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Old 13-03-2016, 17:40   #76
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

For many weekend sailors... the destination is as if not more important than getting there under sail! Speaking for myself... and I've sailed since 85... lived aboard for 3 years and no am a weekend sailor again... the boat is about having a pleasant experience... that may be an nice dinner on board in a lovely anchorage... and I plan accordingly. I have to walk the dog too... although he's allowed to and will go on deck if he has to... but on a flat deck!

So in the middle of the day 15 or 20 miles from our destination... when becalmed we have a nice lunch... no motor.. wait for wind... and then if it looks like more of the same we motor.

There are times when the winds are light and I add the iron genny into the mix... to get there at a reasonable hr. Sailing at 3 knots is not that interesting to us.

One good way to get some wind going is start the motor... the god of winds doesn't like motors and so he decides to bestow a few more knots of breeze. Works half the time!

The same calculus applies when conditions turn nasty... Wife doesn't like it and so I gotta get her to a place where she feels safer.... and can enjoy being on the boat.

Sailed enough that I don't need to sail a 2 or 3 knots to be a purest.
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Old 13-03-2016, 19:54   #77
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

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Originally Posted by Sandero View Post
For many weekend sailors... the destination is as if not more important than getting there under sail! Speaking for myself... and I've sailed since 85... lived aboard for 3 years and no am a weekend sailor again... the boat is about having a pleasant experience... that may be an nice dinner on board in a lovely anchorage... and I plan accordingly. I have to walk the dog too... although he's allowed to and will go on deck if he has to... but on a flat deck!

So in the middle of the day 15 or 20 miles from our destination... when becalmed we have a nice lunch... no motor.. wait for wind... and then if it looks like more of the same we motor.

There are times when the winds are light and I add the iron genny into the mix... to get there at a reasonable hr. Sailing at 3 knots is not that interesting to us.

One good way to get some wind going is start the motor... the god of winds doesn't like motors and so he decides to bestow a few more knots of breeze. Works half the time!

The same calculus applies when conditions turn nasty... Wife doesn't like it and so I gotta get her to a place where she feels safer.... and can enjoy being on the boat.

Sailed enough that I don't need to sail a 2 or 3 knots to be a purest.
Yes, when you're cruising or you don't have a M-F job to get back to because you're retired, there's a LOT more flexibility to work with the winds and tides and drift when there's nary a puff. If you were cruising, at some point your wife would also become more comfortable with a range of conditions. You also might not mind sailing at 2kts. You, like me, might begin to find that light wind sailing brings with it its own fun little challenges...

But, if you've only got the weekend to get out and get back and there's a destination in the middle, it changes the equation towards using the motor to meet the destination before dark, etc. If you are unfortunate enough to have either power boaters or land-lubbers aboard you may also find yourself pressured to go faster and may end up turning on the motor.

We have purposely motor sailed to get to a particular waypoint ahead of weather that we wanted to avoid or take advantage of as well. A single day of motor sailing has netted us the following 4 days of sailing because we were able to get into the weather and have it carry us along under sail alone. That was well worth the motorsail in the particular case.

We did tons of motoring when we were in BC and AK in the fjords and narrow waterways. There the winds tended to be either on the nose or from directly behind. We though we'd be sailing half the time just given the odds. We found that the winds were often only 5 to 8 kts. When motoring, if no huge currents, we're doing 5 kts at idle and easily outrunning our wind even if it was from behind us. In those protected waters, we had a light nylon balloon footed jib that was huge and we'd raise it anytime we had enough wind to keep it inflated and we'd shut down the motor -- sailing along at 4 kts or less for maybe 15 to 30 minutes before winds would shift and we'd turn the motor back on, drop the sail and continue. It was a fun game -- how quickly could my husband and I hoist and set the sail and how long would we have wind to carry us. The shortest time up was 45 seconds with the jib full and then no wind for the next 2 hours. We did typically keep the gaff foresail raised and sheet tight--the philosophy being if the engine fails there might (might) be a whisper of wind to work with so keep a sail up. And, no, it doesn't flog itself to death because we'd keep the gaff vang and all lines tight.

No wind photo and blog post

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Old 15-03-2016, 07:17   #78
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

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Originally Posted by Sandero View Post
The OP was about being becalmed... do you turn the motor on? Of course if there is a storm forecast you'll be seeing winds... lee shore?

This OP was not about motoring when faced with too much wind... or wind on the nose.
You don't necessarily need to have storms forecast or even be seeing winds, when the signs of impending storms appear. Before we went off tangentially, my original answer was to the OP's question. It's not uncommon when sailing coastally, to see the winds dip midday as the diurnal shift occurs between land and sea breezes. This is frequently accompanied by convective activity over the land mass. Obviously, if you're intending to head inshore, you want to get on with it and get there before a full-blown T-storm develops. As you approach the shore, the chance of seeing downbursts increases considerably.
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Old 15-03-2016, 08:18   #79
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

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It very much depends on the entrance. If you've got a bar crossing, or if it's an onshore gale, or wind against tide, you may need to stand off and heave to. Not only, by any means, in case of a hurricane. In fact I would say that in probably the majority of cases of really bad weather (F9 or more), it's better to stand off than attempt to enter a port. I know relatively few ports which can be entered safely in really any weather (e.g. Cherbourg).
Good point. I have often thought the same way. Weathered a major hurricane sailing as crew off Bermuda one time, long ago. We got knocked down, but we recovered, and I was glad that we were not closer to Cape Hatteras.

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Old 15-03-2016, 08:56   #80
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

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Originally Posted by Gone2long View Post
Good point. I have often thought the same way. Weathered a major hurricane sailing as crew off Bermuda one time, long ago. We got knocked down, but we recovered, and I was glad that we were not closer to Cape Hatteras.

G2L
In a real F9 -- which contrary to what some believe, is not one 50 knot gust, but sustained winds blowing across a large stretch of ocean for more than a day kicking up a real F9 sea state -- most boats will be sailing carefully downwind trying not to get knocked down, if they're not lying to a drogue or hove to. It will be very difficult to get upwind, and you can't go beam to the seas at all, so you don't have that wide a range of choice about your direction. Those are just not conditions for doing any kind of pilotage, and in most such cases land holds nothing but terror, and you would prefer to be as far away from land as you could possibly be. As much as you would love to be in some kind of shelter, getting into that shelter may just be completely unfeasible.

There are some exceptions to this -- for example, I think you could surf into one of the two wide entrances to the Cherbourg outer harbor in just about any conditions so long as you didn't need to turn beam to the seas to get there. Once inside you're home free. There's no bar. The English Channel can be an unspeakably brutal bitch of a piece of water when the strong tide there is running against a gale or a storm, and the N Brittany and Normandy coasts are rock-strewn, iron-bound graveyards of ships. Cherbourg can be such magnificent salvation. Everything a haven or a harbor should be.


Likewise, if you can get into the Solent (not through the Needles on the ebb in a SW gale though ), the sea state there cannot be dangerous no matter how much wind there is, and you're home free to enter any Solent port (or drop anchor). Getting in via Nab in a SW gale is a piece of p***, as you are already sheltered by the Isle of Wight in the approaches.

But any exposed entrance, especially one with a bar? Dover? Brighton? I wouldn't attempt to enter those even in a F8.
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