Is It Cheaper To Motor Or Sail

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Boston, Mar 20, 2010.

  1. dskira

    dskira Previous Member

  2. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    well I did specify what motor what boat and what area so I think we should know what the basic parameters are

    thing about the 55 gallon drums is they are so easy and fit perfectly into the fuel bunker areas intended for the pellets
    baffled? why, they would be standing in line 10 up on each side of the engine room separated by a fire wall and strapped into place with neoprene padded strapping and framed into place. seems like holes happen when things are abrading against one another or when things get knocked loose
    I may be all wrong but seems like it would work except I seem to have this bird on my shoulder telling me its illegal to store fuel bellow decks this way.
    They sell stainless steal drums if that makes any difference.

    still working on the kite idea but Im open to suggestions

    Steam is extremely efficient given that fuel is any wood source
    its cheap easy and always available from any local mill or shop
    a pellet mill no bigger than a lawnmower is about $500 used and in that size range can pound out about half a ton an hour

    steam engines these days are really easy, its the boiler and the feed system that is the hard part

    but lets stick to basic costs diesel vs sail rather than get side tracked

  3. souljour2000
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    souljour2000 Senior Member

    Are you going to have at least one other person for a crew?... If not then I'd go with the motorsailer with emphasis on the motor side of the equation...and I'd suggest a good pilothouse...or just scrap the sail idea altogether ..and find a good trawler with diesels...
  4. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    I'm not the marrying type but typically have a crew so to speak
    another reason I went with a cruiser
    and yes the boat will have all the standard stuff


    I thought it was screaming for a kite assist

    but lest stick to the issue
    is it cheaper to motor or sail in the area described in this size range
  5. WestVanHan
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    Location: Vancouver

    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member


    Been busy and out of the country for a few months.....
    Then I find a post with others chiming in about my home waters.

    I have spent much time on the BC Coast-every summer for at least a month for 15 years,most May to September weekends.

    Outside of the Straits of Georgia I have seen sailboats with the sails actually in use very,very rarely.
    My cousin had a fishing boat,says the same thing.

    Things to consider:

    -the tides and currents up to 17 knots in places,mixed with the thousands of islands and rocks rank the area as the most challenging in the world.Has more coastline then the entire USA,Alaska included.

    -the outflow/inflow tides from the inlets can push and pull you around.

    -then there's the myriad of uncharted rocks,drying rocks,and dead heads (logs floating just under the surface).

    -on "the outside"? Good luck with the currents,or go way out..

    A few years ago, I was up an inlet-in September for one last run and came across a sailboat from the US.
    They had been stuck there for 3 weeks-bad/no winds,fogged in,no charts,no radar,no radio,out of fuel,and an impossible hike out.
    Almost out of food,I doubt they would have survived long had I not towed them out.

    Why spend $$$$$ for the sailing gear when that $$ amount of fuel will last you a bloody long time??
    And get you where you want to go with the greatest safety margin.

    There's a few semi displacement "tug" style vessels around you could emulate...Nordic Tug,American Tug etc

    But if you insist on rags,get a motorsailor like someone suggested.
  6. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    actually for all the reasons you suggest and a few more Im fairly content with just motoring although I was thinking of kite assist although it may not be in the budget

    thanks for the local report

    Mark had warned me about the currents and the tides and I looked up the part about the slack winds and fog issues

    I think for that area its not much of a question but I will get tired of it eventually and head out to other pastures eventually
    one high on my list is the Amazon
    another reason I went with power over sail
    thing is Ive seen the question go round and round so I thought I'd start a thread and just see where it led
    knowing that folks would say well what boat and what ocean I just gave my own design plans and area of interest

  7. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    sharpii2 Senior Member

    John C. Hanna was right

    If you're not planing on crossing an ocean, a displacement powerboat is hard to beat. When you have to size the boat to carry the fuel needed for a long trip, then it gets expensive. 5 hp per ton is 5 hp per ton. You need at least that much so you'll have some reserve power to buck waves and head winds. If you're patient enough to go at 3/4 hull speed, you can easily cut that in half in actual usage.

    The expense comes in when we get greedy and want to go faster.

    A 30 ft power dory with a 25ft WL could cruise at 5 kts quite cheaply and maybe run two hours on a gallon and thus get about 11.5 miles per gallon. At $4.00 a gallon you could probably cruise a total of 2600 miles for the cost of a decent suit of sails for the same boat (guestimated $1000 US).

    If it were my dory, though, I'd put about 120 sf of sail and a minimal long keel on it and be able to cross an ocean with the same tankage. I would power through every calm and probably not even set the sail in any wind less than 10 kts. I would have shorter spars, far less complicated rigging, less ballast, and fewer sails to patch and repair.

    The sails would easily pay for themselves in five to ten years. And I would have an awesome amount of flexibility. No being helpless if I forget to check the fuel level before going out either.

    The sad truth, though, is that most boats don't go all that far in their lifetime, so I guess it really doesn't matter if you pay the extra cash to go nowhere fast.
  8. joz
    Joined: Jul 2002
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    joz Senior Member


    Have you thought of a motorsailor instead?
  9. dskira

    dskira Previous Member

    You forget the "engine gear"
    Everybody seams very keen to mention the sailing gear, but try to make the "engine gear" disapearing. How conveniant. More biaised like that. Cat 150hp $18,000 without installation and ancialliries. A good tank of 2000 gallons $ 2,500. Fuel and polishing system: $1,500
    Exhaust system and water pump system $800. Hydraulic steering and control $2,000
    Total: $24,800 (Very conservative)
    Average consumption 7 gallons/hour @ $2.99 a gallon.

    I make a 35 feet mast for the price of the wood, for my own boat: $250
    Sail ten years ago: $3,000
    Rigging ten years ago $150 (all galvanized and parceled.)
    Tiller system
    I sail for free
    So it is other way around. First $$ then $$$$$
  10. ancient kayaker
    Joined: Aug 2006
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    Location: Alliston, Ontario, Canada

    ancient kayaker aka Terry Haines

    Motorboats are smelly, boring, noisy but fast, and arrival time is predictable for most conditions. Sailng is more fun.

    So which do you want, fun or convenience?
  11. souljour2000
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    Location: SW Florida

    souljour2000 Senior Member

    I run my 5hp Tohatsu whenever I want and I am not ashamed to use the motor whenever I need to...alot of the sailboats you see under power all the time are doing so to make good time during light morning winds so they have more time to play in the gulf/ocean etc... and longer weather windows while they are out there... Sure...alot of them just don't feel like dragging up all the sails..I never owned a sailboat bigger than 23 feet nor sailed on one bigger than 26 feet and I am sure they take more energy to set sails alot of the time. There's lots of time for silent running which I prefer but to me a motor is quintessentially a great tool for safety and I can't wait till I get a smaller 4hp back-up motor for my back-up motor...:)
  12. WestVanHan
    Joined: Aug 2009
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    WestVanHan Not a Senior Member

    Well then Daniel,bring your $500 rigging to this coast and see how far you get,or how long it is before you get stranded or the tides crash you into the rocks.

    YOU conveniently omit he wants to use his truck engine,namely using his existing truck engine for the cost of...well....NOT $25k.

    You even complemented him on his idea:
    If he wants newer,a reman. Cummins 4BT or 6BT for $4k-5k,plus a transmission for a couple grand.
    Can buy a good used one for $1000,throw in a $700 in frame rebuild kit and be good for many years.

    7 gallons an hour?? At 20 hp/gallon/hr that means he's going to run the 150 hp engine at WOT?? Nice try.

    "How conveniant. More biaised like that" for you to ignore these facts and manipulate figures,and the fact he asked to go coastal cruising in an area you have no idea about.

    He's talking about my coast-NOT Florida,Maine,crossing oceans,Lake Ontario or anywhere else.
  13. dskira

    dskira Previous Member

    Read the title of the thread please before twisting what I said:
    We don't talk about geographie.
    Open a new thread if you want intituled: "I Know My Area And I Am Alone To Know It"
    And yes I know how to sail, even in your place. Don't assume I don't know, it is arroguant from your part. You don't know me.
    If you don't know how to sail, just say it.
    Don't undermine the one who sail.
  14. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    actually we have to talk about geography
    that and what size boat
    what practical use
    work or pleasure

    all of it makes a difference
    if we accept that its all one big fat compromise then we must begin that process by considering the local variables and how they interact with the desired purpose of the boat

    (took me a while to accept that previous but its the ugly truth)

    another consideration is Im a dam good mechanic
    always turned my own wrenches and I can pretty much make anything run given that parts are available and for a few hundred bucks I can by a whole extra truck and disassemble it for parts, although this engine I have is not likely to need internal bits and pieces, far more likely that its the peripheral stuff that dies on me.

    International diesels are built like a tank and this one only has about 80,000 on it so its basically just broke in

    Westy has pointed out some really useful stuff as have many others that regularly ply those waters
    one being fog and the need for a radar unit which Im not sure I could afford
    so one decent side scanning sonar will have to do
    Ill need to at least be able to see the bottom in a pinch
    would be nice to have a proximity alarm as well but I just dont know if I could afford it
    although Ive heard it can get crowded up by Ketchikan harbor and that the fog can really roll in hard round those parts
    how much are those things anyway ?

    a motor sailer is a nice option however the initial cost of the rig is nothing to scoff at and someone pointed out that you can buy a lot of fuel for the cost of that rig
    so it sounds a lot like pay me now or pay me later
    I'll generally chose to pay you later

    if and only if I can eventually convert this thing to steam then my cost of fuel drops to less than half and even less than that if I burn coal
    goes up a tad if I just burn cord wood
    and yes if you look at the design the entire area under the wheel house is dedicated to fuel and mechanical
    its a huge space of about 480 cu/ft
    to short to make a habitable space out of by perfect for a mechanical area

    thing is yes sailing is nice but thats another thread and another topic about the type of auxiliary sail power
    yes auxiliary because in those waters I'll be primarily motoring

    what i am interested in primarily here is a consensus on cost
    both in terms of construction maintenance and practicality within the area of ocean specified and the size boat Im working on

    another interesting twist to the plan is diesel electric or steam electric drive
    sorry but its junk yard wars again
    I can rig a pile of alternators off anything and charge a few gorilla batteries to power a classic azipod drive system
    I just cant picture paying god only knows what for some big fancy genset when I can stack up some alternators for a hundred bucks each
    ok the hybrid electric is actually more expensive than the typical diesel set up but it does have its advantages

    the diesel or steam generator would be running at its most efficient all the time
    there could easily be a wind generator to keep me topped off while on the hook or several to assist when on the move
    there would be power available immediately ( important in the case of the steam generator ) via battery storage

    bla bla bla

    it also has its disadvantages like
    lots more parts involved

    but now its I who is getting off track ( as if that never happened before eh )

    Im still reading through the Cruising costs thread and its really informative as are all your input

    Im leaning strongly towards power yachting but I would prefer a sail assist
    kite ideally if it is feasible cause for one thing I can get tandem parasails all day long for a few thousand that may not be good enough to hang a human from anymore but they sure will still fly
    course thats another thread as well

  15. Tad
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Tad Boat Designer

    This question has no answer or many answers.....typical Boston question which several books could be written in reply to.

    Cheaper in what way? By the hour, the day, year, decade? Cheaper per mile covered to windward? You state operating cost, but what is covered, replacing sails or engines once their life is over? And who decides on life time of the engine or the sails? The ashtrays are full so it's time to trade her in!

    The fact is that sailors have been cruising PNW waters for a few hundred years without engines, and they are still doing it. See this thread on another forum....

    Some friends are currently readying their 50' cutter for cruising and living aboard in BC, with no engine, also no through hulls and minimum electricity (all solar collected). Is it cheaper? In long term dollars yes, it's also a bunch cheaper for future generations.
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