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Old 28-07-2020, 07:32   #1
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Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

I have a Downeaster 38 without a motor and I'm trying to decide if I would be able to live and cruise in it without installing a motor. Anybody's thoughts? please don't answer if you actually don't know what you're talkin about.
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:46   #2
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

Welcome aboard sailorthing!
Well, I used to sail, and anchor, a Downeaster 38 quite a bit many years ago, but I would not say my answer is specific to the Downeaster. It depends but I would not consider it myself. You could do it as long as you don't mind sitting around a good deal in light air and not entering marinas or picking up mooring buoys. I actually found the Downeaster very enjoyable to sail and a surprisingly good performer. But it is a heavy-ish full keeler and so will suffer the usual issues there. I can see getting to where you could sail into an out of large anchorages, off the anchor(s); it would take a good facility with sails and helm and planning, but I can certainly see it. Doing it solo would be a trick. If I HAD to do it, I'd plan on having a big headsail ready to help get her moving in light airs. Also, if there is a strong breeze you may not be able to get up on the anchor enough to weigh it without the engine to help you. Of course you could always use a dinghy with an outboard lashed to the quarter (but it's pretty high back there in that boat!) to give the boat some motivation and steerage in a calm setting too, and perhaps that is something you were planning? I actually did consider sailing off the anchor once with her, when the engine had an issue, but it was a large open anchorage with a breeze of about 20 knots and no one was downwind of me. In that situation I felt entirely confident I could have unfurled the jib once the anchor was off the bottom and she would have responded well. But getting up over the anchor in 20 knots would have been the trick!
I imagine you may be considering this because you hate the hassle of engines, and I definitely get that. But this particular boat, and I really liked her and enjoyed sailing her, is just not nimble enough to go without an engine IMO. I really appreciated the big engine and three bladed prop she had.
It's been many years since I sailed her, but I'd love to try it for a while without the engine just for fun. There are a number of anchorages locally where I can see it's certainly do-able, it's just the waiting around for wind, and not being able to enter marinas that may get old.
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Old 28-07-2020, 08:51   #3
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

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I have a Downeaster 38 without a motor and I'm trying to decide if I would be able to live and cruise in it without installing a motor. Anybody's thoughts? please don't answer if you actually don't know what you're talkin about.
It can be done.
It takes confidence, experience, good planning & patience.
Some luck would also be useful.

Do you have those attributes?
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Old 28-07-2020, 09:01   #4
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

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Originally Posted by sailorthing View Post
I have a Downeaster 38 without a motor and I'm trying to decide if I would be able to live and cruise in it without installing a motor. Anybody's thoughts? please don't answer if you actually don't know what you're talkin about.

Our boat is much bigger than yours and while we have a motor, we tend to sail in/out of anchorages as much as possible.
I guess my question is where would you intend to cruise and do you have a good set of light air sails?
If you have a decent sized inflatable w/a large 15 hp or so, you could use that to help maneuver better if you need to get into a marina.
Could try it it for a while and see if your sailing skills are up to the task w/o a motor. If you don't like it, then get a motor that works.
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Old 28-07-2020, 09:04   #5
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

It can be done. Except that one time when you end up on the rocks.
It will be a PITA. You may spend the night on the water when you hoped to be at anchor.
Even the people noted for being "engineless" and writing books about cruising secretly carried a small outboard.
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Old 28-07-2020, 10:01   #6
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

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please don't answer if you actually don't know what you're talkin about.
LMFAO!!!!

In all honesty.....are you planning on anchoring, mooring, or occasionally getting in Marina's? Sailing into channels will be challenging, particularly into a head wind. Sailing onto and off of anchor and moorings will be a challenge. Not impossible, but certainly not possible anytime you want. Both strong winds and no wind in a tight anchorage or mooring field will be tough. You'll have a lot of anxious people around you.

Doable is relative. It will be pretty inconvenient and require sharp skills to do it consistently.
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Old 28-07-2020, 10:10   #7
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

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It can be done. Except that one time when you end up on the rocks.

also a big heavy boat like the DE38 will be a bear to handle in the best of weather. most modern boats of that size have bow thrusters. though i have done it once under sail .. i just cannot imagine trying to come in thru an ocean inlet with no power
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Old 28-07-2020, 10:55   #8
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

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I have a Downeaster 38 without a motor and I'm trying to decide if I would be able to live and cruise in it without installing a motor. Anybody's thoughts? please don't answer if you actually don't know what you're talkin about.
You're not going to get many responses and probably shouldn't get any.
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Old 28-07-2020, 15:50   #9
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

The potential for causing damage to other vessels is kinda high, so you should carry good insurance protecting them. Of course, an insurance company may not feel too happy about y our proposal...

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Old 28-07-2020, 16:12   #10
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

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Originally Posted by sailorthing View Post
I have a Downeaster 38 without a motor and I'm trying to decide if I would be able to live and cruise in it without installing a motor. Anybody's thoughts? please don't answer if you actually don't know what you're talkin about.
Sure you could if you have experience sailing (and cruising) without an engine.

If you do not, forgetaboutit! for now until you learn that skill

Also, it doesn't matter which boat you have its all about your knowledge of sailing.

An experienced sailor that has lots of experience sailing without an engine can figure out most any boat
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Old 28-07-2020, 17:17   #11
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

Where are you located? We have a Downeaster 38. If you want to talk by phone I am available.

On the west coast where we are I would not want to be engineless. The boat has Isuzu 38 HP in it now and I am replaceing that with a Beta 50.
I have sailed my Macgregor 25 to the dock several times but that is 2200 pounds and easy to handle solo. The Downeaster 38 with full tanks is 10 times that. I don't think I would try the same with is it unless I had a lot of space and the wind was just right. Just managing the channel in Bodega Harbor would be scary. At low tide you have the channel then mud for acres, at high tide I wouldn't dare leave the channel.

If you have any interest in a Isuzu 3AB1 with shaft and prop for a Downeaster 38 let me know. I also have a Yanmar 2gm sitting in the shop.
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Old 28-07-2020, 20:37   #12
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

Hi. There is an old post by Argyle on your vessel with lots of great info.
Maybe think about a hard dinghy with a good outboard as a push boat.
All those Chesapeake Oyster boats are doing fine without an engine. You donít need an engine , you do need a bow thruster...a natural bow thruster. You hang a Romain lettuce on a string and a nice manatee will push you to the dock.
I actually survived a trip to Bermuda in a wood boat with no radio, no gps, no depth finder, no AIS, no radar and no motor.
Lots of other people did too. Let me think...
Oh...wait a minute...Iím old...yes, we called them sailors.
Good grief ...just do it. Sailing is not a permission slip.
Happy trails to you.
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Old 28-07-2020, 23:54   #13
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

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Originally Posted by sailorthing View Post
I have a Downeaster 38 without a motor and I'm trying to decide if I would be able to live and cruise in it without installing a motor. Anybody's thoughts? please don't answer if you actually don't know what you're talkin about.

That could be quite a challenge. IOW, sometimes fun, most of the time, not, at least while trying to get in and out of a harbor. Some marinas, such as mine, explicitly prohibit docking/undocking under sail alone in the lease. Certainly experience and skill would help, but I wouldn't do it. If you normally keep your boat on a mooring, or anchored out, and dinghy in to the dock, maybe yeah. Maybe. There would be times when lack of wind or too much wind would keep you hanging on the ball when you would really rather be sailing. Can you live with that?


Also what about your electrical? Do you have a nice spread of solar panels? Genset? I wouldn't count on a wind charger to supply all your electrical needs.



An outboard would not be very practical for that boat, I don't think LOL! Something smaller with a lower transom might be a good candidate for a good outboard mount and a long shaft OB. Then again, I have seen stranger things.


I really think you "need" a proper engine. Used/rebuilt is tricky. You have to know you aren't buying someone else's problems. New, well I would look into what Beta has in the desired power rating. If you have a genset already, you MIGHT think about electric but the usual 5 to 12kw motor will be pretty marginal for your fairly heavy boat and you will still be back to needing a decent window for maneuvering in close quarters. And if you aren't something of an engineer who can design his own system, well, the turnkey systems can cost as much as a diesel, worst case scenario.



Using your dink and a strong-ish outboard as your personal tugboat is more what I would consider an emergency expedient solution. Better than no propulsion at all, yeah, but you will need a bit of practice and a good crew. Pretty iffy trying to dock a boat alone, with a dinghy made up on the hip. You have to be in three places at once. I am sure you would quickly work out a system but TBH if it was me I would ever be reluctant to cast off and go sailing.



I understand you really want to do this, and yeah I know a hundred years ago you would almost certainly not have an engine in a boat that size, but reluctantly I would have to advise against it. Get a diesel installed, is my suggestion, unless you know a lot about EP and understand its limitations and how to install, optimize, and troubleshoot the system.



What engine was originally installed? Just wondering. Well, not just wondering. You could keep your ear to the ground for the same model and same mount setup, and maybe you could do the installation yourself? I am assuming the main reason you are thinking about going engineless is due to cost.
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Old 29-07-2020, 00:00   #14
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

You are increasing your risk, decreasing your utility, just to avoid a oil change and very little maintenance on a super simple little diesel?

I don’t get it?


This sounds like going to the ER and asking only for the treatment you could get 200 years ago.
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Old 29-07-2020, 04:15   #15
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Re: Sailing a Downeaster 38 without a motor

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I have a Downeaster 38 without a motor and I'm trying to decide if I would be able to live and cruise in it without installing a motor.

I donít even understand why youíre asking this question. If you ďhaveĒ one then untie the lines and go for a sail and discover the answer for yourself.

Or is it that youíre looking to buy one and want feedback???
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