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Old 29-07-2019, 11:36   #1
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Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Assuming full live-aboard, with around 4,000nm traveled per year, for 5 years. Mostly around the Bahamas, Caribean and the East coast. Sub $300k cat.

Maintenance Cost: Cheaper to sail or power?
4k nm yr in a efficient powercat traveling at 6 knots, getting 3.8nm per gallon (pulled from Lepoard 43) 1,052gallons of gas at $5 a gallon. $5,260yr for just Diseael for the Powercat. $26,300 minimum for Diseal in those 5 years.

Large sailing maintenance seems to come in the form of rigging and sails, but with everything else combined would it be close to the fuel cost above?

Any ideas on engine maintenance costs for power vs sail over 5yrs? I imagine the powercat maintenance cost has to be more, just because of engine size.

Bridge Clearance: How long waiting for bridges vs powering under them?
With the idea of travel the East coast, I've waiting on bridges could be a huge time sink.

Insurance Cost: Any savings going sail vs power?
I've read insurance is typically 1%-1.5% on a sail cat, but questioned if it was any cheaper on a powercat.

Experience: How's the enjoyment of going from a sail to a power or the other way around?
I've read of sailors switching from to a powercat as they've gotten older because it was easier on them. With that, how is the enjoyment of it? How is it running the engines at 6knots for 3 days straight, vs sailing?

It seems like powering gives you a large time saving, without having to line up with the wind, and spend nearly as much time weather watching, but is that ultimately what makes it enjoyable?

Thank you for everyone's feedback.
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Old 06-08-2019, 12:17   #2
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Quote:
Originally Posted by HSV Sailing View Post
Assuming full live-aboard, with around 4,000nm traveled per year, for 5 years. Mostly around the Bahamas, Caribean and the East coast. Sub $300k cat.

Maintenance Cost: Cheaper to sail or power?
4k nm yr in a efficient powercat traveling at 6 knots, getting 3.8nm per gallon (pulled from Lepoard 43) 1,052gallons of gas at $5 a gallon. $5,260yr for just Diseael for the Powercat. $26,300 minimum for Diseal in those 5 years.

Large sailing maintenance seems to come in the form of rigging and sails, but with everything else combined would it be close to the fuel cost above?

Any ideas on engine maintenance costs for power vs sail over 5yrs? I imagine the powercat maintenance cost has to be more, just because of engine size.

Bridge Clearance: How long waiting for bridges vs powering under them?
With the idea of travel the East coast, I've waiting on bridges could be a huge time sink.

Insurance Cost: Any savings going sail vs power?
I've read insurance is typically 1%-1.5% on a sail cat, but questioned if it was any cheaper on a powercat.

Experience: How's the enjoyment of going from a sail to a power or the other way around?
I've read of sailors switching from to a powercat as they've gotten older because it was easier on them. With that, how is the enjoyment of it? How is it running the engines at 6knots for 3 days straight, vs sailing?

It seems like powering gives you a large time saving, without having to line up with the wind, and spend nearly as much time weather watching, but is that ultimately what makes it enjoyable?

Thank you for everyone's feedback.
Only you can answer this questions.

We can't wait to turn off the engines and hoist the sails up, quiet moving along, we sail down to 3kn SOG before starting an engine to motorsail, and hate it motoring. We can motor on one engine up to 5kn if there is no high current on the nose, with both engines we can go up to 8kn, 40hp Yanmars on a 400S2 Lagoon sailing cat, fully equipped and heavy. If we motor, usually we go at 3.5 to 4.5 kn at 1500rpm, or 2000rpm at 4.5 to 5.5 kn depending on the wind and sea state. We could go faster if needed, at 1500 we need 1.6l per hour, at 2000 about 2l, we have 2x200l diesel tanks, that gives us an range of at least 200h at 5kn or 8 days 24h motoring and 1000nm, we carry also 40l in Jerry cans. For another 20h just in case.

Sailing is much faster and more fun. With the heavy sails (square top mainsail, genova) we can go up to 0.4... 0.5 TWS from 47 degree on. Code0 is better, but needs at least 60 degree off the wind, best steady downwind sail from 6kn to 20kn TWS is the parasailor, then we fly almost.

Motorsailing is an alternative too, where the sails add another kn of speed to motoring in light winds, also allows pointing higher if needed. Beating to the wind and waves is not fun, even under engines alone.

Regarding maintenance, buy the parts and the oil an DIY. It is not rocket science, to change the filters and the oil, replace from time to time the impeller and the v-belts if necessary. Do not forget the saildrives, and also the folding props when on the hard, change the anodes, clean the heat exchanger, maybe replace occasionally a hose or a sensor. For a full list of tasks, check the user manual. A power cat will not be much more expensive, you need more oil, some parts may be larger and more expensive, but the labor is almost the same.
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Old 06-08-2019, 13:20   #3
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

The few people I know who have had long distance cruising boats (as opposed to trailerable power boats) in both power and sail say similar things.

Power has practical advantages. You can stick much more closely to a timetable. You're a bit less reliant on favourable weather. Either calms or favourable winds work.

But motoring on passages is less enjoyable than sailing.

Financially, sailing does cost less per mile, but perhaps not by as much as you'd expect.

For people who are time poor, and financially better off, an efficient powerboat can be a good option. And as we get older and less physically able, it could become the better option.
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Old 06-08-2019, 15:10   #4
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Dashews launched their own line of worldwide cruising powerboats once they decided cruising under sail was getting too hard. Check out https://setsail.com/. They’re now cruising on one of their FPB boats.

Long and narrow, the opposite of power catamarans.
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Old 06-08-2019, 19:26   #5
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Our thinking was similar and we've ended up with a power catamaran.

At your 6kn, and particularly if you often do shortish jumps of 30-60nm each, you may want to think about hybrid electric with solar assist and generator. It is likely to be more efficient (I say "likely", but it just depends on your usage pattern and what you can set the boat up for).
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Old 06-08-2019, 19:54   #6
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

At 6kn, 4000nm p.a., that's 666hrs p.a. on engines.
Now at 6 knots, even with two engines, you can probably run more efficiently on one engine at a time if your gearbox can freewheel and your hull shape reduce turning motion by the single offset screw.
So let's pretend 666hrs per year split between 2 engines, or 333hrs per year.

Our older engines need a good maintenance cycle every 400hrs (other manufacturers and particular engines will vary). So at 333hrs, assume a good maintenance cycle per engine per year - maybe figure $1000 in parts and labour each (my guess!), or another $2,000 p.a.

After 5 years or 3,333 hours per engine you'd probably be up for a decent pre-emptive maintenance shot, maybe put aside another $2,000 per engine or $4,000p.a.

This makes a total of $2,000p.a. plus $4,000each 5 years, or an increase to your $26,000 making it $40,000.

Don't forget that most cat sail boats have two diesel engines as well, but the hours are going to be less and the size will be less so maintenance is generally less. But still not zero. Also the diesel genset of a sailing boat will often be used more than a motor boat's genset as the motor boat alternators are always charging, whereas a sailing boat may sail and not use the main motors for the entire day but then need the genset during the evening.

Lots to consider. The annoying sound pollution is definitely there, hence the comment on hybrid electric as an option (we're exploring). Apart from noise and fossil fuel consumption, the power option wins for us (well obviously, as we went down that path...).
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Old 06-08-2019, 21:35   #7
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

You have a smart thought process.

One option to consider is getting a sail cat with damaged rigging. Strip it off and it will make a nice 6kt power cat.

We often joke that we are really just a power cat with a really tall radio antenna.

For coastal cruising, on the ICW, you will find better than 90% of sailboats on a given day will be motoring as you need to stick to channels that don't make it conducive to sail. Only the real purists will be tacking up the channels against the wind.
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Old 07-08-2019, 00:03   #8
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

I've wrestled with this same question. Always have this gut feeling I would need to go transatlantic someday. Maybe you could lash some huge fuel tanks down in the cockpit to do it??

Also, what if you had a bare cat to start with? No mast, no rigging. Just a bare, high performance sailing cat with narrow hulls weighing about 14,000 lbs?

I have this now. It has a couple 30hp outboards and does 8 knots on one of them before it hits the Rev limiter on the outboard. I think this means it's under propped. I think I could get 10-12 knots top speed with the right props, but run more slowly when I want to have some fuel efficiency. Also thinking of upgrading the outboards to 40 or 50hp to really get it moving. I carry 150 gallons, or 600 liters of fuel. Gasoline.

What are the thoughts on this case?

Sailing could get this boat movie 20 knots. Would I be destroying it making it a power cat? Also, I'm thinking it's cheaper to make it a power cat. Thoughts in this special case?

I always think I need to be sailing, but the wind is never right for my destination, I want to just get there and enjoy the destination, I have a limited amount of free time, etc. So I end up motoring a lot these days.

I'd rather be there than sail, but is a cat like this going to be better to sail than to motor anyway, getting me there faster under sail?
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Old 07-08-2019, 00:17   #9
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

That's a damn good idea Valhalla if you're not planning ocean work!
That would give a choice of daggerboards which would translate to very low draft, or minikeels allowing you to dry out safely.

You could also investigate outboards rather than inboards: using some smaller, say 9.9 bigfoots, would get you to 6kn and possibly be efficient if you could pickup a good boat with crap rigging and mast AND crap diesels. Could be going very very cheaply.
Of course then you are using petrol rather than diesel, which is more volatile and efficiency is a question.

Finding such a beast - good bones cat without mast, possibly with bad inboards -may not be easy, but should be cheap!

Disadvantages are that the layout is largely based around the position of mast bulkhead and may not be as open as a power cat.
Also the helm is rarely in the best position for motoring on sailing cats, and you almost never get a full inside helm which is extremely useful - do you want to have to sit outside while motoring for 12 hours?
And on that note, unless it's a modern charter cat then the internal view for motoring is pretty bad. The modern charter cats are often better with good forward and side visibility, as against the small brow-like windows of the older boats.
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Old 07-08-2019, 00:19   #10
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Why not keep both options and choose your gear under way according to the weather and your time schedule?
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Old 07-08-2019, 00:48   #11
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotu View Post
I've wrestled with this same question. Always have this gut feeling I would need to go transatlantic someday. Maybe you could lash some huge fuel tanks down in the cockpit to do it??

Also, what if you had a bare cat to start with? No mast, no rigging. Just a bare, high performance sailing cat with narrow hulls weighing about 14,000 lbs?

I have this now. It has a couple 30hp outboards and does 8 knots on one of them before it hits the Rev limiter on the outboard. I think this means it's under propped. I think I could get 10-12 knots top speed with the right props, but run more slowly when I want to have some fuel efficiency. Also thinking of upgrading the outboards to 40 or 50hp to really get it moving. I carry 150 gallons, or 600 liters of fuel. Gasoline.

What are the thoughts on this case?

Sailing could get this boat movie 20 knots. Would I be destroying it making it a power cat? Also, I'm thinking it's cheaper to make it a power cat. Thoughts in this special case?

I always think I need to be sailing, but the wind is never right for my destination, I want to just get there and enjoy the destination, I have a limited amount of free time, etc. So I end up motoring a lot these days.

I'd rather be there than sail, but is a cat like this going to be better to sail than to motor anyway, getting me there faster under sail?
The hardest part for you as a motor-only boat will be transat range - 1700nm from Bermuda to Azores is the longest leg. You'd need to calculate your range at 600L, but depending on your boat size I would worry that the fuel - especially petrol - you'd need would make it difficult (your 14,000lb hull would indicate some possible issues: you may need another 1000L of fuel or about 1800lb, then there is extra water and stores, etc.)

Perhaps you could remove the mast now and keep it onshore until you're sure you need to go transatlantic. Then put it back on just for the trip...
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:06   #12
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Fuel bladders can be a simple way to add extra fuel for long passages, and when you arrive they can be drained, moved, and stored.
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Old 07-08-2019, 03:11   #13
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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The hardest part for you as a motor-only boat will be transat range - 1700nm from Bermuda to Azores is the longest leg. You'd need to calculate your range at 600L, but depending on your boat size I would worry that the fuel - especially petrol - you'd need would make it difficult (your 14,000lb hull would indicate some possible issues: you may need another 1000L of fuel or about 1800lb, then there is extra water and stores, etc.)

Perhaps you could remove the mast now and keep it onshore until you're sure you need to go transatlantic. Then put it back on just for the trip...

Thanks for the input. The interior is not quite complete and there is no rig (or chainplates or anything) yet. It'll weigh about 16,000-18,000lbs complete assuming a put a rig on too. It's 50' LOA. I'm at a critical juncture where I can actually make the decision to go with a fast trawler type cat or sailing cat.

Another bonus with a power cat is ease of finishing the interior and deck hardware. Less stuff to install and more freedom in where to lay things out.

I currently have 2 boats. The other a 50' monohull. Still also trying to decide which to keep. That's a different thread though. Ha ha
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Old 07-08-2019, 22:30   #14
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Wow, 50' and 16-18,000lb is ultra ultra light! The Outremer 51 is 30,000lb. The Gunboat 48 is 17-20,000 and the 55' is 27-33,000.
There's nothing in the power cat world that is anything like your weight (and yes, I've done a little study of weight/speed...)!
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Old 07-08-2019, 23:18   #15
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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Wow, 50' and 16-18,000lb is ultra ultra light! The Outremer 51 is 30,000lb. The Gunboat 48 is 17-20,000 and the 55' is 27-33,000.
There's nothing in the power cat world that is anything like your weight (and yes, I've done a little study of weight/speed...)!
Yes. I was extremely careful about weight throughout the entire build and (incomplete) fit out. Every single decision was based on weight. Not many production boats can do that.

Making it a power cat, however, would definitely change those numbers.
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