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Old 07-04-2016, 08:37   #1
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Using sails as stabilizers

I know this is dangerous but I'm looking for opinions or perhaps facts. I just sold a beautiful 53' trawler that had all the bells and whistles to include hydraulic stabilizers. I am now looking for the boat that is going take me and the wife into retirement and many, many places we wish to visit by water. Having just come off 10 years of semi-cruising in relative comfort, at the expense of high fuel costs of course, I'm looking at motorsailers as our next vessel. They seem to have all the creature comforts and I don't feel I'm giving up a lot of speed (we're used to 9 knts). The one thing I need your opinion on is if the sails on these type of boats will act as a good stabilizer. This is something the Admiral is adament about. From what I've seen so far the hull shape of these boats is displacement and they don't seem to have a deep draft or deep keel. There is one I'm considering that has additional bilge keels on the sides a couple of feet below the waterline to help with rolling. I don't expect these boats to be great sailers therefore one of my prerequisites is the ability to hold a lot of fuel (750 gallons or more). So what do you think or what do you know? Will the sails do the job?
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Old 07-04-2016, 09:06   #2
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

I have to ask, why not a smaller Trawler?
I assume you sold due to cost and just didn't need such a big boat, but sounds like what you really want is a power boat, nothing wrong with that, just I think a sailboat isn't as good a powerboat as a boat meant and designed to be one is.
If money isn't an issue maybe a powercat? To some they have less motion, but to me I like it less as the motion is more sudden, sort of a lurch.

But to answer your question my main acts as a decent stabilizer when there is very little wind, but is a much better stabilizer when there is say 5 kts or more wind and I have the Genoa and Main up and am sailing
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Old 07-04-2016, 09:51   #3
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

That's where I was originally going. Looking around 42' and a bit older to keep the cost down. What I've been finding are power boats from the '80's and '90's aren't normally stabilized and the engines have a lot of hours and except for boats like Kady-Krogen they just don't seem very sea kindly. The biggest issue I've found with the motorsailers is that for comfort and to be able to spread out I feel the size needs to be in the 50' to 60' range (my last boat spoiled us). But even at that size I'm able to find motorsailers, haven't physically looked at any yet, that have a lot going for them and still $50K to $75K less than a simiarly equiped power boat.
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:05   #4
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

Based on your requirements, I would also look at a catamaran.
You want plenty of room, creature comforts and little movement / rolling / heeling.

If you just want to motor, look at powercats. If you want to save money on fuel, look at a sailing cat.
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:11   #5
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

Sails do a great job to stabilize a sailboat. They've been used to stabilize power boats of course. I'd stick with a power boat or get into an actual sailboat (that you can ALWAYS choose to motorsail), but that's just me. Some power boats are set up with masts for stabilizing sails. There's a Krogen 54 that does a great job of it (see Kadey-Krogen Yachts: History: Kky54) with 2 masts but I would imagine that it uses similar fuel to the boat you just rid yourself of.

In terms of speed, I do have to say if you're retired, you're not in a hurry

If you get a sailboat rather than a motor sailor you will find that you're highest speeds will occur while sailing. Especially if you're trying to conserve fuel. For example, our sailboat is 54' on deck (69' sparred length) and 47' waterline, 6'4" draft, 14' beam at waterline 15.5' beam at deck. Hull speed is a smidgen under 10 kts. We habitually sail (days at a time sometimes) at 9+kts but if motoring, we choose 6 kts for best fuel economy. If speed is your thing, sailing is a better choice (if you have wind!)

One does need to have *enough* sail up to stabilize the vessel. When you're actually sailing that's pretty easy to do and both go fast as well as have a smooth ride.

When very broad reaching or running, in lumpy seas and big winds, we frequently use just our foresail for power but sheet the staysail in tight to stabilize the boat against the waves hitting the aft quarter. The staysail does nothing for us powerwise in this situation but when a wave smacks the aft quarter and the boat turns a bit towards the wind because of it, the winds now on the tightly sheeted staysail push the bow right back downwind again. Very useful stabilization from what is actually a pretty small sail area.

Best of luck in finding just the right boat.
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:13   #6
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

In answer to your question of using sails for stability the answer is yes if there is a breeze they do stabilize the boat. But the boat will heel. Have you and your wife experienced the movement of a sailboat underway? If not, it would be a good idea to try it out early in your considerations.


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Old 07-04-2016, 10:27   #7
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

I have a sailboat but it is much smaller than what your looking for.
But as a former powerboater I can tell you for a powerboat it's a pretty terrible powerboat. A bigger powerboat like I was used to the engine sound wasn't all that loud, it was more of a deep rumble seeming to come from underneath the boat. The sort of sound that you felt more than heard, the sort of sound that if I was in the fwd Stateroom would lull me to sleep, honestly not an unpleasant sound.

My sailboat is not like that under power, it's almost like having a lawnmower in the living room with you, and I think what I have is sort of common, and it is to a large extent why when you hoist sails and get under way, why it is so pleasant, you get to turn the lawnmower off.
People will tell you their boat isn't like that, but before you get too far down the sailboat thing, if your intent is to primarily motor, charter one and go for a day cruise or something.
In the defense of sailboats, when underway the best place to be is in the cockpit, and there the motor noise isn't nearly as objectionable as it is in the salon.


Going to be tough though to replace that Grand Alaskan if it's the boat I'm thinking it is.
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:29   #8
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

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Originally Posted by ed stewart View Post
But even at that size I'm able to find motorsailers, haven't physically looked at any yet, that have a lot going for them and still $50K to $75K less than a simiarly equiped power boat.
It may be condition-related. The sails and rigging should add (not subtract) cost from similarly equipped power vessels.
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:29   #9
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

My answer is "yes". Keeping the mainsail up makes a huge difference when moving. The problem is you don't want to do that at anchor. I have found picking the right anchorage keeps you from having a rolly night 95+% of the time.
With sailboats I motorsail a lot. More speed, better pointing etc.
My small Trawler was just as noisy as my sailboats.
Some of the sailboats were not that noisy actually. What's nice about motorsailing is you keep the engine rpms down and quiet.


For what you want... as mentioned, the catamaran is perfect; no rolling, quiet engines ...as they are usually well aft. With the lee side engine loping along at high idle, the cat points up maybe 15 degrees, is quiet and burns little fuel.
I also like motorsailors a lot... you are not living in a "cave" so much!
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:33   #10
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I have a sailboat but it is much smaller than what your looking for.
But as a former powerboater I can tell you for a powerboat it's a pretty terrible powerboat. A bigger powerboat like I was used to the engine sound wasn't all that loud, it was more of a deep rumble seeming to come from underneath the boat. The sort of sound that you felt more than heard, the sort of sound that if I was in the fwd Stateroom would lull me to sleep, honestly not an unpleasant sound.

My sailboat is not like that under power, it's almost like having a lawnmower in the living room with you, and I think what I have is sort of common, and it is to a large extent why when you hoist sails and get under way, why it is so pleasant, you get to turn the lawnmower off.
People will tell you their boat isn't like that, but before you get too far down the sailboat thing, if your intent is to primarily motor, charter one and go for a day cruise or something.
In the defense of sailboats, when underway the best place to be is in the cockpit, and there the motor noise isn't nearly as objectionable as it is in the salon.


Going to be tough though to replace that Grand Alaskan if it's the boat I'm thinking it is.
You're right about noise. Some sailboats, like ours, are built with a pilothouse and the insulation provided to create a bit quieter environment in that inside steering station. In our boat, I must admit, it is NOT very quiet but that is also because we have not replaced the sound insulation in one large area of the engine room...another project...

The thing that I forgot to ask the OP is where he really intends to cruise. That makes a big difference, too.
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:34   #11
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

There is a no reason why you can't have a yacht with the comfort of a saloon. How about something like this and there are similar from other European manufacturers:

Never Moody Eclipse 43
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:18   #12
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

Sails act as stabilisers of sorts but:

- they must be deployed,
- they are noisy in calms,
- they induce heel when windy,
- they will not work on all courses,
- etc.

I would either use hydraulic stabilisers or buy a cat.

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Old 07-04-2016, 13:29   #13
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

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The one thing I need your opinion on is if the sails on these type of boats will act as a good stabilizer. This is something the Admiral is adament about. ................... So what do you think or what do you know? Will the sails do the job?
One thing I didn't get into discussion of--your wife doesn't like the roll of the powerboat (I presume). I have a monohull sailboat that most definitely heels and, of course, given the right/wrong conditions, rolls. My husband and I have discussed this entire stabilization issue -- a very much NEEDED thing on a power boat because the rolling can not only be uncomfortable there but also unsafe. I detest the motion of power boats without stabilizers. Often it is a harsh motion. OTOH, I have no problem (nor does my husband) with the rolling motion of a sailboat -- even though the seas can make it rough of course.

Suggest the most cost effective thing you could possibly do is get the Admiral some sailing lessons (on a small boat, example is dinghy sailing, not something huge) so that she becomes very, very comfortable with sailing non-keelboats and keelboats. Then, the whole stabilization (or must consider a catamaran only) issue goes right out the window. Once a person understands their boat is safe and why the motion is happening, it can be dealt with comfortably and it's no big deal.

The catamaran issue isn't yours (you didn't bring it up but others are suggesting a multihull) There are many reasons why someone might want to sail on a multhull (sometimes getting into very shallow anchorages being one of them, speed being another one) but this whole "it's got to be stable because my wife demands it" thing is really, well, taking drastic action because either the wife doesn't understand something about sailing/doesn't trust the husband's judgement OR the husband doesn't understand something about sailing and wants to just pass the buck/blame onto the wife.

Since I'm "the wife" in our husband/wife sailing team, and I have many, many friends who are also sailing women who are perfectly fine with heeling, rolling, etc, I'd suggest you dig a bit more at your wife's reasons rather than just assume being on the right kind of boat to minimize (normal, safe, ocean-induced) motion is going to make everything hunky-dory. If she's *adamant* about it--there's likely more to the story.

Fair winds,
Brenda
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Old 07-04-2016, 13:45   #14
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

Most (not all!) Power cruisers are designed with flat aft sections to the hull, This helps avoid rolling. Many sailboats roll terribly in the right conditions without sails up.... as they don't have these flat aft sections to avoid it. Kinda like comparing a raft to a oil barrel!
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Old 08-04-2016, 08:19   #15
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Re: Using sails as stabilizers

I'd like to thank each of you for your insightful responses. A few years back we took a year off, pulled the boys out of high school and headed south to Grenada. It was a wonderful adventure in which we learned many important cruising concepts. One of which is if the weathers bad or looking bad just don't go. The other is about protected anchorages. We did however run into some weather during a couple of extended passages where the stabilizers kicked out for a short period. Nothing that turning into the seas didn't remedy until we got them running again. But we definitely got a feel for what a non-stabilized ride feels like. It's no fun!!

It looks like I have some work ahead of me before pulling the trigger. Thank you again.
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