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Old 19-11-2013, 18:33   #1
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Engine-less Cruising

The thought of cruising sans motor is very romantic and I know there are tons of skilled sailors doing it.

Right now, my boat is having the engine rebuilt and I still sail her. I have a (barely adequate) outboard kicker which gets me off the ball and back onto it as long as the swell is not too much that I hobbyhorse and the prop lifts out of the water.

I live in Monterey so the swell comes in straight from the Pacific and basically as soon as you pass the breakwater and turn left, you're in the ocean. When I bought the boat, her engine was out and for the year since I've had her I only use the kicker to get clear of the other boats and get the sails up.

I've sailed her around the bay and out far enough to get into some good whale watching. I've looked to the east at the smokestacks in Moss Landing knowing I was closer to Santa Cruz than home.

With no engine though, and a kicker that is clearly not up to the task of pushing the old girl home, I always watch the weather and the wind with a nervous eye, knowing if the wind drops off there's no way to get back home. It seems like the wind usually drops off to about nothing right around sunset here. I check the forecasts as best I can and try to make sure I'm back near the harbor well before the wind dies down.

I want to go further. I'd love to sail to Santa Cruz. The idea of entering the harbor at Moss Landing without an inboard diesel gives me goosebumps. (This is coming from a guy with two combat tours, five hundred BASE jumps and several hundred skydives)

I'm not much of a sailor. Basically this boat has taught me everything I know about sailing and I still marvel at the sailors I see sail off and onto their moorings. Someday I'll have that skill.

I do wonder about how people cruise long distance without an engine though. I hate having the motor on but sometimes, when I'm a few miles out and the sails luff while I'm surrounded by glassy water, it sure would be a nice feeling knowing I can fire the beast up if I need to.

How does one contend with currents and lee shores and all the hazards to be found out there?

I know a skilled sailor can do much without an engine, but what about when s/he has no wind either?

The whole idea humbles me profoundly.
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Old 19-11-2013, 19:11   #2
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Re: Engine-less cruising

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Originally Posted by Dexterbase View Post
I'm not much of a sailor.
You're probably better than you think if you're working with a not-enough outboard. Inboard diesels are awesome but I can't think of a single "sailor" who would depart for distant horizons with a known-bad engine.

My last boat (Ericson 32) had an Atomic 4 which for all intents and purposes was engine-less. Reverse didn't work and it started maybe 1/4 of the time.

You just operate differently than boats with powerful and reliable inboards. You'll anchor or pick moorings, never enter a slip except in the deadest of conditions while hip towing with the dinghy (and/or having some assistance from friends).

And like you said you'll know the weather inside and out, studying it with the attention of an arsonist. It's one thing if "not enough wind" means you groan at the fuel bill and noise when you spark up the diesel, it's another when it means you can be stranded for weeks.

Most people naturally want convenience and a modern diesel inboard is amazingly fuel efficient, reliable, and low maintenance. It really opens up your schedule and allows you to move in dead calms or point in light airs.

My limited experience with engine-less sailing showed me that it's far from the typical cruiser, but also not nearly as impossible as people think. There was an engine-less ~70' schooner moving around the west coast of Mexico last year, complete with yardarm, while some guy sat in his slip in Newport Beach talking about you need an engine to go cruising.
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Old 19-11-2013, 20:54   #3
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Re: Engine-less cruising

for years I sailed without a motor, and used a sculling oar... and very easy once you get the hang of it.. even now I have a notch cut in the rear of my dink for sculling..
Ran across a guy and his wife in a 30 something up north, believe it was in newport or, and the story was his motor went sour and at the price to rebuild, he could stay cruising for a very long time.. he gave up the motor and used an oar.. had been out for the better part of 20 years...
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Old 20-11-2013, 06:28   #4
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Re: Engine-less cruising

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Originally Posted by Dexterbase View Post
The thought of cruising sans motor is very romantic and I know there are tons of skilled sailors doing it.
I suppose it depends on what you mean by "tons." Yes, there are a lot of sailors who take short trips here and there without any engine. I don't think there are all that many who really travel far distances without an engine, though.

A few, yes, but "tons"? No, I don't think so. It is just much too much of an inconvenience and limitation for most people.
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Old 20-11-2013, 06:36   #5
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Re: Engine-less cruising

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I suppose it depends on what you mean by "tons." Yes, there are a lot of sailors who take short trips here and there without any engine. I don't think there are all that many who really travel far distances without an engine, though.

A few, yes, but "tons"? No, I don't think so. It is just much too much of an inconvenience and limitation for most people.
X2

Other than publicity stunts, we've yet to come across someone actually out cruising without a motor.
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Old 20-11-2013, 07:16   #6
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Re: Engine-less cruising

You can cruise without an engine, but it can be a real pain so you'd better have lots of patience. Also, if you try and cross a body of water or are just out on the water after a heavy blow, you will have to deal with the large waves with near zero wind. This is one scenario that I can think of where an engine sure woud be nice.

I have a 5 hp 4 Stroke Mercury Outboard on my 6600lb Bristol 27. It does the job, and if I wanted to I could remove it and store it below. Can you do something like that then you'd have the engine when you needed it?.

Btw, for most it's not about the sailing skill, it's about convenience.

I can cross the bay in 6-7 hours sailing in summer here since the wind is usually on the nose for my trip home or I can motor/motorsail and make it in 3-4 hours.

It's all up to you.
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Old 20-11-2013, 08:03   #7
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Re: Engine-less cruising

The Pardeys touted engineless cruising for years, all the while waiting outside harbors to get towed in by other peoples' engines.

I think there are few engineless cruisers these days. You need an engine that you can trust to get you in places where there's currents, where it is too tight to maneuver under sail. The proliferation of marinas (where sometimes there are current swirlies) and mooring fields makes sailing into and out of marinas and anchorages difficult in populous areas.

My hat's off to the guy with the sculling oar: people who are competent with them can do amazing things with their vessels. A worthy skill to learn, IMO.

We still practice sailing into anchorages and on and off moorings when there's space, and off the hook, too, 'cause it's a good deal to have the skills active, in case of engine failure.

My two cents.

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Old 20-11-2013, 08:30   #8
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Re: Engine-less cruising

Yeah; I don't see myself sculling a 53' with a 9' draft with 25' tides. If your vessel is small enough and the weather/tides/currents are mild enough, I can see it for a time as a short term thing. Even the boats with engines anchor up here when the tide is running too hard against them. I do visualize running around the Caribbean with an outboard equipped sailing outrigger canoe, with a solar panel on it to keep my navigation lights on at night.
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Old 20-11-2013, 08:51   #9
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I suppose it depends on what you mean by "tons." Yes, there are a lot of sailors who take short trips here and there without any engine. I don't think there are all that many who really travel far distances without an engine, though.

A few, yes, but "tons"? No, I don't think so. It is just much too much of an inconvenience and limitation for most people.
Tons, sure. That's 25 people.
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Old 20-11-2013, 13:12   #10
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Re: Engine-less cruising

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Tons, sure. That's 25 people.
I'm not even sure it's THAT many!
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Old 20-11-2013, 13:14   #11
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Re: Engine-less cruising

I figured if they were sculling they probably weighed less than us motorers ;^)
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Old 20-11-2013, 13:21   #12
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Re: Engine-less cruising

funny thing is traditional boats with the minimum amout of equipment used to do it all the time!
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Old 20-11-2013, 14:08   #13
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Re: Engine-less cruising

Back in the 50's the admiral's grandparents sailed a homebuilt 45ft schooner from Newfoundland to Argentina - no engine, no electricity. The did have lots of patience. )
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Old 20-11-2013, 16:39   #14
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Re: Engine-less cruising

can be done - just requires lots of patience and no time constraints. However - i look at it like this - on your way to the mooring in your car, how many cars and diesel trucks did you pass? Every one of them has an engine more than capable of propelling your boat - why not have an engine? The other thing people tend to gloss over is how very many engineless sailing ships ended up wrecked on lee shores, rocks, shoals, reefs, etc, etc because they couldnt claw off or the wind dropped out or whatever.
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Old 20-11-2013, 19:41   #15
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Re: Engine-less cruising

I've always had a lot of admiration for Capt. Cook, to explore all the areas of the world he did enginless, took a lot of guts,skill, luck, guardian angels. Of course he did not have anlternative at that time. Other than stay home.
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