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Old 04-05-2014, 06:43   #1
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How much Time is spent Actually Sailing?

Hi all, just looking for some guidance and estimated opinions on how much time is spent actually sailing a sailboat without the motor and with the motor. The plan, dream, idea is to sail in the Caribbean and possibly more, live aboard and explore the islands. We are trying to determine how much real sail time we will be doing. I'm not asking for thoughts on sail vs. motor cruising, I know that is a personal preference and a topic that each side is very passionate about. I know it will vary, we are not purists, we have only begun our sailing so I know-all and only sail is not feasible for us. Just trying to get a realistic picture before we proceed. Any insight would be helpful.
Thanks,
Sharon
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Old 04-05-2014, 07:14   #2
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cricket7045 View Post
Hi all, just looking for some guidance and estimated opinions on how much time is spent actually sailing a sailboat without the motor and with the motor. The plan, dream, idea is to sail in the Caribbean and possibly more, live aboard and explore the islands. We are trying to determine how much real sail time we will be doing. I'm not asking for thoughts on sail vs. motor cruising, I know that is a personal preference and a topic that each side is very passionate about. I know it will vary, we are not purists, we have only begun our sailing so I know-all and only sail is not feasible for us. Just trying to get a realistic picture before we proceed. Any insight would be helpful.
Thanks,
Sharon
If you need to be somewhere, and the winds are too light for your vessel, you will motor. If you dont have a tight schedule, its up to you.
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Old 04-05-2014, 07:23   #3
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

We motor more than I'd like here in the Med. I'm beginning to think that the perfect boat for living on the hook for anyone not planning an ocean crossing would be a power catamaran. You'd have the stability while at anchor by design, larger living quarters, better view from inside, great mileage and a spare engine.

For living aboard full time, someday you might see us on a 60 Sunreef Power.
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Old 04-05-2014, 07:29   #4
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

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If you need to be somewhere, and the winds are too light for your vessel, you will motor. If you dont have a tight schedule, its up to you.

In cruising, there is always some time constraint whether you are cruising leisurely or on a relaxed schedule. Most times it has to do with a weather window, getting to a destination during daylight hours, food/water or comfort. Sometimes getting there in daylight hours means slowing down, rather than speeding up, so slower sailing speeds are tolerated. I have used 3 knots as a floor when sailing on a relaxed schedule. Below 3, we usually motor sail, one reason being that the boat usually isn't comfortable rocking back and forth at slow speeds. It is really your own call, just do what you want to. There are no hard and fast rules, so suit yourself and don't let somebody else's opinion dictate yours.
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Old 04-05-2014, 08:14   #5
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

I'm going to get flamed for this - but a typical coastal cruiser (note the word coastal) will use his (her) engine about 40-50% of the time.

Why?

Because coastal cruisers generally don't sail more than 4-6 hours per day, and if the wind is low or dying - the engine is started.

Not just my opinion - several studies have been done here in DK and they all show about the same thing.

The more experienced a cruiser is and the more and different types of weather he (her) has been exposed to - the more time is spent with the sails up and the engine off
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Old 04-05-2014, 08:21   #6
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

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I'm going to get flamed for this - but a typical coastal cruiser (note the word coastal) will use his (her) engine about 40-50% of the time.
No your not. You are right. Absolutely. Closer to 50% than 40%.

While its lovely to sail, Its not always convenient to sit in a still for 5 hours. And in an older Cat if the wind is head on 10 to 2 o'clock....... fire it up.
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Old 04-05-2014, 08:22   #7
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
We motor more than I'd like here in the Med. I'm beginning to think that the perfect boat for living on the hook for anyone not planning an ocean crossing would be a power catamaran. You'd have the stability while at anchor by design, larger living quarters, better view from inside, great mileage and a spare engine.

For living aboard full time, someday you might see us on a 60 Sunreef Power.

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Old 04-05-2014, 08:31   #8
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cricket7045 View Post
Hi all, just looking for some guidance and estimated opinions on how much time is spent actually sailing a sailboat without the motor and with the motor. The plan, dream, idea is to sail in the Caribbean and possibly more, live aboard and explore the islands. We are trying to determine how much real sail time we will be doing. I'm not asking for thoughts on sail vs. motor cruising, I know that is a personal preference and a topic that each side is very passionate about. I know it will vary, we are not purists, we have only begun our sailing so I know-all and only sail is not feasible for us. Just trying to get a realistic picture before we proceed. Any insight would be helpful.
Thanks,
Sharon
As you posted personal preference is a big factor. So is the area and time of year where you are cruising. In some parts of the Caribbean there are fairly consistent trade winds and if you are flexible in your weather window you may only need the motor to pull the hook and back down when you drop it or when you are using a slip or a ball. On the other hand if you transit the Panama Canal and head for the South Pacific there are often times when there is no wind for long periods of time.

I spent a couple of months sailing from Boot Key to the Dry Tortugas and back with several stops and burned less than five gallons of gas. Only time I used the motor was to pull up the anchor, raise the main and when motoring to a spot to anchor and backing down. Of course I was picking my weather window and had no schedule. A friend doing the same trip a few weeks later motored over twenty hours, but he had a schedule to meet.
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Old 04-05-2014, 08:57   #9
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

In the Caribbean one only needs to use the engine for a few minutes in and out of port.

Friends used less than a (small) tank full in an entire year of Caribbean cruising. They sort of had to as their 40 foot heavy brick only had a 19hp engine in it. They got caugt for four days coming out of Venezuela where they had filled the tank and didnt want to use any so they wanted to sail, hit heavy trade winds and current against them and well, were pretty thirsty when they arrived at the bar!

But generally, in the Caribbean you can sail on all legs between all islands and around all islands. Most islands you can sail to within 5 minutes of the main anchorage.

So thats the facts... Now the reality is that everyone cheats! The first year cruising without using the engine is fine and then you just scream "F This!" And turn the donk on!

The biggest cheaters are BVI's to St Martin. 80 nms and at night if the wind drops the sea is alive with boats who have forgotten to raise their sails motoring full tilt into the wind before the trades pick up again.
Ahhh the hypocrisy!

Over the last year I have used more dinghy fuel than diesel.


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Old 04-05-2014, 09:00   #10
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

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Ahhh the hypocrisy!

Mark
LOL
ITs the truth..... after the novelty wears off and your racing to get the last appt at the dentist....... sails up, engine on and the dinghy pushing from behind....
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Old 04-05-2014, 09:02   #11
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

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Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
I'm going to get flamed for this - but a typical coastal cruiser (note the word coastal) will use his (her) engine about 40-50% of the time.

Why?

Because coastal cruisers generally don't sail more than 4-6 hours per day, and if the wind is low or dying - the engine is started.

Not just my opinion - several studies have been done here in DK and they all show about the same thing.

The more experienced a cruiser is and the more and different types of weather he (her) has been exposed to - the more time is spent with the sails up and the engine off
At least, because when underway cruising you are trying to get somewhere. I motored up wind a few miles just yesterday because of course our destination was dead up wind and we had guests aboard who wanted to go snorkelling. If I had chosen to spend a lot more time tacking upwind, my GF would have given me rass about that for a long time.

Cruisers spend a LOT of time motor sailing similar reasons.

In many venues, like W Panama, where there is often little wind anyway, a power cat would be a fine choice I think. We've spent part of our last two cruising seasons in Bocas and only bothered to sail-only one time for about an hour. And that was because I was just going out for a little test sail to check things out.

A power cat with a performance oriented sailing dinghy could be a great combo for coastal cruising. Motor quickly and efficiently (relative to mono power vessel) to a new anchorage then drop the sailing dink and sail just for fun. Might even be my next boat...
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Old 04-05-2014, 09:31   #12
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

I used to keep a spreadsheet to work out the ratio over eachseason of UK.France cruising. Even with a very slippery sailboat that went well in light winds and went upwind well, the amount of engine hours was surprising. Our home base was 45 minutes from open sea so just in/out could accountt for 1.5hrs of engine. We had one year the figure was near 80% sailed but that was exceptional and we were trying very hard to limit the motor use, normal was nearer 60% as in trying very hard . Friends would claim much better figures but mostly were guessing or didn't even note the engine hours! it only took one long trip with no wind to really screw the ratio. Realistically you will be surprised and probably disappointed too.
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Old 04-05-2014, 09:35   #13
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

Motored a lot in the Caribe. I like to keep moving and about 4 knots is my lower limit. I motor sail a lot also... especially to weather or close reach.
To keep moving several things effect trying to just sail: light winds, adverse wind direction, wanting to get to the anchorage before dark, being in the lee side of most of the islands/light fluky wind. (Roaring wind between islands!), heavy chop your boat doesn't want to punch through. Too lazy to put up the big sail or spinnaker.etc.
There are some great sail only days also, but a multitude of things to make you turn the engine on.
I'm guessing 50/50.
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Old 04-05-2014, 15:19   #14
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

Thank you everyone for your input and insight!! You have been very helpful!
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Old 04-05-2014, 16:21   #15
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Re: How much time is spent actually sailing?

I consider myself somewhat of a purist…..might sail @ 2.5 kts for hrs. and one year had no engine at all and did quite well in my 10 ton sloop.But nowadays I do not have the luxury of infinite time and find that the 50/50 ratio is what gets me down the road.
Here in the NE US there are sooo many easy anchorages on any trip, that I have the luxury of lolling along at 2.5 kts in the hope that the wind will pick up at some point , and if I am proved optimistic I can settle for a reduced days run and still find a snug harbor at days end in time for cocktails. My current craft is extremely weatherly and no wind that blew dismayed her crew nor troubled the captains mind.
But at a 50/50 ratio I realize that it is disingenuous to call myself a purist.
In my defense however , I sailed in the BVI this winter (January) and the sailing /motoring ratio was more like 95/5. The patient sailor always has a fair wind.

……………………………………luv you all ………………………..mike…………………………..
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