Fuel- Cruisers Forum
Everyone's opinion is different, but I've got a bit of a different perspective on this than above, based on some observations in the Caribbean
last year and the Pacific this year. I view fuel
capacity as having two purposes, safety
and it gives us more options.
- We met one boat
in the Marquesas
this year that did motor
out of a rigging
failure. They had multiple rigging failures that exceeded what they could jury rig. Most boats are set up to handle failure on one or two failures, but this boat
ended up losing all 4 diamond stays. From memory talking to them, they motored over 800 miles with enough of a jury rig to stabilized the mast
for the sea state, but not enough to risk sailing). They exhausted their diesel
supply, but were able to organize a fuel
transfer from one of the other boats crossing via the SSB
net they were on. For those jumping to the conclusion it was a crappy, poorly maintained boat, it was a Malo 42 and all standing rigging had been replaced less than a year ago. They're still trying to figure out why the failures occurred, badly tuned after re rigging, bad batch of fittings, etc.
- Another boat was lost
this year south of the Galápagos. The couple on it were rescued by a boat we know (a Caliber 40) who had to motorsail hard to windward for almost two days to get to them. They were able to respond without hesitating because they had enough fuel to do it, and still get safely to the Marquesas
, still 2000 miles away.
What is 2 Weeks: Normally nothing, but close friends of ours had a significant medical emergency
this year on their crossing from Galápagos to the Marquesas that didn't give them that luxury. He used over 200 gallons of diesel
(50 ft aluminum monohull
w/ 100 hp Volvo) motorsailing through light spots including motorsailing the last 2-1/2 days as his wife was near collapse as Tahiti
had determined it would take the same length of time to organize an airlift as for him to motorsail hard the last 500 miles. He's an emergency
room doctor so Im comfortable his assessment of her condition and the urgency wasn't exaggerated.
Wind/Solar Power: The one word you used there that I noticed was estimated. As a lot of your sailing will be downwind, I would estimate virtually zero contribution from the wind generator
. That is based on my observations of our and discussions with numerous other boats about theirs. Our wind
generators were great in the Caribbean
and reaching/beating up and down the chain, but as soon as we started sailing downwind, our generator
time spiked substantially. I've now got lots of solar
(to the point I'm thinking of ditching the wind
generators in NZ), but I've noticed that underway I get a lot less out of them than I do at anchor
. Particularly in the S Pacific I've noticed that by mid afternoon the shadow from the sails
significantly cuts down our solar
output. That's been a common observation of many boats both with panels
and on biminis. This may impact your fuel usage for charging
more than you're currently estimating.
Options: Having a bit more fuel capacity has allowed us to leave a few times on less than ideal forecasts. For example we left Galápagos this year as a big 'hole' was developing. I was able to motorsail about 18 hours out of the first 48 hrs to keep ahead of it and get into the trades. Having some reserves gave us the ability to use some fuel early in the trip yet still have confidence we'd have enough to cover potential issues later. Our choice would have been to leave a day or so earlier, or wait longer, but there were a couple of dives we wanted to do and we wanted to wait for the fresh market day (once a week) in Santa Cruz
. After getting the fresh produce, we wanted to leave as soon as possible to maximize the time out there with good food
. Then when we arrived in Hiva Oa, no diesel was available (for about two weeks) so lots of boats were hanging out, waiting and delaying their jump to the Tuamotos. By the time we'd worked our way north to Nuku Hiva, diesel was available, but if it hadn't been, we'd have still been able to leave for the Tuamotus with what we had. Finally, I was discussing this thread with an Island Packet
38 anchored close to us (90 gal in tanks
, 10 gal in jugs), and their comment was that coming down from Puerto Vallarta
this year, it was nice to be able to motor
a couple of days through the ITCZ rather than bobbing between and extending their time around the associated thunderstorms. Options are nice to have IMHO, particularly when I have family
aboard to consider.
Lots of people will point to the Pardey's and that they sailed for decades with no diesel, so it's obviously not necessary....you're a sail boat. Having met them, I have tremendous respect for them but also think they are much more 'hard core' than 99% of the cruisers out here. There were places they weren't able to visit as they just couldn't sail in, they are clearly more risk tolerant and patient than most of the cruisers out here, and they have a very different expectations on getting assistance from others. They didn't have an SSB
, just a portable receiver so had no expectations of anyone coming to help them if they got into trouble. When you talk about setting off the EPIRB
, I think your perspective or philosophical position is already very different from theirs. Neither is wrong, I'm just not convinced you can only adopt part of the philosophy.
Finally, all this discussion has centred around the long crossings. However, I noticed you're in the PNW and you're talking about the Atlantic first and then the Pacific. Does that mean you're going down to Panama
and then up to the Caribbean? If so, you've probably got a lot of motoring ahead of you getting from Panama
to the Virgins or St Martin
to jump off for the Atlantic. One thing to consider is that with lower fuel capacity, you're going to then have to take fuel on at lots of places you'd probably prefer not to (price and quality). Make sure you've got a bulletproof filtration/water separator system and a good Baja
filter for filling as there is some pretty crappy fuel out here.
For the record
, we've got an Amel Super Maramu (100 hp Yanmar) with 160 gals in the main tank and another 25 gals in Jerry Cans in a locker over the chain locker. Less than I'd like, but ok, particularly now that we've reduced our reliance on the generator
substantially. I've got 825 watts of solar on the davits
and 2 Air-X wind generators on the mizzen mast
. That covers most of our energy needs at anchor and minimizes generator time to about an hour every other day underway.
Just my thoughts, as always, 'Your Mileage May Vary'. Good luck with your plans and I hope you're able to leave soon.