Pedal powered sailboat?

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by PECistan, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. PECistan
    Joined: Jan 2018
    Posts: 1
    Likes: 0, Points: 1
    Location: Holland

    PECistan New Member

    Hi there everyone.

    So let me try to explain my situation first (Short version)

    I am in the very early stage of planning my next adventure. Last year I cycled by bike from Holland to Morocco, this year I would like to cycle (pedalo)/row from Holland to Iceland.

    So the plan is to navigate along the coast of the UK and past the Faroe Islands.

    Last year was a so called budget-travel. This year I would like to do the same.

    Buying or making a real ocean rower is way too expensive for me. So that brought me the following ideas (Well actually the last part of this page did: Ocean Rowboats

    I would like to buy a second-hand sailboat, and just add an add-on to make it a pedalo. Something like this. .

    I have absolutely no experience with boats or with the sea for that matter.

    The main question right now is, is this even possible? Can a small sailboat survive the sea? Will a small sailboat get any pace with a prop like that? If not I might go with the following idea: converting a small sailboat into a rowing boat. Or maybe u guys have a better idea?

    Thanks a lot guys!

    (PS: Completely off-topic, but if anyone has some interesting information or opinion about other parts off the journey, please feel free to comment. Think about ocean currents, docking in the UK, etc.)
  2. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Can a small sailboat survive the sea? I have absolutely no experience with boats or with the sea for that matter.
    The Boat will probably survive - I don't think you can be so confident

    Will a small sailboat get any pace with a prop like that?
    If not I might go with the following idea: converting a small sailboat into a rowing boat.
    Its just as easy to build a proper ocean rowing boat from plans.

    Or maybe u guys have a better idea?
    Join a yacht club to learn how to sail, learn to swim or practise regularly, and think about it for a year
  3. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
    Posts: 1,445
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    Location: Colorado

    Blueknarr Senior Member

    I have absolutely no experience with boats or with the sea for that matter.

    Or, you would know what a horrible idea this is.

    The main question right now is, is this even possible?


    Or maybe u guys have a better idea?

    Boat camping around Holland's many cannels could be an enjoyable and achievable budget vacation adventure.
  4. JosephT
    Joined: Jun 2009
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    Location: Roaring Forties

    JosephT Senior Member

    First of all, this is a very dangerous journey for a non-sailor to be sure. It could very well be a one way trip to your death and that's no joke.

    Secondly, the boat you choose must be a robust vessel capable of the North Sea conditions, which can be VERY ROUGH AND FRIGID COLD. Need I say more.

    Lastly, regarding the notion of pedaling, this may be possible with an ocean rowboat in warmer, calmer seas if it were customized with a pedal configuration. However, it is absolutely not a wise choice for a sailboat in the North Seas as the vessel choice for that would be a heavier, stronger, blue water capable vessel that can do battle in storms. It will NOT be a light weight boat. Your reliance/desire to pedal would be better served by learning to sail and exploring. And ditch the pedal idea. You'll need an engine to power through the breakers and in/out of any harbor.

    If getting to Greenland is your goal, before you proceed any further I would suggest altering your plan and focusing on a solid sailboat that has proven itself to be up to such a task. rwatson suggested visiting a yacht club and learning to sail. I strongly echo that suggestion. Notice he said yacht club and not a local dinghy club.

    Good luck & be smart.
    rwatson likes this.
  5. Tiny Turnip
    Joined: Mar 2008
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    Location: Huddersfield, UK

    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

    Even if you did have the experience and the wide range of skills needed for such an expedition, a pedal boat suitable for blue water conditions and a pedal boat for coastal conditions are very different, and probably entirely incompatable. A blue water boat would need to be, in effect, a self righting survival capsule with a pedal driven prop. Google Greg Kolodziejzyk Inside. And note that Greg abandoned his proposed trip to Hawaii because the boat was insufficiently stable and made him seasick, IIRC.

    Such a vessel is inherently relatively large and high windage. Human power is only of the order of 100w, and is easily overwhelmed by windage on a large hull. Not a huge problem in the middle of the ocean - you only get blown backwards/off course until the wind lets up, and then you can just pedal and make up the lost time. Different kettle of fish near the coast, where you can quickly be blown onto rocks, or into the path of a ship, and end up dead.

    I have spent some time thinking about a pedalled journey around Britain (I built a pedal boat 10 years ago and use it regularly) and have come to the conclusion that the only way it would be viable would be with a very low profile, light (able to be carried) efficient purpose designed boat, and to beach hop, with enough slack in the schedule to allow you to pick and choose weather windows. Such a boat would not offer the shelter or security necessary for an ocean trip.

    I worry about the chafing, too!

  6. Ike
    Joined: Apr 2006
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    Location: Washington

    Ike Senior Member

    People have done some crazy things in totally inappropriate boats, but most ended up never being seen again, or rescued by the Coast Guard (and I might add, at great expense to the public). Only a small number had incredible luck and made it. Most of those spent years preparing, and used a more appropriate boat (such as an ocean rowing boat that is self righting and incredibly strong) I would suggest you take the advice given. Take your time. Learn to sail. Learn about different types of boats that can be used on the open ocean. If available take a seamanship course, and a navigation course. Forget GPS. If your batteries die you will have to navigate the old fashioned way, with a compass,a chronometer, a chart and a sextant. Fortunately in Britain you do have the Shipping Forecast. So you will need a radio. Can you see where this is going? You can't do this on the cheap. You have to invest time and money to do it right.
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