Originally Posted by Sandero
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