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Old 23-10-2010, 13:17   #1
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Fuel and Tankage for a New Bluewater Vessel

I am in the market for a bluewater motor sailer. one boat I have looked at is 50' and has 100HP perkins and 300gals of water 400gals of fuel. What kind of tankage should I be looking for for a Pacific or Altantic crossing? Also what should I look for in a bluewater sailer, I know this is the $1,000,000 question, but I am interested in others experiences and suggestions.

I learned a lot about a power boats range and fuel usage by buying one and driving it up and down the coast. Now armed with that experience I know a lot more about what to look for in a power boat. I would prefer NOT to learn about sail boats the same way.
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Old 25-10-2010, 11:08   #2
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Still no bites? How about; how much tankage do you have? Have you made a crossing? How much did you use? Do you wish you had brought more? Buying 3 or 4 sailboats with different size tanks, and trying a crossing is not a good option for me. I know there are sailboats with no engines, but come on really. Everyone runs into light winds or counter winds, thats why modern sailboats have engines now. I expect several days of motoring not even counting into and out of marinas, etc... Water I can estimate 3 gals/person/day, or 1 gal/person/day for drinking only.
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Old 25-10-2010, 11:28   #3
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Hi Bill,
I guess you did not get many answers as it is going to be as variable as the boat you buy, it's sailing performance, and the engine it's got.
We did Europe to Caribbean in 16 days by chasing the sailing breezes we wanted, and only had to motor due to lack of wind for 9 hours during the crossing.
But to charge batteries we ran the engine on average 3 hours per day so consumed 40 litres all up. We carried 450 litres which would have given us 550 mile motoring range were it ever needed.
Hope this helps.
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Old 25-10-2010, 11:37   #4
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That is a good start so you carried 120Gals us and used about 11gals. What size of boat, I'm looking at about a 40-50 plastic. (In my experience with power boats the speed and size of engine count more for fuel consumption than overall length).
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Old 25-10-2010, 12:45   #5
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I crossed in a 42ft ketch and, believe me, you'll use much more water than fuel. We were becalmed three times and we just sat it out. Overall the trip took 25 days. We used fresh water for drinking ONLY, so we carried liquid soap for bathing in salt water, with just a cupful for rinsing the wrinkly bits. I have 160 imperial gallons and carried a lot of bottled water too. We had enough water left for at least two more weeks and loads of fuel.

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Old 25-10-2010, 12:46   #6
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A motorsailor will be a displacement vessel, so the top speed will be determined by the waterline, and to a lesser extent the hull form. Your fuel usage is hugely influenced by how you use the engine -- punching into wind and waves will burn a lot, motoring at less than hull-speed in light air on calm seas will burn very little.

I've got a heavy cruising sailboat (44 ft, with a 55HP naturally-aspirated Diesel), and on a long passage we may motor through the dead spots. Under those conditions, I burn 1 to 1.5 GPH, going about 5-6 kts through the water. I've got two fuel tanks, total available fuel is 100 gallons. On four passages back from Hawaii to San Francisco I've never burned more than 50 gallons, and it's been as little as 10. Some of this is for keeping the batteries charged, so it's never going to be zero (unless I turn off all my electronics). My boat has less tankage than some similar boats, so perhaps more would be useful.

The real question is how much do you want to sail? How well will your boat sail, especially in light air? Can you sail to weather effectively, or will you be motoring? How far between fueling stops? Your route through the Pacific, and I suppose Atlantic, makes a big difference here. How are you keeping the batteries charged?

If I had to guess though, the 50' motorsailor you looked at with its 400 gallons of fuel sounds like more of a motor than a sailboat. If you actually do any sailing, I would think that 400 gallons would be plenty.
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Old 25-10-2010, 17:03   #7
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G'day, Mate. 85 hp here. 300 gallons fuel, 160 gallons water, 20 gph watermaker and a 8 kw genset. It's worked well for 13 years. Crossed the Pacific with plenty to spare. Cheers.
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Old 26-10-2010, 07:31   #8
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165hp motor
20kw genset (way too big for my current battery bank/charging capacity)

I've got 380 gallons of water and 500 gallons of fuel. I was out for nearly eighty days during my nonstop pacific solo-job (what can I say? I lost my main boom and quit fighting the spinnaker after two weeks and ~100 patches in the trades) and landed with just about fifty gallons to spare. That involved ~4 days of motoring total, two of which were unavoidable. I should have had another 125 gallons or so of diesel, but like I said, my electrical setup wasn't optimal so I burned about twice what I should have.

So there you have it. I probably consumed 500-600amp hours per day from my batteries, with my autopilot coming in around a third of that, the rest went to my laptop for video gaming (Fallout 3 for the win!) or TV and lights.

So if you're thinking of going across the largest expanse of ocean you can, then 400 gallons of diesel should do you just fine if you can relax during the becalmed moments and not fire up the main.
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Old 26-10-2010, 08:49   #9
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Thanks for everyones replies. It sounds like a major fuel usage is for power. I'll have to look into solar/wind combo to minimise running time. I would probably run the engine to cross the ITCZ, or at least part of it. Being a former power boater, running by engine is a habit that will be hard to break. Also from everyones replies a 40'-50' sounds like a good size for a crossing. I'll carry a fair amount of bottled water, I'm looking for a handheld watermaker for emergency use also.
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Old 26-10-2010, 11:35   #10
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Maybe a slight change of plans, I just saw a 27' Hunter and a 33' Hunter both for sale cheap, and no apparent problems. I plan on Gulf of Mexico crossings for a couple of years. Would there be any real advantage for another 6', (I still like the idea of 40'-50' for a Pacific crossing). The sails are a bit worn, what is the cost of new ones?
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Old 26-10-2010, 17:07   #11
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New sails can be absurdly expensive (in my opinion), but for smaller boats it's usually close to reasonable. You get up over 45' and it seems like it just gets out of hand. I use baconsails for all of my sails, I buy anything used between condition 'fair' and condition 'good,' and have only torn one sail (which was most certainly my fault after leaving a 3/4oz spinnaker up in a gusty 30+knots on a 50 ton boat).

As to whether or not a smaller Hunter will be ok for a passage, the answer is that pretty much any boat is ok for a passage if the captain is properly prepared. They're lighter boats so they don't take to tossing seas as well as a big crusher, but they usually make some of that up with better speed and handling.

As to the power issue, solar and wind are definitely the way to go. Solar is getting very reasonable price-wise, and wind can produce more than you'd use when it's up. A mix of both is a good idea, but you'll have some space issues on a smaller boat when trying to figure out how to incorporate significant solar. It's not impossible by any means, but it does present some challenges. I've got 350watts of solar on top of my pilothouse and they pretty much take care of my consumption during the 6-8 hours they're up, and I pretty much act like I'm on land consumption-wise, but you'd have to have flip-ups or a pretty wide stern mount made if you wanted to put that much on a 27' Hunter.
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Old 26-10-2010, 22:05   #12
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The best prices/power production deal for panels that I've seen lately is the kyocera 135. It seems like a lot of juice for very few bucks.

I personally wouldn't take a hunter out of the marina (it's natural habitat), but that's just my opinion.

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Old 27-10-2010, 08:02   #13
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You may be right about the Hunters, but they are priced right. 90% I will be in sight of land. I just want to take one or two jaunts across the pond, (GOM) to practice. There are times of the year the weather in the gulf is fairly calm and predictable. I need a cheap sailer that I can get my sea legs wet with before buying the "passagemaker". For sails are we talking $1000's or $10,000's for "new" main or genoa? Will the 6' between the 27' and the 33' be enough to make it worth it? I notice most of you crosser's are driving a 50'-60'. I remember reading about a 22' sailing around the horn, but thats just nuts.
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Old 27-10-2010, 16:59   #14
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I think if you want a 'starter' boat that is seaworthy in the open ocean, and basically just enough for you to get your feet under you with regards to your sailing ability, then I'd go with the 27' range. I've got a 26' here that I've used a few times for island hopping, and it's perfect for one inexperienced hand to deal with. You can still brute force your way through serious issues, because the boat's so small (stuck on a sand bar? well, jump in the water and push it off).

I know many people who love their low/mid-thirty foot long boats for liveaboard and/or circumnavigation, and for a lot of people the size of the boat doesn't much matter. For me, I'd want something in the beamy 40' range before I'd feel like there was enough room to breathe easily. Honestly, my 65' is overkill in a lot of ways. During my 80 day passage, I basically never went into the aft half of the boat except to start the generator and check mechanical pieces located there. So a 40' boat would have been all the space I needed during that jaunt.
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Old 27-10-2010, 17:53   #15
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Sorry not being flipant here but if you moving your decisions from say a 50 footer to a 27 footer you need to stop and ask yourself if you have enough experience to know what you want. Most of your power boat experience will be of little use. You may want to crew first on a variety of boats to get an idea what's important to you

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