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Old 01-31-2015, 03:49 PM   #1
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Questions about Switching From Sail to Power

Hi folks,

I am a newbie to this forum, and currently own a 44' CC sailboat. My wife has made it pretty clear that she would like to ditch the sails and move over to the "dark side", LOL. I have a few questions for those of you who made the switch from sailboat to MY or trawler.

First, how does the MY ride at anchor? Do most of you employ flopper-stoppers, or something similar? Although sailboats certainly rock at anchor, I also have 12K pounds hanging 6' underwater, which counteracts a lot of the rocking.

Second, how do your boats do in heavy weather, or when the waves are coming from the beam?

For those of you with single motors, don't you ever worry about losing power while in a scary situation like a lee shore, etc.?

I am considering something in the 38-45' range, and I am looking for comfort and quality of build. I plan to use it much the same as I use my sailboat, which is coastal cruising in the Sea of Cortez and SoCal area.

Any and all advice and input is welcomed. Thanks in advance.

Cheers, Bill

"There is simply nothing more worth while than messing around in boats."
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Old 01-31-2015, 03:54 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard. There are no questions. Your wife seems to be the smart one in the family. ("...ditch the sails...")

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Old 01-31-2015, 04:43 PM   #3
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Welcome Bill. I'll bet more than half the members on this forum are former sailors who had the same conversation with their wives, myself included ;-).

So, on to your questions:

Trawlers roll more than sailboats at anchor. Semi displacement hulls with their hard chines do better than full displacement hulls but still roll. I have never seen a flopper stopper on either a power or sail boat at an anchorage, well maybe once or twice.

Almost all trawlers except for the blue water ones like Nordhavns can't handle anywhere near the rough water that almost any sailboat can. I have sailed in 10' seas on a sailboat (with considerable pucker factor for sure). I would never, ever want to do that in the typical trawler, Nordhavns excepted, well almost- see below. Six foot seas is my limit on a semi displacement hull trawler.

I don't worry about having a single engine. Go back and read some of the voluminous threads on this forum about singles vs twins if you want to waste a few hours on the subject.

Your mission is a tough one for the typical trawler. You are going to pound into the wind/seas coming back from lower Baja just like in a sailboat. Your wife if like mine won't be any happier in a trawler as in a sailboat, maybe less so.

A blue water capable trawler would handle that mission better. Nordhavns and Kady Krogens are two that I would do it in. They are both full displacement, ballasted hull models. They also have heavier scantlings and in the case of the Nordhavn windows that can take a blue water wave hit. Also consider active stabilizers. They will smooth out the bouncing/rolling in heavy seas. Paravane stabilizers will work too but are tough to deploy and retrieve.

Finally read Bebe's book Voyaging under Power with Jim Leishman's (of Nordhavn fame) new material in the latest edition. It addresses all of these questions.

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Old 01-31-2015, 04:53 PM   #4
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It's all relative to the boat you buy. Mine is hard chine so no rocking at anchor. With so much forward high structure, she tends to walk back and forth at anchor, but you get used to it as you don't feel it, only see it.

Beam seas aren't a big deal for me, but again it will depend on the boat you pick. Soft chine roll more. How big a seas are you planning on going out in?

My boat is a single screw. I'm meticulous about maintenance and carry plenty of spares. Have thousands of days at sea with single screw boats and feel comfortable with them. If your idea of maintenance is fixing what breaks, buy one with twins.

Looked at a willard 40 (Aloha) (for sale by owner) in La Paz fall 2013. Nice boat if its still available. PM me if your interested as I went there to look at it.

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I want to spend some time, Not come and go in a heated rush.....
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Old 02-02-2015, 08:55 AM   #5
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As OC asked, 'how big seas are you planning on going out in?

I too am a recovering WAFI. Also a merchant mariner. So I already spend 6 months a year afloat. On the trawler, I made a conscious decision to NOT go out in rough weather. I have to go out at work. Be damned if I have to go in rough seas when on my own time. (Besides, I like the company of the admiral who has a 3' sea limit.). Rough weather is a layday for me.

Regarding single screw. Buy a twin if you're concerned. A well maintained single is cheaper in the long run. I worked on a single screw yacht yard tender while growing up. Never had a glitch in 10 years that I was around. Hard hard use. So, whether you have a single or a twin, Maintenance is the key. Regarding working on a Lee shore, Have a dual fuel filter arrangement so you can shift on the fly once fuel pressure gets low. Of course it's when the rough weather picks up you stir the sediment up in the tanks.

Rolling. Yes. I have a round bilge trawler. Rolls. Absolutely. Pick your anchorages carefully. Maybe experiment with putting the anchor rode on a fwd quarter clear instead of right off the bow when it's on the beam. Haven't tried flopper stoppers. Then again, once the grandkids jump overboard, who cares about rolling!

I am curious. You mention the islands off The coast. Generally what are the swells like that you would get underway in to go on a weekend trip? What was your 'limit' you used on the sailboat? Was the admiral happy out in it? Knowing the difference between east coast swells and west coast swells there is a huge difference. I have never yachted on the west coast so I am at a disadvantage there.
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:13 AM   #6
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Congratulations - I too think your wife may be onto something worthwhile... if you must look at trawlers w/ steadying sails so you can claim compromise - LOL
The only addition I'd make is to look through the posts re: chine slap at anchor (at dock if you have any wave action). The noise sleeping fwd is a major problem for some and simple annoyance for others... some actually claim to enjoy it - we don't.
Hull shape has everything to do with it.
Good luck w/ the search / change...
2008 MS 34 HT Trawler
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:33 AM   #7
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Over 2000 nights at anchor, only remember rolling a half dozen times. The bow of a powerboat at anchor points into the waves 99% of the time just like a sailboat. If your anchor is set up properly and your snubber line is off to one side, a powerboat should not wander on it's rode or at least the wandering will be minimal. Hobbyhorsing at anchor may also be less on a powerboat without that huge fixed pendulum.
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Old 02-02-2015, 09:49 AM   #8
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Just my $.02, but we are hoping to sell our power boat and get back into a sailboat. My main concern is fuel. We lived aboard a sailboat for six years and cruised from TX to St.Martin and back to TX and then the East Coast. Not once in all that time did the issue of fuel come up, whether there was enough or where to get more. Looking through my old logs there was the instance of going from Pensacola to Panama City, FL. Under way we decided that the wind was blowing, the weather was nice, so we skipped Panama City and headed to Clearwater. Not sure we would have considered that with a power boat. Seems there is lot more choice under sail.

The other issue is the noise, even though we did a lot of motor sailing, those times when you could shut down the iron monster were great.

As I said, just my .02$,

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Old 02-02-2015, 10:23 AM   #9
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Wondering if you kept a log of what percentage of the time you actually sailed somewhere versus when you motored or "motor sailed." When we were sailors, which we were for years on our Cal 33, we used the term motor sailing to take the curse off the fact that we were motoring. During our last year of sailing on the Long Island Sound, we did keep a log and discovered that we were "purely" sailing less than 18% of our actual cruising time. That's why it was our last year for sailing.

Is it less expensive from a fuel perspective, sure. But, if you average in the cost of new sails over time and consider the fact that your motor is 25 - 50 hp, the difference starts to decrease. Sailing is an awesome activity and we still love it, but when you want to get somewhere, or enjoy the luxury of an above the waterline cabin on a rainy or chilly day, for my money you can't beat a trawler or an iron genny.
Magic, 1996 Grand Banks Europa
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:31 AM   #10
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What is your budget? And desired cruising speed? How about size? Some things that are nice cost more such as:
  • Good condition and well cared for
  • Stabilizers go a long way towards roll control
  • Newer vessel
  • Air conditioning
  • Diesel heat if you are planning going north
  • On board washer and dryer
  • Twin engines or a get home
  • Up to date electronics
  • Two heads and two staterooms
  • Fly bridge for sunny SoCal
Lots of very nice vessels to choose from can be found on the west coast. Good hunting!
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:45 AM   #11
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No log to show percentages. Doing the ditch, a lot of motoring to get from one overnight anchorage to the next. But we did some long stretches, Clearwater, FL to Galveston, TX, Hampton Roads to Block Island, Bahamas to T&C and so on. Those were pure sailing.

Ours was a CC boat with full cockpit enclosures and weather was never a factor. We also thought that having big windows would be nice until we tried to cool the boat in the TX summers.

Just personally, lounging in the cockpit of a sailboat beats sitting in an easy chair on the back deck of a power boat. I can do that at home.

Again, just my $.02,

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Old 02-02-2015, 11:13 AM   #12
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Some More Info

Thanks folks for the continued great replies.

To answer some questions, I would probably do my best to avoid traveling when the weather was up if I could. I consider those days to be good for relaxing, rather than getting beaten up. If I choose the right anchorage for the conditions, I think the rolling can be kept to a minimum.

Strangely, there is no swell in the Sea of Cortez. Of course there are wind waves and swells, but no ground swell as is found in most oceans. In my sailboat, I have been in 5-10' waves, which is doable, but certainly not my preference. My wife enjoys arriving at a location, but not really getting there in a sailboat. (She was not aboard in the ten-footers).

My price range will be in the $60-120k range, and size is 35-45'. I've had 3 boats now, and think that I will pay more this time for a nicer boat, rather than doing a lot of work myself, as I have in the past.

The comment about chines being noisy at anchor is something I had not considered. It's funny though, my Caribe rib is noisy when tied off the back while anchored. Constant slapping.

While I know that twins equate to more money and maintenance, I will probably lean that way. I like the handling of twins over a single and the redundancy. Although a single with a bow thruster would work.

Thanks again for all the great comments. The whole trawler/MY thing is new to me.

Cheers, Bill
"There is simply nothing more worth while than messing around in boats."
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:14 PM   #13
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Sure the Sea of Cortez is mostly flat, but you do have to go north outside of the Baja peninsula to get back to your other cruising area of southern California.

Have you done it? What was the weather like on that leg? Was that where you got into the 10' waves? You can't usually just wait out the weather in a nice anchorage on that leg. The wind is relentlessly from the north. It ain't called the Baja Bash for nothing!!!

If it weren't for that leg, almost any trawler would fit your needs. But for that Baja leg I would consider something more blue water capable like a Krogen 42.

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Old 02-02-2015, 12:54 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by hmason View Post
Wondering if you kept a log of what percentage of the time you actually sailed somewhere versus when you motored or "motor sailed."
We have good friends who had sailboats for many years and explored just about every nook and cranny in the PNW and southern BC. They were very good sailors and sailed their boats whenever the wind and current allowed them to do so on their way to their destination.

Some seven years ago they did a five month cruise up the Inside Passage to SE Alaska and back. On the plus side, they did the entire trip on only 185 gallons of fuel. On the downside, during that entire trip they were able to sail the boat exactly once, for a few hours.

My wife and I like sailboats and I've had some experience on them; friends' boats in Hawaii and on a racing crew here for a few seasons. But I noticed early on after moving to the PNW that the vast majority of sailboats I saw that were cruising were doing so under power. The fickle winds and strong currents in the islands make power cruising the only option with a sailboat most of the time if one actually wants to get somewhere.
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Old 02-02-2015, 01:00 PM   #15
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Welcome to the camp, we all know why you're here...

Sorry, flashbacks.

A lot of good advice above.

In your search, start thinking about fuel cost, since you seem to want to go longer distances, it will make a difference.

That determination will help guide the single vs twin and full displacement verses semi planning or displacement decisions.

Read Passagemaking Under Power, it really explains the concepts well and in spite of the Nordhavn connection, it's pretty objective.
Richard on Dauntless,
New York

a Kadey Krogen 42 currently:
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Old 02-02-2015, 04:49 PM   #16
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I still sail and have been doing both power and sail for over 50 years. MY two cents A well found sail boat with good crew is a far superior sea boat than 95% of the power boats. The motion of a sail boat trumps power unless stabilized. Both can sail at anchor. The roll of a sail boat is modulated by keel and mast not so on motor boat. The motor boat has more light and living volume out of the cave usually associated with sail. The reliability of getting where you want to go in good weather and protected waters power wins by a big margin particularly if you do SD or planning boat. I do carry box type flopper stoppers to hang from my topside or boat Crain but rarely use them. If I anchored along a busy corridor such as East Coast ICW I would need them. Operating a power boat from a protected pilot house trumps sail by a big margin. Dealing with a tender on power trumps sail. Maneuvering around docks depends. Some power boats are pigs at docks others by design or aids are good. Welcome aboard and good luck with the change do get a sailing tender or you may go into complete withdraw shock.

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