06-2015, 12:07   #78
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

In my case I came from a boat that had absolutely great upwind capability (racer/cruiser) but not enough comfort to a boat ("performance cruiser") with substantially more comfort and decent upwind ability.
Do I find upwind sailing for long periods of time more tedious than offwind sailing, for sure, but as has been said before, you don't always get to pick the wind direction.
It took me 3 years to find the right boat, I needed seaworthiness, comfort and stowage for the wife and kids without going to a total barge for my own sanity. So far it's been working out, I've been doing a lot of refit work (the reason it was in our price range) and have figured out how it needs to be trimmed to get good performance, but most cruising boats are not built for that, at least the ones affordable by most mortals who don't have a trust fund. The move towards performance cruisers was not so long ago that the nicer models have come down to realistic prices in the used market for most people but I do see it moving that way in the future.
In the mean time run what ya brung and see how it works for you, I know my way of doing things is certainly not for everyone, even I question my own sanity now and then.
As for deliveries? That's a whole nother animal, I done a couple myself and crewed on others and know what time, money and schedules can do for the "romance" of sailing. I'm in the process of getting my captains license since I'm going to need some alternate ways to earn income while cruising in awhile but am still a bit wary of doing deliveries, it takes a certain type of person with a well established sense of humor to be successful there. My hats off to those who do.
How much fuels? All that you have and then some, that's all I can speculate on. I'll know better when I get there, wherever that is.
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Old 09-06-2015, 13:30   #79
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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Good to know things are better now than they were back in the old days.
I guess we should just ditch the sails and get a trawler?

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It comes down to how comfortable you are being (more ?) at the whim of the winds.
That's the answer to how much fuel you need.
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Old 09-06-2015, 13:49   #80
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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I guess we should just ditch the sails and get a trawler?
I agree and I was thinking the same thing. There is definitely a spectrum of mindset when it comes to schedules and destinations. I can certainly appreciate the problem of needing to get somewhere. By some time. Family and business obligations as well as visa timeouts and most importantly, weather windows. But I'm really trying to keep a slightly more "as the wind blows" perspective in my cruising plans. It can certainly be done either way, (within reason) as I've met plenty of cruisers from both ends of the spectrum. I just think that at some point you do need to ask yourself if you'd be happier with a trawler. No judgement implied in that. Some of my best friends drive trawlers. They are more comfortable, have plenty of power (both mechanical and electrical) and are generally easier on the crew. I can't answer how much fuel you'll need, but the question I think I'd rather be asking myself is "how little fuel will I need".
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Old 09-06-2015, 15:01   #81
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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I agree and I was thinking the same thing. There is definitely a spectrum of mindset when it comes to schedules and destinations. I can certainly appreciate the problem of needing to get somewhere. By some time. Family and business obligations as well as visa timeouts and most importantly, weather windows. But I'm really trying to keep a slightly more "as the wind blows" perspective in my cruising plans. It can certainly be done either way, (within reason) as I've met plenty of cruisers from both ends of the spectrum. I just think that at some point you do need to ask yourself if you'd be happier with a trawler. No judgement implied in that. Some of my best friends drive trawlers. They are more comfortable, have plenty of power (both mechanical and electrical) and are generally easier on the crew. I can't answer how much fuel you'll need, but the question I think I'd rather be asking myself is "how little fuel will I need".
No disagreement there.

We have a friend who has a custom built 60 foot sailboat he built himself... he has 500 gallons of fuel. Basically enough to cross the Pacific if need be. If you have the room for 500 gallons that is great but most of us do not and most boats get by just fine with 50 to 100 gallons of fuel. Plenty of boats in the 30 to 38 foot range cross oceans every year. Few are abandoned due to lack of fuel, usually its for some other reason.

Would I like to have a 500 gallon fuel tank? heck yes... but I'm not going to fret over my 50 gallon tank which in combination with my 12 gallons in jugs gives me a 500 mile range or so at 5 knots. If I converted my 40 gallon water tank to fuel, I'd be able to go 775 miles. Obviously, this is not sufficient to get from the Galapagos to the Marquesas @ 3000 miles but for that I would need 400 gallons of fuel! I don't know of many "under 45 foot" sailing vessels with 400 gallons of fuel but I know lots of them that have crossed oceans.
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Old 09-06-2015, 15:44   #82
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

Some people think the ability to sail in light airs is an important quality for a boat. Lots of people who are on schedules because of limited vacation time will choose to stay on schedule and therefore burn more fuel. it is only those of us who have no fixed commitments who have the time and relaxation of committing to mainly sailing without the use of the engine.

Well done, Mark, and (dare I say it?) as it should be.

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Old 09-06-2015, 16:05   #83
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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I just did the same trip and used 10 gals/ 40 litres.

Nicely done!
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Old 09-06-2015, 18:12   #84
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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I guess we should just ditch the sails and get a trawler?
There is nothing wrong with using a sailboat like a trawler. It is not a perversion of nature. I did a few calculations and find that a new diesel engine costs less per mile than sails (not counting the cost of fuel). You can get 30,000-50,000 miles out of one good $10,000 diesel engine. Try getting that far on one set of $15,000 sails. When you factor in cost of fuel and lube oil they are about equal or sails come out slightly ahead but it's not be a factor of 2:1.
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Old 10-06-2015, 08:09   #85
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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There is nothing wrong with using a sailboat like a trawler. It is not a perversion of nature. I did a few calculations and find that a new diesel engine costs less per mile than sails (not counting the cost of fuel). You can get 30,000-50,000 miles out of one good $10,000 diesel engine. Try getting that far on one set of $15,000 sails. When you factor in cost of fuel and lube oil they are about equal or sails come out slightly ahead but it's not be a factor of 2:1.
It depends on the sails and the boat, and also on how you motor -- not a simple calculation. Small Dacron sails used for 20,000 or 30,000 miles will be much cheaper than diesel. Large carbon sails which won't go 10,000 will be much more expensive. I could have repowered my boat twice over for what I just spent on sails

But your point is exactly correct -- sailing is not obviously cheaper than motoring, and in many cases might not be cheaper at all. And if you figure in the cost of the mast and rigging -- then trawlers start to look pretty good from a purely economical point of view.

I think we sail because we love it, not to save money, at least not mainly.

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Old 10-06-2015, 08:29   #86
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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I think we sail because we love it, not to save money, at least not mainly.

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Agree ....but also note that I like sails, because I am a lousy mechanic...
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Old 10-06-2015, 08:59   #87
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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It depends on the sails and the boat, and also on how you motor -- not a simple calculation. Small Dacron sails used for 20,000 or 30,000 miles will be much cheaper than diesel.
I've never heard of plain Dacron cruising sails lasting over 20,000 miles except perhaps a really fast circumnavigation. The typical cruiser in low latitudes that puts in maybe 3-4K miles per year (which is on the high side) might get there but after 10,000 miles the jib will be bagged out. Possibly the main too. If sailing only 1-2K miles per year the sails might last 10 years. Eventually they wear out whether we use them much or or not.

The same problem exists with a diesel but not as bad. If you run it hard 3-4K miles per year (600 hours) it will last 20 years or longer. One engine will last longer than 2 sets of sails in my experience. Maybe I'm just hard on sails
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Old 10-06-2015, 09:11   #88
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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I've never heard of plain Dacron cruising sails lasting over 20,000 miles except perhaps a really fast circumnavigation. The typical cruiser in low latitudes that puts in maybe 3-4K miles per year (which is on the high side) might get there but after 10,000 miles the jib will be bagged out. Possibly the main too. If sailing only 1-2K miles per year the sails might last 10 years. Eventually they wear out whether we use them much or or not.

The same problem exists with a diesel but not as bad. If you run it hard 3-4K miles per year (600 hours) it will last 20 years or longer. One engine will last longer than 2 sets of sails in my experience. Maybe I'm just hard on sails
Of course it depends on the sailor, and his standards. I bet your're not "hard on sails", but rather, you have high standards. In my experience, Dacron sails of any size are already bagged out after the first season or two, and a typical cruising sailor will just keep sailing with them in bagged-out condition until they fall apart. He quickly loses upwind ability, but maybe never had it to begin with, so he motors or stays in port rather than sailing upwind. LIke that, his sails may last for decades, and I think that's a perfectly valid approach, actually. That's certainly the way my Dad used his sails. In fact I can't remember that he ever bought any new sails, ever.

Trying to keep your boat in sails which are capable of good upwind performance multiplies the cost, especially if your boat is larger with larger stresses. This for sure doesn't make any economic sense, but it's what I'm trying to do.

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Old 10-06-2015, 17:59   #89
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

That's just great. Now my standards are too high. What else am I getting wrong?
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Old 10-06-2015, 18:43   #90
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Re: Cruisers: How Much Fuel?

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Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
I've never heard of plain Dacron cruising sails lasting over 20,000 miles except perhaps a really fast circumnavigation. The typical cruiser in low latitudes that puts in maybe 3-4K miles per year (which is on the high side) might get there but after 10,000 miles the jib will be bagged out. Possibly the main too. If sailing only 1-2K miles per year the sails might last 10 years. Eventually they wear out whether we use them much or or not.

The same problem exists with a diesel but not as bad. If you run it hard 3-4K miles per year (600 hours) it will last 20 years or longer. One engine will last longer than 2 sets of sails in my experience. Maybe I'm just hard on sails
OUr last mainsail, radial cut high quality dacron with heavier material in high stress area lasted for ten years and just over 40,000 miles of full time cruising. At the end of that period the shape had deteriorated at the join between the two weights of cloth, and yes, the windward capabilities were somewhat degraded. We still were able to make good progress to windward, just not as good as with a fresh sail. We decided to replace it to regain performance, and to relieve worries about catastrophic failure whilst at sea. The new sail made from Hydranet did indeed cost around 60 % of the cost of buyiing a new engine (not including labour costs to install).

The genoa, a 120% sail designed for light to moderate winds is still in use and looking pretty good. We never use it reefed to windward, but switch to the Solent jib instead, so it is seldom stressed very hard. Have had to replace the UV cover once.

So, if one chooses a good sailmaker and excellent cloth, I believe that dacron sails can indeed outlast your predictions. The economics are not so clear... one must realisticly consider all engine costs: replacement, fuel, filters, belts and other consumables and costs of service labour. To make the trawler comparison, realize that trawler engines are typically larger and more expensive than auxilliaries in yachts.

As to the loss of performance, I reckon that engines also degrade in performance if run for very long hours... sorta like sails! It is a complicated comparison to make.

Jim
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