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I wonder why some people have SAIL boats when they would rather motor. We’re not trying to be judgmental as we’re far from purists who can set anchor while under sail (yet), and we do know that there are times when motoring is the right thing to do (perhaps you need to get somewhere quickly). But to take yesterday for example… we sailed about 8 hours from one anchorage to another with winds 5-15 knots. Yes, for a few hours in the late afternoon they were right on the nose so we had to do a series of tacks through the relatively narrow channel. But throughout the day we saw a couple dozen sailboats and maybe only one or two were actually sailing. The rest either had no sails up or were motor sailing. If we were in a hurry we might have turned on an engine, or if the wind dropped to 3 knots or so we would have done the same. The truth is though that yesterday was as good a sailing day as you can get and these guys all missed out on it. Sad.

On a very related topic, here is a text message that I received from our friends on Pirate Jenny:

“What do you do with a sailboat when you don’t want to sail any more? I now know the answer. I just saw a convoy of three sailboats go by. It could be that sailboats are selling so cheap so why spend all that money on a party boat. Party boats don’t come with big 50′ flag poles. The first boat had no mast but did have a sun shelter built over 50% of it. The second boat had the mast but no boom and the sun shelter. The third boat had the mast, no boom and a very large Canadian flag at the top of the mast (flag pole). Also had the sun shelter. And I thought I had seen it all!!!”



  1. Who wants to bet that now after posting this we have crappy winds today?

  2. This is a decision I think we all deal with whether we want to admit it or not………..I think about it daily….I go on yacht world and look at sailboats, then look at powerboats, then read blogs and my head gets all messed up….I bet you laughed at that one……Sailboats within 20 miles of shore seem to motor and/or motor sail 75% of the time (this is not a scientific number)…….So why sail when you can own a trawler……For me the most prolific moment in boating is that 20 seconds that you go from power to hoisting the sails and turn the engine off….Time is a huge issue…For most we need to get from point A to point B and back in two days……..I dream to sail down the east coast and down through the caribbean…..But is power the way to go? Time will tell.

    • I’m sure time is a factor. It has also got to be a lot more work to beat into the wind on a sailboat. A trawler is likely a better choice for many people. Our dock neighbours who left to go cruising last year sold their sailboat in the southern US and bought a trawler, deciding that it was better for them.

  3. When we first started sailing, we used to say the difference between sail- and power- boaters was sailors enjoyed the journey, while power-boaters enjoy the destinations. Yes, a gross oversimplification, but it seemed to serve pretty well.

    Now that we are cruising full-time, we need to modify that some(?), because we rarely go for sail just for the sake of sailing. Our sailing now is almost ALWAYS about the destination. BTW, in Bonaire, you don’t go sailing, you go diving – AWESOME DIVING HERE!

    Back to your story – on the Chesapeake, you see the same thing with people motoring their sailboats. It’s mostly a time and lack of wind phenom. Many weekends, we sailed 3 nm out of our home river and then motored in light winds to meet friends at a far flung anchorage. On Sunday, we would motor in the still light winds until we got to our home river and then sail the last 3 nm home.

    Fair Winds,

    • I knew this post would come back to bite us in the butt. We set off yesterday in 0 knots of wind. Yes, ZERO! It finally went up to a couple knots so we messed around with the spinnaker, knowing that we had plenty of time to get where we were going. When the wind shifted we started the engines but I felt guilty after writing this post so we killed them and sailed the last bit under genny alone. 🙂

  4. Mike, we raise and lower anchor in light winds all the time. It’s very easy…of course a motor is safer. As for motoring in general, we do when under time constraints. Personally I can’t stand the sound and smells of an engine.

    • Yesterday we watched a guy in fifty footer (sloop with tiller, no furling sails) depart from and later pick back up his mooring under sail, single handed!!! Impressive!

  5. Yes, I motor as needed, perhaps 25% of the time when cruising (damn shedule)and 5% when day-sailing.

    * It is easier to raise sails than to listen to the engine drone for hours and hours and hours.
    * Raising sail is really a snap, once you have your systems dialed in.
    * The ride is smoother under sail.
    * Less time is spent looking for fuel docks. We did our last 450 mile trip on one tank and had a bunch left over. This included 70 miles of motor-sailing nessesitated solely by a broken furler–she won’t punch into waves with no jib.

    The edge for a trawler is living space, not labor, in my opinion. And I can accept that.

  6. I’m with all the people who hate the sound of the motor. I sometimes use it to get out of the marina, depending on direction of wind and situation. (A lot of the marinas around here come equipped with restaurants which include bars, and if the traffic is heavy in and out of that, I’ll motor. However, the best part of the day or trip starts when I raise sail and cut off the motor. Now, of course, I have no motor, so it’s sailing all the time! Ah, peace and silence!

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