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Old 11-03-2016, 08:02   #1
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When to motor the rest of the way?

Ok, you've been making a passage and you finally see your land destination but the wind dies. When do you motor the rest of the way? It seems the factors are...

1. How many miles away?
2. How long has the passage been?
3. When will the wind be back?
4. How much fuel?
5. Do I need to arrive in daylight?
6. How tired are you?
(Other considerations?)

Let's use two examples
A 20 day passage and a 3-5 day hop.




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Old 11-03-2016, 09:01   #2
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

For me it doesn't matter all that much, wind dies, I crank the engine, batteries could probably use topping off anyway, even if I feel the wind will return in a couple of hours I don't mind motoring, if it's dark and that would mean arriving in the dark, then I won't, I'll take a nap then
I dislike the idea of running a motor in an anchorage to charge batteries, but if I get propulsion I don't mind so much

I have done no long passages, but gut feeling is if it's been a long passage, I'd be even more likely to crank the thing and come on in.
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Old 11-03-2016, 09:15   #3
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

You forgot weather. A bunch of storm cells pop up and the wisest choice is to furl it all and motor.
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Old 11-03-2016, 09:25   #4
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

No wind.... motor on... when we are trying to get somewhere.
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Old 11-03-2016, 09:31   #5
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

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Originally Posted by Lodesman View Post
You forgot weather. A bunch of storm cells pop up and the wisest choice is to furl it all and motor.
Its this common? I am new to sailing and have never been through any storms, so I am curious, is it best to furl the sails because the wind shifting? Is motoring easier than reefing?
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Old 11-03-2016, 09:42   #6
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

It doesn't matter how near or far for me. At about 3.5 knots or less I start motorsailing. I always have a sail or two up unless it wasn't up to start with.
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Old 11-03-2016, 09:57   #7
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

No you can't be part of the tough man sailor club if you even consider starting the engine. You must have an engine in perfect condition but never consider using it.


Seriously, unless there is a good reason not to use it (ie: entering a tricky harbor in the dark), no one will think less of you.
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:03   #8
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

Then there's also the question of "is there replacement fuel available at the destination?"

Have ended many a passage where no fuel is available, so then you have to factor in how much do you have, how much will you use, and what do you want to have in reserve for onward travel?
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:11   #9
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodesman View Post
You forgot weather. A bunch of storm cells pop up and the wisest choice is to furl it all and motor.
Because?

If you're not trying to more quickly get into a port or anchorage (out of the potential weather you've just observed) why would you do this?

We pay attention and prepare to shorten sail (um, no furlers on our schooner so that means reef and/or take down one or more of the 4 lower sails) otherwise we keep sailing through thick and thin. Works out best for us.

To the OP -- if no hope of making the anchorage before dark we'll either change our destination and sail on through the night or use the engine. If winds are very light and no forecast for winds in the foreseeable future and we're coastal cruising (implies we'll be going into an anchorage or port at some time) then we motor rather than drift, for sure. If uncertain about where we're getting our next hit of fuel from...well then we're more likely to drift about and hope for more wind.
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Old 11-03-2016, 12:26   #10
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

It's your choice. Depends on whether you can handle bobbing around with no wind or very little forward progress, want to get in before dark, bad weather approaching or just bored and want to get off the boat. It's your decision to make.

Personally, never go into an unfamiliar harbor or anything with a tight poorly marked channel after dark. Have spent a few nights hove to offshore waiting for sunrise to go into a harbor but never wrecked a boat. Learned this lesson through near miss experience. If you aren't willing to be patient, go for the iron genoa.
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Old 11-03-2016, 12:43   #11
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

The thing that jumps out at me is that if you're approaching a harbor, you're not out in the open ocean.

That is, if you just heave to and wait, you're going to drift, and there are things around that you'd probably not want to drift into. Where are the currents pushing you? Farther out to sea? Into some rocks? If further out to sea, will that mean a hard slog to get back? Or does it just mean lazing around waiting for the land breeze then an easy run into harbor?

I don't think there can be any answer that isn't situation-specific.
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Old 11-03-2016, 12:55   #12
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

Quote:
Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post

Seriously, unless there is a good reason not to use it (ie: entering a tricky harbor in the dark), no one will think less of you.
And who cares if they do?

You make the decision to suit yourself, not anybody else.
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Old 11-03-2016, 13:04   #13
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

Quote:
Originally Posted by theway View Post
Ok, you've been making a passage and you finally see your land destination but the wind dies. When do you motor the rest of the way? It seems the factors are...

1. How many miles away?
2. How long has the passage been?
3. When will the wind be back?
4. How much fuel?
5. Do I need to arrive in daylight?
6. How tired are you?
(Other considerations?)

Let's use two examples
A 20 day passage and a 3-5 day hop.




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Yes, as well as :
"I need to make some water"
"I need to charge up the battery bank"
etc
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Old 11-03-2016, 18:14   #14
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaddyO View Post
Its this common? I am new to sailing and have never been through any storms, so I am curious, is it best to furl the sails because the wind shifting? Is motoring easier than reefing?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schooner Chandlery View Post
Because?

If you're not trying to more quickly get into a port or anchorage (out of the potential weather you've just observed) why would you do this?
During our last trip this happened twice that I remember. Going from Florida to the Bahamas, we sailed all morning without any problems from the "chance of scattered thunderstorms ending by 10 am" forecast by all the usual sources, only to find ourselves surrounded by black clouds, lightning and downdrafts gusting to 60 kts+. Dark afternoon turned into darker night, gusting winds coming from all directions, avoiding thundercells all the way to Grand Bahama. We could have turned back, but that was only slightly less distance than our original destination, with no better weather.
The second occasion, we were sailing up the bank-side of the Exumas, heading for Highborne Cay, when a squall came through. Again it hadn't been forecast and we had had a lovely sail all day, only to suddenly find ourselves with crazy wind, rain going sideways, etc etc. - and the anchorage was only a few miles away, clearly visible and ironically bathed in sunlight. Sailing at that point was not an option. Guess we could have dropped the pick and waited for it to pass, but it made more sense to us to power through, and go to anchor in the sunshine.
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Old 11-03-2016, 18:38   #15
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Re: When to motor the rest of the way?

An engine needs to be operated frequently and maintained. Otherwise, you're abusing it and may not be able to rely on it.

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