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Old 08-08-2019, 00:24   #16
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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Originally Posted by Chotu View Post
I've wrestled with this same question. Always have this gut feeling I would need to go transatlantic someday. Maybe you could lash some huge fuel tanks down in the cockpit to do it??
I suspect 95% of people who have this worry...never actually cross an ocean.

Of course, unless it's to prove it can be done, you can pretty easily ship a catamaran across oceans.
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Old 08-08-2019, 00:29   #17
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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You could also investigate outboards rather than inboards: using some smaller, say 9.9 bigfoots, would get you to 6kn and possibly be efficient if you could pickup a good boat with crap rigging and mast AND crap diesels. Could be going very very cheaply.
Of course then you are using petrol rather than diesel, which is more volatile and efficiency is a question.

Finding such a beast - good bones cat without mast, possibly with bad inboards -may not be easy, but should be cheap!

Disadvantages are that the layout is largely based around the position of mast bulkhead and may not be as open as a power cat.
Also the helm is rarely in the best position for motoring on sailing cats, and you almost never get a full inside helm which is extremely useful - do you want to have to sit outside while motoring for 12 hours?
And on that note, unless it's a modern charter cat then the internal view for motoring is pretty bad. The modern charter cats are often better with good forward and side visibility, as against the small brow-like windows of the older boats.
Petrol isn't a big issue if the gas tanks are on the bridge deck and bottom vented. This is the way our old outboard cat was setup. Any leaks or fumes went down to the water between the hulls not in the hulls. Same logic as why people aren't paranoid about petrol cars.

With a modern 4stroke EFI engine, a big chunk of the efficiency gap goes away. Not quite to diesel efficiency but long gone are the days of gas hog 2 strokes.

That said, I would lean towards a boat originally designed for outboard power. Otherwise, it takes a fair bit of thought to do it right. Just slapping an outboard on the back may not get you the results you are looking for.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:54   #18
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

I may have a fairly relevant perspective on this particular subject. For the first five years we lived on our boat we had no rig and motored instead. We have a very efficient hull in our 44ft Oram catamaran. With twin 20hp diesels we achieve 13.2 knots average top speed in calm still water and run in both directions and averaged. We usually cruise on one motor and before we rigged the boat we used 1.25 litres per hour at 6.8 knots. This is from 5 years of logs meticulously maintained by the admiralty. We averaged just under 2000 miles per annum travelling from grafton to cardwell and everywhere in between on the queensland coast. We spent a total of $3562 total on fuel and that includes dinghy fuel. Thats just over $700 a year and 365 litres of diesel. The mileages were logged on 2 separate gps and with a touch of obsessive compulsive disorder, the admiralty doesnt read cruisers forum I hope.
In 2010 after an extensive refit we relaunched with a rig. We only sail downhill in admiralty approved and favourable conditions, ie 20 knots maximum windspeed, preferably sub 15 knots. In light sub ten knots we occasionally sail in beam seas. We do not have a main, we have several kites of varying shapes and sizes, our favourite affectionately known as "pink bits" is a 95 m2 assymetrical pink and white kite. We also have a 67m2 reacher and a 25m2 genoa all sails including kites are on furlers. We love our top down kite furlers. We rigged the boat as cheaply as possible and still spent over 12k. 9 years later we are ready to replace our rigging.
Costs are very similar on our boat between motoring and sailing when only considering sail replacement and fuel costs. Advantages of motoring is speed of passages and travelling on the rhumbline. It is safer on a catamaran as your chances of capsize are virtually nil. Flat calm seas and ease of passages are unmatched by sailing. Turn the key and go, glass calm seas are great for travelling and fishing. However you cant beat sailing on those great days with the perfect conditions and the deafening sound of silence. Those are the days we live for.
My prefence will always be sailing however as soon as I can no longer haul on a kite sheet I'll go back to a motorboat before im finally forced to swallow the anchor. Cost wise on my boat motoring is definitely cheaper by a considerable margin, probably less than half the cost of sailing. Dont forget sailing catamarans still have motors and have to maintain them so the main difference is fuel and hours. Mast rigging sails deck gear daggerboards rudders extra construction costs with chainplates mast beams etc etc. I wouldnt know where to begin to add up all the costs. Sure if you have favourable winds and you look at the cost of say a sixty mile passage then on my boat motoring its about 12 litres of fuel say under $20 dollars. The cost to sail the same distance, lets say 8k worth of sails for 8 years thats $20 a week how many times a week do you sail. Then theres all the rigging deck gear etc etc . If thats 50k or 60k over 25 years or so then whats that expense, anybodys guess. Maybe a broken dagger board or two a broken winch a deck organiser etc etc. Lets not forget wind instruments a better autopilot to take advantage of the wind intruments maybe, there are lots of hidden expenses in a sailing boat. All that gear is ageing and breaking down whether you sail or not. Sail once a week on that sixty mile passage, 3000 odd miles a year and its definitely more expensive to sail. Just replacing your sails costs as much as my fuel. Motor with two forty horsepower motors in an ineffecient fat slow and heavy boat and you might be using a lot more fuel and then you need to revisit the equation. For me sailing is definitely worth it and my preference by far, however motoring is a hell of a lot cheaper but nowhere near as nice.
If I dont sell my boat to pursue other adventures then ill take the rig off when I cant sail anymore and keep motoring as long as I can. Any way to get on the water is better than being on land for me.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:42   #19
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

^^^ That's a really good, detailed, and interesting post from real practical experience, thank you
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:00   #20
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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Yes. I was extremely careful about weight throughout the entire build and (incomplete) fit out. Every single decision was based on weight. Not many production boats can do that.

Making it a power cat, however, would definitely change those numbers.
I may of missed this but what sort of cat do you have?
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Old 08-08-2019, 08:06   #21
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Great real world post Sailhand, thanks.
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:45   #22
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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Originally Posted by HSV Sailing View Post
Assuming full live-aboard, with around 4,000nm traveled per year, for 5 years. Mostly around the Bahamas, Caribean and the East coast. Sub $300k cat.

Maintenance Cost: Cheaper to sail or power?
4k nm yr in a efficient powercat traveling at 6 knots, getting 3.8nm per gallon (pulled from Lepoard 43) 1,052gallons of gas at $5 a gallon. $5,260yr for just Diseael for the Powercat. $26,300 minimum for Diseal in those 5 years.

Large sailing maintenance seems to come in the form of rigging and sails, but with everything else combined would it be close to the fuel cost above?

Any ideas on engine maintenance costs for power vs sail over 5yrs? I imagine the powercat maintenance cost has to be more, just because of engine size.
Well you've said you want to do it for 5 years. If you buy well you won't have any rigging or sail costs at all in those 5 years. Rigging is replaced usually 10-15 years, though some boats perhaps even on 20-30 year schedules. In latter instances insurers usually deduct a good 30% on any claims regarding rigging or don't cover the rigging at all.

You'd think the rigging and sail condition would affect the selling price after those 5 years, but when I was looking, I didn't see this. Sell at the right time, in the right area and it won't have much if any affect at all.
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:49   #23
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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Originally Posted by daletournier View Post
Great real world post Sailhand, thanks.
On the other hand I spent three months cruising on my Seawind. When I got back I could not empty a five gallon jerry can in the gas tanks. I was sailing off the anchorages. For most of the history of sailing no boats had motors. Not saying I never motor, and when picking up a ball or going into a slip I would never be able to do it without my two motors in each hull.

Truth be told I really don't like motoring. The noise and vibration gives me a headache. And the smell nauseates me. Sure sometimes I am in waiting mode for the right wind; but as Jimmy Buffet sang 'any direction the wind blows is fine'.

I suspect a lot of the debate about sail v power relates to the captain's philosophy. If someone has one similar to mine it is definitely cheaper to sail since I would rather be at anchor than turn on the motor for a passage (of course this presupposes that I am at a good anchorage). On the other hand if someone has no problem using the motor and declines to sail under anything but ideal conditions then they will not be getting the full economic benefit of sailing and motoring will be a better option.

Another big consideration is where the boat is traveling. If you are in the trade winds then most sailboats will be faster sailing than motoring; not to mention more comfortable with the sails up. But if you are doing something like the Great Loop it is not realistic to sail most of the time. Between these two extremes somewhere there is an inflection point. Where I sail (Florida, Keys, and Bahamas) there is almost always a decent breeze which allows me to sail a lot more than I need to motor. Not to mention a lot of the anchorages are very nice places to be. But when I get in the ICW I am almost always motoring. Not to mention that good fuel is not always a given and it is common for boats in the Bahamas (and other outlying areas) to wind up with non functioning motors due to contaminated fuel.

It is hard for me to understand how motoring can be cheaper than sailing unless the captain is hell bent on motoring every time he can and only sailing when he must.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:27   #24
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Hi Tom, Obviously it depends on where you sail. I'm currently in the Carribean, sail almost 100% of the time, nice little passage in 8kts true today, not fast but nice.
I spent a number of years in Asia, the purist that waits for wind won't be moving much ,regardless of boat. I traveled in company with a Schionning cat from the phillipines through north Indonesia down to Bali, I assure you they motored as much as us, if there is zero wind it matters not how well your boat sails. If you sail in a area that has constant wind well of course you dont motor much.

Also I met a couple in Phuket years ago that sailed around the world. They now (or did then) have a trawler. She kept extremely accurate records and had no hesitation saying the trawler was cheaper to run than the sailboat.
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Old 08-08-2019, 13:37   #25
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

Yeah, I would rather be sailing but for any economic comparison you have to think in the same way.

With motors it's easy, most people just look at cost per litre of fuel x hours. But they often don't think about or under estimate the maintenance costs too.

With sails it is more difficult but for economic comparison purposes you need to do the same. So, for each hour of sailing you need to be adding a cost for wear and tear on the sails, and on the rigging.

Of course that money isn't being paid out directly at the time, but it is being 'billed' against the life of the equipment.

So the cashflow outlay is different for sure, but the true cost over a period needs to be understood to make a fair comparison.

It's not correct to say 'I went sailing today and it cost nothing'. There was absolutely a cost involved, but you just didn't pay for it yet. In simple terms, the payment is delayed until you buy a new sail.

There are pluses and minuses either way.
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Old 08-08-2019, 13:46   #26
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

And of course fuel costs vary from place to place ,motoring in Malaysia is alot cheaper than motoring in Australia.

I do agree that sail catamarans can make great power cats, they give one the option of being either. My mates Lagoon 450 carrys 1100 liters of fuel , combine this with two modern yanmars and you have a great power cat BUT despite what some may think it's also a great cruising sailboat.
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Old 08-08-2019, 13:57   #27
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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Originally Posted by HSV Sailing View Post
[

Any ideas on engine maintenance costs for power vs sail over 5yrs? I imagine the powercat maintenance cost has to be more, just because of engine size.
.
Why?
Filters, belts, impellers will be close to same
Oil might be a bit more
Larger engine may be able to go considerably longer between oil changes
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Old 08-08-2019, 14:03   #28
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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.

Also I met a couple in Phuket years ago that sailed around the world. They now (or did then) have a trawler. She kept extremely accurate records and had no hesitation saying the trawler was cheaper to run than the sailboat.
Plus they most likely had greater comfort, continual supply of cold beer and ice and never had to worry about weight restrictions on the gear they carried.
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Old 08-08-2019, 16:14   #29
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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Why?
Filters, belts, impellers will be close to same
Oil might be a bit more
Larger engine may be able to go considerably longer between oil changes
A power cat will be running the engine 100% of the time. There are plenty of threads at CF about some sailing cats that seem to motor 50% of the time; always with a response from guys that say they sail 95% of the time and or more and hardly ever motor. So while a larger engine probably does go longer between oil changes that is in terms of hours the engine was running. I change the oil and lower unit fluid in my 9.9 Yamaha outboards on my Seawind at the beginning of the season; once a year. Depending on what I am doing it is usually more frequent on the 9.9 Yamaha on my inflatable which has lots more hours than the ones on the big boat. Truth be told I have never changed the impellers on the big boat, but they are inspected when I pull the lower unit (and I do carry spares). Last time I hauled the boat the yard said they could change out my two outboards for $US6,000 with new ones. I know some power boaters who have paid ten times that much for new engines to be installed after the old ones were removed.

Not to mention that if for some reason all three of my outboards went down I should be able to sail somewhere I could raise SeaTow on the VHF. If the motors on a power cat go down that is not an option.

Not question there are places where a power boat has advantages. My experience has been the ICW is a classic example. Others have pointed places in Asia where that is true. But where I sail it is easy to sail way more than 90% of the time.

Bottom line is there is a break even point somewhere which determines which is cheaper, power or sail. If you sail 90% of the time sailing is most likely cheaper; but if you sail 20% of the time motoring is most likely cheaper. While the actual percent probably varies based on the boat, and probably to some extent how capable a sailor the captain/crew are I have no idea where that point is. Maybe 50% would be a good starting point.
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Old 08-08-2019, 17:30   #30
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Re: Sailing vs Power Catamaran - Time, Cost and Enjoyment

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A power cat will be running the engine 100% of the time. :
But its still bugger all in the scheme of things
I run a 14 litre Cummins that takes 37 litres of oil and cruise full time.
Costs a couple of hundred a year in oil and filters.

A power cat will take what, 5 litres of oil a side?

Quote:
. Not to mention that if for some reason all three of my outboards went down I should be able to sail somewhere I could raise SeaTow on the VHF. If the motors on a power cat go down that is not an option
Most of the world doesn't have sea tow to hold our hand and much of the cruising grounds are out of VHF and mobile range.
Also its pretty unlikely both engines on a cat will go out at once and it may surprise you to know than many vessels cross oceans and work continually with single engines and no issues.
Maintenance.
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