We met a lovely couple running a Bed & Breakfast in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia. An Australia and a Canadian. We invited them over for dinner, to the exotic cooking of Jay’s arroz con coco and local haddock fish. When given the tour of Messenger and upon finding out we had no motor, they told us of a sad true story that remind us of the importance of sticking to your wits and not changing what you believe in.
Messenger’s crew believes that having a motor can at times be more dangerous and risky than not having one because as a sailor, on a sailboat, one can get too comfortable and rely too heavily on a motor, putting your boat and yourself in danger. The story we were told was of a friend of theirs who had been sailing for years without a motor, there came the day he decided to put a motor on his vessel and left from Lunenberg to Bermuda, a trip he had made many times before. Weather predictions turned on him and he had 2 options, either turn around and head back downwind away from a bad storm running up the east coast or push on to windward against it. Without a motor under such circumstances there is only one sane option for a sailor, go with the flow of the environment but with an engine you can go anywhere anytime, you are able to go against nature. The man pushed onward relying on the motor to get him past the storm. The storm toke the boat and the man. All was lost.
This is one of many stories we have heard of sailboats relying on their motor and when it has failed they find themselves in a situation they cannot get themselves out of because they cannot sail out of it. If we can’t sail in or out of a place, we just don’t go there, always making us air on the side of caution. Yes, it takes patience because if we can’t sail, we also don’t move. But if my options are wait or die, I will choose to wait, no matter how long that takes.
So my nomination for Worst Sailing Innovation Ever is the engine. Or more specifically the crazy idea of putting an engine in a sailing boat. I don’t care if it’s an inboard engine or an outboard motor. It’s just plain wrong.
Here are 23 reasons why putting an engine in a sailing boat is the worst sailing innovation ever….
You don’t need an engine. We have sailed all in the Pacific, Caribbean and Atlantic, in and out of all sorts of exotic stopovers, for gazillions of miles, on two boats different boats one a snail and one a vomit-commit… both boats without engines.
An engine costs money to buy and install in the boat.
It costs money for spare parts.
It costs money for repairs.
It costs money for fuel.
An engine takes up space you could use for other things.
An engine adds weight to the boat.
The propeller increases drag.
Maintaining an engine takes time away from sailing.
Repairing an engine takes time away from sailing.
An engine breaks down.
An engine is noisy.
It is dirty.
It is smelly.
It pollutes the air.
If you spill the fuel it pollutes the water.
If you have an engine you need several extra holes in your hull for the cooling pipes, exhaust, prop shaft, etc.
An engine does not provide extra safety. Murphy’s Law says that it will fail just when you most need it. If you don’t have an engine you will be more prudent about getting yourself into bad situations and you will develop the skills to get yourself out of difficulty using natural methods.
Without an engine you will feel closer to nature.
Without an engine you will have to learn to sail well.
Without an engine you will have the joy of entering the same anchorages in the same way that Columbus, Drake, Cook, Nelson – and the Coconuts – did… under sail alone.
You don’t need an engine.
Appropriated from Tillerman on ProperCourse