5 Reasons Sailboats Are Terrible Boats

Published On October 1, 2015 | By Mark Baese | Recreational Boating

First of all, before any sailboat owners go full bananas in the comments section, I was going to title this article “Would we ever own a sailboat?” – as that’s the question we’re really going to answer here today.

After my two articles about fuel mileage, a sailboat seems like a natural fit to cut down on the gas consumption.

There are 5 reasons I don’t currently own a sailboat:

They have sails. I don’t know how to sail, and it seems like a ton of work. I bring this up to every sailboat owner that asks me if I would ever own one. The best response I’ve had to this to date is a captain that said “Yeah, but on the days I don’t feel like sailing, I just don’t raise the sails. It’s still a boat with an engine.”

Fair enough, but that brings me to the second point:

Most of the time sailboats don’t sail. Seems crazy, but it’s true. They spend a good amount of their life motoring. Either the wind isn’t blowing the right way, or it’s not blowing at all, and the motor is used. On the Great Loop, there’s very little sailing as you’re often going in one narrow direction (except for exploring some lakes and bays).

There’s also one other major problem with using a sailboat on the  Great Loop:

They need massive clearance height. Every normal sailboat has a mast to raise the sail on. Around the Great Loop there are bridges that don’t elevate or twist, and you won’t be able to traverse it in a sailboat. That said, you can de-mast the sailboat, and a few people have in order to travel the great loop. Even on our lake, there’s a massive sailboat on our dock that can only use half the lake due to the bridge in the middle – despite how high the bridge is. (You can see this bridge in many of the videos.)

IMG_2765

They’re slow. Unless we’re talking about racing sailboats, which we’re not, it’s a great day if you hit 7 or 8 knots of speed in a sailboat. There’s a storm coming? You can’t speed to safety. Night’s falling? Can’ speed up to get to the anchorage on time. Sailboats are stuck going slow, even with the engine fired up.

That’s not the worst of it though. The worst part about a sailboat is:

Complete lack of cockpit / aft deck space. It’s brutal on most sailboats compared to the express cruiser / trawler / motor yacht of similar size. This would likely be the biggest issue for us. Especially for entertaining. I like to feel like I’m on a patio deck rather than a world war 2 trench. It also limits the swim platform in a lot of cases.

sailboat vs power boat

Julie has her back turned to the sailboats as she admires a real boat.

So that’s why I don’t own a sailboat. The question is, would I ever consider it?

Absolutely.

I love the idea of sailing. I don’t know how to do it, but I can learn. I can embrace the slow speed and relax. Stop being in a hurry all the time. In fact, if the weather turns ugly while you’re on the water, truth is, you’ll want to be on a sailboat.

If you’re worried about mast height, you’re probably not thinking big enough. Get out of the small rivers and lakes and explore the ocean.

If you want to go far, safely, there’s no more cost effective way than a sailboat. You can get way more bang for your buck in a sailboat compared to a similarly sized motor yacht. You can cross oceans in a powerboat, but it will cost you upfront – big time. A sailboat is a more cost effective way to tackle longer cruising distances in the caribbean or open ocean.

I don’t think a sailboat is on the horizon any time soon. Our goal of doing the great loop will likely be fulfilled with a tug / trawler type boat.

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One Response to 5 Reasons Sailboats Are Terrible Boats

  1. Gerry Hamill says:

    I do not own a sailboat or any boat. I have sailed a few times and love it. The thing about sailing is you are out there to sail! The last time I was out, the elderly skipper acted more like a teenage boy laughing with every wave that crashed over the bow into his face as he set the jib.

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