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Old 15-05-2014, 14:46   #1
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What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

Ok, this may seem like a silly question, but it is an honest one. Many boats are called motorsailers, but looking strictly at the numbers, I'm not exactly sure why. By "the numbers" I'm talking about Sail area/displacement, Displacement/Length, and total sail area. So, lets compare a Lancer 44 "Motorsailer", A Gulfstar 47 "Motorsailer", a Hunter 456, and an Island Packet 44.

Lancer:
SA/D: 17.78
D/L: 234.42
Displacement 23,000
SA 895 ft2

Gulfstar:
SA/D: 13.12
D/L: 255.37
Displacement: 38,000
SA 800.38

Hunter:
SA/D: 18.22
D/L: 187.21
Displacement: 26,180
SA 888 ft2

Island Packet:
SA/D: 18.9
D/L: 242.73
Displacement: 27,900
SA 908.85

OK, so looking at the numbers, the Gulfstar is going to be the poorest sailboat. According to Ted Brewer, SA/D ratios less than 14 are suitable for motorsailers, so there you are Gulfstar, but the Lancer is right up there with the Hunter and Island packet. Actually, according to Brewer, boats in the 14-17 range are good for ocean cruising and 17-18 for coastal cruising. So based on this number the Lancer is actually better suited for Ocean sailing. (OK, that might be a reach) The D/L number again puts the Lancer with the Island Packet and Gulfstar in Brewers "Light Cruising Auxilliary" Class, while the Hunter is in the "Light Cruiser Racer" class. This might be a little tricky to wrap your head around, but the Hunter has the longest waterline of the 3 44 footers at 39 feet, while the Gulfstar is simply a longer overall boat despite being by far the heaviest.

So, with all these "Numbers" the lancer is right in there with the true "sailboats", but take a look at the boat. Above the waterline she is a power boat. Big pilothouse, squared off stern with a walk through transom, full width swim platform, TWIN DIESELS!!! BUT, below the waterline, she's a proper sailboat. Fin keel, skeg hung rudder, a good underwater shape. There's one here where I live with the mast off that's for sale, and if you didn't know any better you would never know there's a 6' keel under her until you ran her aground. So, if she has the underbody and sailing ratios of a proper sailboat, why is she a "Motorsailer"?
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Old 15-05-2014, 14:55   #2
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

It's a gray area between a sailboat with a shorter mast and a more powerful engine than typically found on a true sailboat. Motorsailers typically have a sizeable wheel house compared to a helm station found on a sailboat.

It's not a black and white definition between going from a sailboat to a powerboat.

Motorsailers are great for areas where you might find yourself motoring quite a bit and where there is a lot of cold rain....but you also want the benefits of a sailboat such as the "free" wind pushing you along, the quiet and the beauty of sailing.

The joke is that they make both lousy sail boats and power boats....but then the reality is that for some people this is the best compromise for what they want.....and ALL boats are a compromise of different characteristics.
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Old 15-05-2014, 15:05   #3
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

So, we're just simply lumping pilothouse sailboats into the "Motorsailer" category? Yes, the Lancer has a mast 2 feet shorter than the Hunter, but the 2 foot longer boom makes up the sail area, lowers the center of effort and would presumably make for a flatter, more comfortable ride.

I suppose that the big issue I have is the terminology. To me, a Pilothouse sailboat can still be a great sailboat, where as a motorsailer is a compromise, neither a particularly good sailboat, nor a particularly good powerboat, but a compromise between the two.
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Old 15-05-2014, 15:23   #4
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

Don't get hung up on just a couple of numbers. SA/D and D/L are only a little bit of the whole picture.

A motorsailer, the way most people use the term, is a boat with significantly more mechanical power than a true sailboat of the same size, and with a pilothouse. That's it. This definition says nothing about the underbody shape etc.

So you have motorsailers which full keels and attached rudders (think Fishers) and stubby masts which are really not intended for sailing except under certain conditions, and then you have certain Nauticats built on Swan hulls which are perfectly good sailboats, just with big engines, and pilothouses.

Look at the particular boat, and don't get hung up on a couple of numbers or on terminology.


I've just done a full transit of the North Sea in weather up to F8 and cold rain almost every day, and I have started actually sailing with my full cockpit enclosure up, something I never did before. A pilothouse starts to look really good from this perspective.
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Old 15-05-2014, 16:07   #5
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

See photo.
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Old 15-05-2014, 16:34   #6
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I've just done a full transit of the North Sea in weather up to F8 and cold rain almost every day, and I have started actually sailing with my full cockpit enclosure up, something I never did before. A pilothouse starts to look really good from this perspective.
wimp!

(he said quietly from the interior helm of his centrally heated position.....)
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Old 15-05-2014, 17:03   #7
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

Ted Brewer wrote about this in his very good Understanding Boat Design
http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-.../dp/0070076944

He broke Motorsailers down along a construct from pure sale to pure power. 75% Sail/25% might explain my Seaton Ketch, 50%/50% might be most Nauticats and Fishers, while the Island Trader might be 25% Sail/75% Power (YMMV). It's a great book btw. I consider CHARDONNAY to be a Sailboat with great range (2200+KM)under power. Her 78' Main mast and tall Mizzen give her great sailing properties. That said she motors as well as many trawlers and has excellent tankage. Not sure it matters (labels are labels) but I think every boat is a compromise and you make your choices to suite your cruising style...
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Old 15-05-2014, 21:15   #8
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

I agree with Dockhead... Any boat fitted with a strong propulsion engine and sufficient fuel tankage can be used either way.

For me the telling design philosophy is how much engine room area has been allowed for proper Engine maintenance.

My own boat is not good in light winds and a loose footed large furling schooner rig makes it easy to adjust for optimum comfort while motor
sailing.

But sea kindly and built like a tank.... It works for me in my preferred 3rd world cruising grounds
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Old 15-05-2014, 23:02   #9
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

If you can use a boat as a proper sailboat or as a proper motorboat then it's a motorsailer. Anything else is auxiliary or sail assisted or something worse..
What comes to pilot houses I love them. But I wouldn't call a raised saloon with a wheel as a pilothouse. At best it's a solo station for the helm/watch with all the goodies combined from chart table and helm station.
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Old 16-05-2014, 01:21   #10
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

Its a marketing term from the days when sailing boats only had engines that could not make passages at hull speed..........nowadays with the advance of diesel design (principally being smaller!) all mainstream mass market boats are motorsailors! (no matter the hull shape or deck design).

The market wants motorsailors - it just does not like a spade to be called a spade!
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Old 16-05-2014, 02:22   #11
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

One commonly used denominator for motorsailer here in Finland is the missing ability to tack without engine support. I have a second steering station inside the deck saloon and a 50hp engine on a boat with 6000kg displacement. That puts Sabina in the motorsailer category in most people's minds here, even though the hull shape is pure sailing boat. She gets the tut tuts from the "real sailors"

Sails upwind nice enough with her ca. 55 m2, when there's enough wind and tacks without problems.

p.s. first post here, so hi everyone! Great forum this is!
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Old 16-05-2014, 13:18   #12
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

To me, a motorsailor is a motorboat that can be sailed. IOW a vessel designed and intended to be operated under power with the sails supplementing the engine. Not a sailboat that simply has an engine for backup power or maneuvering or transiting a narrow channel. If either the underwater shape, topside configuration, or sailplan is seriously compromised in favor of more motoring-friendly characteristics, it is a motorsailor.

Motorsailor: engine conks out, kind of a big deal, even though the boat could be sailed after a fashion. Possibly unable or difficult to stay off a lee shore under certtain conditions, for instance. Or frustratingly slow. Or difficult to see the mainsail from the wheel. If you lose power and think you would at that moment be better off with a regular sailboat, you are on a motorsailor.

Auxillary sail boat: motor conks out, no biggie until you got to enter a crowded harbor or find yourself completely becalmed for several days. Assuming you have some way of displaying navigation lights as required.

Some folks enjoy the practice of motorsailing, the simultaneous use of sails and engine for prolonged periods. Basically they are motoring but assisted by the sails, saving a bunch of fuel and stuff. A boat that is specifically designed for this might be thought of as a motorsailor even if it doesn't exactly meet my other definition.

Just my two centavos.
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Old 16-05-2014, 16:50   #13
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

Some Catamarans going into the wind would be considered Motorsailers.....
Its OK... I live with the knowledge...... warts and all...
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Old 16-05-2014, 18:32   #14
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

Not a motorsailer (despite comments from passerbys). Vestigial sails and motorboat hull:

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Old 16-05-2014, 18:42   #15
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Re: What makes a boat a "Motorsailer"?

Is this a motor sailor?
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