After having read yet another great article by Viki Moore (Astrolabe Sailing) I could not stop thinking about a topic that had been at the back of my mind for quite a while: “motor or not” on a sailing yacht.
Lin & Larry Pardey have sailed around the world without one. Bastian Hauck on his folkboat Tadorna has completed his second half of the tour around the Baltic Sea without one. And the 12mR s/v Anita has sailed the seas for many years without one: a motor. I am sure there are many more examples of sailors solely relying on their sails, not only for day trips but also for cruising. What is it then with that motor-thing on board?
During last year’s Hanseboot (boat show in Hamburg) I asked a sales rep how much cheaper the yacht would be if I ordered it without gas installation, cooker/oven and motor. “That is not a good question to ask on a boat show”, he said, not smiling. Ok, he wanted to sell his boat as produced in standard production, but do I really need everything that it has been equipped with?
That actually got me thinking about the so-called standard and must-have equipment of modern yachts – whereby “must-have” quite often seems to have been defined by the marketing departments. Next step was Viki’s article on the maintenance and handling of the diesel engine on board. This has re-started my thinking process and whether a motor is really required.
Pros and Cons of motor on a yacht
So, here I am, trying to figure out why a motor should be part of a sailing boat. Just some thoughts (additions welcome):
- get out of calms
- move forward against the tide
- get out of the way of other vessels
- support in getting away from reefs or shorelines
- manoeuvre in marinas
- charge batteries.
And why would you not want to have an engine on board?
- expensive to buy and to run (spare parts, fuel, repairs)
- dirty, oily, smelly – not really a “nature”-experience
- maintenance time can be spent sailing
It all depends…
Going sailing without a motor on board clearly has its pros and cons. It certainly increases the adventure-level, same as very likely the negligence-level. It is probably fair to say that it mainly depends on where you are going, how much time you have and how big your appetite for a potentially dangerous situation is (which you could have motored away from – maybe, if the motor started on time and worked properly). If you do not need to motor out of calms, against the tide or back into a marina to get to work, then you could take it easy and wait until the wind is in your favour again. Somehow this sounds far too easy. But “sailing vessel”, “sail boat”, “sailing yacht” and the like do not really suggest that “motor” is also to be included or even necessary.
Anita and Tadorna have now been equipped with a motor (again). That possibly says it all, despite of all the lines above. Having a motor on board certainly helps keeping nervousness down, and I very gladly take advantage of that. My future aim, however, will be to not have a “combustion engine” on board.
More thoughts to be spent on that topic, and I will continue in a separate post. In the meantime, any comments or feedback are highly appreciated.