upon a time many motorsailers were designed, built, and sold. These
boats were comfortable and proved very desirable for extensive cruising.
Built of wood, strongly framed, and powered with big heavy engines,
they were somewhat compromised in sailing ability and certainly
did not power at high speeds. They were never expected to do so.
yachts of this persuasion were designed by Rhodes, Davis, Mason,
and Hand to name just a few. These boats were handsome and purposeful.
They were motorsailers that went to sea, provided great range and
served their owners well. Designs such as these were capable of
long voyages with a minimum crew and appreciated for their reliability
perfected the art of motorsailing. They depended upon the stability
and economic advantages motorsailers provided. Wonderful boats were
these, masterfully designed and tastefully detailed.
particular design has haunted me for years. It was I think a Phil
Rhodes design somewhere around 60'~70', a ketch, with a sizable
twin engine room, over which was located a grand main saloon with
portlights above deck level. This main saloon had great comfort
and expansive vista's, and opened onto a sizable aft deck with a
fishing chair at its center. There was even a mini-flybridge helm
station and a crow's nest. What a great all-around design to liveaboard
and travel the world. She could do anything and everything!! I have
in 30 years only seen one or two comparable designs, and sadly I
lost those clippings and the pictures of the original design, but
the concept has remained with me all these years.
don't hear much of motorsailers these days. They're not a popular
subject. Traditional motorsailers have always been such a compromise,
they have fallen into disfavor in the market, and in the boating
literature. The term has even had negative connotations for several
decades now. Should not today's boats be faster and better with
new materials, light marine diesels, and better shapes? Should not
this be the sensible alternative, the common sense move up from
the beloved family sailboat? When trawler options are discussed,
suggestions of boredom arise. A lifetime of sail would be discarded,
and what happens when the motor quits? Well, hopefully it won't
quit, but one can always sail home in a boat with sails on it. For
truly long-range cruising and/or remote exploration,
the motorsailer can outshine both the sailing aux and the trawler
We need to modernize the motorsailer.
The multihull plan-form holds great promises to improve this
breed. The long slender hulls of the catamaran type vessel have
proven themselves to be real efficient to push under both power
& sail. And not only are they efficient, but they can be pushed
beyond the traditional hull-length/speed limitations. Just what
the modern motorsailer needs, a far less compromising increase in
both their sail & power performance, while maintaining an economy
of operation that allows truly long range capability.
explore a ~ 40 foot example. Take the single big 120-140 hp diesel
used to push the conventional 40' monohull trawler or motorsailer
to a maximum 8.3 knots hull speed and divide it up into two smaller
60 hp diesels driving two long slender catamaran hulls. Voila!,
maximum to 15 knots under power with the reliability of twin engines
and the stability and sea worthiness of a twin-hulled vessel. Add
a modest sailing rig to these easily driven hulls, and you now have
a passagemaker capable of cruising 12 knots under sail or power
compared with these older 7 knot boats. With 12 knots of speed at
your command, you can really take advantage of 'weather windows'
; to make your passage as smooth as possible, or to make some lengthy
passages you might never have considered in a slower boat. In many
cases this vessel will be slowed less by an obstructive seaway,
and will accordingly make a passage at almost twice the average
speed of the single-hulled vessel. Twice the speed for the
same total HP. There is an economy of operation here that cuts
fuel bills and/or greatly extends the range of these vessels. And
in light airs, running one engine often is all that is needed to
bring the apparent wind forward to make the sails work harder and
the combination provides much better results than either
motoring or sailing alone.
modern catamaran "motorsailer" is blessed with such a
dramatic improvement in performance, that I have chosen to redesignate
it "Motor/Sailer" to differentiate, and yet emphasize
its motoring and sailing capabilities. Those expedition yacht
seekers of today should give serious consideration to this type
and take a look at what's coming in future motor/sailers.
following subheadings touch briefly on some of the highlights without
getting into details. There are a number of related articles, notes,
etc., to be found in our archives.
Efficient displacement hull speed depends primarily on the length-to-beam
ratio of the individual hulls. All data at this time indicates a
preference for hulls which exceed a 10 to 1 ratio. Note that their
presently exist many cruising catamarans with only an 8 to 1 ratio
and their performance suffers accordingly. Wetted surface area considerations
are secondary to buoyancy distribution, as it affects pitching and
sea-kindliness of these multihull craft is being rediscovered
every day. Continual experiences with sightseeing boats, fast ferries,
pleasure, commercial, and military applications are all proving
the validity of the multihull form. What many people forget about
a smooth ride in a heavy sea is that it is very much a function
of weight in addition to hull shape. The more weight a vessel has,
the more form resistance it offers to moving thru the ocean, the
more the sea acts to resist the vessel's progress thru the sea,
and thus the more uncomfortable ride and we must slow down. A big
headsea is a particular challenge. Heavy boats carry their momentum
into each trough and crest in a battle with the sea, while lighter
weight vessels with slender hulls slice through with less battering.
Modern materials allow for lighter boats and we must properly distribute
the vessel's weight throughout the long slender hulls. Following
seas tend to pick up broad sterns and slew a vessel off to either
side of a straight course. The catamaran hull form does not have
these broad sterns.
A Motor/Sailer presumes dependency on a substantive power source,
not just an small auxiliary. Utilize formal engine rooms
where heat, diesel fumes, and noise are segregated from the living
areas. Most of the other boat mechanicals also located herein
and accessibility should be given a top priority. Attempt to keep
weighty objects out of vessel's ends, particularly fuel whose variable
weight can upset trim. Employ new power train technologies,
either one of ours as discussed under "Power
or several other good configurations in use.
Rig. Make use of our mast-aft sailing rig as described
under "Sail Propulsion."
This ketch variation is a good small-crew size rig. Boats with moderate
rig proportions tend to make faster overall passages because they
are sailed at a higher level of efficiency than if they carry
a lofty hi-performance or light-air rig. The substantially lower
force centers of this rig could even allow for a multihull with
a smaller beam if necessary.
sailing rig on a motor/sailer performs another valuable function
in addition to propulsion. It acts to dampen roll. In a beam
or quartering sea, the monohull experiences a rhythmic rolling motion
as it must first roll over in order to develop an anti-rolling force
to roll back. Inherent dampening of this motion is very slight,
and the rolling is further exacerbated by a heavy keel. The forces
on the sails tend to significantly dampen this roll. Even salty
ocean going trawlers often carry a short mast onto which they can
place steadying sails. The catamaran possesses a much greater athwartship
stability and does not roll in the traditional sense, but their
resultant quicker motion can be moderated by the sailing rig.
Use a systems approach (keeping the KISS principal in mind) which
works as well at anchor, as at the dock; i.e., severely limit 115volt
AC duplication systems. No umbilical cord (shore power cord).
Employ a systems approach to electrical self-sufficiency similar
to that utilized by the recent Sundeer series of world cruisers.
survivability should be considered at the design stage for
any vessel making offshore passages. It's generally acknowledged
that this is best accomplished by facing into a truly strong storm
(a big headsea). As mechanical things go, its not hard to imagine
some lost of power at a most inopportune time during an extended
storm. This could put the solely powered vessel in a perilous position
in short order. The motor/sailer and in particular one with our
ketch style rig would have several sail configurations which would
hold her into the wind. However, I would strongly recommend installing
a dedicated sea anchor system that not only takes care of you in
those extreme heavy weather situations, but can be utilized in a
variety of other less threatening conditions. With a backup sea
anchor system aboard, I would ride out a hurricane in this vessel.
How might it appear as a waterfront real estate ad? "Fiberglass
cottage, three bedrooms, two baths, large kitchen & dining area,
big deck, wonderful views." Comfortable life onboard is
designed around the extensive living space provided by the extra
large saloon & cockpit areas. The main saloon is divided up
into two large 'U' shaped, galley and dinette/seating areas, and
without partitions between them. This provides a spacious open feeling
to this area. Including the galley in this social area is analogous
to the situation at most land based home parties; the kitchen invariable
becomes a center of the party (in catamaran terminology this is
referred to as 'galley up').
catamaran configuration is exceptionally adaptable at merging all
these areas at one raised level which provides for a panoramic
view of the yacht's surroundings. This single attribute is one
I much admire about a cat. I truly disliked my old 47' ketch's 'basement
saloon', where I was forced to either stand up or climb topsides
to see what was going on outside. I can sit at anchor with a
mornings coffee and watch all the wildlife, or duck in here while
underway in nasty weather and still maintain a cautious watch.
navigation stations are conveniently close to the entrance to the
cockpit and accessible to the large table of the dinette. It also
provides another seat in this social area.
outback, the aft deck (the 'porch') becomes an extension
of the main saloon with its abundant seating and stowable dining
table. There are a variable host of the possibilities back here,
and this area can be covered, either selectively by a pull out awning
from the deckhouse roof extension, or permanently by a hardtop extension
to this roof. I've shown a fishing chair option as remembered from
that old Phil Rhodes design. It could just as easily be a dive center,
etc., etc. That's the beauty of a Motor/Sailer. And this cockpit
expanse is at the same level as the main saloon, and only a single
step out a large accessible door.
other virtue of the catamaran form is the stateroom arrangement.
What other vessels in these size ranges could provide 3 to 4 double
staterooms, to the exclusion of any saloon conversion, and do so
in such a manner as to provide a privacy to those parties of either
side of the vessel from one another, and from the occupants of the
saloon. Wow! The 65' version even provides for two separate crew's
quarters in the bows. The layout arrangements can be modified to
fit an individual owner's requirements, but the basic premise was
to locate all of the living areas (excluding crew) between the two
major watertight bulkheads fore & aft, and isolated from the
engine and mechanicals.
included two sample plans below. The 42' Motor/Sailer was drawn
up to a contest brief asking for "a 40' to 60' cruising
boat able to handle long ocean passages and accommodate a small
family with young children or another couple." She accomplishes
this task in a voluminous style at close to the minimum length specified.
I personally would like to stretch her out 5' to 7' without adding
any more accommodations, engine size or rig size. Just flair the
ends, add more sheer, maybe change the deckhouse. Some would say
you'll end up with wasted space. I would say you'll end up with
a prettier boat at very little additional cost. Check out the differences
between the 60' & 65' profiles.
65' Motor/Sailer is my embodiment of the Phil Rhodes motorsailer
design that has haunted me all these years. Only, this vessel is
so much superior. Twin 100hp diesels will cruise her at 12 knts.
Under sail she could make 20 knts. Range, unlimited. Fuel consumption,
extremely low. She could skim over depths as little as 4'. Explore
those rivers, mangroves, coves, lagoons. Beach the bows. Dive or
fish the flats and the reefs from the Bahamas to the Pacific atolls.
THIS IS AN EXPEDITION YACHT!!