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Thread: Auxiliary power

  1. #1
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    Default Auxiliary power

    I did a search on this , and came up with a thread started by me in 2007 !.
    But , time goes on , I've got my boat , and I'm a very happy man , I've got what I want.
    But I've been thinking of conversations , current and in the past , on auxiliary power.
    I'm musing on those conversations , where people dismiss auxiliary power , as unnecessary.
    I'm thinking of probably the millions of people that have drowned , for the lack of it on the vessel they were on.
    Yes , I know that millions have , and will continue to survive without it , but a lot will die too , for the lack of it on their boats , whatever the size.
    A couple of days ago I watched a clown on a plastic stink boat that couldn't get the outboards running actually try to launch , with outboard engines that wouldn't run , and no auxiliary power.
    Fortunately , he couldn't even get the boat off the trailer !.
    How would he be if he actually managed to get the boat out to sea ?.
    Oh , thats right , call the coast guard !.
    Getting back to wooden boats , particularly sail boats , yes , learning the skills to be able to sail and survive without auxiliary power is very commendable , but what is the cost ? , how many don't make it ? , how many don't even try ?.
    In my case , I don't believe I've too much time left before I have to give up this sailing idea , so time is important.
    I've attended to the auxiliary power on HS , its as good as it could ever be.
    But , besides when we took her out to her mooring , in heavy rain , I've yet to start the engine !.
    She has been sailed off and on her swing mooring.
    But , its good to know its there , at the turn of a key.
    And its given me the confidence to try things i wouldn't dare otherwise , because I know I can always turn on the engine , and motor out.
    What is the take on this , from the rest of you ?.
    Regards Rob J.

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  3. #2
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    The big 18 foot, 1960's Samar that used to litter my front yard had OARS! Yup. The bloke who owned and used her before me (who only owned, never got to use ) told of an episode where the engine failed and he was forced to resort to the oars. After half an hour of rowing this thumping great big cabin cruiser and getting nowhere against the tide, he tried the engine once more ... and she started to great relief among all those aboard.

    Dunno that this adds anything to the wealth of knowledge

    I am however, amazed by people who are so determined to go out that they ignore the fact that the brute motive force doesn't want to play, but it takes all types to stuff up a world.

    Richard

  4. #3
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    Richard , a couple of days ago I was coming in to Portland harbour in HS , when the 26ft old 'couta boat Arial was hoisting sail in the lee of a big ship , before going out.
    The owner has told me of the last owner who used her commercially , sometimes having to scull her home when becalmed , and he had used up his ration of fuel.
    I also recall in the Admella regatta last winter , which was "true to the day" , and was run in pretty terrible conditions.
    I was on the 27 ft couta boat Victory , and we tore the main very early on.
    We tried unsuccessfully to continue with just a headsail , but she turned out to be almost impossible to sail in those conditions , and when lots of green water came over her , the skipper called it quits , hit that engine starter , and got the boat back in order .
    We then motored easily enough , back in to the harbour , and to her berth , something that would have not been possible under headsail alone .
    I'd like to hear from other people , of their experiences.
    Regards Rob J.

  5. #4
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    Sailors that don't have or use engines are obviously retired or other wise have no particular schedule to keep. Wind can stop when ever it wants and you're pretty much screwed unless you have alternate propulsion. There's nothing less enjoyable then being stuck on a boat, in a dead calm, in 95 degree heat and 100% humidity, without a way of getting back to port, the loading ramp or what ever. It makes very little sense to struggle through this way. I've been aboard when a mile from the loading ramp, the air went still, on a boat that couldn't be rowed or had an engine. Spending hours drifting, hoping the current will be your friend is ridiculous.

  6. #5
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    Aside from agreeing with you, I'd suggest running the engine at least occasionally.

    In one of my previous lives, I designed movable bridges, with auxiliary generators for emergency power. The same such generators are also used in hospitals. To ensure that power is available when needed, the generators must be exercised, generally weekly, under a dummy load - similar to a bank of toasters. This also assures that fresh fuel is on hand. A container ship ramming a drawbridge that can't be opened is not a pretty sight.

    Cheers,
    Joe
    Last edited by joe greiner; 1st Jan 2010 at 10:45 PM. Reason: corrections
    Of course truth is stranger than fiction.
    Fiction has to make sense. - Mark Twain

  7. #6
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    I agree with you both.
    I have just spent a considerable amount of money replacing an "iffey" inboard for something that starts very easily , and that yes , I have to attend to just as religiously as I do the sails and rigging on HS , including having fresh fuel .
    But I'm also thinking of the safety aspect.
    When big green waves are coming right over a 27 ft boat that you are unable to sail , then being able to fire up an engine , and motor out is a godsent.
    I'll repeat , I much prefer sailing , but when the situation and conditions make that extremely difficult or impossible , I'd like to have that motor option.
    In the example I used , I suppose we could have dropped anchor and rode it out , but in an open boat , we could have quickly got in to real trouble.
    Regards Rob J.

  8. #7
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    Rob J, there's a very good thread on this subject on the woodenboat forum.

    Summing up, sail as though you don't have an engine and motor as though you might not have one at any moment, ie, what's plan B? Was a little concerned about the couta boats ability without a mainsail. Even sailing needs a plan B, spare halyards, some sort of replacement sail.

    Cheers adrian

  9. #8
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    Thanks for your contribution to the thread Adrian.
    I don't read WBF anymore , but at your suggestion , I went back and found the thread.
    Hmm , a couple there not really in touch with reality , I think.
    I'll repeat , I love sailing , I want to sail , not motor.
    But if motoring is the best , SAFEST option , then motor I will.
    Lets face it , sails and rigging can fail , particularly when really tested.What is "Plan B" for a sailor without a backup , should his sails/rigging/health/physical ability fail ?.
    I've made very sure , that my engine is the best I could get , and is in perfect condition , as are the batteries , filters etc.
    Going back to the Admella regatta .
    I was out fishing last night on HS (under sail) with the Commodore of the Portland Yacht club , who ran the 150 th anniversary of the Admella tragedy regatta.
    He made the point abundantly clear , that normally racing would have been cancelled.
    But in the spirit of those brave men who manned the lifeboat 150 years earlier , they raced.
    Half of the race fleet had damaged sails or rigging.
    At the finish of racing , they dropped sails , and motored.
    Except the 151yo Port Fairy lifeboat , that dropped their lug sail , and pulled out the oars.
    Some , or most of the sailors were severely battered , so much so they couldn't sleep properly for days.
    In those sort of conditions , changing sails isn't easy.
    We changed the jib (to a smaller one) on the couta boat , that was a very dangerous exercise , to no real advantage.
    I could give a lot of examples where pure sailing is very dangerous.
    But there is also a need to respect others.
    A while back an elderly international couple came in to Port Fairy.
    They were engineless , and refused help.
    So then started this long , torturous exercise of slowly getting the boat up the river , being towed by a rowed tender , anchoring , on and on , for hours in what should have happened in minutes.
    The commercial people had to sit and wait , as did their buyers and clients.
    They lost thousands , in a very depressed industry.
    But the damage doesn't stop there.
    Now when all of these people think of "cruisers" , that is who they think of , and they take their anger out on people who are still involved in the traditional boating/sailing industry.
    I'm happy to , and will continue to , develop my sailing skills.
    But I know I've got a good engine too , if needs be.
    Regards Rob J.

  10. #9
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    Rob J, good points, undertaking an activity for some abstract purpose is one thing, but to hinder people making a living, that is another thing.

    One of the threads on the WBF commented on sailing the Intercoastal Waterway in the US, technically and probably legally possible, but to inconvenience and maybe endanger commercial craft, definitely not. I'm not frightened of engines so would not be a problem but the comments about the prospect of putting oneself in a risky situation by assuming the engine would not stop was not lost on me either.

    On another matter, you mentioned in another thread some time back a Stewie Fechner, as this my name, it caught my attention, maybe a PM if wish to respond.

    Got this mad idea of sailing to the next WBF, but much work to do first.

    Cheers Adrian

  11. #10
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    Sailing on sections of the ICW in the USA is prohibited. No exceptions and it is a safety issue. I've skippered professionally in vessels that couldn't turn or avoid something in anything short of a mile. If you come bearing down on some bonehead that doesn't have an engine, and is attempting to cross your bow 100 yards out, the only option I have, is notify the engine room of full reverse and get the USCG on the horn, because there's going to be a smashed bonehead that needs to be wiped off my bow. Portions of the ICW are narrow enough that you barely have enough room to stay within the channel.

    I think sailing anything but a strict replica without an engine is unreasonable and foolish (unless it's small and can be rowed or paddled). The old days of the rust bucket engine, lurking in the bilge, ready to disappoint you when you want her, are long over. There's absolutely no reason you shouldn't have a well running, reliable engine. One that starts quickly, reliably and performs it's task with little fuss or bother.

    Yes, in the days of points and condenser ignitions or worse magnetos, mechanical fuel pumps, unreliable fuel and hand started engines, you had reason to think the beast in the bilge wouldn't bail you out, come time to rely on it. Not now.

    Even these old engines can be made very reliable with upgrades. Take out the old magneto that never would start on a humid day and use an electronic ignition module, in a conventional distributor. These don't fail and will spark every time without exception. Modern fuel separation, filtering and delivery also insures no problems. It arrives at the engine clean, without water and is atomized neatly and precisely, as it's delivered to the requesting cylinder.

    The only excuse any sailor has for an unreliable engine is his inability or unwillingness to make it reliable. This is negligence, pure and simple and you could be held liable in the event of an incident in most places.

    This isn't the old days anymore and those weak excuses are long dead or should be. I remember those "good old days" when you had to change the spark plugs every 10,000 miles, the plug wires every few years and the cap, rotor, points and condenser where just parts of a tune up, preformed every 15,000 miles or so. A modern car engine can very easily go ten times these numbers and runs as if nothing was wrong. In fact, I tuned up a neighbor's car recently, new plugs, wires, filters, etc. It had over 130,000 miles and all the original parts were on her. It was running fine, but the "engine" light came on because of the O2 sensors was partly blocked.

    This isn't the old days anymore and those still complaining, are too old to accept the changes that have swept through, in recent decades or too lazy. Look, I've rebuilt and modernized 70 year old engines, making them as reliable as any new one, so lame excuses are just that, lame and possibly libelous in the event of a mishap.

    Even if it's just a whimpy 2 HP or a slack jawed electric trolling motor. If you're out with the "big boys" you have to be able to get out of their way, because trust me, they will not even hear you scream, when you splatter on their bow.

  12. #11
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    Adrian , Stewart Fechner owns the beautiful big 'couta boat "Rosebud".
    He was out sailing her last night with a couple of Queenslanders , as we were sailing HS.
    It would have been a great sail , I'm sure.
    He also owns an engineering business in Portland , Fechner Engineering.
    And , he is a great bloke!.
    PAR , I agree with you 100%.
    We wouldn't accept so-so rigging and sails ( I hope) , nor should we accept mechanics that aren't right either.
    Regards Rob J.

  13. #12
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    Thinking about this further.
    A couple of days ago I was preparing HS for some fishing/sailing , when I spotted some activity on the Coastguard boat , which is moored close by.
    I went to investigate , and found 3 of our most experienced fellow coast guarders , working on the boat.
    Had a yarn for a while , then invited them over to check out HS.
    None of them are sailors , all are very experienced stink boat men .
    We talked sailing , sails and rigging for a while , but the relief was palpable , when I showed them the shiny new Lombardini , I guess they thought a traditional style boat like HS wouldn't have auxiliary power.
    So , when I go out , and call in on my VHF to register with CG , they know I've got an advantage (as do all of the yachts in Portland) over the majority of boats operating out of the harbour , I've got 2 completely separate means of powering the boat.
    Regards Rob J.

  14. #13
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    An interesting addition , I believe , to this thread.
    Last night I joined in the traditional Friday night sail at Portland , in fairly challenging conditions.
    We even managed to heel enough to take water in to the cockpit , and in those conditions , it still doesn't self drain !.
    We got close to Lawrence rock , close enough to see even worse weather coming , and beat a retreat for home , clocking up to 6.9 knots.
    Back in the harbour , there was a big bit of plastic on the end of the marina , maybe 45 ft+.
    When I drove past this morning , on my way to Coastguard duty , there was another , slightly smaller yacht , rafting off it.
    During the morning they both checked in with me , before they continued on to Port Fairy.
    They had come from Robe , in SA.
    The bigger boat is more of a motor sailer , and apparently in the conditions they faced from Port Mac , they motored , and beat the really bad weather .
    The smaller boat couldn't , and just kept sailing the best they could , arriving during the night , 6 hours later.
    The skipper said it was a shocker of a trip , and I can believe him !.
    Not much wind now , but still 4 metre swells.
    But some of those gusts last night were pretty scary !.
    I'm maybe not a "purist" , but I'm sure glad to have a good strong reliable engine to use , when I need it !.
    Regards Rob J.

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